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November 15, 2019



Manhole covers, drains, grates, trench covers —


someone had to design


of these.


Functional and ornamental,


there's a lot of interesting stuff


happening down by your feet.

November 15, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thank you, Joe Stirt.

Thank you  Joe Stirt

Above, what appears at the bottom of each day's Washington Post online.

What a simple yet powerful way to personalize the impersonal internet.

Just one of about a zillion changes, all for the better, to the Post's website since Jeff Bezos rescued the paper from its death spiral.

November 15, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ultra-black birds are the new black

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 5.43.01 PM

Above, a male Victoria's riflebird.

It was featured in Natalie Angier's New York Times story about so-called "dark traps" created by scientists, from which light cannot escape.

It turns out nature already has built a few of her own.

From the article:

Blacker beauties canter through the natural world, too.

Biologists lately have identified cases of superblack coloration in birds, spiders, and vipers that go far beyond the standard melanin-based pigments of a crow's plumage or a black cat's fur, and vie with lab-grown carbon nanotubes in their structural complexity and power to conquer light.

As Dakota McCoy of Harvard University and her colleagues have reported in Nature Communications and the Royal Society Proceedings B, the feathers of some species of birds-of-paradise... rival the luxurious blackness of a lab-grown carbon nanotube jacket, reflecting well under 0.5 percent of the light cast upon them.

The researchers determined that, in addition to being flush with the dark pigment melanin, the superblack body parts in... the birds... had an unusual microstructure.

"If you're a biologist, you know what a feather should look like," said Ms. McCoy, who is completing her doctorate. But on examining a black feather from a bird-of-paradise under a microscope, "I almost fell out of my chair."

Rather than lying in a flat, smooth plane, as normal feathers do, the dense, tiny branches of this feather curved upward by 30 degrees and were edged with spikes.

That bristling structure, the researchers showed, created cavities of an ideal size and shape for trapping light.

In... birds, the superblacks seem to be part of a masculine ruse.

The blacks are always next to bright colors [top]: the vivid splashes of teal, yellow, lime-green, violet and electric blue that males must flaunt in their mating displays.

By aggressively absorbing light in the areas surrounding the colorful bits, the superblacks stanch the sort of visual cues the female might use to judge the relative brightness of the ambient light.

Without such comparative information, the female can only conclude the male's colors are better than brilliant: They're lit from within.

Little black dresses are slimming — and little black feathers scam the eye.

November 15, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best-Selling Music Artists 1969-2019

November 15, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)



Possibly my favorite thing


of 2019.



November 15, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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