Tuesday, 29 April 2008

“The Library of Congress Experience” - Interactive Technologies Highlight History

The opening on Saturday 12 April 2008 of the exhibitions of the renewed Library of Congress confronts the visitor with interactive technologies, courtesy of Microsoft, that make the Library of Congress and its collections more dynamic and accessible than ever. Touch-screen kiosks with the power to magnify images of objects, translate text and point to other information sources are found throughout the library’s exhibition spaces.
The visitor will be able to flip through century-old book pages, magnify sections of interest and access commentary from the Library’s top experts - all on the same touch screen. This exhibition enables the visitor to immerse himself in the mindset of America’s most revered thinkers.
Artefacts like the Waldseemüller map (the first map which includes the name “America”), the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible and original volumes from Thomas Jefferson’s Library are virtually at his fingertips.

Just a few examples, as you have to experiment yourself this new way of “going to the library”.

Two of the Library’s greatest treasures, the Giant Bible of Mainz and the Gutenberg Bible, are displayed in separate cases, with a special interactive station that explains their rarity and relative position in the history of the written word. Both volumes were produced in Mainz, Germany, in the mid-1450s; one is written by hand, in manuscript, while the other is the first book printed with movable metal type. The Library’s three-volume printed Gutenberg Bible is one of three perfect vellum copies in existence.
The kiosks offer the chance to look more closely at the Gutenberg Bible and examine selected pages; others explain the mythological and literary references in the ornaments of the Italian Renaissance-style Jefferson Building. The exhibition “Thomas Jefferson’s Library” also uses such kiosks to help look inside a few 18th-century books.
These kiosks allow the visitor to see the changes in the Declaration so clearly, even identifying the different handwriting on the document.
Jefferson’s edited copy of Lafayette’s draft of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 is here. So is a typescript of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he brilliantly reclaimed the founding fathers for the civil rights movement, by speaking of them as having signed a “promissory note.”

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source: NYT 80460

Serving Dinner At 60 Meter Height

Hoisting diners skywards on a 5.000 kg steel construction while they sit comfortable at a table, expecting to get their dinner served at an height of 60 m, the Belgium company “Dinner in the Sky” is giving an extra dimension to the phrase “dinner with a view.”
Diners are locked into their chairs by six-point seat belts that operate from the back side of the seat so they can’t disconnect themselves.
Dinner in the Sky accommodates 22 people around the table, with three staff in the middle (chef, waiter, or entertainer), while a flying stage enables diners to enjoy music while they eat.

Actually Kerkhofs, a director of Dinner in the Sky, says his new concept was the suggestion of a customer. “One of our attractions involved lifting people up on a platform and giving them a view of the area,” Kerkhofs says. “One customer suggested it would be nice to eat at that level and watch the sunset.”

The company’s suspended table measures 8 x 6 m and weighs approximately 8.000 kg fully loaded (5.000 kg unloaded). Eight cables, connected at points on all four sides, tether the table to a crane.

The company is in the process of designing a permanent Dinner In The Sky restaurant tower, which would hold four tables and 88 diners. It is said to be in the midst of negotiations with an unnamed Orlando, FL theme park to build the tower there.


Your Tent with Solar Energy - Konarka’s Inkjet Printed Solar Cells

Imagine you are somewhere in the bush, enjoying wild life. Far from the civilised world, but still with enough power for all your gadgets and utensils, as your canvas tent is printed with solar cells. Last month, Konarka successfully conducted the first-ever demonstration of creating solar cells by inkjet printing.
The inkjet printed objects take light in and deliver power out. This direct current (DC) electrical energy can be used immediately, stored for later use, or converted to other forms of energy.
Konarka’s unique photo-reactive materials can be printed or coated inexpensively onto flexible substrates using roll-to-roll manufacturing, similar to how newspapers are printed on large rolls of paper. Just as newsprint can include text, images, and a variety of colours, Konarka’s photovoltaic materials can include a range of colours and patterns. What starts as a roll of plastic comes off the press as a roll of Power Plastic.

Konarka’s photovoltaic fibres and durable plastics bring power-generating capabilities to structures including tents, awnings, roofs, windows and window coverings.
Consumer electronics such as cell phones and portable music players, networked electronics, laptops and PDAs can be charged, without the need to plug them into a standard wall outlet.
As Konarka’s technology utilizes a wider range of the light spectrum than conventional solar cells, all visible light sources - not just sunlight, but also indoor light - can be used to generate power.

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Internet Connection of 40Gb/sec Dries Laundry

A 75-year-old Swedish woman has the world's fastest internet connection - at a torrent-busting 40 Gigabits per second - many thousands of times faster than the average residential link and the first time ever that a home user had experienced such a high speed.

Sigbritt Löthberg of Karstad has never had a internet connection before, but she just happens to be the mother of Peter Löthberg, an internationally renowned expert in optical networks who works for Cisco, and who developed a new modulation technique with which data can be transferred directly between routers up to 2.000 km apart. In theory there is no limit to the distance that data could travel at this high speed - provided optical cables are in place.

To test the system he arranged to hook-up his mother through the local council's network.

So after nine months with the ability to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds or access to 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously, how has Sigbritt's life changed?

Not much, she found a novel use for her high-speed equipment by turning the world's fastest internet connection into a tumble dryer.

Sigbritt Löthberg used her blistering home network for more mundane tasks. "She mostly used it to dry her laundry," Hafsteinn Jonsson, a spokesperon for fibre network operator Karlstad Stadsnät told Swedish website The Local. "It was a big bit of gear and it got pretty warm."

"We're considering giving her a 100 gigabits per second connection in the summer. Then she'll be able to dry all her neighbours' laundry too."

source: PcPro

Homer Simpson and Mario in the Flesh?

Human cartoons are realistic interpretations of famous cartoon characters. In this case, we have Homer Simpson and Mario in the flesh.

The artist used various textures of human skin and pieces of various faces to compose the image. The result is frightening impressive.

The artist, who goes under the name Pixeloo, writes on his website, “There isn’t really a strong reason I’m keeping this anonymous, I just kinda decided before I started that that’s how I wanted to do things. I work with Photoshop almost daily in my profession. I don’t feel like I get to have much fun with it lately though and this is my outlet.”

According to the artist the transformation of Homer Simpson took much more time and was much more complicated than Mario. He doesn’t explain why, but you can imagine that the lack of hair must have taken a lot more skin transplant. But whatever the case, both are so realistic that you start thinking of them as real persons.

Ah, they look horrible… But you know, women like ugly men.

source: Pixeloo

Brazilian Beauty Beats France’s First-Lady - Carla Bruni Lost From Gisele Bündchen

When in April this year, the photo collection of Gert Elfering was auctioned by Christie’s in New York, it was only the picture of France’s first-lady Carla Bruni, which picked up the attention of the world press. Although the polemic nude photograph made by Michel Comte in 1993, and before the auction estimated at USD 4.000, did USD 91.000, it was not the highest priced one.
In the auction of the 135 photographs of the German collector Gert Elfering the nude of Carla Bruni “lost” from the nudes of Gisele Bündchen and Kate Moss both photographed by Irving Penn. The nude picture of Gisele (estimated before the auction at USD 60.000) went for USD 193.000 and the Kate Moss’ nude reached USD 97.000.

The results of the auction proved that Brazilian beauty is always highly valued with large margins. For the uneducated who do not know Gisele Bündchen, the following: With 27 years she is the world’s most famous Brazilian model, arguably the No. 1 in fashion shows and arguably the best paid one, as she made 33 million USD between June 2005 and July 2006, while her wealth is estimated at 150 million USD.

Among the other pieces auctioned were photographs of Brigitte Bardot, Lauren Hutton, Pablo Picasso and four psychedelic pictures of the Beatles made by Richard Avedon.

One of the photo’s released here show Gert Elfering standing beside “Brigitte Bardot, Hair by Alexandre, January 1959” photo by Richard Avedon on March 10, 2008 in London, England.
The Collection owned by Gert Elfering which went on sale in New York on 10th April 2008 contained 135 lots with an overall estimate of 2 to 3 million USdollars. (Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images Europe)

However after the auction it turned out that Gert Elfering’s collection cashed a total of 4.369.200 USD. Four million three hundred and sixty nine thousand and two hundred USDollars.

Not bad for some pictures, of which the Gisele ones can be bought in Brazil for some 200 to 400 euros.

The pictures showed here in this post are censored. The uncensored photographs are not allowed to be published here, although pieces of art, beautifully orchestrated, showing nothing scandalous.
However you can see the pieces of auctioned photography art, by going to: Brazil In Hot Pants.

source: PicturaPixel and Erika Palomino

Plagiarism in Optima Forma - "Bikini Peaking Jeans"

Although the last years many a high technological and breathtaking innovation originates from Japan, for years on end they have been infamous for their copying and apparently they still do so.

The British press divulged a (what they called) novelty in the world of fashion: the jeans of Sanna’s Brazil Fashion. The creation, which mixes the low designed jeans with the vision of a part of a bikini underneath is from a brand unknown in Brazil, although it is promoted as Brazilian Fashion. Navigating the internet you will discover that it is a Japanese brand.
Reportedly the jeans are developed in Japan, and according to the labels manufactured in Brazil. To uphold the Brazilian image, they are sold in the Brazilian sizes, which are different to the standards used in Europe and the US.

But apparently the British are not well-known with the Brazilian Fashion, being famous for its sexy designs, such as the dental floss bikini (fio dental) and many other designs, as the Brazilian women are not afraid or ashamed to show their bodies or at least a part there of.

So, Sanna’s Brazil Fashion jeans are no novelty at all, as the Brazilian jeans brand Zoomp introduced the "bikini peaking jeans" already in their Summer Collection of 2006.
Judge for yourself. The first picture is from Zoomp, the other ones appear at the website of Sansa.
Plagiarism in optima forma.


Virtual Laser Wall Protects Pedestrians on Crossroads

An interesting concept for safeguarding pedestrians crossing the road, consists of two plasma lasers erected just in front of each other at both sides of the road. When the traffic lights turn red, the laser screen will display the virtual wall that “stays in the way” of drivers. This wall will show moving images of pedestrians crossing the road and will be clearly seen even in daylight. The real pedestrians will be seen too, as the "wall" is transparent.

The virtual wall designed by Hanyoung Lee provides a strong visual barrier, although it also demands discipline of the drivers and that might be a problem as a blogger at the internet expressed the feelings of many a driver: “This makes me want to drive through it… not exactly the effect that a stop light should evoke.”

The lasers in this concept ............. continue reading

Monday, 28 April 2008

Climate Change and Evolution - The Amazônia

During a virtual safari visitors of the Futuroscope in Poitiers (France) can learn about future animals. An exposition shows how the fauna of our planet will be over some million years.

It is not likely that anyone of us will have the pleasure to experience the changes and meet the future animals personally, but it is a good thing to know how our fauna will evolve taking into account our destructive way-of-life.
The exposition is a result of scientific studies and projections with regards to the influence of climate change and future landslides. The sketched environment and the animals are the results of a theory developed by British scientists, who studied the geological movements of the earth, the climate and the capacity of the fauna to adapt itself towards its new habitat.

Living in the delta of the Amazônia I restrict this overview to the “evolution” of the Amazônia fauna referring to the pictures (from top to bottom), whereas, as far as, known the “ancestor” is situated aside of the “evolved” descendant.

The “Baboukari” is the descendant of the “White Uacari Monkey with the Red Face” (Cacajo calvus), which, according to researchers can only be found in the Amazônia reservation Mamirauá. Little is known about the Uacari, except that it is already close to extinction. In the theory of the future the “baboukari” will not live in trees any longer as there will be no more trees in the Amazônia. The baboukari will use their tail, not for balancing between branches, but to communicate with each other in the high vegetation of the savannah like habitat, which is the future of the Amazônia region.

The “Tortunossauro” evolves from the Giant Tortoise (Podocnemis expansa). In 100 million years ............... continue reading

Extravagance in Glass Bottles

The supermarket shelves are overloaded and the consumers can’t see the wood for the trees, thanks to the extensive assortments showcased. And thus the consumer product companies have to do anything to attract the attention of the consumer to seduce him to make the purchase. Packaging designs as well as the excessively printed graphics are crying out for attention, but it seldom leads to extravagance.
That aspect you see only in the spring water, spirits, wine and champagne market segments, where the manufacturer intently creates a high exclusivity for himself and his product, targeting the top of the market, not infrequently turning the product presentation into idiocy.
It is obvious that the question: “Is it or is it not extravagance,” for simple (spring) water is answered at much a lower level than for champagne and other exclusive spirits. When a consumer has to pay USD 8,00 or USD 10,00 for a 750 ml (although luxuriously designed) bottle of ordinary water, it can be called extravagance. However I laid the bar much higher. The here described Bling spring water will cost you roughly USD 40,00 or more a bottle.
Evian takes the cake with its exclusive Alpine spring water in a limited edition bottle baptized Ice Queen, which goes for a minimum of USD 1.000.

The other, here described examples are: Gold Flakes vodka with edible gold flakes which sells for USD 60,00 a bottle. Although the price is not extravagant, the design surely is. The next example is the very limited edition of Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin for USD 200.000 (Yes, you read correctly: two hundred thousand USdollars). Super extravagant, even with the entire proceeds going to a charity.
Last but not least Veuve Clicquot’s rose champagne with a packaging that includes the champagne and a champagne cooler. Just USD 4.500.
Judge for yourself.

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Your Languedoc Wine is Sailing - "Carried by Sailing Ship, a Better Deal for the Planet"

This month 60.000 bottles of wine from the southern Languedoc region in France are shipped to Dublin in Ireland in a 19th-century barque, saving 8.324 kg (18,375 lb) of carbon, an estimated 140 grams (4.9 oz) of carbon per bottle, compared to a regular shipment. The 52-metre (170-feet) three-mast barque Belém, which was launched in 1896 to bring cocoa and sugar from Belém, the capital of the state Pará and the gateway to the Amazon in Brazil, to France, is the last French merchant sailing vessel built, and will sail into Dublin after a voyage from Bordeaux of about four days.
The wines will be delivered to Bordeaux by barge using the Canal du Midi and Canal du Garonne which run across southern France from Sete in the east, via Beziers in the Languedoc, where the wines will be collected.

Each bottle carries a label with a stylised ship logo and the slogan, "Carried by sailing ship, a better deal for the planet".
The greenness of the project does not stop however with the delivery of the wines.
The ship will bring back to France an equivalent tonnage of crushed glass for recycling into wine bottles at two factories, one in Bordeaux and one in Beziers, probably resulting in cheaper bottles and a better supply given the current problems some vineyards have trying to get enough bottles.

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

A Staggering Monument - 4.000 American Military Dead

With the popularity of George W. Bush at its lowest level ever, the presumptive Republican candidate declaring to stay in Iraq for another 100 years, the Democratic presidential primaries in a heated battle and the War in Iraq still no.1 on the priority list of many an American voter, it is no surprise that artists express themselves targeting political issues.

It is becoming a trend using all types of products to create a mosaic. Used metro tickets, pieces of scrap or what ever inspire people to assemble an artistic object.
When some weeks ago the 4.000st American soldier died in the Iraq war, Nico Pitney released this portrait.
I have seldom seen something so lugubrious and at the same time so brilliant and breathtakingly sensitive that words fail me.

4.000 small photographs of the US soldiers fallen in Iraq, arranged into a portrait of their good-time-having “Commander-in-Chief” and his potential successor.
As said, more words fail me and are not needed. Therefore I solely refer to the words of the creator of this mosaic Nico Pitney of Huffington Post and quote his words:
"In remembrance of the 4.000 brave men and women who sacrificed everything for us -- and the two men who would continue this great tragedy, despite the cost to our soldiers, our military, and our nation."

Click here to see the full (very large) image and gape at the 4.000 faces in silence. When you have downloaded the large image, click to zoom in. It is staggering. Simply staggering

(Note: Since some photos of fallen U.S. soldiers are unavailable, there are duplicates.)

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Eco-friendly Condom From The Amazon

It is unlikely you ever will get a chance to use the “Green Johnny”, a male preservative based on eco-friendly extracted natural latex from the Amazônia rainforest. Maybe when you ever visit Brazil during the carnival or one of the holiday centres you might be offered one of the 120 million condoms courtesy of the federal government of Brazil. Brazil’s Public Health Ministry distributes the free condoms as part of its successful Health Programs to combat STD/Aids.
Up till now the approx. 120 million condoms are imported from China, South Korea and Thailand, made from cultivated rubber trees. That will change soon.

Natex, a Brazilian company founded by the Public Health Ministry and the government of the federal state of Acre, will manufacture male preservatives from pure natural latex extracted from the Amazon rainforest in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. The condoms will be solely sold to the federal government for its national program to combat STD/Aids.
The expected initial production will be 100 million pieces a year. The factory, the only one in the world to use natural latex as raw material, will have a future capacity of 270 million condoms a year. The construction of the factory is based upon sustainable, social and environmental development.
Natex will create 150 direct jobs and employ 700 native families of the Chico Mendes reservation for the supply of the raw material. It is estimated that in the Amazon rainforest of Acre some 70.000 native rubber tappers are active.

source: Flores & Versos

Friday, 11 April 2008

Labyrinth Aquarium - Goldfish Swimming In Gold

Habitrail, a manufacturer of the most ingenious and ridiculous houses for hamsters, created out of the intention to replicate the hamster's natural habitat as well as offering the pet entertaining areas, has now widened its scope by innovating a Labyrinth Aquarium, in which your goldfish can explore its largely more complicated world as it would be in nature.

Apparently the engineers of Habitrail thought that the space to move was too dull and restricted for the fish in an ordinary aquarium, although aquariums should provide a neo-natural environment. So, they designed the Labyrinth Aquarium, which features multiple water tanks connected with pipe for the fish to explore. The aquariums come with all of the filters, lights, pumps and cleaning equipment you need, all hidden away in the cabinet (in cherry brown, black or carbon fibre) below. Just for a trifling amount of USD 5.500 your goldfish can explore his new world.

source: CoolHunting

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Staying In A Pineapple - Landmark Trust’s Holiday House

One of the most delirious buildings saved and restored by the Landmark Trust, is the world’s famous Pineapple in Scotland, not far from Edinburgh.
The flamboyant banker Sir John Smith, the founder of the Landmark Trust, had a preference for landmarks which were threatened to fell prey to disinterest or urge for innovation during the sixties of the last century. Smith had been a member of the board of the National Trust, the large British society for protection of nature and culture. But at the time the National Trust refused to accept a revamping financial schedule, which later proved to be very profitable, Smith founded his own foundation, the Landmark Trust in 1965.

The Pineapple with its dome shaped as a pineapple is now refurbished and is available for the public as a holiday home. The dome itself is transformed in an elegant living room with a panoramic view of the surrounding country estate. One problem, the rooms are not internally connected. In other words when you want to go from the kitchen to the living room, you have to go around. Not always enjoyable with the unstable Scottish weather.
A stay in the Pineapple, however, is hip since Spongebob Squarepants started to live in a similar model.

source: Blog Marc van den Eerenbeemt