Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This N-man, This Model!

N-Man © and TM Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved, 1993, 2006]
A few years back I wanted to experiment with a block of ‘Super-Sculpty’ that I had acquired. Inspired by ‘Sturdy’ Steve Bissette’s “N-Man” (a co-creation with Alan Moore) for the lamentably never-finished ‘1963’ series for Image Comics, I sculpted the half man-half lobster hero.

Pete Von Sholly then turned a photo of the 12” model into the cool faux-Aurora box seen above. Steve's recent post of of Pete's faux box has forced my hand in putting up this post.

The above illos are all from the ash can edition of “The Unbelievable N-Man” that Steve sent me all those years ago. Below is the ash can cover (left) and the 1st N-Man cover feature.

Below are two better shots of the finished painted model:

N-Man © and TM Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved, 1993, 2006]

And a big Halloween thanks to Steve and Pete!

Happy HPLoween!

© Pete Von Sholly.

A 13x19 Giclee signed print of Pete Von Sholly's HPL above painting is available from www.mysteryandimagination.com

And here's a plug for one of Pete's latest books:

Science Debunks Halloween, Part 3: No Ghosts

Using Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion, scientists have demonstrated that ghosts would not be able to walk and pass through walls

In movies such as “Ghostbusters”, ghosts often walk like humans, pass through walls and pick up objects. But that portrayal cannot be accurate, Efthimiou says. For ghosts to have the ability to walk like humans, they would need to put a force upon the floor, which would exert an equal and opposite force in return.

But ghosts' ability to pass through walls and have humans walk right through them demonstrates that they cannot apply any force. LINK

Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality. 2006. C.J. Efthimiou, and S. Gandhi.

The Classic "Lonesome Ghosts":

Science Debunks Halloween, Part 2: No Zombies

The laws of science can debunk popular myths zombies according to a paper published by Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi.

"These popular myths make for a lot of Halloween fun and great movies with special effects, but they just don't hold up to the strict tests of science," Efthimiou said.

Illo © Bruce Timm from HERE
Efthimiou provides a practical explanation for "voodoo zombiefication," which suggests that zombies "come about by a voodoo hex being placed by a sorcerer on one of his enemies." He reviewed the case of a Haitian adolescent who was pronounced dead by a local doctor after a week of dramatic convulsions.

After the boy was buried, he returned in an incoherent state, and Haitians pronounced that a sorcerer had raised him from the dead in the state of a zombie.

Science, however, has a less-supernatural explanation. A highly-toxic substance called tetrodotoxin is found in a breed of puffer fish native to Haitian waters. Contact with this substance generally results in a rapid death. However, in some cases, the right dose of the toxin will result in a state that mimics death and slows vital signs to a level that is unable to be measured. Eventually, the victim snaps out of the death-like coma and returns to his or her regular condition.

Scientific analysis has shown that oxygen deprivation is consistent with the boy's brain damage and his incoherent state.

"It would seem that zombiefication is nothing more than a skillful act of poisoning," Efthimiou said. LINK

Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality. 2006. C.J. Efthimiou, and S. Gandhi.

See more Halloween treats over at the Digital Dream Machine Blog

Monday, October 30, 2006

Science Debunks Halloween, Part 1: No Vampires

The laws of physics and math debunk popular myths about ghosts and vampires, according to a newly published paper.

Basic math disproves the legend of humans turning into vampires after they are bitten, Efthimiou explains, because the entire human population in 1600 would have been wiped out in less than three years.

Movies such as "Dracula" suggest that vampires feed on human blood and that once a human has been bitten, he or she turns into a vampire and begins feeding on other humans. To disprove the existence of vampires, Efthimiou relied on a basic math principle known as geometric progression.

Efthimiou supposed that the first vampire arrived Jan. 1, 1600, when the human population was 536,870,911. Assuming that the vampire fed once a month and the victim turned into a vampire, there would be two vampires and 536,870,910 humans on Feb. 1. There would be four vampires on March 1 and eight on April 1. If this trend continued, all of the original humans would become vampires within two and a half years and the vampires' food source would disappear.

"In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month," Efthimiou said. "And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction." LINK

Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality. 2006. C.J. Efthimiou, and S. Gandhi.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gamma Rays From M87

Astrophysicists report the discovery of fast variability in very-high-energy (VHE) gamma rays from the giant elliptical galaxy M 87. The detection of these gamma-ray photons - with energies more than a million million times the energy of visible light - from one of the most famous extragalactic objects on the sky is remarkable, though long-expected given the many potential sites of particle acceleration (and thus gamma-ray production) within M 87.

Much more surprising was the discovery of drastic gamma-ray flux variations on time-scales of days. These results, for the first time, exclude all possible options for sites of gamma-ray production, except for the most exciting and extraordinary one: the immediate vicinity of the super-massive black hole which is located in the centre of M 87

Link: Science Express, October 26, 2006.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Morbid Anatomy of Some of the Most Important Parts of the Human Body

More Atomic Surgery in Action!
Matthew Baille, a Scottish pathologist, was born this day in 1761. His book, Morbid Anatomy of Some of the Most Important Parts of the Human Body (1793), was the first publication in English on pathology as a separate subject and the first systematic study of pathology ever made. It established morbid anatomy as an independent science. The first American edition was published in Albany in 1795.

Watch the Living Dead Girl:

Rob Zombie knows his sources….!

Future Warning Signs

Some typical examples of warning signs in the 30th century:

Warning Signs by Arenamontanus.

Thanks to Neatorama for the tip!

Welcome to the future!:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

John Peel's Record Collection

John Peel left his coveted collection of more than 25,000 records to his wife in his will, it emerged last night. Sheila Ravenscroft will also receive the legendary Radio 1 DJ's estate, valued at more than £1.5m.

Ravenscroft was granted the 25,000 vinyl albums and thousands of CDs after Peel, who died in October 2004, failed to specifically assign them in his will. In typically laid-back fashion, he said: "I ask her (but without imposing any binding obligation) to give effect to any wishes of mine which may come to her attention as to their disposal."

Peel's four children were left more than £250,000 in trust to be split between them. Peel enjoyed national acclaim in a career that spanned over 40 years and included Radio 4.

More John Peel from the BBC.

One of John’s many favourite bands, The Undertones, performing one of John’s favourite songs, “Teenage Kicks”:

Here’s the band in 2005 with a different singer.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Decoding the Cryptic Region of Mars

In the 1970s, orbiter missions around Mars revealed that during southern spring, large areas near Mars's south pole became much darker than the rest of the seasonal ice cap. How could this area be in the polar region and not be covered in bright ice? Intrigued, planetary scientists called the area the 'cryptic region' of the south seasonal cap.

Art © Mark Schultz and available now in his new book “Various Drawings Vol. 2” from Flesk Publications HERE.

The mystery deepened in the late 1990s when new observations showed that the temperature of the cryptic region was close to -135º C. At that temperature, carbon dioxide ice had to be present. So, scientists developed the idea that a one-metre-thick slab of clear carbon dioxide ice covered the cryptic region, allowing the dark surface underneath to be seen.

However, the new observations from Mars Express's OMEGA instrument show that this interpretation cannot be correct. The only way to reconcile the apparently conflicting observations is that there is indeed a thick slab of dry ice in this area, but its surface is so heavily covered by dust that few of the Sun’s rays make it to the deeper layers and back again.

How does the dust get on top of the slab? The answer could be provided by the mysterious markings that dot the cryptic region. Known as spots, 'spiders' and 'fans' depending upon their shapes, they were discovered in 1998–1999 by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. Planetary scientists that sunlight heating the soil causes carbon dioxide bubbles below the ice to erupt as geysers erupts throwing dust onto the surface creating the fans.
No signature of clear CO2 ice from the 'cryptic' regions in Mars' south seasonal polar cap. 2006. Y.Langevin et al. Nature 442: 790-792.

Mars is an Icehouse (no frozen zombies though...):

Friday, October 20, 2006

Time, Space, & Pink Floyd

From the same issue of Folk & Rock that gave us this post on Syd Barrett comes this history of Pink Floyd from 1967-1977. Click each page to enlarge and read.

David Gilmour and Richard wright perform a nice version of "Arnold Layne" live on UK television, 27th May 2006:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ciné Live

I pulled these from the latest issue of Ciné Live on the stands here in Canada. Besides the cover feature on the new James Bond film there is a long article on the Japanese animation studio Ghibli with lots of artwork from their films such as Nausicaä se la Vallé du Vent, a look at the future of Star Trek, lots of reviews of films that will never make it to NA, a double sided, pull-out poster for Nausicaä se la Vallé du Vent and Casino Royale, plus a free QT DVD with interviews, movie promos, etc. All for $5.50 CND.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Gassing The Delphic Oracle

From ScienceNow:

The Oracle at Delphi in central Greece was a major religious center for more than 1000 years. Citizens and rulers alike made pilgrimages there to get advice on everything from mistresses to military conquests. The officiant at the oracle was always a woman (the Pythia) who perched on a tripod above a chasm in the bowels of the Temple of Apollo and inhaled fumes from the earth that would induce a prophetic, often crazed, trance during which she would relay the wisdom of the gods.

The story was dismissed as a myth during the first half of the 20th century. But in the late 1990s a geologist found traces of ethylene, a central-nervous stimulant that can produce euphoria, in a local spring and concluded it was the likely source of the oracle's frenzied trances (image below).

Giuseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome asserts that the marine limestones underlying the temple couldn't have contained ethylene in high enough concentrations to account for the trances. The team brought a portable laser sensor to Delphi and discovered no traces of ethylene. Other lab work turned up significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane seeping from the ground suggesting these gases caused oxygen deprivation in the enclosed temple chamber that was the source of the Pythias' inspiration.

Link: The geological links of the ancient Delphic Oracle (Greece): A reappraisal of natural gas occurrence and origin.

In the time of Oracles....:

Friday, October 6, 2006

Herb Tarlek Conquers The Universe!

From The Rheostatics website:

The music video for "The Tarleks" won a Gold Award for Music Video Production at the 2005 Worldfest-Huston Awards. Director Justin Stephenson, reduced to uttering a simple "Cool,"is justly proud of the award.

Frank Bonner appears as his character, Herb Tarlek, from the sit-com WKRP in Cincinatti that ran from 1978 to 1982. Mr. Bonner apparently gets similar requests all the time and, for the most part, refuses but when he played the Rheos' track for friends, their enthusiastic response encouraged him to join in the fun. Tarlek, the station's sleazy salesman, was renowned for impossibly ugly suits, matching white leather belt and shoes, and his relentless efforts to bed Loni Anderson's character Jennifer.

The Rheostatics have released eleven albums since 1987 -- only one a major label release, which speaks to their independent spirit, tenacity and mutual, though not unchallenged, commitment. Inspired by such national treasures as the Group of Seven, Stompin' Tom Connors, the divinatory -- not divine -- government of Mackenzie King, rolling prairies, Canada's national game, les couriers du bois and more, the Rheos have plundered the Canadian mythos to become a kind of bedrock myth themselves.

"People have painted us as being iconoclasts although, more often than not lately, I hear us described as Canadian icons. I think it's great to be iconoclastic icons." - Dave Bidini, Rheostatics guitarist.

Transforming the Architecture of Compound Eyes

image link

Biologists have discovered that the presence of a key protein in the compound eyes of the fruit fly (which glow at their center due to a fluorescent protein) allows the formation of distinct light gathering units in each of its 800 unit eyes, an evolutionary change to an “open system” that enabled insects to make significant improvements in visual acuity and angular sensitivity. In contrast, beetles, bees and many mosquito species have the light-gathering units fused together into a “closed system.”

In a paper published in this week's early online edition of the journal Nature, the scientists report that one of three proteins needed to form these light gathering units is present in the visual system of fruit flies, house flies and other insects with open eye systems, but conspicuously absent in beetles, bees and other species with closed systems. The researchers showed that the loss of this protein, called “spacemaker,” can convert the eyes of fruitflies—which normally have open eye systems—into a closed one. In contrast, the introduction of spacemaker into eyes with a closed system transformed them into an open one.