Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

25 MAY, 2012

How We Measure the Universe, Animated

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How to determine the distance of stars using standard candles.

Somewhere between Fibonacci’s invention of arithmetic, which changed the world of numbers as we know it, and scientists’ ambitious visualizations of the scale of the universe lies a daunting fundamental question: How do we actually use these numbers to measure the universe? That’s precisely what the Royal Observatory Greenwich answers in this wonderful short animation, a teaser for a new exhibition titled Measuring the Universe: from the transit of Venus to the edge of the cosmos.

In a nod to this morning’s affirmation of the additive nature of scientific discovery, narrator Dr. Olivia Johnson observes:

What’s most incredible to me is how all these measurements build on each other. It’s only by knowing the scale of our Solar System — the distance between the Earth and Sun — that we’re able to measure the distances to nearby stars using parallax.

The charming animation was done by Robert Milne, Ross Phillips, and Kwok Fung Lam.

Laughing Squid

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23 MAY, 2012

Prophetic Animation: Douglas Adams Traces the Evolution of the Book from Rock to Silicon and Predicts eBooks in 1993

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How we went from boulders to scrolls to screens.

In 1968, Arthur C. Clarke predicted the iPad; in 1991, Francis Ford Coppola predicted YouTube; in 1993, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, recorded a short piece of audio for his then-publisher in the U.S. — Bob Stein of Voyager Expanded Books — tracing the evolution of the book from rock to silicone and predicting its transition into the digital age with astounding accuracy. This year, The Literary Platform hosted an international competition titled “Getting the Book Invented Properly,” inviting visual storytellers to animate Adams’s prophecy in interesting ways — a fine complement to these short videos on how books were made over the ages.

This entry by U.K. designer and illustrator Gavin Edwards takes the prize in my book.

The actual winners are being selected by a jury featuring the inimitable Stephen Fry and Bob Stein himself, and will be announced on Friday. You can vote for Edwards’s film here.

Thought You Should See This

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15 MAY, 2012

Animated Anatomy of Shakespearean Slurs

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Heartless hinds, fishmongers, and lots of thumb-biting.

Nearly two years ago, The Snark Handbook: Insult Edition gave us high-brow verbal sparring lessons with some of literary history’s finest comebacks, taunts, and effronteries. Now, from educator April Gudenrath and the team at TED-Ed comes this primer on Shakespearean insults, which served to unify the audience and to develop relationships between characters in a very short and sharp way.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

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