Posts Tagged ‘Science Fact’

“Don’t blame Hollywood.” the come-on via Facebook’s SUPERNATURAL TALES page began, including a link to “The History of Creepy Dolls” by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie on SMITHSONIANMAG.COM.  So okay, I’ll bite.  McRobbie’s piece starts with a note about Pollock’s Toy Museum in London.  And in it, just before the exit, the “Doll Room”:  Dolls with “sleepy eyes”, with staring, glass eyes.  Dolls with porcelain faces, with “true-to-life” painted ragdoll faces, with mops of real hair atop their heads, with no hair at all.  One-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Victorian dolls, rare dolls with wax faces.  Dolls with cheery countenances, dolls with stern expressions.  Sweet dolls and vaguely sinister dolls.  Skinny Dutch wooden dolls from the end of the 19th century, dolls in “traditional” Japanese or Chinese dress.  One glassed-off nook of a room is crammed with porcelain-faced dolls in 19th-century clothing, sitting in vintage model carriages and propped up in wrought iron bedsteads, as if in a miniaturized, overcrowded Victorian orphanage.  The point then being that charming as the museum may be in general, some people can’t quite take the Doll Room, even going back all the way to the entrance to leave.

So I have a friend who doesn’t like puppets, but the thing is he’s not alone, that people in general may be creeped out by dolls and other human-like objects — Japanese designing overly anthropomorphic robots are reportedly contending with the same problem — and, according to McRobbie, it isn’t just because of movies with Chucky and other murderous play toys, but goes much deeper.  Much, much deeper.

According to psychologist Frank McAndrew, dolls inhabit [an] area of uncertainty largely because they look human but we know they are not.  Our brains are designed to read faces for important information about intentions, emotions and potential threats; indeed, we’re so primed to see faces and respond to them that we see them everywhere, in streaked windows and smears of Marmite, toast and banana peels, a phenomenon under the catchall term “pareidolia.”  However much we know that a doll is (likely) not a threat, seeing a face that looks human but isn’t unsettles our most basic human instincts.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of a little piece of plastic, but it’s sending out social signals,” says McAndrew, noting too that depending on the doll, these signals could just as easily trigger a positive response, such as protectiveness.  “They look like people but aren’t people, so we don’t know how to respond to it, just like we don’t know how to respond when we don’t know whether there is a danger or not  . . .  the world in which we evolved how we process information, there weren’t things like dolls.

But, hey, it’s a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon outside so let’s save the rest of this for tonight, as shadows lengthen and, perhaps, even a tiny chill wafts through the air.  Look behind you first, and make sure that noise you just heard is the cat, and then continue by pressing here.


This one’s been predicted often enough, actually, that it seems more like a joke than news — and as for the news part it’s really not actually being planned . . . yet.  But the power of advertising is great and, as a background detail when, say, those romantic sexbots of the previous post gaze out of their window to see the moon, well light pollution could also be a factor and who’s to say smog won’t obscure it all?  As for the joke part, this did come to my attention courtesy of Michael Parisi on Facebook’s FANTASY/SCIENCE/FICTION NEWS AND HUMOR site.  The article itself, by Anthony Cuthbertson on WWW.INDEPENDENT.CO.UK, is titled “Pepsi Considers Space Billboards to Project Logo Across Night Sky Using Satellites” and can be seen by pressing here.

But then as the article itself states:  It is not the first time extra terrestrial advertising has been proposed, with one Japanese startup aiming to place billboards on the surface of the moon by 2020.  Tokyo-based Ispace raised $90 million in 2017 to kickstart what it calls the “lunar economy”, which involves – at least in part – setting up small advertising hoards on the moon that can be viewed from Earth.

Okay, there’s no particular reason for it save that, by pure serendipity, I came across this one on the Interwebs and, what the heck, why not share?  Perhaps good for a laugh — or possibly compassion for our animal friends (the article explains that “the eel didn’t make it”) — but courtesy of POPSCI.COM, herewith “Megapixels:  This Is a Seal With an Eel Stuck Up Its Nose” by Rachel Feltman.  To see all click here (or, to start off your week. . . .).

Okay, this has to do with a commercial product, so all you’ll see here is a video of it in use (albeit with a link to press if you scroll beneath it).  But it made my day — and even if I’m not going to buy one, I can’t say I’m not tempted.  It comes to us courtesy of Peter Salomon, Danielle Kaheaku, et al., via HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION on FaceBook (which subsequently deleted it!), from “The 55 Most Genius Products We’ve Found on the Internet” by Danny Murphy on BESTPRODUCTS.COM.

So get ready, don’t blame me if you never want to take a bath again, and to see something you possibly never realized you were missing press here.

Though it was originally intended for biomedical research, the Mütter Museum is a funhouse for those with a morbid sense of curiosity, explains Jessica Ferri on THE-LINE-UP.COM.  She also suggests:  The next time you find yourself in Philadelphia, you may want to consider paying a visit to the infamous Mütter Museum.  It was founded in 1863, after Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter donated his collection of medical anomalies, wax models, diseased specimens, and medical equipment to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  Today, the museum boasts a collection of over 20,000 specimens, with about 15 percent on view to the public.  Believe us, that small percentage is plenty for nightmares to last a lifetime, and adds this warning, be sure to skip lunch before your visit, lest you want to lose your meal.

And so, the wonders one might find there include objects removed from people’s lungs, anthropodermic books (that is, bound in human skin), “wet specimens” (don’t ask), the Hyrtl Collection of 139 human skulls, a two-headed baby, the “Eye Wall” . . . well, you get the drift.  All these and more which you can read about yourself in “The 12 Creepiest Exhibits at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum of Medical Oddities” by pressing here.

If a New Orleanian vampiress didn’t have enough problems of her own, Aimée — and her fellow filles à les caissettes (cf. May 2, et al.) — had best take extra care in the bathroom as well.  Or so says Kate Baggaley on POPSCI.COM in “Invasive Treefrogs Have Snuck into Louisiana and They Are Not Good Neighbors.”

To quote Ms. Baggaley:  Cuban treefrogs, which can grow as big as the palm of your hand, compete with native treefrogs for shelter and create a number of nuisances for people.  “They get into the plumbing sometimes and people will find them in their toilets, which is always a surprise,” says [Brad] Glorioso, an ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Once thought to be confined in the US to Florida, the Cubano natives may have arrived in a shipment to New Orleans’s Audebon Zoo of several palm trees from Lake Placid in 2016.  Relocated in the elephant exhibit, these refugee frogs have spread into an area between the zoo and the Mississippi where, as the article further explains, [t]hey can clog your plumbing and have caused costly power outages in Florida by short circuiting utility switches.  Cuban treefrogs have also been known to take over birdhouses and lay eggs in pools that haven’t been cleaned.  And if they’ve been hanging out around your door, Cuban treefrogs will sometimes drop onto you as you try to get inside.  “I have no idea why they do that,” Glorioso says.  It could be that the frogs are seeking out warmer or more humid conditions, he speculates.  On top of all this, Cuban treefrogs secrete a noxious slime that causes a painful burning sensation if you get it in your eyes, mouth, or any open cuts.

And the thing is, they’re good at taking over from native species, and they are spreading.  So watch when you flush and, to read more, press here.

Sunday, May 6, brings two out of the ordinary items.  The first of these was the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (see April 1, et al.) in the Monroe County Library auditorium which, first off, had no “Open Mic,” the entire time being taken up by a reading performance of a play by Antonia Matthew, HOMEFRONT, a powerful memoir of her childhood in England during World War II, culminating in her father’s having fallen in action.  Its heart consisting of an exchange of letters between daughter and father, this was only the play’s second performance (it had also received a staged reading in 2000) and there’s talk of performing it again as a radio play with sound effects added.  This one was also recorded for Community Access TV, and was followed by a workshop-style question and answer session with playwright Matthew joining the principal actors on stage.

My part in this was somewhat of a last minute nature, having been asked last Monday if I could stand in for an actor who had had to bow out, reading the parts of the Undersecretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for War, these consisting of only one short paragraph each.  Whether this will lead to my being in the radio play remains to be seen.

Max Ernst – Castor and Pollution, 1923

Then, of things off the beaten track, serendipity during the hour before the play and a brief pre-play setup and partial rehearsal, using the upstairs library computer, brought me to an interesting article I hadn’t run across before, “The Complicated Relationship Between Opium and Art in the 20th Century” by Jeff Goldberg on ARTSY.NET.  It’s a period I’m interested in, in early 20th century France, as well as its subject, for more on which one may press here.

Let’s let this one speak for itself:
Tim Peake is the UK’s very own space hero:  only the seventh UK-born person to venture into the great beyond and a member of the International Space Station for six months between December 2015 and June 2016.
A machine of a man, he ran the London Marathon while aboard the ISS, participated in the first spacewalk outside the ISS by a British astronaut and, while aboard completed approximately 3000 orbits of the Earth and had covered a distance of 125 million kilometres.
This is a man who has ventured beyond.  He’s been out there.  He knows things.  So we wanted to ask the tough questions, the ones you always wanted to know the answers to.  The biggies.
Do aliens exist?  And how exactly do you go to the toilet in space?
This is what he told us.
The article is “We Spoke to Tim Peake to Find Out Everything You Wanted to Know About Space but Were Afraid to Ask,” by Dave Fawbert on SHORTLIST.COM, and for more press here.

Yes, what about the bedroom?  So this is another example of serendipity via the web, a click on an email on a different subject, an article about prolonged time in space, then another click and . . . well, I hadn’t even thought to ask.  But here it was:  “Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Having Sex In Space,” by Sam Diss (warning:  may contain frank language) on SHORTLIST.COM.  And, taking the previous post to its next level, it is an important aspect of life if to be spent in space for any length of time.

So be you warned, and — for scientific interest only, mind you — press here.

Suppose you were the new civilian owner of the International Space Station?  Do you just move in or, as one might suspect, could it possibly be a little more complicated than just that?  In fact, Joe Pappalardo explains how much so in “The Owners Guide To Your New Space Station” on today’s installment of POPULARMECHANICS.COM.  Or to quote from the subhead:  Congratulations!  You now own an outpost in orbit.  Here’s how to dock with other spacecraft without breaking everything — and what to do about all that pee.  And be admonished a few paragraphs later that [h]umanity’s big, dramatic future in space will depend on getting the small, everyday details right.  Here are just a handful of the considerations of the future handyman-astronaut. 

Interested?  Thinking to buy?  To see the full article, plus a few extra links, press here.

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