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Beethoven’s 10th Symphony, Now Complete

A team of music historians, musicologists, composers, and computer scientists worked together to finish Beethoven’s unfinished 10th symphony. The said symphony has been puzzled over by Beethoven fans and musicologists. 

When Ludwig von Beethoven died in 1827, he only left some musical sketches of the unfinished piece. He was unable to finish the work due to deteriorating health. The team used artificial intelligence to teach a machine both Beethoven’s entire body of work and his creative process in order to reconstruct and finish the musician’s 10th symphony. 

To learn more about the process of reconstructing and finishing Beethoven’s unfinished musical piece, check the full piece here. 

Image credit: Circe Denyer / CC 1.0 Universal

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Creepy Clowns In A Cornfield

Vintage Halloween pictures are often quite unsettling, because the costumes are creepily unprofessional and the lack of color makes them even creepier. It's as if these clowns wanted to inspire laughter, but ended up terrifying the crap out of us. But this isn't a vintage picture.  

Photographer Tara Mapes does beautiful full color portraits, but her heart is in the creepy side of the art. Every fall she stages a photo shoot for halloween to bring out the horrors associated with the holiday. Check out last year's portrait gallery, and a photo shoot at an abandoned asylum.

This year, Mapes went to the cornfield and brought some clowns. What could be more terrifying than that? Oh, you'll find out, when you check out the rest of the gallery for Halloween 2021.

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An Unusually Useful Model Railway

If you want to run a railway, you've got to train people to control the tracks, so that trains can get where they need to go without crashing into each other, or snarling up traffic for hours at a time. In Germany, these signal operators are trained at the Eisenbahnbetriebsfeld in Darmstadt. The facility has a model train that may not be the biggest or prettiest in the world, but it is probably the most accurate, because it is used to teach rail traffic control.

However, not every train station in Germany uses the same controls. The Eisenbahnbetriebsfeld model train can be controlled by mechanical switches, which can be a hundred years old, or by electronic switching from the mid-20th century, or by computerized systems that only the wealthier cities have. If you want to be a railway signal operator in Germany, you'll have to learn all the systems. Tom Scott shows us how it's done.

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An Elaborate Ride Through the Backyard on a Hot Wheels Track

The guy who goes by Backyard Racing has a large back yard and plenty of time on his hands. He spent four months and $9,000 building an enormous Hot Wheels track. Why? So he could strap a camera to some wheels and share a POV video with us! We soar through every corner of the property, including a leap through the air, a couple of underwater sequences, and loop-the-loops.

The effect of watching this is akin to going on a roller coaster ride without waiting in line or tossing your cookies. Keep your eyes on the tracks going around the turns and you'll know what I mean.

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Fantastic Images from Photography Competitions of 2021

It's photography award seasons, so there are a LOT of fantastic images from various photography competitions that you shouldn't miss.

We've compiled the winners and shortlisted entries of many of these photography competitions across the new Picto sites - from funny animals of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards to the breathtaking aerial shots of the Drone Photo Awards to the majestic celestial objects galaxies away in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award.

Above is "Time for School" by Chee Kee Teo, featuring an otter momma taking a baby otter back and fro for a swimming lesson - view more finalists of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

More beautiful, interesting, and intriguing images of 2021 photo competitions below:

"The Golden Ring" by Shuchang Dong - view more Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021.

"Pink-Footed Geese Meeting the Winter" by Terje Kolaas - view more Drone Photo Awards 2021

"Der Clan kuschelt" ("The clan cuddles") by Josef Schwarz - view more CEWE Photo Awards 2021


A green turtle, surrounded by glass fish, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia by Aimee Jan - view more 2021 Ocean Photography Awards

"Blocked" by Alejandro Prieto - view more Bird Photographer of the Year 2021

"The Great Swim" by Buddhilini de Soyzaj - view more 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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Sophia Ahamed’s Saturated Flowers Over Nighttime Skies

Bright, saturated flowers are the central point of Sophia Ahamed’s new series. The clusters of flowers in vibrant shades of red and pink are behind the expanses of cloudy, blue-ish violet skies. The striking difference between the vibrant flowers and the subdued, faded background is designed to skew perceptions of fiction and reality. Ahamed further explains her work to Colossal. “We associate color with how we perceive the world around us, memories, and emotion,” she says, “Often at times, these elements can act as well as a gentle escape into something more soothing.”

See more of her work here! 

Image credit: Sophia Ahamed 

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Stray Dog Comforts Actor Pretending To Be Hurt

Aww! A stray dog interrupts a street performance in order to comfort an actor who was pretending to be hurt. This adorable interaction between actor Numan Ertuğrul Uzunsoy and the dog is truly heartwarming! 

The stray pupper interrupted the play to offer Uzunsoy comfort when his character was injured and in great pain. The actor admits that he did not see the dog approaching him during his scene. At first, Uzunsoy thought his costar was approaching him. Upon realizing that it was a dog, he broke character and smiled. “I was very happy when I felt the dog's kisses,” Uzunsoy said. “I was very touched. He was like an angel who wanted to help me. It was a very emotional moment for me. I was not expecting it.”

Image credit: İzmit Belediyesi

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Uniqlo’s First Coffee Shop In Ginza

Popular Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, known for its simple and minimalistic apparel, has opened its first cafe in Ginza. The new shop, called Uniqlo Coffee, is located on the top floor of their global flagship store. The cafe follows the brand’s minimalist look, with white walls and simple yet refreshing wooden accents. 

This place will now be added to my travel bucket list!

Image credit: Uniqlo 

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Are Left-Handed People Smarter?

Maybe it’s time to let the data do the talking. In order to find out if left-handed people were actually smarter than the rest of the population, researchers studied the mathematical achievements of right- and left-handed students in Italy. Left-handed students had a significant edge on the more difficult math problems compared to the right-handed students. 

According to a meta-analysis of 43 studies, left-handed people have a larger corpus callosum. This is the bundle of nerve fibers that connect the two hemispheres of the brain. A stronger connection between the two hemispheres allows left-handers to have stronger spatial abilities, which are linked to mathematics. 

To learn more about the possible explanations as to how left-handed people are smarter, check Live Science’s full piece here. 

Image credit: wikimedia commons 

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What Homestar Runner Gave the Internet

Before social media, before iPhones, before YouTube, even, there was Homestar Runner. It was goofy and subversive, but it was funny and innovative. The experimental Flash animation didn't need any promotion because it had no competition on its level. It didn't need search engine optimization because it was shared granularly. If that sounds like jargon to you, what it means is that everyone liked Homestar Runner because it was weird and innovative, so people turned their friends and acquaintances onto it. This video takes a look at how Homestar, Strong Bad, and the other characters took over the early internet to the delight of all who explored the web back when you were desperate to find anything really worth the effort. It succeeded because it was fun, and fun was what we were looking for.

The cartoon survived the demise of Flash. As old (in internet terms) as Homestar Runner is, it's still there, even though the videos are now hosted by YouTube. -via Digg

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If a Human Died on Mars, Would Their Body Decompose?

There is a planet nearby that is totally populated by robots. But we are going to Mars eventually, or at least of few of us humans will. Therefore, we have to consider all facets of human life as they might be played out on Mars, and that includes death. Sending a dead body back to earth would not be a priority, but what would happen to that body on Mars?

On earth, a dead body that is not embalmed eventually decomposes due to the effects of bacteria and other microbes, insects, fungus, scavenger animals, moisture, and weather. On Mars, there would be no other life forms besides those microbes we carry in our bodies, and the majority of those need oxygen to survive. They also need warmth, and Mars temperatures range from freezing to very much colder.

So what would happen to a deceased human on the red planet? Cremation would be an unnecessary expenditure in oxygen and energy, so burial is a sensible alternative, yet that doesn't mean ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Alison Klesman at Astronomy explains what would likely happen to a dead body in the Martian environment, and offers options for how to deal with it.  -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Kevin Gill)

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Researchers Are Developing "Smart Toilets" That Recognize You by Butt Print and Assess Your Health

Perhaps you've grown used to a very simple relationship with your toilet. Perhaps you use it for only one purpose. But that will change in the future. Competing research teams across the United States are developing "smart toilets" that, with cameras, can identify each user by their "anal print" and diagnose health problems.

The Wall Street Journal (paywall link) reports about various emerging smart toilet designs that will closely monitor your urine and feces. Stanford University's design will chemically test all urine. Duke University's will take stool samples to test for blood and proteins. Other designs will measure blood pressure and heart rate.

Who needs these toilets? Perhaps not you, but the start-up companies working on health-monitoring smart toilets see future markets in assisted living facilities, where staffs could appreciate early warning signs about patient illness.

-via Dave Barry

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Vintage Cocktail Recipe Books

Vanessa at Messy Nessy Chic presents twenty vintage books on liquor and how to prepare it. Some of them are connected with famous venues of the past, while others have wonderful titles such as So Red the Nose, Here's How to be Healthy, Wet Drinks for Dry People, and For Snake Bites -or Something. The covers are notable, too, as they tend toward Art Deco style.  

The oldest is The American Bar-Tender, published in 1874. The alternate title is "The art and mystery of mixing drinks, together with preservations on the quality of wines, liquors, and cigars, to which is attended several hundred toasts, patriotic, firemen's, political, lovers, sporting, etc."

A particularly intriguing volume is Giggle Water, a book published in 1928 New York during Prohibition that tells you how to ferment your own wine and other drinks at home. Many of the books are from the 1930s, when America needed to re-learn how to use legal liquor, instead of just guzzling what they could get.

You'll find an index of these books with links to read them in full at Messy Nessy Chic.

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The World's Most Hated Fast Food Brands

The map above comes from Rave Reviews, who crunched the numbers and ranked the most-hated brands in each nation. They have world maps of overall brands, game companies, and big tech companies, but what we all have in common are our feelings about major fast food companies, because we all eat, we are all occasionally in hurry, and the biggest brands are global. They got their data from Twitter, where it's easy for people to vent their frustrations and register their opinions.

As you can see, the most hated fast food company in the US is Domino's. It look like a lot of people are a Noid with the pizza outlet. It makes sense that Mexico hates Taco Bell the most, but I had no idea that Japan and Thailand also have Taco Bell, where they don't like it. Starbucks and Wendy's have a lot of enemies around the world, but the fast food brand that tops more nations hate list than any other is KFC, according to negative Tweets. Maybe it's because it sounds so good when you decide to go, but afterward you regret spending so much to ingest so much salt and grease.

Check out the complete article at Rave Reviews, where you can see a brand breakdown by each of the United States as well, enlargeable maps, and learn about their methodology. -via The Takeout

(Image credit: Rave Reviews/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Dasha Plesen's Petri Dish Art

Can growing fungus be a beautiful thing? You betcha, but only under the right circumstances. Russian artist Daria Fedorova, who goes by Dasha Plesen professionally, uses petri dishes of growing bacteria, fungus, and slime molds to make art. She often adds inert objects to impede growth (like beads in the above images), or different nutrients to boost growth. It takes weeks to reveal what the finished piece will look like.  

Plesen says her art explores "the relationship between science, religion and art." The petri dishes are an example of nature taking its course while she sets up the conditions from above. They go through stages, but are ultimately ephemeral, surviving only through photographs.  

You must admit that these molds and fungi look much nicer in a petri dish than they do behind your sink. Read more about Plesen's work at Colossal. See more her creations at Instagram. -via Nag on the Lake

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