The Immense Redwoods

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Since young I’ve known from statistics in encyclopedias that redwoods are the planet’s tallest trees – the tallest of which grows in excess of 100 meters. While my mind could probably read the numerical figure, it probably doesn’t comprehend the actual immensity and awe of it. And that’s where the following video from the National Geographic help to give some perspective:

Such amazing mother nature, and what dedication and tenacity on the parts of the photographers to capture that magnificent image!

Sand Animation


Sand animation is often mesmerizing as you look at how graceful and smooth the narrator can craft out illustrations out of (essentially) a pile of dirt on an overhead projector surface.

Watch artist Kseniya Simonova’s mesmerizing fingers twist and turn as she unfolds a story about Germany’s invasion into Ukraine in the WWII, as her act brings her to win “Ukraine’s Got Talent”.

Folding UK Plug

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This concept design for the UK plug’s been making the rounds round the web like wildfire – probably as a testament to how much people loathe the big, fat bulky UK 3-pin plug. Here’s how it works:

It’s a concept design by designer Min Kyu Choi.  There are certainly still many technical issues to resolve – putting numerous moving parts and hinges into that small an area will probably require a hell lot of (costly or difficult?) engineering to realize in a large-scale, cheap manner; the live wire looks really perilously close to the neutral wire in the assembly, etc. The final comparison for the 3-way plug was also somewhat unfair as the bulkiness of the plug-heads were also due to the transformer-circuits (e.g. in Apple’s plug).

That said, I loved how the design has approached this prickly problem and tackled it with an elegant and innovative solution (loved the fuse idea – makes it easier to change too!), while still maintaining the compatibility with the current sockets. Kudos to the designer!

Glass Flowers

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Typically in the plant/botany section of a nature museum, you’d find specimens of various plant species pressed flat and preserved in formaldehyde. These flat-pressed clippings lose much of their vibrancy in color, as well as the 3-dimensionality that one would naturally find in real, live plants.

In comes glass artists Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf. Using glass, they are able to sculpt and replicate the plant’s 3-dimensional properties and color, giving an almost indistinguishable form from the real plants, including every intricate detail:

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Just how good they are? Apart from the samples in the photos above -

The astonishing accuracy of Harvard’s glass flowers has surprised many of the museum’s visitors, who, on seeing the display, ask to see the glass flowers.

Amazing!

[via Curious Expeditions]

The Sling Shot Man

This guy’s old, but he’s accurate with his slingshot. Really accurate. After losing quite a few trees and plants to Japanese Beetles, I especially enjoyed his aim on those.

Amazing Gear Heart


Wow, this is simply an incredible motion sculpture. Initially it looks like it’s simply a heart composed of carved gears of various proportions coming together to form a shape – but when the motion starts magic happens, as gears of various ratios engage each other in a most harmonious way.

If you look closely enough you’d also notice that on each gear the spacing between the teeth are also varying to accommodate for the variation due to turning. It must have taken gazillion tries (or, genius mathematical calculation) before the gears can be totally in sync – and even reform back to the heart shape after a few cycles.

Magnificent!

Touchscreen moves out of the Screen


While the world’s ooh-ing and ah-ing with Microsoft Surface some time ago for its engaging and intuitive interaction, researchers within the campus are moving on to yet another interesting interface – touch control but out of the screen.

Called SideSight, the interface allows you to control a phone placed on a table by wiggling your fingers in the space around it. This helps to solve the problem that a touch screen is limited by the need for fingers to touch it – thereby limiting how small the screen can go.

Personally I see application of this more outside of the phone though – how often do you place a phone down on the table? But think about things like ultramobile laptops and stuff – a virtual trackpad if you will – and things start getting more interesting.

[via New Scientist]

3D Sketching


This, I think is one of the holy grails of 3D-design, be it product, character or others. ILoveSketch is an absolutely awesome program that straddles the sweet spot between sketching and 3D-modeling – sketching in 3D plane and turning those sketches into curves on 3D space on-the-fly, giving the quickness and agility of sketches, while also delivering multi-view perspective capabilities in 3D models.

Of course, nothing will replace a pair of good hands. No matter what software it is, if you can’t throw a line the way you want it, or even conjure aesthetically pleasing designs in your mind before sketching (proportion, form, weight, curves, etc.), software alone isn’t going to help. What it does though is to increase the sweet spot, and to reduce the turnaround time between a sketch-idea and a 3D-representation.

Now I’m just waiting for it to have a ‘paint’ function where you can render the views, and have it turn out 3D surfaces based on the shading (now I’m thinking too much). That would be the holy grail.

Am I asking too much?

Singapore Formula 1 Photos

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The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore in 2008 was the first of the republic – it was also the first time it took place at night. I’ve always been partial to street circuits as I feel they give a raw and yet romantic sense of speed – perhaps something that is easier to relate to for the average fan.

Anyway, it was a magnificent night with the flood lights gracing the track with the Singapore downtown skyline as a backdrop. Most Singaporeans probably haven’t watched a single F1 race in their lives (“too boring!”) – but last weekend droves turned up to check it out and I’m sure many have found new appreciation in the sport. I was down near the track too as the cars zipped around on practice days – and certainly for me it felt quite a bit different from what I’ve seen: the noise, the smell and the sense of proximity (that the cars aren’t just doing overhyped roundabouts in some circuits far away) gave me a different perception of the sports.

As seen from the examples above, Boston.com seems to be getting into a habit of amassing great events-reportage pictures (see their Olympics coverage too).

[Full set of Singapore F1 Grand Prix pictures from Boston.com]