What would our planets look like if you flew by?

Artist Michael Benson has made some pretty fun and stunning images of celestial bodies in our solar system rendered in a manner that supposedly mimics the way our human eyes would perceive them if we were to fly by. For those of you in London, check out an exhibition of his photos along with original music by Brian Eno.

> Read more and see more photos at Wired

A Stradivarius Recovered

Heard a beautiful story on NPR this morning from legal correspondent Nina Totenberg about her late father’s stolen Stradivarius violin. Nina Totenberg manages to make court proceedings compelling for radio. Given the inherent intrigue, music, and mystery in this story, she really produced a beautiful report.

Documentation of Roman Totenberg’s Stradivarius violin. The instrument went missing after one of Roman’s concerts but was rediscovered more than three decades later. Courtesy of the Totenberg family, from NPR.

Read more and hear the story on the NPR website: A Rarity Reclaimed: Stolen Stradivarius Recovered After 35 Years

PBS LearningMedia

I just came across PBS LearningMedia, a very cool website partnership between PBS and WGBH Boston. They’re taking free PBS media content and adding a great discovery and filtering layer on the web that allows educators (or anyone, for that matter) to find compelling assets to compliment or supplement academic learning.

PBS LearningMedia

The dorky side of me gets excited about this because I like PBS and I love learning. But I’m also really interested in how the web can “add value” to media that’s already out there. From what I’ve seen, PBS LearningMedia is doing just that. Check it out!

Explore: PBS LearningMedia

A NY Times crossword hint!

For those of you working on today’s (July 22, 2015) NY Times Crossword, I’ll give you this hint: my name appears somewhere on the board! Hope that wasn’t too much of a spoiler.

This crossword is a pretty fun one. Give it a shot!

> Go play the crossword!

> Read about this puzzle on the WordPlay Blog

1 World Trade Center’s amazing elevator

I was reading the New York Times and came across this video of the elevator to the observation deck at the top of 1 World Trade Center. As the carriage rises (at 2,000 feet per minute!), the interior walls display a computer-generated view of the city of New York that rises in perspective. Not only does the CG vantage travel up in space to mimic the actual ascent of the elevator but time passes too. From below the bedrock to the top of the completed 1 World Trade Center, the elevator display morphs through 515 years of history–from marshlands to the building in which the viewer stands, 1,300 feet above the ground.

What a creative use of space and technology. I’m always wondering and imagining what places were like in the past. I must take this elevator.

Read more: On Time-Lapse Rocket Ride to Trade Center’s Top, Glimpse of Doomed Tower | NY Times

Houston’s Memorial Day flood

It’s been surreal watching national news coverage of Texas’s flooding from the Memorial Day weekend. My hometown of Houston was hard-hit, especially the southwest side of the 610 Loop. Using Google and Twitter searching, I was able to find some pretty incredible photos and videos of flooding taken by local residents. Here’s a small sampling of what I found.

Continue reading “Houston’s Memorial Day flood”

Nick Hanauer: Inequality is bad for the rich

Check out this quite compelling TED talk from Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur, investor, capitalist, and self-described plutocrat. Hanauer is a billionaire, but makes the case that trickle-down economics and rising inequality are especially bad for the rich.

One claim he makes:

Some inequality is necessary for a high-functioning capitalist democracy. The problem is that inequality is at historic highs today and it’s getting worse every day. And if wealth, power, and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top, our society will change from a capitalist democracy to a neo-feudalist rentier society like 18th-century France.

And this, about trickle-down economics (which he addresses a few times in the talk):

[W]e need to put behind us the trickle-down policies that so dominate both political parties and embrace something I call middle-out economics. Middle-out economics rejects the neoclassical economic idea that economies are efficient, linear, mechanistic, that they tend towards equilibrium and fairness, and instead embraces the 21st-century idea that economies are complex, adaptive, ecosystemic, that they tend away from equilibrium and toward inequality, that they’re not efficient at all but are effective if well managed. This 21st-century perspective allows you to clearly see that capitalism does not work by [efficiently] allocating existing resources. It works by [efficiently] creating new solutions to human problems. The genius of capitalism is that it is an evolutionary solution-finding system. It rewards people for solving other people’s problems. The difference between a poor society and a rich society, obviously, is the degree to which that society has generated solutions in the form of products for its citizens.

It’s not often you hear these kinds of pleas from billionaires like Hanauer. I find him pretty persuasive.

Read more: Nick Hanauer: Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming | TED

Danny MacAskill: The Ridge

So awesome, so beautiful. Just watch.

First, Danny MacAskill is a mad scientist on a bike.

Second, the emotion of this video exceeds so much scripted content. To me, this is a perfect example of visual storytelling that takes your breath away. (Exhibiting unbelievable human feats helps.)