Thursday Things: Zoom In Edition
5 August 2021. Vol 3 No 31 By Dan McGirt.
Welcome to Thursday Things! If you enjoy this edition, please click the heart icon in the heading or at the end of the post to let me know. You can also comment by clicking the dialogue bubble next to the heart.
“He puts the Poe in poet, if you ask me.” Photo by Tyler Quiring on Unsplash
You know Poe as a poet, a master of the macabre, perhaps as the creator of the detective story genre. But do you know Edgar Allan Poe: Self-Help Guru?
Poe, we can be pretty sure, wasn’t writing under any psychedelic influence, but he did have his own experiences of anxiety, depression, and/or periodic breaks with reality. He wrote “A Chapter of Suggestions” for money, netting 50 cents a page when it was published in an 1845 gift book, which may have helped alleviate some of his anxiety, if only for a moment. The reason you and I might find it a funny, poignant reading experience today is because Poe’s “Suggestions” sound a lot like contemporary self-help. He veers through a series of disconnected paragraphs, rattling on about probability, the imagination, why disappointed artists may drink too much in midlife, and more. Here are his bugbears, weaknesses, obsessions, hopes—plus a little how-to, dusted with 19th-century pop science and transparent wish-thinking—in one place and under 2,000 words.
Discussing Poe’s 1844 essay “A Chapter of Suggestions”
Exit quote from Poe: “All men of genius have their detractors; but it is merely a non distributio medii to argue, thence, that all men who have their detractors are men of genius.”
Shorter Poe: Haters gonna hate. But he adds the perfect retort. Read the whole thing - it’s only 2000 words.
In a preprint posted online Thursday night, researchers at Google in collaboration with physicists at Stanford, Princeton and other universities say that they have used Google’s quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine “time crystal.” In addition, a separate research group claimed earlier this month to have created a time crystal in a diamond.
Okay. You had me at “time crystal”. But what can you do with a time crystal?
“The consequence is amazing: You evade the second law of thermodynamics,” said Roderich Moessner, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, and a co-author on the Google paper. That’s the law that says disorder always increases.
Time crystals are also the first objects to spontaneously break “time-translation symmetry,” the usual rule that a stable object will remain the same throughout time. A time crystal is both stable and ever-changing, with special moments that come at periodic intervals in time.
Uh-huh. I’m already confused. Let me tell you what I get out of this article — Google has a time machine, powered by time crystals. Prove me wrong.
Speaking of time travel … This week marked the 40th Anniversary of MTV. I’m not sure what they show on MTV now, but back then it was music videos. MTV’s 40th Anniversary: How Video (Sort Of) Killed the Radio Star
At precisely 12:01AM on August 1, 1981, MTV, a.k.a. Music Television, began broadcasting via cable access for the first time. With opening shots of the Space Shuttle Columbia launch from April of the same year and of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, the inaugural episode kicked off with co-creator John Lack’s now-famous “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” introducing the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And, just like that, a revolution was started. Now, 40 years later, it is nearly impossible to overstate the impact this sea change had and continues to have in both music and TV.
You can relive history, by watching the very first two hours of MTV on YouTube.
I want my MTV!
Mexican Archaeologists Forced to Bury an Unusual Discovery Made in Old Aztec Capital. The headline sounds a horror movie happened and they decided it would be best to rebury whatever Aztec curse they dug up. The reality is a little more mundane:
In a strange turn of events, researchers in Mexico have announced they plan to rebury an unusual archaeological monument found in the outskirts of Mexico City – covering up an important historical discovery until some unknown time in the future.
The discovery in question is a tunnel built centuries ago as part of the Albarradón de Ecatepec: a flood-control system of dikes and waterways constructed to protect the historical city of Tenochtitlan from rising waters.
Intriguing, right? But why are they sealing it up? Were there mysterious deaths? A nightmare creature out of ancient legends stalking the night?
Actually, it was all down to a lack of funds:
The discovery was intended to be made into a public exhibit so that people could visit and inspect this unusual, centuries-old fusion of Aztec and Spanish cultural elements, but unfortunately, it's not to be.
Researchers from INAH have now announced that due to a lack of funds to properly construct the exhibit and protect the remarkable structure, the recently discovered tunnel section will now have to be covered up once more – with the tunnel to be reburied so that it doesn't become damaged, vandalized, or looted from.
Or at least that’s what they want us to think…
Google Arts & Culture has 1800 ultra-high resolution gigapixel images of classic paintings, including Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring and Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
What’s cool about this is that you can zoom in and view these works at a much closer level than you could if you were actually standing in front of them in a museum. Assuming you could even get that close. Granted, seeing the real thing is always the best way to appreciate a painting. But this way is a lot more accessible, especially in our current travel-hampered environment.
How did Google get all these detailed images? Probably using their time machine. You can learn more, including how they really did it, in this Open Culture article: A Gallery of 1,800 Gigapixel Images of Classic Paintings
“I should have worn sunblock.” Source: Open Culture via Google via Vermeer
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