Tags: archaeology, art, biology, food, history, humor, massachusetts, multicultural
The month is almost over, but I can’t let it go completely by without tipping my hat to Massachusetts Archaeology Month.
Since life here at PEM has been very focused on the amazing Emperor’s Private Paradise exhibit, I have to admit I’ve been more tuned to archaeology stories from that corner of the world recently, including this incredibly cool discovery which may make people reevaluate historical trade routes: Could a Rusty Coin Re-Write Chinese-African History?
In celebration of which I give you Mint Your Own Coin from the American Museum of Natural History’s OLogy page, which also features fun interviews with archaeologists, make-your-own archaeological stationery, artifact features, and more.
If you’re looking for other online archaeology interactives, check out the extensive list at Fun Archaeology For Kids. The list includes lots of different cultures and time periods, with a great many of the interactives created by museums and other reputable sources.
And now for the creepy. (It is, after all, the week before Halloween, and I’m not entirely immune to the Salem atmosphere.)
Royal blood may be hidden inside decorated gourd. (eeurgh!) An intricately decorated gourd bears traces of blood which may very well have come from a handkerchief soaked in the blood of the beheaded King Louis XVI of France.
Personally, I prefer my blood 100% Pure Fake, as in the book reviewed by exhibit interactive wizard Paul Orselli. And if that’s not enough gross and gucky exploration for you, check out Wastewater: Sewage in your face! from the San Diego department of public works, which, among other more educationally rewarding activities, has recipes for making soda and cake that look like sludge.
All creeped out? Build an Egyptian tomb, uncover a prehistoric burial, or just make a pasta skeleton, courtesy of artist Kathy Barbro, directions here (or click the picture).
Tags: earth science, food, humor, math, music, physics, sport, technology, travel, video/animation
*waves* Hello All! I have returned from my trip to Italy and essentially recovered from the Italian cold I brought back with me, and I’m back on track to keep bringing you fresh Brain Popcorn. Today’s post celebrates unusual music.
Music is a great interdisciplinary doorway. Though I ran as far as possible from the calculations necessary for the ‘physics of music’ class they offered in undergrad, the fact remains that music and physics *are* closely linked, and so are music and art, music and history, music and literature, music and myth, music and….you get the refrain. Today we’re going to focus on a few science connections.
Gravity Makes Music!
Gravité from Renaud Hallée: check out some very cleverly edited percussion work with falling tennis balls, forks and knives, televisions, basketballs, and light sticks. It reminds me a lot of the number “Trashing the Camp” by Phil Collins, from Disney’s Tarzan. (Thanks to Rob over on Politics et Alia Sensae for the heads up!)
For a slightly more complicated set of interactions (with some entertaining moments and some real physics –there’s a Newton’s Cradle in there!) check out the Rube-Goldberg-inspired “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go. Once you’ve watched it once and have stopped laughing, go again and keep your eyes out for levers, weights and counterweights, wedges, and a number of other simple machines.
Vegetables as instruments?
Well, it beats eating them… If you missed my earlier link to the ViennaVegetable Orchestra, here it is. This is a great way to talk about materials engineering (what qualities are they looking for when they pick their vegetables? How do they change those materials to get the sound they want?), and also just to discuss the ways people make noise (beating, blowing through a tube or over a tube, plucking, shaking…how do these veggie instruments resemble or differ from what a regular orchestra/band/jam session uses?).
Did you know? The palm cockatoo is known to beat hollow logs with sticks to make loud drumming sounds. ~courtesy of @AMNH, the American Museum of Natural History’s Twitter feed
Animal Music–apparently not confined to cetaceans and songbirds! (Does anybody else have the lines from Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb running through their heads yet? “Many more monkeys drumming on drums! Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum!”)
Three years/2500 attempts = 37 formations/5 octaves = The Stalacpipe Organ. There are so many cool paths you can take from here, looking at caves and earth science, spelunking, Virginia history, invention of musical instruments, more math and physics of sound, inspiration for creating your own tube-length-instruments. Or just check out the site for Luray Caverns and play the audio clip.
And finally, for sheer amusement value, “Flight of the Bumblebee” played on an iPad. Is this cheating? Having played this piece on the flute, I’m going to say yes. If you’re not out of breath by the end, it doesn’t count.
Tags: archaeology, food, history, weather, winter
Let it Snow
You would think I’d be done with cool snow-themed links by now, right? Nope.
Guide to Snowflakes from CalTech. Great chart of the immense variety of snow crystal shapes, with neat pictures by Ken Libbrecht and descriptions of some of the conditions needed to form specific kinds of snowflakes. This is just one page out of a pretty impressive site all about snow and frost. Well worth exploring. (One of my favorite accidental discoveries on this site was the page on how to make snowflake fossils.)
Solstice: the day the sun stands still (from the Latin)
Find all kinds of cool facts about the solstice today from National Geographic (you’ve all noticed I love these guys by now, I should hope?) I particularly enjoyed the mention of Newgrange, an incredibly cool Stone Age monument/tomb in Ireland which is 1000 years older than Stonehenge. When it was built, it was designed to exactly align with the winter solstice dawn. I visited it in summer, and it was still impressive then.
Here we come a wassailing
What’s the solstice without a touch of celebration? Despite my general fondness towards things historical, I haven’t tried either of these recipes yet. However, they look delicious and have very positive reviews, so taste at your own discretion.
Happy Holidays to all! This blog will be going on vacation until Jan. 2nd, 2010. May you and yours be safe, warm, merry, and curious this holiday season.