December 6, 2019

Honeybees surf to safety on waves they create

Videre est credere.

From the New York Times:

If their honey-making and pollination prowess weren’t enough, there's a new reason to appreciate honeybees: They're world-class surfers.

Beyond pollinating flowers, worker bees — which are all females — are given the job of searching for water to cool their hives.

But if they fall into ponds, their wings get wet and can't be used to fly.

A team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology found that when bees drop into bodies of water, they can use their wings to generate ripples and glide toward land — like surfers who create and then ride their own waves.

Gnarly, right?

"When they fall in the water, they have to find a way to get to shore as a matter of survival," said Chris Roh, a Caltech research engineer and lead author of the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As with many scientific advances — Isaac Newton's apple or Benjamin Franklin's lightning bolt — Dr. Roh’s experiment began with a walk.

Passing Caltech's Millikan Pond in 2016, he observed a bee on the water's surface generating waves.

He wondered how an insect known for flight could propel through water.

Dr. Roh and his co-author Morteza Gharib, a Caltech professor of aeronautics and bio-inspired engineering, used butterfly nets to collect local Pasadena honeybees and observe their surf-like movements.

The researchers fashioned a wire harness [below]

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to constrain each bee's bodily motion, allowing close examination of their wings.

They found that the bee bends its wing at a 30° angle, pulling up water and generating a forward thrust.

Bees get trapped on the surface because water is roughly three orders of magnitude denser than air.

But that weight helps to propel the bee forward when its wings flap.

It's a strenuous exercise for the bees, which the researchers estimate could handle about 10 minutes of the activity.

The researchers said the surf-like motion hasn't been documented in other insects and most semiaquatic insects use their legs for propulsion, what's known as water-walking.

It may have evolved in bees, they speculate, so the workers could collect fluid without getting stuck in the water and dying.

The closest motion is seen in stoneflies, but their movement is more like paddling than surfing.

Dr. Roh and Dr. Gharib plan to use their observations to design robots capable of traversing sky and sea.

They have already made a mechanical model that simulates the bee's surfing motion.

Next, they will make one light enough to fly.

Howard Stone, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, said nature is a helpful guide for technological innovation because "evolution has had lots of years to try out solutions" to common physical problems.

Dr. Gharib's lab has previously studied underwater locomotion by looking at jellyfish, and energy harvesting by looking at leaves rustling in the wind.

He envisions numerous practical applications for bee surfing.

"You could imagine an amphibious system that can move on the surface of water and fly without hassle," Dr. Gharib said. "This could be useful for search and rescues, or for getting samples of the surface of the ocean, if you can't send a boat or helicopter."

Here's the abstract of the original scientific paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

December 6, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Great Pyramid at Giza — then and now

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4,579 years have a way of changing things.

Above, an artist's reconstruction of how the structure looked when it was finished in 2560 BCE.

It was originally 481 feet tall, with each base side measuring 756 feet.

A smooth layer of fine white limestone covered the surface, all cut to the same angle and polished to a shine so bright it almost glowed.

The structure was capped with a pyramidion, a capstone made of solid granite and covered with gold.

Below, what you'll see if you visit today: rough limestone blocks, each weighing 2.5-15 tons, colored a dark sandy brown from thousands of years of weathering and pollution.

With erosion and absent its pyramidion, its present height is 455 feet.

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Sic transit gloria mundi.

Below,

a Smithsonian Channel video about the structure.

December 6, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dormeshia gives a tap lesson

Her current show at the Joyce Theater in New York City, "And Still You Must Swing," has garnered rave reviews.

Better hustle if you want to see it: it only runs through this coming Sunday, December 8.

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December 6, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

AirPods Pro noise cancellation fo shizzle

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I received my AirPods Pro on Wednesday, October 30, having ordered them two hours after they were announced by Apple on Monday, October 28.

Music while I'm running — why I got them — sounds great, but I'm getting far more enjoyment and benefit from their noise cancellation function.

I run up to 4-5 times/week, ±50 minutes or so at a crack, so roughly 3-4 hours.

I estimate I use them inside my house 5-10x as much.

Most serendipitously for the past three weeks, as my new neighbor has had tree peeps take down around seventy (70) mature hardwood trees — each 70-100 feet tall — blocking the sun from entering her house.

The trees were about 200-400 feet from my house, and the NOISE from the saws/stump pulling machines/excavating machines/wood chippers etc. has been constant and LOUD from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

With AirPods Pro in place, like right now: dead silence. 

Almost magical, and well worth the price even if that's all they did.

For those in cubicles or open offices or other noisy environments, these devices could be transformative.

December 6, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flower Colored Pencils

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From the website:

A set of 5 pencils shaped and colored like 5 of Japan's traditional flowers and leaves.

When sharpened, the shavings mimic the flower petals.

The adorable cross sections — bellflower, evergreen, dandelion, plum and cherry — also make them easy to grip.

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Made at an environmentally-conscious factory in Japan, the pencils are manufactured with a process that eliminates resource waste.

The exterior that forms the shape of the flower is made from recycled paper, which also makes them soft and easy to sharpen.

A high quality color core completes the pencil.

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Features and Details:

• Materials: Recycled paper, polypropylene, pigment, wax

• Designed by Toshihiro Otomo

• Sharpener included

• Made in Japan

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$21.

December 6, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 5, 2019

Gillian Jagger, Sculptor of Nature

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The great artist died in October at 88.

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Above

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and below,

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photos that accompanied her New York Times obituary by Jillian Steinhauer.

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Videos here , here, and here.

December 5, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Musical preferences in the U.S.

Zz

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December 5, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

AirPod Stickers

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From the Verge

These prank stickers look just like AirPods

If you've experienced the mild horror of losing, or even momentarily thinking you may have lost, an AirPod, then beware these fake AirPod stickers.

In a genius prank, Pablo Rochat made these incredibly realistic stickers of AirPods and placed them on sidewalks.

They're even the right size.

When stuck to the ground, they look just like actual AirPods — so much so that you might check your pocket (or your ears) to make sure you didn’t drop yours by accident.

Now you can pull this prank too.

Rochat has templates of the stickers for both the original AirPods and

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AirPods Pro available for free downloads on his website.

December 5, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Owl in flight

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[via Reality Carnival]

December 5, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Madame Blush

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From the website:

Made in England by Mineheart

This canvas portrays a cheekily defaced French queen, blending classic art with modern day mischief.

The ornate white frame is not as it seems — in fact, it's printed onto the canvas.

This beautiful print is available in three sizes:

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Sizes: (L x W x D)

Extra Large: 173cm x 137cm x 4cm

Large: 127cm x 100cm x 4cm

Small: 81cm x 66cm x 4cm

Lead Time:

1 to 2 weeks

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£183.

December 5, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 4, 2019

"Robin" — J.M.W. Turner

Robin -From-The-Farnley-Book-Of-Birds -C.1816

From "The Farnley Book of Birds."

Pencil and watercolor on paper, c. 1816.

Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries, England.

December 4, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

w00t! & Yaasss

NEW1

An in-depth investigation by my Crack Research Team®© has nailed down the proper form of these two excellent words.

NEW2

Rarely spelled — and punctuated — correctly, this serves as a guideline for future use.*

*For those who care (all three of us) 

December 4, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple Spaceship HQ

December 4, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

To have and have not

GDP

GDP per person and share of global population, by country.

[via the Economist]

December 4, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abraham Lincoln Penny Portrait

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From the website:

Honor the 16th U.S. President with a portrait of Honest Abe himself made entirely from one cent coins.

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The Penny Portrait includes a poster template that guides you in creating a strikingly accurate portrait using only four shades of pennies.

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Simply gather $8.46 worth of pennies and glue them to the included poster to create a unique and sparkling tribute.

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The set includes detailed instructions, a 12-page booklet of Lincoln trivia, and a genuine 1943 steel penny (produced for only one year to conserve copper during WWII).

The completed Lincoln Penny Portrait is 18" x 24".

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$19.99 (just so it's crystal clear, the 846 pennies required to create your masterwork are not included).

December 4, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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