Tag Archives: cool

Darkening the Dark Knight

I really enjoyed this fantastic secret history of how Batman became un-campy from The Atlantic magazine.

Of course, I had long been aware of the transition, but I had always credited Frank Miller’s work on the The Dark Knight Returns (fantastic, if you haven’t read it).

Atlantic writer Andy Isaacson traces it further back, to an eighth-grader annoyed by TV campiness — a Batman superfan named Michael Uslan:

“The whole world was laughing at Batman and that just killed me,” [Uslan] says. “One night I vowed to erase from the collective consciousness those three little words: Pow! Zap! and Wham! I said, ‘Somehow, someday, someway, I am going to show the world what the true Batman is like.'”

True to his word, Uslan talked his way into a Batman writing gig, then decided to aim for the movies. It’s incredible the amount of crap he had to put up with:

Columbia Pictures was no less encouraging. The head of production predicted that Batman would never work as a movie because their film Annie had flopped. “They’re both out of the funny pages,” Uslan says he was told.

How the Dark Knight Became Dark Again – Andy Isaacson – The Atlantic.

(at top: the evolution of the Batman logo)

Watch a giant hydroelectric turbine be installed with a millimeter to spare

The video’s a little self-promotional, but it’s still pretty cool to see the hugeness of the Wuskwatim Generating Station as it’s being assembled in northern Manitoba.

The $1.3 billion dam will generate 200 MW when it’s complete, sometime next year.

Manitoba Hydro also has a convenient “How To Build A Generating Station” tour, in case you’ve got $1.3 billion of your own money burning a hole in your pocket.

And, I found this video, taking a look at some of the earlier stages of construction, if you’d like to see some of the exterior dam works.

Manitoba Hydro, for what it’s worth, provides my power, although I pay them for the privilege.

Mars … a minute at a time

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a couple of educational videos up on YouTube called “Mars In A Minute” that teach you little tidbits about the Red Planet. There’s the one above, showing you how to get there, and sort of explaining why there’s a flurry of Mars launches right now, but there won’t be next year. There’s also another, asking is it really red?

I hope they do more — they’re just the kind of videos that are accessible and not condescending to kids in order to get them excited about space exploration.

Filming animation in realtime

This is really interesting! Although the paper cutouts just look like really big versions of those snowflakes you used to make in Grade 3, when they’re spun ’round on a bicycle wheel, they turn into animations.

I believe that the effect is only possible through film, which makes it kind of extra-interesting. If you see this in real-life, the wheels would just blur around and around, but when the revolutions of the bike wheel are synchronized just so with the shutter speed of the camera, you get a simple animation effect.

Love it.

(By Katy Beveridge, via Boing Boing)

What if ‘The Karate Kid’ had been an amateur production?

I can’t beat the synopsis on MeFi:

When they were making The Karate Kid, they decided to shoot each scene’s rehearsal with budget cameras so the actors could watch themselves back afterwards. Now it’s been edited together so that it forms a version of the movie that looks like it was shot and made by eighth graders in their basement, including loads of unseen scenes.

(That green clears up after a couple of minutes.)

Part 2 is here, and it’s pretty easy to find the rest of the parts from there.

Mapping distance by time not, uh, distance

I live about 200 km from the city of Winnipeg. But nobody says that. Everyone always says “two hours,” because that’s how long it takes to get there.

Time is how people think of travel. Distance is useful mainly as an approximation of time. So that’s why a map that throws out that slavish devotion to geography, and instead concentrates on travel times, would be so useful!

Which is exactly what TimeMaps does (sorry, it’s in Dutch). By mapping out the Netherlands and correlating it with train schedules, recent design grad Vincent Meertens has made a web-app that visualizes how the “distance” (travel time) grows and shrinks over the course of a day. That is, when the trains run less often, like at night, it takes a lot longer to get where you’re going. And the map gets bigger, to represent that.

Meertens tells Fast Company that he’s hoping to add cars, bikes and other forms of transportation. His next project will be New York City.

It’s up for an award — you can vote for it here.

Amazing Moses Bridge

This is a “sunken” bridge, located in the Netherlands that gives the incredible perspective of walking through parted water. The bridge gives access to a 17th Century fort, which has long been protected by a shallow moat.

It was designed by RO & AD Architects and uses a type of modified wood called Accoya wood, which offers increased durability against something like water.

Apparently from afar, it appears as if there’s nothing in the water, and you only see it once up close. I love that you can reach over and touch the water. There must not be too many issues with the water level increasing, otherwise they might not have gone with this idea. Very cool!


A mumuration of starlings

Amy found this video this morning. It sort of reminded me of that scene in Jurassic Park (“They’re moving like birds. They DO move like birds!”) but because it’s real, it’s a little bit more magical. Although composted of individuals, the flock seems to move as a single living organism.

A two-and-a-half-year-old article in the Telegraph explains the reasons behind the flock’s swooping patterns:

It’s all about safety in numbers – none wants to be on the outside, none wants to be first to land …. Impenetrable as the flock’s movements might seem to the human eye, the underlying maths is comparatively straightforward. Each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbours as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction. As a result, tiny deviations by one bird are magnified and distorted by those surrounding it, creating rippling, swirling patterns. In other words, this is a classic case of mathematical chaos