sodiumnami's Blog Posts

Art Conservator Restores A Portrait Of Isabella De Medici

Ellen Baxter of the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMA) has finished her hard work in restoring a 16th-century portrait of Isabella de Medici. She was the daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Eleonora di Toledo. 

Her artwork was actually concealed beneath a 19th-century overpainting depicting what is assumed to be her mother. Baxter undertook a laborious process of restoring the years of damage through inpainting with tiny brushes. She also used pipettes of varnish and solvent. “You have to …tell her she’s going to look lovely,” she stated. 

The conservator was brought into the project after Louise Lippincott, the CMA’s former curator of fine arts, ran across the work in the museum’s basement storage. Lippincott, who thought that the art was “awful” let Baxter look at it for her second opinion. 

Baxter had a hunch that something wasn’t right, and an x-ray confirmed her initial read on the situation, which was extra layers of paint over the original artwork. After the confirmation, Baxter then proceeded to carefully strip the dirty varnish and other layers until the face of de Medici could be seen. “I’m not the artist. I’m the conservator,” she further explained.”It’s my job to repair damages and losses, to not put myself in the painting.”

And what a good job it was!

Image credit via Carnegie Museum of Art

Make Sure To Follow This Swimsuit Law in France!

We don’t want you to get arrested on your vacation!

France is a beautiful country filled to the brim with various cities and towns that you can enjoy, as well as lots of tourist attractions that will be a treat to the senses. But be careful– France is also notorious for its quirk laws that make visitors puzzled. 

Did you know that the country has strict rules on what you can wear to public pools and beaches? If you want to take a dip in a public bathing area, the law requires you to wear specific items of clothing. To elaborate, men need to wear either un slip de bain (trunks) or un boxer (tight shorts) and in some areas, swimming caps.

Loose-fitting or baggy shorts are prohibited, as France considers it to be unhygienic. And before you come at us with pitchforks, this isn’t a new rule — it can be traced to date back to 1903. "Small, tight trunks can only be used for swimming. Bermudas or bigger swimming shorts can be worn elsewhere all day, so could bring in sand, dust or other matter, disturbing the water quality," Emmanuel Dormois, a head pool attendant in Paris' 11th arrondissement, told The Guardian.

Image credit: Korhan Erdol

Otherworldly Locations On Earth

We were also bamboozled. These areas might look directly lifted from a set in Star Wars, Star Trek, or any popular science fiction novel that has been on mainstream media. These stunning locations are very much of Earthly descent. 

As you can see from the photo above– that’s not edited or generated by a computer. That is a snapshot of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone, in the western part of the United States. The area’s hottest spring has a wild rainbow pattern that is naturally created by thermophilic algae and bacteria along a temperature gradation. At the center of the spring, which is colored in blue, is the hottest part of the body of water. Nature is honestly amazing! 

Learn about the other places on Earth that feel otherworldly here! 

Image credit: Mariana Bobina

Stanford Executive Resigns After Photoshopped Images Found On His Research

One would expect that the people in top positions in an establishment that prioritizes academic integrity would follow that principle. This one, sadly, did not. 

Marc Tessier-Lavigne has resigned from his post as president of Stanford University after a student journalist revealed that the photos he included in his research papers were digitally altered and falsified. Tessier Lavigne left the post after seven years of service to the institution after the report showed proof of his wrongdoings. 

According to NPR, a total of twelve papers authored by Tessier-Lavigne were found to have photoshopped images. These include lab panels that were digitally stitched together, panel backgrounds that were altered, as well as blot results that were not his, but taken from other research papers. Yikes!

Theo Baker, an 18-year-old student journalist, was the one who revealed the proof behind the photos to the public. “The allegations revolved around the idea that images that were published in his papers had been manipulated and Photoshopped to show results that they did not actually represent,” Baker told ABC 7 News Bay Area. 

The student further stated that the news of the former president publishing manipulated results was not new. “They were hiding in scientific forums, they were hiding on blog posts, but they had never been reported even when he assumed the post of Stanford’s president where he directs an institution with more than $8.9 billion in yearly funding — higher than 11 U.S. states,” Baker shared.

Aside from resigning from his post, Tessier-Lavigne has issued retractions concerning the papers that had manipulated images. However, a panel hired by Stanford to review the issue concluded that the former president did not have a big enough role in publishing the facts and figures on the reports he co-authored. For the other papers that he was the main author, the scientific panel also decided that he was not aware of the manipulations. 

“I agree that in some instances I should have been more diligent when seeking corrections, and I regret that I was not,” Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement. “The Panel’s review also identified instances of manipulation of research data by others in my lab. Although I was unaware of these issues, I want to be clear that I take responsibility for the work of my lab members.”

Image credit: wikimedia commons

Woman Sends Note To Plane Passenger, His Response Goes Viral

It’s like a scene from a rom-com movie. 

A woman onboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Nashville to San Diego shared her cute experience concerning a man on TikTok, which subsequently went viral. The lady, named Natalie, can be seen explaining the story in the video. "I'm already on the plane, and I see him getting on and think 'oh he's cute,'" Natalie shared. “And the entire plane ride I was thinking, 'should I shoot my shot?'” 

And shoot her shot she did! She decided to wait until the very end of their flight to send a note so that she wouldn’t make him feel uncomfortable. "I didn't want to make it awkward so I waited until the very end," she explained. "I tapped him on the shoulder by the window, and he turns around and says 'oh did I drop this?" and I was like 'just open it.'"

The man read her note, which was scribbled underneath a printed message on a tissue that said “No one wants crumbs on their keyboard.” Natalie wrote, “If you’re single or interested, text me sometime.” She ended her message with a smiley face, her number, and her name. The “cute” passenger turned his head around and introduced himself to her. 

In the end, the two hit it off and talked for an hour after getting off the plane. Natalie updated the masses that he is single and went on a date with her, sharing that it went well. “He did ask to see me again later this week so we'll see... and we joked about me shooting my shot," she added.

Image screenshot via  TikTok/nataliebonbon

Is Twitter Suing Meta For Their Threads App?

Let’s be real for one second: Twitter is going through some things right now. After the turnover to Elon Musk, the application has been experiencing some downfalls. From errors to Musk trying to capitalize on every single thing that made the platform popular anyway, it’ll be no surprise if Twitter will be abandoned should Musk and the people at the top continue to make bad decisions for its users. 

Probably seeing Twitter’s downfall as an opportunity, other social media apps have been popping into existence, trying to be the next Twitter. Meta has put their own into the game, launching Threads. Pitched by the company as a “friendly” alternative to Musk’s platform. In response, the billionaire simply posted that "competition is fine, cheating is not." 

Threads look and function similarly to Twitter. According to BBC News technology reporter James Clayton, the news feed and the reposting were familiar. If Twitter plans to sue Meta over this particular aspect, then they would have a hard time making their suit successful. This is because US copyright law does not protect ideas. Twitter has to prove that its own intellectual property, such as programming code, was taken by Meta. 

It turns out that Twitter has plans of taking this issue to court. Semafor first reported that Alex Spiro, an attorney for the company, sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta. In the letter, Spiro accused Meta of  "systematic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and other intellectual property" to create Threads. "Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information," the letter says. "Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice."

Image credit: EPA

So, Can You Really Eat Octopuses?

They’re not poisonous, and their meat has been used in different kinds of dishes all over the world. The discussion has less to do with their edibility and more with their brains. The question on our minds is whether or not it is ethical to eat these eight-legged cephalopods. This is because they are known to be highly-intelligent sea animals, and just like us, have wildly varying personalities from individual to individual. 

According to marine biologist Dr. David Scheel, not really. The Alaska Pacific University has been studying these animals for over two decades, and if there is someone who knows these cephalopods well, it’s him. 

Dr. Scheel finds them more interesting alive than being a delicacy. However, he prefers it if people eat octopuses not because they are an exotic or weird treat they’ve never had before.  It’s not their uniqueness that should make eating them questionable, but what kind of relationship people had with these animals before they chose them for their next meal.

“So the biggest concern for me is the kinds of things that we do to the animals that we raise for food,” he tells Salon in an interview. “If you're getting your food out of the wild, that's the beginning of the interaction in a way, right? Whereas if you're getting your food from farmers who raised them, then the interaction has been going on since that animal was born.” 

Read more about his interview with Salon here. 

Image credit: Pia B

Father And Daughter Find Something Deadly Under A Tree While Walking

This parental duo was strolling in Victoria, Australia when they stumbled upon a rare sight under a tree. The father and daughter spotted an unusual gathering of red-bellied black snakes at the base of the large hollow tree. 

The two counted at least 12 of these deadly snakes. The animals also varied in size, ranging from 20 centimeters to around 1.3 meters. The walkers believed that there is a possibility that there were many smaller ones hidden from their sight at that time. A video of the larger snakes basking in the sun under the tree was posted on Facebook as well. 

According to Kane Durrant, an ecologist at Wild Conservation, these snakes are gathered at the base of the tree not because they are mating, but because they are sharing a communal den over the winter months.“Snakes don’t go to sleep for the whole winter, they will come out periodically and bask in the sun, and also move around just to have a drink here and there,” Durrant told Yahoo! News Australia. “But usually they don’t venture very far from their den or from their hideout that they’ve found.

Image via Yahoo! News

MSG’s Big Sphere Lights Up In Las Vegas

It’s definitely saying hello to the world. Also, impressive marketing stunt!

The MSG Sphere in Las Vegas lit up for a few minutes, flashing cascading red and yellow lights with the message “Hello World” on the LED screen. Designed by Populous, the Madison Square Garden Sphere is a $2.3 billion project expected to be the world’s largest spherical structure once it opens in September. 

The structure is set to contain the world’s highest and most prominent LED screen, measuring 19,000 x 13,500 pixels. Set to open in September, rock band U2 will open up its Las Vegas residency in the MSG Sphere, and will perform on September 29 and 30. But let’s talk about its short stunt. 

A video of the sphere went viral online on Twitter. This was when the building was first ever revealed to the public. At first glance, it looks like someone just dropped a mysterious gigantic orb in the middle of the desert paradise. To other onlookers, with how the messages and images flash on the screen, it seemed like a rotating ball of lava. Pretty cool, but also a bit baffling. “First animation of the MSG Sphere this morning,” one of the users commented. “This is going to be the coolest building in the world.”

The MSG Sphere will contain 18,000 seats and an HD screen that spans up to more than three football fields. We may be looking at the next concert venue for big artists in the years to come.

Image credit: Twitter / @MichelR3764150

California Grad Student Commutes Via Plane To Go To Classes

Apparently, he saves up more through this method!

Bill, a graduate student from the University of California, has shared his story on a viral Reddit post claiming he survived living in Los Angeles and commuting to Berkeley University in California. "I knew I would go back to LA after graduation because I want to go back to my previous employer once I graduate," he said in a viral Reddit post titled ‘I survived living in LA and commuting to Cal by plane over the past academic year to save on rent, AMA.’

He noticed that the student housing near his university was worth $1,600 per month (without the utilities), and should he rent there, he would be required to stay for twelve months even though his program only lasts for ten. He believed he didn’t need to stay close, as his course didn’t require him to be on-site every day. 

He further explained that he purchased his tickets months in advance, and he can cancel flights the night before if his schedule changed because he has elite status with airlines Alaska and Southwest. “This is probably one of the craziest (things) I've done in my life," he said. "And I'm so glad I made it through, without missing ANY classes, that itself is a miracle."

Image credit: Vincent Lebis

Archaeologists Find Treasure That Was Buried 3,000 Years Ago

Archaeologists set out to a valley near Oberhalbstein, Switzerland, to uncover ancient Roman ruins. Their aim was to find some evidence left behind by the Roman military, a once powerful force in the world. However, instead of what these people wanted, they got something much older: a 3,000-year-old collection of buried treasure.

Around 80 artifacts were found in the treasure trove, and have been dated to be from 1200 B.C. to 1000 B.C., or the late Bronze Age. According to archaeologists from the Archaeological Service of Graubünden, these items were intentionally damaged to be unusable. They was then placed in a wooden box, wrapped in leather, and then buried in the valley. 

This practice, according to these experts, is called selective dumping. It is a method that involves destroying and dumping valuable metal items. The artifacts did include some metal objects, such as raw copper, sickles, axes, and jewelry pieces.

Read more about the discovery here!

Image credit: The Archaeological Service of Graubünden

There Was Pizza In Pompeii?

An artwork was discovered in the remains of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Found by excavators in Region IX, located in the center of the city, it was hung on the wall in an annex of a house that included a bakery. This painting suggests that the residents of the city could have been munching on the earliest version, or at least the possible precursor to modern Italian pizza. 

The fresco, dated to be around 2,000 years old, shows a flatbread that looks like the distant ancestor of the modern delicacy, at least according to the Italian Culture Ministry. The dish featured in the painting doesn’t really have the ingredients that make it technically a pizza, but archaeologists said that the toppings on the flatbread were fruits such as pomegranates or dates.

Additionally, instead of the classic tomato sauce, it looks to have been seasoned with spices and some kind of pesto sauce. “How can we fail to think, in this regard, of pizza, also born as a 'poor' dish in southern Italy, which has now conquered the world and is also served in starred restaurants,” Pompeii director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said.

Image credit: Italian Culture Ministry 

Belgium’s Shot Putter Agreed To Jump Hurdles For The Team

Have you noticed the video of an athlete in a race where she was taking her sweet time with the hurdles? Well, that was Jolien Boumkwo of Belgium in the European Team Championships in Krakow, Poland. It wasn’t that the country sent the worse runner because she was their only and/or best bet– it was due to the fact that they had no choice. Anyone was enough for the second heat of the 100-meter hurdles.

The two hurdlers they brought to the meet got injured, and if the country did not send a delegate to the starting line in the hurdle event, their team would be disqualified. Running out of choices, this is when Boumkwo entered the picture. The shot-putter volunteered. “I thought the chance would have been very small of me having to do this,” she shared. 

Boumkwo only learned that she will be running the day before, but she was not that nervous. She shared that she tried to not think about it too much and just enjoy it. “If I’m going to do this, I want to make the best of it and try to enjoy it,” she stated. Well, she did seem to have fun. The athlete smiled and waved to the camera, and the 29-year-old took the race seriously and took it hurdle by hurdle. Her goal was not to win, but to finish on her feet. She cleared every obstacle and finished in 32.81 seconds, which is pretty good for someone who wasn’t really trained for that sport.

Image credit: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters

OpenAI CEO To Secure $100 Million To Scan Every Eyeball In The World

The man behind OpenAI, the company that has been spearheading the wide use of AI in different industries has more tricks up his sleeve. Financial Times has revealed that Sam Altman, the CEO of the organization, is in talks to secure around $100 million investment for Worldcoin. 

Worldcoin is another of his ventures that involve scanning everybody’s eye and exchanging their data for some amount of crypto. It aims to invoke OpenAI’s vision of powerful automation, and promises to usher a “path to AI-funded UBI.” Sounds a bit vague to us, to be honest. With how the crypto industry has been facing quite a downfall, the news of Altman securing $100 million in investment for his project is quite surprising. But it is a testament to how he can persuade investors and how much weight his name brings to the table. 

While the idea of scanning every single eyeball in the world sounds a bit tedious and ridiculous to achieve, Worldcoin has been making progress on its project. According to Fortune, roughly 40,000 people’s irises got scanned with the company’s orb-shaped device per week starting in March of this year, for an estimated total of 1.4 million people getting their eyes scanned. That’s a lot– but not enough compared to the 8 billion people on the planet. 

Image credit: Engin Akyurt

Woman Finds Plates Made By Picasso In A Thrift Store

If we ever found a piece of artwork made by a renowned artist for such a low price, we’d cry too. Thrift store enthusiast Nancy Cavaliere was in an establishment trying to find the next set of trinkets that would join her collection in her apartment when she discovered some interesting-looking ceramics that was being sold for $1.99 per plate. “I stumbled on the plates during my daily trip to the store,” Cavaliere told Newsweek. “On my way out I noticed some new china had been added to the shelves. My first reaction was that they would make a great tablescape, but then I turned them over and saw the Picasso tag.”

Whether or not the Picasso tag was real, the plates were fascinating and cheap enough for her, so she checked out and ran back to her office to do some research. It turns out that the plates she got were part of a large set of ceramics that the famed artist did during his time. Realizing just how much value she just got for a measly $6 in total, she freaked out and started crying. 

Now, Cavaliere shares just how she screamed and threw up during the auction for her plates, which they were initially expecting to only sell for around $4,000 each. The collectors, however, surprised her when all of the ceramics sold for over $10,000 each instead. “It was absolutely bananas,” Cavaliere said. “I was watching the auction from the office ‘screaming crying throwing up.'”


Image credit: Nancy Cavaliere

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