How Large is the Universe?

For centuries, humanity has been utterly transfixed by the cosmos, with generations of astronomers, philosophers and everyday ponderers striving to better understand the grand capsule of our existence. And yet to this day, some of the most basic, fundamental qualities of the universe remain a mystery. How Large is the Universe? is a fascinating 20-minute documentary by Thomas Lucas and Dave Brody exploring the universe’s immense scale of distance and time.

“Recent precision measurements gathered by the Hubble space telescope and other instruments have brought a consensus that the universe dates back 13.7 billion years. Its radius, then, is the distance a beam of light would have traveled in that time – 13.7 billion light years. That works out to about 1.3 quadrillion kilometers. In fact, it’s even bigger – much bigger. How it got so large, so fast, was until recently a deep mystery.”

For more on the subject, see these five fascinating ways to grasp the size and scale of the universe.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

The Junky’s Christmas: William S. Burrough’s Claymation Christmas Film

Back in 1993, the Beat writer William S. Burroughs wrote and narrated a 21 minute claymation Christmas film. And, as you can well imagine, it’s not your normal happy Christmas flick. Nope, this film – The Junky’s Christmas – is all about Danny the Carwiper, a junkie, who spends Christmas Day trying to score a fix. Eventually he finds the Christmas spirit when he shares some morphine with a young man suffering from kidney stones, giving him the “immaculate fix.” There you have it. This film produced by Francis Ford Coppola appears in our collection of Free Movies Online, or you can buy it on Amazon here. via @UBUWeb

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A ‘Lil Bob Dylan Christmas

The Little Drummer Boy. Animated. Off of Dylan’s 2009 Christmas album. Have a joyful and safe holiday…

Fantasmagorie: The First Animated Film

Today, we’re adding to our collection of Free Online Movies a great little film by Emile Cohl, otherwise known as “The Father of the Animated Cartoon.” Made in 1908, Fantasmagorie stitched together 700 drawings, each double-exposed, creating the first fully animated film. Cohl made over 250 films between 1908 and 1923, of which 37 survive in film archives. And several – Le cauchemar de Fantoche (1908) and The Hasher’s Delirium (1910) – appear right here on YouTube.

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My Blackberry Is Not Working!

Classic… This fruity sketch just aired on the BBC program The One Ronnie. Great work by Ronnie Corbett and Harry Enfield.

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Sir David Frost Interviews Julian Assange Upon Release from Jail

Let me preface things by saying this will likely be our last WikiLeaks post for a while. Don’t want to slip into WikiLeaks overkill. With that said…

Yesterday, Sir David Frost landed the first television interview with Julian Assange since his release from a London jail. The 24 minute interview aired on Al Jazeera English (where Frost hosts a show called Frost Over the World) and pretty quickly they dive into some important questions: Do governments have the right to keep state secrets? And do media organizations have the right to divulge such secrets? Assuming so, where (if anywhere) must journalists draw the line? Why has WikiLeaks recently taken aim at the United States? Is it fair to characterize WikiLeaks as an anarchic organization? The list of questions goes on, including ones delving into Assange’s legal problems. Thanks for @eacion for the heads up on this one…

Shaq Conducts The Boston Pops: A Little Christmas Delight

This Monday, the great Shaquille O’Neal, now playing for the Boston Celtics, made his conducting debut, leading the Boston Pops Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus at the Holiday Pops Concert. You’ll immediately recognize the tunes: the Christmas standard, “Sleigh Ride,” leading into Queen’s power ballad “We Are the Champions.”

via Mother Jones

Neil Gaiman’s Dark Christmas Poem Animated

39 Degrees North, a Beijing motion graphics studio, started developing an unconventional Christmas card this year. And once they got going, there was no turning back. Above, we have the end result – an animated version of the uber dark Christmas poem (read text here) written by Neil Gaiman, the bestselling author of sci-fi and fantasy short stories. The poem was published in Gaiman’s collection Smoke and Mirrors.

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