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19th Century Color Motion Picture

The Lumière brothers began producing moving pictures in the 1890s; this short of "The Serpentine Dance" required each frame of the film to be hand-colored.

Several links for this video indicate that it was produced in 1899, although the dialogue by the narrator implies a date of "1913."  The dance is in the style of "Butterfly Girl" Loïe Fuller, who used billowing skirts to create a serpentine dance for the Follies-Bergere; interestingly she is reported to have used multicolored and changing lights to illuminate her skirts during the performance - the effect that this video presumably is trying to recreate.

YouTube link, via Kottke.

The Persistence of Vinyl Records



The melting clock in Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory is a familiar icon.  One can purchase analog and digital versions of these clocks, hand-crafted by artists, but it is also possible to create one at home by recycling an old vinyl LP and following a series of simple directions...

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 220F/100C and toss in the record for a couple minutes. When it's thoroughly flopping about, yank it out and run to a table to do the next step.  Run! It hardens quickly!

Full directions are at Instructables, via Anything and Everything.

The Longest Point in the History of Professional Tennis - 29 minutes, 643 shots

This week marks the 25th anniversary of an historic tennis match.  At a Virginia Slims tournament in 1984, Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner exchanged 643 shots; it remains the longest single rally in the history of professional tennis.

The 6-hour-31-minute marathon was itself the longest match in tennis history for nearly 20 years and remains the longest match completed on a single day.

The rally that put Nelson-Dunbar and Hepner in the record books came at set point for Hepner, who was ahead, 11-10, in the second-set tie breaker, which lasted 1:47 on its own...

Hugh Waters, a former tennis coach and the owner of the Raintree club, remembered: “I had a lot of people coming up to me at the tournament saying the match was ridiculous, but I always jumped on them. It takes guts to do what they did.  “People don’t understand the mental aspect of the game: this was a battle of wills and real tennis fans like me could appreciate it.”

Among the astonishing elements to the match was this: If Hepner had won the epic rally, she would have forced a third set, and who knows how long the match might have lasted.

Link, via Metafilter.

Photo: Jean Hepner (L) in 1985 and Vicki Nelson Dunbar (R) in 1987.

"Winter Babies" are different from "Summer Babies"


The three graphs above show that women who give birth in winter months (blue dots) tend to be younger, less educated, and less likely to be married compared to mothers who give birth during the summer months (green dots).  The data displayed some  trends for the time period shown (1996-2001), but the summer/winter discrepancy remained surprisingly constant.

These data, reported by economists Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman at the University of Notre Dame, may offer an explanation for the observation that, compared to "summer babies," those born in winter months tend to do more poorly in school, are less healthy, earn less, and have shorter lifespans.

The mechanism behind these relationships, alternative explanations, and a long comment thread are available at the primary link.

Link, via Salon.

Immense Anglo-Saxon Gold and Silver Hoard Discovered

Experts in Great Britain are overwhelmed by both the magnitude and the quality of the objects, which include not only coins but beautifully-crafted works of art.  There are 1,500 items, most of which are warfare-related (sword pommel caps, hilt plates) and jewelry, crosses, and decorative items designed to be worn by males rather than females.  It appears to be a collection of trophies, perhaps from a battle or the accumulation of a military career.
The Staffordshire Hoard contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, making it far bigger than the Sutton Hoo discovery in 1939 when 1.5kg of Anglo-Saxon gold was found near Woodbridge in Suffolk.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: "This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

"(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells."

Some of the gold pieces are inlaid with precious stones such as garnets.  The hoard appears to date from the 7th century; at present there is no indication of who owned it or why it was buried in the Staffordshire field.

Link to BBC article and slideshow of 12 photos.

Link to a gallery of photos at The Guardian.

Photo credit to The Stafforshire Hoard, which appears to be a sort of "home page" for the find.

Can You Identify the Author of this Commonplace Book?

Artists use sketchbooks to store ideas for future use.  Bloggers have folders of bookmarks.  And some authors keep notebooks or "commonplace" books.

One well-known author recorded "ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use... for the most part they are merely suggestions or random impressions designed to set the memory or imagination working. Their sources are various—dreams, things read, casual incidents, idle conceptions, & so on..."

In order to keep his/her identity secret for the few moments it will take you to peruse this post, we'll use for a photo the family grouping at left without saying which one he/she is.

In 1934 the author presented the notebook to an R.H. Barlow "in exchange for an admirably neat typed copy from his skilled hand."  Several hundred selections from this commonplace book have been assembled at La Petite Claudine.  I've winnowed the list down to just a dozen.  Aficionados will recognize the writer immediately and can access the rest of the material at the link.
8 Hor. Sto. - Man makes appt. with old enemy. Dies—body keeps appt.

31 Prehistoric man preserved in Siberian ice. (See Winchell—Walks and Talks in the Geological field—p. 156 et seq.)

34 Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.

76 Ancient cathedral—hideous gargoyle—man seeks to rob—found dead—gargoyle’s jaw bloody.

88 Lonely philosopher fond of cat. Hypnotises it—as it were—by repeatedly talking to it and looking at it. After his death the cat evinces signs of possessing his personality. N.B. He has trained cat, and leaves it to a friend, with instructions as to fitting a pen to its right fore paw by means of a harness. Later writes with deceased’s own handwriting.

106 A thing that sat on a sleeper’s chest. Gone in morning, but something left behind.

112 Man lives near graveyard—how does he live? Eats no food.

131 Phosphorescence of decaying wood—called in New England “fox-fire”.

142 Members of witch-cult were buried face downward. Man investigates ancestor in family tomb and finds disquieting condition.

182 In ancient buried city a man finds a mouldering prehistoric document in English and in his own handwriting, telling an incredible tale. Voyage from present into past implied. Possible actualisation of this.

190 Primal mummy in museum—awakes and changes place with visitor.

217 Ancient (Roman? prehistoric?) stone bridge washed away by a (sudden and curious?) storm. Something liberated which had been sealed up in the masonry of years ago. Things happen.

Link. Photo via Chepachit.com.

Hair Today...

The creations of celebrity hairdresser Charlie le Mindu were on display yesterday during London fashion week.

At left is a sample from a gallery of 14 images assembled at The Guardian.  There are other entries in the collection that would make Cher (and Cthulhu) green with envy...

Link.  Photo credit: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Tea Eggs (Chinese Marbled Eggs)



These visually striking eggs are produced by hard-boiling an egg, cracking the shell, and then steeping the egg in a flavored tea or broth.  The batik-like marbling effect is more prominent when teas with high levels of tannin are used; the duration of the second boiling will influence both the color of the marbling and the degree to which the tea or broth flavor penetrates the egg.

http://ostermayer.tumblr.com/post/190848933/tea-egg-ingredients-6-eggs-3-tablespoons-soy (and photo credit), via Sharp as Teeth and Stars.

Could You Decipher the Arecibo Message?

On August 20, 1974, scientists at Cornell University and the National Science Foundation used the radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico to beam a message into space.  Encoded within the binary digits of the message was information related to the Solar System, our number system, basic chemistry, and human DNA.

1679 digits were used for the message on the presumption that "any sentient being" would recognize the number as the product of two prime numbers (23 and 73), allowing the digits to be then rearranged from a linear binary stream into a graphic format (depicted at left, enhanced with color for clarity).

The message has been traveling through space for 25 years and is not due to arrive at its destination for another 24,975 years.  Curiously, however, a reply was received in 2001, in the form of a crop circle near the Chilbolton radio telescope, in Hampshire, UK.  The "return message" inserts the element silicon into the vital chemical elements of life, and incorporates an extra strand in the DNA double helix.  The size of the creature depicted in the reply is approximately 3'4", consistent with earthly reports of extraterrestrial visitations.

Those who need help to work their way through the information in the original message will find guidance at the University of Utah's Physics and Astronomy Department, or at Wikipedia.  More information re the reply and its implications at Crop Circle Research dotcom.

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