The 2MASS Redshift Survey (details here) took 10 years to complete, and it has now yielded the finest 3D map of the universe ever made, cataloguing more than 43,000 galaxies within 380 million light-years from Earth. The new map was presented last week at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. You can view the map in a much bigger format here and, as one user suggests, you may want to "right click and save as desktop background."
The University of Pennsylvania hosts an extensive and pretty remarkable audio collection of modern and contemporary poetry, with a generous helping of prose writers thrown in. Directed by Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein (whose U. Penn experimental poetry courses are themselves works of art), the collection includes hundreds of names you'll recognize immediately, and others who are not household names, but ought to be.
What did the U.S. capital look like 200 years ago? Finding a satisfactory answer to this question is very difficult since there are very few reliable images, maps and written accounts from Washington's early days. This is why Dan Bailey, director of the Imaging Research Center (IRC) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, has approached architectural historians, cartographers, engineers, and ecologists to "recreate a 'best guess' glimpse of the early city." The video above is the result of the IRC's work, showing a city that was, they say, "a rough work in progress."
Nothing was polished. The scale of the federal city was that of a person, not of immense marble bureaucracy. There were cabins and barns on the Capital Lawn. The first fence around the Capitol was to keep the cows out. Congressmen came to town for the legislative sessions, many times sleeping 3 to a room in a boarding house, and working in unfinished buildings.
A few years ago, we posted about an ambitious project out of the University of Nottingham called The Periodic Table of Videos. The project is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an online periodic table in which each and every element gets its own brief introductory video, "starring" the researchers and faculty of the university's chemistry department. Video journalist Brady Haran has kept each episode loose and unscripted, and the scientists' enthusiasm for their subject is infectious, even -- or perhaps especially -- when their experiments go awry (Keep an eye out especially for the wonderfully wooly Professor Poliakoff, whose hair alone should earn him first billing).
We were delighted to learn that the PTOV has just been awarded a very well-deserved Science Prize for Online Resources by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In fact, the project has proven so successful overall that Haran has embarked on a similar collaboration with the university's physics department, and he's also brought the chemists back for a new series about molecules. The most popular video from that series, which we've posted above, addresses a question that has kept us all up till dawn at least once in our lives: What happens when a cheeseburger is dunked in hydrochloric acid?
"Solitude," wrote Henry David Thoreau in Walden, "is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert." If you're searching for solitude these days, even in Times Square, you won't need much diligence--just an iPod and a pair of earbuds. But watch out! Your solitude might be shattered by Tyler Cullen, a student filmmaker at the School of Visual Arts, who recently had the audacity to say to his fellow New Yorkers: Hey You! What Song Are You Listening To?
Tucked away in the crowded southern Indian city of Chennai, in the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque, is an unflattering building. But what happens inside the building is remarkable. Every day since 1927, a dedicated team has worked tirelessly to create a handwritten newspaper, The Musalman (in Urdu: مسلمان). Today, there's a team of six workers who work on the newspaper daily. Four of the workers are known as katibs, writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. They have the most modest of facilities: two wall fans, three light bulbs, and one tube light in an 800-square-foot building. But watching the video, you learn how this newspaper has survived for three generations -- everyone who works there is absolutely devoted to the task. In fact, they are prepared to work on The Musalman until their "last breath," an undeniable passion.
In the modern era where almost every published work is created digitally, it is refreshing to see the tradition of calligraphy endure with The Musalman. We can only hope the rest of us can appreciate The Musalman's history and its efforts to survive as much as its dedicated readers do.
Usman Riaz began playing classical piano at 6, then took up the guitar at 16. Fast forward four years, and you have this -- the 20-year old Riaz playing his song "Firefly" in a music video that's more like a mini indie arts film than anything else. At times, Riaz plays his Martin XC1t like a piano keyboard, but, all along, you can hear his acknowledged influences -- Kaki King, Michael Hedges, Don Ross and, of course, Jimmy Page. (Don't miss these related videos.) You can learn more about the Karachi musician in this two-part interview here and here, and also find his short album, Flashes and Sparks, on Amazon here.
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Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best educational media. He finds the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & movies you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.