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Carved Paintings by Hannah Jensen

This is a skateboard. Hannah Jensen, an artist in New Zealand, covered it with 57 layers of paint. Then, drawing upon her background in printmaking, cut away selected layers until she was left with this eye-popping image of a kingfisher on the hunt. In an interview for Museum Week, Jensen succinctly described her technique as "textural and topographical."

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How AI Renders Realistic Images from Famous Paintings

Nathan Shipley, a graphic and digital artist in San Francisco, rendered famous paintings and cartoon characters as photographic images with the assistance of an artificial intelligence. You can find more examples of this project and an interview with him at Bored Panda. He explains that the AI has its own unique view of its subjects:

it’s fascinating to explore how an AI model built on a particular dataset with a particular framework can 'see' the world and then transform images. The AI 'knows' only what it has already seen and filters the world through this lens. Each little tweak to the dataset, the training parameters, the model, and the input imagery all have the possibility to change the output. This is a space to explore how artificial neural networks interpret the world in a way that can be similar to our own minds. I’m not saying that an image I created is what Mona Lisa actually looked like, but it is how the machine sees her based on this particular arrangement of variables. That, to me, is fascinating.

-via Design You Trust


This One's for David

David Friedman, who will always be known as the guy who coined the word "keming," had a little fun with the very commonness of his name by editing a supercut of it from movies and TV. Send it to someone you know, maybe David. -via Laughing Squid


The Cat Who Immigrated in a Mail Sack

The RMS Aquitania carried both mail and passengers from Manchester, England, to New York City. When it arrived in New York on December 11, 1920, there was quite a scare when workers unloaded the intercontinental mail.

When the Aquitania arrived in New York that Saturday morning, all of the mail bags were loaded onto the pier. A workman noticed a slight movement in the bag and began yelling. “Help! Murder! A bomb!” All the men on the pier ran for their lives in complete panic.

After the frightened men calmed down, one of the workers approached the mail sack and loaded it onto a truck. The package was rushed to New York’s General Post Office on 8th Avenue at 33rd Street.

After opening the bag, the employees watched in amazement as the kitten jumped out and staggered across the room. He made his way to a radiator, where he stood shivering and chewing on a piece of paper that he had carried from the mail sack.

You'll be glad to know the story of the kitten had a happy ending, although his exact origin was never determined. The story made the papers, and may have overshadowed the bigger story of the Aquitania's return trip to England. Somehow, mysteriously, the president of the Sinn Fein Irish Republic Éamon De Valera managed to travel from America to Ireland, supposedly on the Aquitania without being arrested on its arrival in England. Read both the stories of the stowaway cat and the rumored human stowaway at The Hatching Cat. -via Strange Company


Put Bernie Anywhere

Senator Bernie Sanders made quite an impression at the presidential inauguration on Wednesday, dressed in trendy yet functional Vermont fashion, wearing distinctive mittens made by Jen Ellis. Sanders became an instant internet meme. And now we have an application that puts the senator in your front yard -or anywhere you want to put him, as long as it's on Google Maps.

Now I have a picture of Bernie sitting in my front yard. The generator, created by software engineer Nick Sawhney, can be found here. -via Laughing Squid

PS: Not content with photo manipulation, our friend Ochre Jelly went ahead and made a LEGO version!

-Thanks, Iain!


See-Through Lemon Meringue Pie

This sheer delight is a lemon meringue pie by James Dempsey, the resident master chef at the Blackmoor Dining Room in Leeds, UK. How does he make this marvel? Dempsey is keeping his recipe a secret, but he explained to the tabloid Metro that:

‘The most difficult part of the process is to make sure that the pie pastry shell is completely sealed to ensure it holds the lemon meringue pie filling. Failing to do this will be disastrous.’

Check out Dempsey's Instagram page, which is filled with culinary wonders to delight both the eyes and the mouth.

-via Atlas Obscura


The Origins of Chess

An article at History Hit asks the question, "Who invented chess?" That particular question doesn't have an answer, because chess, like many other things, wasn't invented so much as it was developed. It evolved from earlier games, so the question relies on a definition of chess that distinguishes it from earlier games. The earlier game in this case was chaturanga, played in India 1500 years ago. The game was set on board of 8x8 squares, with pieces designed on four types of military forces.

As with both chaturanga and modern chess, winning games of shatranj hinged on the fate of a single piece. When a player’s king was at risk of capture, their opponent would shout “shah!” (“king!”), before calling out “shah mat!” (“the king is finished!”) once they had trumped them – the origin of the word ‘checkmate’.

Ostensibly, though, the early ethos remained much the same wherever the game travelled. As well as a recreational pastime, chess was a strategy tool, adopted by military leaders as a way of sharpening their minds for the battlefield.

What brought chess into its modern form was the addition of a queen. Read how that changed the game in a brief history of chess. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Jorge Royan)


How to Photograph Squirrels Without Photoshop

Wildlife photographer Niki Colemont gives us a minute-long tutorial on photographing squirrels. It's a bit light on actual technique and tips, but his attitude and his little friends are so heartwarming that it doesn't really matter. -via Boing Boing


Jellied Moose Nose

You've successfully hunted a moose. Congratulations! As you butcher it, make sure that you use every part of the animal, from the tail to the nose.

How do you eat a moose's nose? Any good nose dish is stewed in its own natural juices and the jellied moose nose is no different. Atlas Obscura introduces us to this delicacy from Alaska and Canada:

A moose’s nose contains both white meat (from the bulb of the nose) and dark meat (from around the bones). The fur must be removed prior to cooking, either by being singed off over an open fire, peeled off after the nose has been boiled, or simply skinning the nose. Chefs then slice the nose and simmer it with onions, garlic, and an array of other spices, which may include cinnamon, cloves, allspice, or mustard seeds. Meat from other parts of the moose’s head, such as the ears and lips, may be added to the mix. Once the concoction has cooled down, the cook lays the pieces of meat in a loaf pan, douses them with broth, and places the mixture in the refrigerator so the broth can solidify. The resulting jelly is served like a loaf of bread and eaten in slices.

That's sounds delicious! If you are able to find and hunt moose in your area, then you can use this recipe to make your own jellied moose nose.


The International Tempest Over the World’s Most Famous Teapot

In 1879, English designer Christopher Dresser produced a small silver teapot in a sleek, geometric design. It wasn't practical enough to be mass-produced, so it remained a design concept. The modernistic design was decades ahead of its time, which only became apparent later. The teapot was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and was assumed to be the only one in existence. But in 2007, another turned up in Canada. A man in Quebec (assigned the pseudonym Tremblay) took a small teapot to a filming of Antiques Roadshow.

Before the actual filming of the episode began, the dealers sifted through the possessions of hundreds of guests in search of unexpected discoveries to highlight in the television show. Tremblay pulled out his Chinese bronze figure. The dealers merely looked at it and shrugged their shoulders. Their lack of interest changed to stupefaction, however, when the teapot was set on a table. The specialists formed a circle around the piece. The expert in English silver, Bill Kime, studied it carefully for authentic signs of age and checked its marks, which were clearly impressed on the bottom of the teapot. Kime was familiar with Dresser’s reputation as a late-nineteenth-century English designer and could barely believe the existence of this find. When the cameras started rolling, Kime declared that the teapot might fetch about $20,000 to $25,000 at auction, and perhaps even more. Tremblay beamed. He couldn’t believe his good fortune and returned home to consider the news of this too-hot-to-hold teapot.

When Tremblay signed up to sell the teapot through a British auction house, his actions triggered a Canadian law designed to prevent significant heritage art from leaving the country. Thus began a struggle among the owner, museum curators, appraisers, and the auction house over the tiny teapot. Read that story at the Walrus.  -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Chris 73)


The History of Plastic Surgery

Before the world was inundated with the material we call plastic, the word meant "capable of being molded." That was its meaning in early plastic surgery, as surgeons used a person's existing living tissues to replace the parts that had been lost to war injuries. This technique was pioneered by Sir Harold Gillies, a surgeon at the Queen’s Hospital in Kent who worked to restore faces that had been marked by the ordinance of World War I.

Plastic surgery, there is no doubt, was working miracles and giving these badly wounded men a new lease of life, and a new sense of hope. No wonder then that the Linlithgowshire Gazette was calling it in August 1917 ‘one of the greatest scientific triumphs which owes its existence to the war,’ whilst in May 1919 a colonel in the Freeman’s Journal is hailing the practice as a ‘priceless boon to mankind, and one for which we have to thank the war.’

The same colonel goes on to describe the ‘hundreds of ways in which plastic surgery will be invaluable in civilian times.’ And indeed it was to be. In December 1930 the Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian reports on the ‘Miracle of Surgery‘ that was performed on Skegness schoolboy Luke Foster, who was born with a congenital defect affecting his nose. Under the care of ‘one of the foremost plastic surgery specialists in the world,’ one Harold Gillies, Luke was given ‘a completely new nose,’ enabling him to ‘blow his nose for the first time in his life.’

Gillies' techniques were refined to help those with congenital defects, then to "improve" a person's looks in ways never imagined before. From building body parts like Foster's nose, to facelifts, ear tucks, nose jobs, and breast enhancements, you can skim through the history of plastic surgery as told in news stories at the British Newspaper Archive. -via Strange Company


To Celebrate Burns Night, Some Scots Have Launched Haggis into Space

Scotland brought into the world the best possible music (bagpipes), the best possible clothing (the kilt worn regimental fashion), and the best possible food (haggis). The latter is, of course, the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep, ground up and boiled inside the stomach of said sheep.

Scotland gave the world haggis and now it is giving that culinary wonder to the universe. A Scottish butcher named Simon Howie has arranged for a package of his finest to be launched into low Earth orbit.

This was done in preparation for Burns Night, an annual Scottish celebration in honor of that nation's most famous poet, Robert Burns. One traditionally eats haggis on that evening, which is January 25. Sky News reports:

The haggis was attached to a weather balloon and soared more than 20 miles (107,293ft) above the Earth - equivalent to nearly four times the height of Everest.
After taking off from the Simon Howie headquarters in Dunning, it travelled over Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills before landing safely in Lauder in the Borders.
Mr Howie said he wanted to start the year by "lifting the spirits of the general public" and was thrilled to work with Stratonauts "to take Scotland's national dish to new heights".

-via Dave Barry | Photo: Stratonauts/Simon Howie


Cookie Monster Agate

A geologist in Brazil found a geode that, when split open, has an uncanny resemblance to a Muppet we all know and love- Cookie Monster! Mineral specialist Mike Bowers posted the rock to Facebook in a video with the appropriate musical accompaniment. The blue quartz with the unique cut might fetch a pretty penny.

Mike wrote: “I think this is probably the most perfect Cookie Monster out there.

“I have seen others but here you have it complete on both sides.

“This is very unusual. There are a few famous agates out there: the owl; the scared face. But it is rare to find one so well defined like this.

“Prices can be very high. I was proposed over $10,000 (£7,300) by five different buyers.”

Yeah, that's good enough for me. You can buy a lot of cookies with that kind of dough. -via reddit

(Image credit: Mike Bowers)


Wildlife Photographers Talk About the Toughest Shot They’ve Taken

Great wildlife photographs don't just happen. Besides the skill of taking a good picture, it requires bravery, patience, perseverance, technology, luck, and the willingness to rough it in the pursuit of an unwilling subject. Still, photographers manage to capture amazing images. Greek wildlife photographer Panos Laskarakis tells about the time he watched lions take down buffaloes in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Getting photos of the action was dangerous, but the scene became even more dramatic over the next days.

The best part was yet to come though. In the middle of the next night, the lions came under attack from almost 30 hyenas that were trying to steal the kill from them! It was a rare and cruel scene that I, the guide on the safari, and clients, of course, had never seen before. The ferocity, the sounds of terror coming from everywhere, and the intense darkness made the shots very tough to get.

The next morning, this large male lion returned and peered through the bones, creating this portrait. That was the moment I felt the power of the king in my heart.”

Read Laskarakis' story, and those of five other photographers and their accounts of the toughest wildlife photo they ever took. -via Digg


Dutch Map of Languages

While many Europeans speak three or four languages, hardly any of them speak all of Europe's languages. But with so many countries in the relatively small area known as the European Union, they do encounter other languages they may or may not understand in speech or text. I don't know who created this map, but when redditor biker_philosopher posted it, he confirmed the perspective of native Dutch speakers. You can enlarge the map here. To answer your questions, "black speech" refers to the Dark Tongue of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. "Salsa Tequila" is the song you can listen to here. "Our second language" refers to how close Dutch is to English, although some commenters will tell you that Dutch resembles a drunk Englishman trying to speak German. Of course, people in all these nations could make a similar map from their own perspectives that would amuse or offend us just as much -if we could read it.

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