December 26, 2010
"Lux Aurumque" — The faces of music
Excerpts from Lonnae O'Neal Parker's article in today's Washington Post follow.
"The curtain opens, the voices rise, but it takes a moment or two for a viewer's senses to sync with the component parts of the "choir." The layered notes of American composer Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque" register first. Then the earnest faces of singers engaged in a startling unanimity of purpose come into focus on dozens of small screens.
The 185 singers from 12 countries recorded their pieces individually, over six months, and uploaded them to the video channel YouTube, where Whitacre assembled and broadcast the "performance" in March 2010 as the Internet's first virtual choir.
Since then, the video has received nearly 1.6 million views. For his next virtual concert - to the music of his composition "Sleep" - Whitacre hopes to assemble a choir of thousands. The deadline for online submissions, open to all voices, is Friday (ericwhatacre.com/the-virtual-choir).
Whitacre got the idea after watching a video of a young girl singing one of his chorale pieces. The intimacy of her performance moved him and made him want to get more voices virtually together. He uploaded a silent video of himself conducting "Lux" and invited singers to send in their parts. As long as they were largely in time and in key, they made the choir.
Whitacre says he has been "awestruck" by the response. Singers send their videos and say, "It's such an honor to have been able to make music with you," he says.
Three hundred finalists from this year's contest were voted on by YouTube viewers, and winners - to be announced Jan. 11 - will perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia in March.
Whitacre says he hopes one day to be conducting his virtual choir of thousands in real time. There will be an app for it in three or four years, he says. "And if there's not, I'll make one," because the love of music and the need to connect will always find a platform.
The composer expects a crush of submissions before Friday's deadline, but says he has already received 500 - "from little, little towns in Indonesia, Syria, Malta and three or four from American soldiers in Iraq, somehow singing as part of a choir, which I find beautiful and touching."
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
MovieClips — "Hollywood movie clips, trailers, & behind the scenes"
"With over 12,000 movie clips, you can search, find, view, discuss and share scenes from your favorite movies."
Fair warning: there goes the day.
[via Joe Peach]
Rock Scissors Paper Marking Clips
30 piece set: 10@.
Mormotomyia hirsuta — the "terrible, hairy fly" — rediscovered after 60 years
Excerpts from Jeanna Bryner's December 10, 2010 LiveScience story follow.
Not seen in more than 60 years, a fly [above] covered with teensy yellow hairs has been discovered hiding out in a crack in a single cave-like rock in Kenya, researchers announced this week.
Known as Mormotomyia hirsuta, or the "terrible, hairy fly," the insect looks more like a fluffy spider than a fly. It sports tiny eyes that appear as red spots and strap-like wings, which are nonfunctional.
"Since Mormotomyia cannot fly, there is a strong possibility that it is really restricted to this tiny habitat," said Robert Copeland of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, and Texas A&M University.
Copeland and fellow dipterist (fly scientist) Ashley Kirk-Spriggs from South Africa's National spotted the fly in Ukazi Hill, along the Thika-Garissa Road. Until now, the fly had been collected on only two previous occasions, in 1933 and 1948.
Like us, males [pictured above] are the hairy gender for these flies. "Females [below]
have far fewer hairs and these tend to be comparatively short, while the larger males are pretty much covered with long hairs," Copeland told LiveScience.
Why so hairy? Copeland threw out several ideas, including the possibility the hairs may act as a Velcro of sorts to help the mating pair attach to each other, though he admits, "I can't really see how." Perhaps the hairs are dressed-up stingers, though Copeland has handled plenty of live adults with no stinging. Maybe they are stay-away hairs, "but, if so, why don't females have long hairs?"
video from the expedition to rediscover the hairy fly.
Originally created for people communicating by sign language.
Also useful in theater, mime and their ilk.
No batteries required — the gloves absorb light from any source and then glow in the dark for up to two hours.
The Train That Never Stops
The caption for the video above: "No time is wasted. The bullet train is moving all the time. If there are 30 stations between Beijing and Guangzhou, just stopping and accelerating again at each station will waste both energy and time."
"A mere 5 minute stop per station (elderly passengers cannot be hurried) will result in a total loss of 5 min x 30 stations or 2.5 hours of train journey time!"
Wrote Clay Risen in the December 19, 2010 New York Times Magazine, "There are 15 stops along the 665-mile Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, which opened at the end of last year. If a train sits still at each stop for three minutes, it sits idle for a total of 45 minutes. Now a Chinese inventor, Chen Jianjun, has developed a concept for a train that could service those stations without ever stopping. In his plan... passengers exit the train by entering a detachable pod that sits on top of it; as the train passes below and alongside the station platform, the platform engages the pod, which disconnects from the train and coasts to a stop. Meanwhile, the train connects with a new pod containing passengers who had been waiting at the station, and the two pull away together from the platform. A hatch between the pod and the train opens, allowing the passengers to board."
Retro British Telephones
"The telephones featured here are original, unused phones from the British General Post Office (later British Telecom) and date from the 1950s onward."