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13 Apr 13:31

Beverly Hills of the Dead: Luxury Tombs complete with Kitchens & Air Conditioning

by MessyNessy


A friend of mine just returned from travelling in the Philippines and told me I should look into a cemetery located in the capital of Manila where the dead have better houses than the living. He was right. Most of these “homes” have their own fully-functioning kitchens, bathrooms and even bedrooms where relatives can sleep alongside their buried relatives. In some cases, they live amongst the dead full-time. The tombs are bigger than most houses and line real two-way streets within the cemetery grounds. It’s dubbed “the Beverley Hills of the Dead”.

Lead image (c) Daniel Braun


(c) Edgar on Flickr


(c) Edgar on Flickr


(c) Edgar on Flickr


Welcome to the Chinese Cemetery of Manila, a neighbourhood all of its own, originally established when the Chinese trading community were prohibited by Spanish colonials from using the Catholic cemeteries. Forced to create their own, it is a unique place where wealthy Chinese families have built little mansions around the graves of their loved ones since the 19th century, to make sure they feel comfortable even in the after life.


The Chinese hold great respect their departed ones and since ancient times, they have believed that the souls of the dead live in another world and graves are their earthly residences.


(c) BoyWander

If the family can afford it, these earthly residences can be built up to three stories high.


(c) Metro Manilan

It has become tradition for the living to spend entire days visiting the deceased, installing household amenities such as TV sets, couches and flushing toilets inside the tombs.


(c) Ruro Photography

Over the years, some visitors have become a little too relaxed amongst the dead and end up living there permanently….


(c) BoyWander

There are residents who even claim to have been born inside the cemetery. The mausoleums have well-maintained patios like a quaint suburban neighbourhood, which also has a civic association, telephone lines and a local restaurant.


(c) Manila Cemeteries


Like in all societies, there are wealthier and poorer areas of the cemetery’s community. Smaller and less well-maintained graves are usually grouped together down narrow alleyways further from the entrance gates.


(c) Stacey Irish

However the cemetery as a whole has admittedly seen better days and even some of the most lavish mausoleums are now looking neglected. The graveyard is owned by the Manila city government, which has allegedly initiated an expansion program to build more “apartment tombs” and a crematorium.


(c) Edgar on Flickr

The one-of-a-kind cemetery has become a curious tourist attraction of sorts, and you can hire professional guides to take you on a tour through Manila’s vast city of the dead to see the most interesting tombs, or pay the caretaker around 200 pesos to make sure you don’t get lost.


I found one comment on the cemetery’s Trip Advisor page left by a local Chinese-Filipino whose family built a mini mansion in the graveyard.

“Our place here has a room to sleep [in], a kitchenette and a toilet. We even have a small yard. It’s really like a house but not a scary one, even if it’s in a cemetery. As a child, we used to come every October 31 and sleep here. It’s a very interesting place to visit. I highly recommend it, especially [to] gain better understanding of the Chinese culture.”


(c) Daniel Braun

12 Apr 23:09

Winston Churchill s’est fait faire une ordonnance pour boire de l’alcool pendant la prohibition

by Le Maitre de la Boite


Lors d’une visite à Manhattan le 13 décembre 1931 Churchill a fait l’erreur classique d’un anglais en Amérique, regarder du mauvais côté de la route avant de sortir d’un taxi ce qui lui a valu de se faire renverser par une voiture.

L’accident a été assez sérieux pour qu’il soit admis à l’hôpital et qu’il doive reporter une série de conférences.

Cependant il a profité de cette mésaventure pour se faire prescrire par le Dr. Otto Pickhardt une dose d’alcool quotidienne de façon à pouvoir boire alors que la prohibition était en vigueur aux États-Unis.

Ceci certifie qu’après son accident, la convalescence de Winston Churchill nécessite qu’il consomme des boissons alcoolisées en particulier à l’heure des repas.
La quantité est naturellement indéfinie mais le minimum serait de 250 centimètres cubes.
Dr. Otto Pickhardt

10 Apr 12:38

Les écrans, meilleurs ennemis de votre sommeil ?

by Chloé P.

this talks about the blue light of screen which is responsible for insomnia and bad sleep (even after the computer is closed.
So you can dl freely this soft and on the evening it will provide a soft light to your screen that is not dangerous for sleep.
This gives a very soft ambience indeed, I will use it for a few days and see..
Here is the link :

Les écrans t'empêchent de dormir ? C'est normal... mais pas irréversible.

Cet article Les écrans, meilleurs ennemis de votre sommeil ? est apparu en premier sur

10 Apr 12:11

The Assassin Bug – Malaysia’s Macabre Miniscule Murderer

by (Admin)

stomach on the back!

I do hope you have had your lunch, in which case you might be ready for a short afternoon horror story. This is a member of the assassin bug family found in Malaysia. It has a particularly cunning plan when it comes to avoid being eaten.  Once it’s had its own lunch (by sucking out the liquefied insides of its victims) it hoists their empty exoskeletons on its back – tens of them all held together by a sticky secretion. The Ark in Space tells the rest of this macabre tale!

Image Credit
29 Mar 20:49

Mark Kozelek dévoile un nouvel extrait de son album de reprises

by Julien



Accompagné d’un piano, Mark Kozelek chante quelques uns de ses morceaux préférés sur un nouvel album de reprises intitulé « Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites », qui sortira le 27 mai chez Caldo Verde.

Mike Patton est invité sur deux titres, « I’m Not In Love » de 10cc et « Win » de David Bowie (dévoilé il y a quelques temps), mais aussi Mimi Parker (Low) et Will Oldham pour cette reprise de Waylon Jennings :


29 Mar 05:51

Thoughts On 6 Weeks Without Alcohol

by Erica

When I announced to the interwoobles on a whim that I was quitting drinking for Lent, I expected a little good-natured ribbing and I got it. Friends expressed concern that I’d been replaced by a podperson, asked how the tremors were going, sent me photos of cocktails overlaid with “wish you were here,” like a postcard from Boozeville.

Yeah, it’s possible likely obvious in retrospect that I was drinking too much. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I know I’m not the only mom who’s found that nighttime glass of wine slowly morphing into a nighttime bottle over the years. So I am actually relieved that it’s been a bit of a non-event for me to stop what had become unhealthy levels of habitual drinking.

I know not all of my readers – some of whom have joined along privately with me on this experiment –  have had the same experience. Some folks who tried to stop drinking found it more difficult than was comfortable. And any time you can’t stop a behavior you’d rather not engage in, it’s difficult. It’s a wake-up call.

I don’t want to make it seem like this has been absolutely no big deal – I’ve had a few moments over the past 6 weeks. My husband and I recently booked a trip to Scotland to celebrate our 15th Anniversary, and I did have a celebratory sip of single malt scotch. It’s not every year the grandparents come through with an offer of 2 weeks of childcare, after all.

Nick has continued to drink (though without a partner in crime, his consumption is down, too) and there have been quite a few evenings when his Boulevardier looked so freaking delicious. But generally, it’s been alright.

Wine Glass on Table

Lent Ends Tonight

In the Catholic Church, Lent officially ends at sundown tonight – a day called Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow is the more well-known Good Friday, followed by Holy Saturday and finally, Easter Sunday. That means technically, at 7:28 PM tonight, I could tie one on and still have achieved my goals.

But the larger point of this booze fast was to help me pause, break mindless habits, and approach my relationship with alcohol afresh. So, to that end, here are the biggest things I’ve noticed:


I think it’s time to just admit I’ve reached that certain age. You know the one (if you don’t yet, just wait). It’s when drinking more than 1 or 2 glasses of whatever totally screws with you physically.

Regular readers may recall that I basically didn’t sleep for the 2 years after my son was born, and to this day, getting 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep is like finding a unicorn. After this 6-week alcohol free stretch, I can say with absolute certainty that I sleep, on average, better without alcohol in my system.


Booze is expensive. Because I’m kinda a snob about cocktails, the stuff I drink is definitely expensive. My not-drinking for 6 weeks made a noticeable difference in our out-of-pocket, “fun” expenditures. Savings are getting re-routed to alternate fun things, like this upcoming Scotland trip where we will go and drink exciting foreign booze.

I never actually did this, but it occurred to me that if I paid myself $5 for every drink I didn’t have over 6 weeks, I’d have a nice little wad of cash at the end of the booze fast. $5 is a bit more than ingredient cost for most of the cocktails we enjoy, but easily half to a third of what we’d expect to pay for those same cocktails in a bar.

Diet and Weight

When I first stopped drinking I noticed I was eating way more than I normally do, and was craving sugar like a mofo. I have quite a sweet tooth, but it’s unusual for me to crave candy and starch and bread and cookies and pasta to the degree that I did.

Here’s my theory: alcohol acts a lot like sugar in your system, and somewhere in my brain chemistry or my gut microbe or something, a substitution effort was being made.

Will power is a bit like any other muscle, and honestly, I did not have the strength to say no to both booze and chocolate at the same time. Result? I gained several pounds over those first couple weeks of Lent. Then, about a month ago, those sugar cravings faded back to their normal level – a periodic shout of “hey, remember how donuts are delicious?!” instead of a continual roar of “eat all the carbs!” and my weight started drifting back down to my baseline.

Now, after 6 weeks without alcohol, I actually find my food cravings are a bit different. Not sure if this is from the booze-fast, the change of seasons or what, but right now I can’t go a day without a huge bowl of plain yogurt, and I’m eating a ton of fermented vegetables. It’s like I became accidentally healthy. I’m one chia-seed and kale smoothie bowl away from being completely insufferable.


I have well-managed major depression. I’m totally fine, but I take drugs to help me stay that way. (Your lack of snarky comments on this is appreciated.) When one has a mood disorder like depression, alcohol is often used as a self-medicating coping strategy. When my depression was active, I absolutely used alcohol to numb the numbness.

Anyone who’s struggled with a mood disorder – anxiety, depression, whatever – has been told by every doctor ever that alcohol is a depressant and those prone to being depressed should stay away. Of course, if everyone did what their doctor told them, we’d need a lot less doctors.

So I say this with absolutely no judgement to my fellow depressives – not drinking has really helped my mood stability and if that’s an issue for you, I highly recommend taking a break from drinking just to see. It’s not that I’m in a great mood all the time, but it’s just way easier to get back to that calm middle ground. It’s easier to feel sympathy instead of irritation when my munchkins are extra needy. It’s easier to be calm about last minute changes of plans. It’s easier to see the joy in everyday things. It’s just easier to kinda go with the flow.

Going Forward

Despite all the advantages of teetotaling, I don’t have any plans to give up booze completely and forever. Wine and beer have too much of a place in cuisine for me to say goodbye forever. And honestly, I still really, really enjoy everything about the cocktail process – from the creation to the mixing to the garnish to the sipping.

So what I am looking forward to is putting drinking back into it’s proper context of joyful celebrations, not daily survival. I’m so pleased with how this Lenten observance has gone that I would not hesitate to do another booze-free reset.

Expect cocktail recipes to still pop up on this site, but maybe less frequently. A life in better balance is something to which I’ll always raise a glass.

27 Mar 08:28

Inverness and Ben Wyvis

by (ccgd)

ccgd a posté une photo :

Inverness and Ben Wyvis

Winter in the Highland Capitol

27 Mar 02:51

13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (Vol. CLXXXI)

by MessyNessy

1. This Secret Trash Collection in a New York Sanitation Garage


On the second floor of a nondescript warehouse owned by New York City’s Sanitation Department in East Harlem is a treasure trove—filled with other people’s trash.



Created entirely out of objects found by Nelson Molina, a now-retired sanitation worker, who began by decorating his locker.



Unfortunately, this isn’t a collection that keeps regular hours; drop-ins are not allowed but Atlas Obscura had the chance to visit the collection, take some photos, and revel in the vast creative possibilities of trash. 

For more information on the occasional organized tours, see the full article on Atlas Obscura.


2. This Fireplace made from an Old Naval Mine


Found on this Pinterest Steampunk board.


3. Buy a Piece of Hell


For $6.66, you can buy your own square inch of Hell and become part of the elite group of individuals known as the Hell Landowner’s Society. Last year, the town in Michigan with a population of around 260, made the news when the unofficial mayor of Hell listed a five acre property for the devilish asking price of $999,666. You can also serve as mayor of Hell via its website.


4. What Sort of Man Reads Playboy?


Anyone who has opened a Playboy magazine from the 1960s-70s will recognize the “What sort of man” advertising campaign.   Each advert was a full page consisting of (a) a photograph of a male being admired by the ladies and (2) text explaining why they are such awesome consumers – why companies should be lining up to put adverts in Playboy to target these jet-setting big-spenders.







Loads more vintage scans found over on Flashbak.


5. The Most Important Collection of Belle Epoque Prints, Rarely Seen due to Light Sensitivity, is Now Available to Download




More than 1800 high resolution “Fin de Siècle” French Posters & Prints, including iconic works by Toulouse-Lautrec, available on the Van Gogh Museum’s online French print collection.


6. A Race to Preserve disappearing artifacts and Treasures of Soviet Design history


Discarded financial documents, burnt archives at dachas [countryside houses], and metal closets missing keys for more than a decade. A Russian spy drama? It’s actually the true story behind the building of the Moscow Design Museum’s archive in Russia’s first Design Museum.


For a period that stretches from the 1920s to the dissolution of the union seven decades later, this means sifting through what has become discarded as junk and tracking down elderly designers who are surprised to be remembered at all.


The Moscow Design Museum depends on a single dedicated archivist, Valentia Mokrousova.


Full article found on Eye on Design


7. The Shadow of a Hiroshima Victim


At 8:15 on the morning of August 6, 1945, a person sat on a flight of stone stairs leading up to the entrance of the Sumitomo Bank in Hiroshima, Japan. Seconds later, an atomic bomb detonated just 800 feet away, and the person sitting on the stairs was instantly incinerated…As the Google Cultural Institute explains it, “The surface of the surrounding stone steps was turned whitish by the intense heat rays. The place where the person was sitting became dark like a shadow.” Etched into stone steps, ss all that remains after the 1945 atomic Blast. 

Read more on Open Culture.


8. Cuba, on the Edge of Change, is still a Beautiful Island Nation







Check out this stunning photo story found over on The New York Times.


9. The Starlight Room, is a super tiny cabin that lets people sleep in the mountains under the stars


Located near Cortina, Italy, with unobstructed views of the breathtaking surrounding alpine landscape,



For $333 a night. Book it here.


10. This Passive Aggressive Hotel

passiveagrressive hotel

Found on Imgur.


11. Wacky Vintage Restaurants in Los Angeles


The LAist sifted through Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection and found a treasure trove of retro restaurant snapshots that took us back to a simpler time when restaurants had gigantic items on their roofs and when the programmatic architecture movement was a big thing.







They’ve listed all the original locations of 22 Old-Timey restaurants, find it on the LAist.


12. You can Eat Lunch inside British Parliament


Every year the House of Lords restaurant is opened to the public for a limited period during the Easter recess, which this year is from 4-8 April.

The lunch is priced at £45 per head for three courses with tea/coffee included.


Make a reservation by calling the Peers’ Dining Room Team on 020 7219 3395 (Monday-Thursday 10am-3pm) or book tickets via the website here.


13. How to Send an Email in 1984

27 Mar 02:46

Inside the Secret Collections Backstage at the US Museum of Natural History

by MessyNessy

Birds Collections, National Museum of Natural History

If I had the choice, I would always choose to visit a museum inside out– that is, take a backstage tour of what they don’t display, which in most cases, is much larger than what is actually on display. And we’re not talking about 2 to 3 times larger, we’re talking about secret collections that are 99. 9% larger, hiding behind the museum walls…

Entomology Collections, National Museum of Natural History

To give you an idea of how much we’re missing, The Smithsonian team at the National Museum of Natural History has kindly shared their staff photos, giving us a glimpse of what it would be like to raid all those backstage drawers and cabinets. You could say that museums sure do like to hoard things, but of course, it’s not all just sitting there gathering dust. The NMNH’s collections are special resources that allow the museum to make unique contributions to answering significant scientific questions and play a vital role in advancing scientific knowledge, addressing societal issues, and increasing scientific literacy.

Anthropology Collections, Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center


Invertebrate Zoology Collections, National Museum of Natural History

Invertebrate Zoology

The Mineral Sciences' "Blue Room," National Museum of Natural History

Mineral Sciences

Botany Collections, Natural History Building


Pod 4 (Oversize Storage) at the Smithsonian's Museum Support Center (MSC)


Paleobiology Collections, National Museum of Natural History


Fish Collections in Alcohol, National Museum of Natural History


Mouse Collections, National Museum of Natural History


Botany Algae Collection, National Museum of Natural History

Botany – Algae

Whale Skeletons, Museum Support Center

Mammals – Whale

All these fabulous photos are by the late Chip Clark, found on the Smithsonian Collections

24 Mar 10:06

A girl pets a calf in Scotland, 1918. Photograph by William...


love that one

A girl pets a calf in Scotland, 1918. Photograph by William Reed, National Geographic Creative

24 Mar 07:21

Tender Moments Between Friends and Lovers Illustrated in Photos of the Sky by Thomas Lamadieu

by Christopher Jobson

Venice, Italy

We’ve long be fans of illustrator Thomas Lamadieu's quirky depictions of people inhabiting the strange spaces between buildings in his original photographs of the sky. His latest pieces are set against backdrops above South Korea, Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain, some of which also incorporate trees as hairstyles from various landscapes. In a peculiar move Lamadieu utilizes one of the most basic drawing platforms possible to create his artworks: Microsoft Paint. You can see more of his ongoing ‘SkyArt’ series on his website.


Gyeongju, South Korea


Venice, Italy


Gyeongju, South Korea


Barcelona, Spain


Berlin, Germany


Homberg, Germany


Berlin, Germany


Gyeongju, South Korea


Paris, France


Salzburg, Austria

19 Mar 09:50

Meet the Amazonian Terminators of Dahomey, the Most Feared Women in History

by MessyNessy


From daughters to soldiers, from wives to weapons, they remain the only documented frontline female troops in modern warfare history. A sub-saharan band of female terminators who left their European colonisers shaking in their boots, foreign observers named them the Dahomey Amazons while they called themselves N’Nonmiton, which means “our mothers”. Protecting their king on the bloodiest of battlefields, they emerged as an elite fighting force in the Kingdom of Dahomey in, the present-day Republic of Benin. Described as untouchable, sworn in as virgins, swift decapitation was their trademark.


These are not mythical characters. The last surviving Amazon of Dahomey died at the age of 100 in 1979, a woman named Nawi who was discovered living in a remote village. At their height, they made up around a third of the entire Dahomey army; 6,000 strong, but according to European records, they were consistently judged to be superior to the male soldiers in effectiveness and bravery.


Their history traces as far back as the 17th century, and theories suggest they started as a corps of elephant hunters who impressed the Dahomey King with their skills while their husbands were away fighting other tribes. A different theory suggests that because women were the only people permitted in the King’s palace with him after dark, they naturally became his bodyguards. Whichever is true, only the strongest, healthiest and most courageous women were recruited for the meticulous training that would turn them into battle-hungry killing machines, feared throughout African for more than two centuries.


They were armed with Dutch muskets and machetes and by the early 19th century, they had become increasingly militaristic and fiercely devoted to their King. Girls were recruited and given weapons as young as eight years-old, and while some women in society became soldiers voluntarily, others were also enrolled by husbands who complained of unruly wives they couldn’t control.


From the start, they were trained to be strong, fast, ruthless and able to withstand great pain. Exercises that resembled a form of gymnastics included jumping over walls covered with thorny acacia branches. Sent on long 10-day “Hunger Games” style expeditions in the jungle without supplies, only their machete, they became fanatical about battle. To prove themselves, they had to be twice as tough as the men. Often seen as the last (wo)men standing in battle, unless expressly ordered to retreat by their King, the Dahomey women fought to the death– defeat was never an option.


The N’Nonmiton women were not allowed to marry or have children while serving as soldiers and were considered married to the King in a vow of chastity, focused solely on their semi-sacred status as elite warriors. Not even the King dared to break with their celibacy vows, and if you were not the King, to even touch these women meant certain death.


In the Spring of 1863, the British explorer Richard Burton arrived in the west african coastal nation of Dahomey on a mission for the British government, trying to make peace with the Dahomey people. The Dahomey were a warring nation who actively participated in the slave trade, turning it to their advantage as they captured and sold their enemies. But it was the elite ranks of Dahomey female warriors that amazed Burton.

“Such was the size of the female skeleton and the muscular development of the frame that in many cases, femininity could be detected only by the bosom.”


The female soldiers were said to be structured in parallel with the army as a whole, with a central elite wing acting as the king’s bodyguards, flanked on both sides, each under separate female commanders. Some accounts even say that each male soldier in the army had a N’Nonmiton counterpart. Burton gave the army the nickname of “Black Sparta”.


The women learnt survival skills, discipline and mercilessness. Insensitivity training was a key part of becoming a soldier for the King. As illustrated above, one recruitment ceremony involved testing if potential soldiers were ruthless enough to throw bound human prisoners of war to their deaths from a fatal height.


A French delegation visiting Dahomey in 1880s reported witnessing an Amazon girl of about sixteen during training. The records note that she took three swings of the machete before completely removing the head of a prisoner. She wiped the blood from her sword and swallowed it. Her fellow Amazons screamed in frenzied approval. It was customary in the region as warriors of the time to return home with their heads and genitals of opponents.


Despite the brutal training they were to endure as the King’s soldiers, for many women, it was a chance to escape lives of forced domestic drudgery. Serving in the N’Nonmiton offered women the opportunity to “rise to positions of command and influence”, taking prominent roles in the Grand Council, debating the policy of the kingdom. They could even become wealthy as single independent women, living in the King’s compound of course but surrounded with supplies, tobacco and alcohol at their disposal. They all had slaves too. Stanley Alpern, author of the only full-length English-language study of them, wrote “when Amazons walked out of the palace, they were preceded by a slave girl carrying a bell. The sound told every male to get out of their path, retire a certain distance, and look the other way.”


Even after French expansion in African in 1890s subdued the Dahomey people, their reign of fear continued. Uniformed French soldiers who took Dahomey women to bed were often found dead in the morning, their throats slit open. During the Franco-Dahomean Wars, many of the French soldiers fighting in Dahomey had hesitated before shooting or bayoneting the N’Nonmiton. Underestimating their female opponents led to many of the French casualties as special units of the female Amazons were assigned specifically to target French officers.


By the end of the Second Franco-Dahomean War, the French prevailed, but only after bringing in the Foreign Legion, armed with machine guns. The last of the King’s force to surrender, most of the Amazons died in the 23 battles fought during the second war. The legionnaires later wrote about the “incredible courage and audacity” of the Amazons.


In 2015, a French street artist, YZ, begun her own campaign to pay tribute to the fierce female fighters of the 19th century. Working in Senegal, south of Dakar, she pastes large-format photograph prints she found in local archives of the warrior women. You can see more of her installations here.


While they were also said to be the most feared women to walk the earth, they would also change how women were seen and respected in Africa and beyond.

19 Mar 09:47

PJ Harvey clippe « The Community Hope »

by Julien

she iis back too



On vous en a déjà parlé, « The Hope Six Demolition Project », le nouvel album de PJ Harvey créé en public dans le cadre d’un concept live artistique au musée de Londres, sortira le 15 avril chez Island.

« The Community of Hope », un nouvel extrait, vient d’être clippé :



The Hope Six Demolition Project:
01 The Community of Hope
02 The Ministry of Defence
03 A Line in the Sand
04 Chain of Keys
05 River Anacostia
06 Near the Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln
07 The Orange Monkey
08 Medicinals
09 The Ministry of Social Affairs
10 The Wheel
11 Dollar, Dollar

18 Mar 21:17

Fenouils braisés aux anchois et aux câpres (et au piment)

by Gracianne

this one you could try Alan
fennel anchovy and capers
and it would even make you work your french!

Les italiens ont le génie des légumes. De trois-quatre ingrédients tout simples, ils font un « contorno »  de choix. C’est un joli mot « contorno », contour plutôt qu’accompagnement. En Italie le plat de viande ou de poisson étant présenté seul, souvent le contorno est un plat de légumes à part entière, pouvant se suffire à lui-même. Ce qui explique sans doute le soin avec lequel il est
18 Mar 21:14

un trèfle à 4 feuilles – French expression

by Anne

J’ai trouvé un trèfle à 4 feuilles le jour de la Saint-Patrick. Je vais avoir de la chance. »
“I found a four-leaf clover on Saint Patrick’s day. I’m going to be lucky

un trèfle à 4 feuilles - French expression


Trèfle à 4 feuilles

What does the French expression ' trèfle à 4 feuilles  ' mean? How is it used in a sentence?

un trèfle à 4 feuilles means ‘a four-leaf clover/shamrock’. It brings good luck when you find it.

  • « J’ai trouvé un trèfle à 4 feuilles le jour de la Saint-Patrick. Je vais avoir de la chance. »
  • “I found a four-leaf clover on Saint Patrick’s day. I’m going to be lucky.”

Try using this expression at least once today.

Related: French superstitions . Treize à table .


The post un trèfle à 4 feuilles – French expression appeared first on French Etc.

18 Mar 12:05

Sélection scientifique de la semaine (numéro 211)

by Pierre Barthélémy

L'observatoire de Mauna Loa, à Hawaï. © Mary Miller.

– L'observatoire de Mauna Loa à Hawaï surveille l'atmosphère en continu depuis les années 1950. Jamais il n'avait enregistré une hausse du taux de CO2 aussi importante qu'en 2015. (en anglais)

– Résumé (édifiant) des prises de position de Donald Trump sur la science, la médecine et l'environnement. (en anglais)

– Il y a cinq ans, le 11 mars 2011, un tsunami dévastait la côte nord-est du Japon et provoquait une catastrophe nucléaire à la centrale de Fukushima. Beaucoup d'articles reviennent sur cet événement majeur. Une petite sélection ici :

– Il y a quelques années, sur mon précédent blog, j'avais écrit un billet intitulé "Le jour où des hackers pirateront le réseau électrique". Ce jour est désormais arrivé. (en anglais)

– Démographie : pourquoi le nombre de décès va mécaniquement augmenter en France au cours des prochaines années.

– Le prochain Einstein sera-t-il africain ? Un joli raccourci pour s'interroger sur la place de la science et de l'innovation en Afrique.

– Alors que l'Europe s'apprête à lancer la mission ExoMars vers la planète rouge, la NASA fête sa sonde Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter qui, depuis dix ans, envoie des photos époustouflantes de Mars comme on peut le voir dans la vidéo ci-dessous. (en anglais)

– Le débat de la semaine sur ce blog, c'était autour de mon billet sur la découverte de la plus lointaine des galaxies jamais détectées à ce jour.

– La revue Nature consacre un dossier à la révolution CRISPR, technique d'ingénierie du gène. (en anglais)

– Diabète : des Français dans la course au pancréas artificiel.

– Faut-il s'inquiéter de la présence de molécules suspectées d'être des perturbateurs endocriniens dans nombre de produits d'hygiène corporelle ?

– En France, l'infarctus touche de plus en plus de femmes jeunes.

– Une nouvelle dramatique peut littéralement briser le cœur. Mais une joie intense peut avoir le même effet...

– Paléoanthropologie : comment nos lointains ancêtres sont-ils passés du modèle grosse mâchoire-petit cerveau au modèle petite mâchoire-gros cerveau ? Probablement en écrasant les aliments, et notamment la viande, pour plus facilement les mâcher. (en anglais)

– Confrontés à l'étrange comportement d'un groupe de chimpanzés, des chercheurs évoquent la possibilité d'un rituel sacré... (en anglais)

– Certains animaux sont-ils négligés par la science à cause de leur apparence "hideuse" ?

– Pour finir, je vous conseille de jeter un œil sur ma chronique "Improbablologie" publiée chaque mardi dans le supplément Science & Médecine du Monde. Au menu cette semaine : l'exploration négligée de la foutaise...

Pierre Barthélémy (suivez-moi ici sur Twitter ou bien là sur Facebook)

18 Mar 07:36

Colour Photos of the Legendary Parisian Food Market, Les Halles in 1956

by MessyNessy


It was known as the “Belly of Paris”, as famously christened by the French novelist Émile Zola; Les Halles was the food market of 19th century Paris, the hub of all food distribution in the city and one of the true wonders of working class Paris.


These photographs taken by American Life photographer Thomas Mcavoy in 1956 were taken in the wee hours of the morning as the market was beginning to wind down from its most hectic shift. While the city slept, the meat and fish markets would go into full steam, trading and selling thousands of tons of wholesale produce in the middle of the night under the gigantic steel arches.



As dawn broke outside the pavilion, a labyrinth of colourful farmer and merchant stalls contributed to the bustling ambience of Les Halles, a seemingly indestructible monument to the great tradition of French markets.


And yet, within ten years of these photographs being taken, this 800 year-old glorious food market would indeed disappear. Partly a victim of its own success, the volume of traffic to and from the market began to cause chaos in the centre of Paris. In a new market economy, Les Halles became outdates and its facilities were in need of massive repairs.


The site was soon earmarked for destruction and Paris undertook what has been called “the move of the century”. In 1971, the bustling wholesale market was dismantled and relocated to the suburb of Rungis, outside Paris. It is now the largest wholesale food market in the world. Two of the glass and cast iron market pavilions were and re-erected elsewhere; one in the Parisian suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, the other in Yokohama, Japan.









Les Halles retains mythical status in the minds of Parisians and anyone else who was lucky enough to have experienced it.

Photographs originally found in the LIFE Archives, retouched images via Paris Unplugged

18 Mar 07:28

Hear Moby Dick Read in Its Entirety by Benedict Cumberbatch, John Waters, Stephen Fry, Tilda Swinton & More

by Ted Mills

moby dick big read
Image of Moby Dick by David Austen.

Three years ago, Plymouth University kicked off Moby Dick The Big Read, promising a full audio book of Herman Melville’s influential novel, with famous (and not so famous) voices taking on a chapter each. When we first wrote about it here, only six chapters had been unveiled, but boasted actors like Tilda Swinton (reading chapter one below), author Nigel Williams, and poet and journalist Musa Okwonga.

We’re glad to say the project, created out of a 2011 conference by artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare, has reached its successful conclusion. And they’ve certainly called on an impressive roster of celebrity readers: Stephen Fry, Neil Tennant, Fiona Shaw, Will Self, Benedict Cumberbatch, China Miéville, Tony Kushner, John Waters, Simon Callow, Sir David Attenborough, even Prime Minister David Cameron. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver finishes off the whole project, reading the Epilogue.

All 135 chapters are available to be listened to in your browserdownloaded on iTunes, streamed on SoundCloud, or even heard as a podcast. However, do check them out online, as each chapter comes with a work of art each created by 135 contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney, Oliver Clegg, and Matthew Benedict. (See David Austen’s work above.) The project is a mammoth undertaking befitting such a monumental book, and if you’ve never read it this just might be the way to go.

Copies of Moby Dick can be found in our collection of Free eBooks. Meanwhile, this big reading will be added to our collection of Free Audio Books.

h/t Kottke

Related Content:

An Illustration of Every Page of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

How Ray Bradbury Wrote the Script for John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956)

Orson Welles Reads From Moby-Dick: The Great American Director Takes on the Great American Novel

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

Hear Moby Dick Read in Its Entirety by Benedict Cumberbatch, John Waters, Stephen Fry, Tilda Swinton & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

18 Mar 07:22

Classrooms without Walls: A Forgotten Age of Open-air Schools

by MessyNessy

never heard about this before!


This old black and white photograph pops out at me every now and again on the internet, and it just about sums up my feelings on what my education should have looked like. The photograph was taken in 1957 in the Netherlands where open air schools were quite popular at the time. The idea of an al fresco classroom should be a very obvious one if the weather permits it, but unfortunately, most traditional western schools these days don’t put much emphasis on the benefits of learning outside of four walls.

But with Spring racing around the corner, I decided to look a little further into this photograph to see if I couldn’t find more examples of open air schools that might plant the seed. As the sunshine provocatively creeps over my own work desk, beckoning me to burst out of the office, this is a call to our educators and teachers– swing open those windows, let the birds listen in and introduce Spring to the classroom…



When school was literally out for the summer…



In the early 20th century, open air schools became fairly common in Northern Europe, originally designed to prevent and combat the widespread rise of tuberculosis that occurred in the period leading up to the Second World War. Schools were built on the concept that exposure to fresh air, good ventilation and exposure to the outside were paramount!


The idea quickly became popular and an open air school movement was introduced for healthy children too, encouraging all students to be outdoors as much as possible. It all started with the creation of the Waldeschule (literally, “forest school”), built in Charlottenburg, Germany in 1904 and designed to provide its students with the most exposure to the sun. Classes were taught in the surrounding forest, which was believed to help build independence and self-esteem in urban youths.




Inspired by the forest schools, open air classroom education caught on in other European countries and by 1937, there were 96 open air day schools in operation throughout Britain. America was eager to adopt them too and established its first open-air school as early as 1908 in Providence, Rhode Island.

birmingham-1911-photo (1)

Uffculme Open-Air School, Birmingham, Great Britain, classroom

france-1931-interior (1)

Suresnes Open-Air School in Paris 

They were so sure about its effectiveness to educate, the movement became organised in 1922 when the first International Congress took place in Paris at the initiative of The League for Open Air Education.

outdoor-school-Afb2 Tweede Gemeentelijke Openluchtschool

The construction of a traditional ‘pavilion plan’ school buildings had a similar internal layout to that used in hospital architecture, with long window-lined hallways.


Openluchtschool (Open Air School) in Amsterdam built by Johannes Duiker in 1930

In the 1930s, classrooms could transform into outdoor terraces with clever sliding doors, retractable roofs and were fitted easily moveable, lightweight furniture. The unique style of education remained popular until the 1970s. After the introduction of antibiotics and the improvement of social conditions at home, open air schools were needed less and less after World War II and were gradually phased out.





It may very well just be my own growing Springtime urge to burst outside every time the sun shows its face in town, but I vote we bring back outdoor schools. Even if we’re too late to enjoy the benefits, what better a way to get future generations enthusiastic about learning than in classrooms with fewer walls?










Let their imaginations breathe, run further and have bigger ideas for the future…

Image Sources: DelCampe, Fotoleren, Flickr

18 Mar 00:23

Watch David Bowie Star in His First Film Role, a Short Horror Flick Called The Image (1967)

by Josh Jones


Rock stars who became respected actors… the pool is a small one, perhaps outnumbered by the many musicians who have made less successful attempts at movie stardom. But without a doubt, the former category includes David Bowie. In his various musical guises, Bowie the cracked actor put to use the skills he honed for decades on movie after movie. Not every film is worth watching, but nearly every performance contains seeds of greatness.

What you may not know is that Bowie the actor and Bowie the musician grew up together. He had always been both, taking his first film role in a short horror flick, The Image, back in 1967, the same year he released his first, self-titled album. You can be forgiven for never hearing about either. Neither one made much of an impression (and Bowie more or less disavowed the album). But the movie did have the rare distinction at the time of receiving an X rating. “I think it was the first short that got an X-certificate,” says writer and director Michael Armstrong, “for its violence, which in itself was extraordinary.”

Tame by today’s standards, the movie features 20-year-old Bowie as a painting come to life. He got the part not because Armstrong—a fan of his first album—considered him “perfect for the role. It was really to give him a job.” Armstrong described his star to The Wall Street Journal as “very pretty” and “flirtatious” and remembers Bowie’s impressive Elvis impersonation. Bowie seems to have found the whole thing very funny. On set, there were “a lot of issues with corpsing—bursting into laughter during a take,” writes When the film appeared in theaters, viewers expected to see porn—not only because of its X-rating but also because, writes Rolling Stone, it “briefly screened between two porn films at a London theater.” (The film’s star saw the movie by himself in a theater filled with lone men in raincoats.) Bowie, says Armstrong, “thought it was hilarious.”

The Image has only recently appeared online thanks to the WSJ, who received permission from the David Bowie Archive to show it. You can watch the almost 14-minute film up top. (You can see a Youtube version below it.) Like Bowie’s first album, it may not herald the birth of a new star—his abilities as an actor may not have been fully evident until his first feature-length starring part in The Man Who Fell to Earth. But as with music, so with acting: Bowie never stopped working at the craft, and the films that fell flat seemed only to inspire him to work harder and create even more ambitious characters.

The Image will be added to our collection, 725 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

via The Wall Street Journal/Metro

Related Content:

A 17-Year-Old David Bowie Defends “Long-Haired Men” in His First TV Interview (1964)

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How “Space Oddity” Launched David Bowie to Stardom: Watch the Original Music Video From 1969

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch David Bowie Star in His First Film Role, a Short Horror Flick Called The Image (1967) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

16 Mar 20:34

Dälek : « Guaranteed Struggle » en écoute

by Olivier

will try this a bit later (need to eat before!)



On le sait depuis quelques temps déjà, le nouveau Dälek s’intitulera « Asphalt for Eden », sera composé de sept titres et sortira le 22 avril chez Profound Lore.

Après un premier extrait, « Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left) », en voici un second : « Guaranteed Struggle »


Dälek – Guaranteed Struggle (OFFICIAL VIDEO) from deadverse recordings on Vimeo.


Tracklist :

2.Guaranteed Struggle
3.Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)
5. 6dB
7.It Just Is

14 Mar 22:46

La planète Mars vue du ciel

by Pierre Barthélémy


Vue d'artiste de Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. © NASA/JPL/Corby Waste.

Il y avait la Terre vue du ciel, avec le célèbre ouvrage de Yann Arthus-Bertrand mais ce concept peut être dupliqué avec Mars... Alors que devrait décoller, ce 14 mars, la mission européenne ExoMars, la NASA a fêté le 10 mars les dix ans de l'arrivée au tour de la planète rouge de sa sonde Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), lancée en août 2005. Equipée de la caméra HiRISE, qui permet de prendre des images à haute résolution, MRO avait pour objectif – et l'a toujours car elle fonctionne encore alors que la mission initiale était de deux ans – de cartographier Mars avec précision.

Après quelque 45 000 orbites, la sonde a envoyé plus de 200 000 clichés, mettant notamment en évidence les processus d'érosion éolienne, les changements de la surface martienne suivant les saisons, capturant parfois des phénomènes en direct – comme des éboulements, des avalanches ou des tempêtes de poussière – et dénichant des sites d'atterrissage pour de futures missions au sol. Au-delà de l'aspect scientifique, certaines de ces images sont remarquables par leur beauté, la pureté et la diversité des formations géologiques qu'on y découvre. On le sait désormais, Mars est une petite sœur de la Terre qui n'a pas eu autant de chance. Il n'empêche qu'elle est belle aussi. Pour fêter les dix ans de MRO, j'ai sélectionné (très peu objectivement...) dix photos. Vous pouvez cliquer dessus pour les agrandir ou les télécharger. Vous pouvez aussi, si cet échantillon vous a plu ou fait rêver, aller sur le site de la mission pour en découvrir d'autres.

Pierre Barthélémy (suivez-moi ici sur Twitter ou bien là sur Facebook)

Détail d'un cratère dans Sirenum Fossae

Détail d'un cratère dans Sirenum Fossae. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Givre déposé sur les pentes d'un cratère martien

Givre déposé sur les pentes d'un cratère martien. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Photo d'un impact météoritique récent avec ses ejecta formant une sorte d'étoile

Photo d'un impact météoritique récent avec le matériau éjecté lors de l'impact formant une sorte d'étoile. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

L'érosion éolienne est la principale force qui façonne aujourd'hui les paysages de Mars

L'érosion éolienne est la principale force qui façonne aujourd'hui les paysages martiens. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Dunes bicolores dans la région de Meridiani Terra

Dunes bicolores. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Dunes martiennes

Ces curieuses dunes modelées par le vent sont les jumelles martiennes des barkhanes terrestres. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Fond d'un cratère, au sol polygonal

Fond d'un cratère, au sol polygonal. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Glace de dioxyde de carbone déposé sur la calotte polaire australe de Mars

Glace de dioxyde de carbone déposée sur la calotte polaire australe de Mars. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Avalanche de givre saisie au vol par MRO. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Tourbillon de poussière serpentant à la surface de Mars

Tourbillon de poussière serpentant à la surface de Mars. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

 Pierre Barthélémy (suivez-moi ici sur Twitter ou bien là sur Facebook)

14 Mar 20:11

How Can Paris Let this Museum of Music Treasure Close Down?

by MessyNessy


I wasn’t exactly expecting the world when I was emailed by a local record collector urging me to visit an endangered private music museum in Paris at the foot of Montmartre. The Phono Museum? Never heard of it. Within my network of vinyl fanatic friends and small museum hunters, surely we would have come across such a place before if it was any good. Oh, how wrong one can be…



Hidden in plain sight in the shadow of the Moulin Rouge is without a doubt one of the most fascinating treasure troves this city has to offer. The Phono Museum is what I imagine a music lover’s dream looks like. And when I stepped inside, my jaw hit the floor. So many questions. Who collected all this stuff? Shouldn’t those antique gramophones be behind glass? How can this place be in danger of closing down? And wait just a damn minute, is that a Swiss chalet dollhouse doubling as a record player?


You can still play music on that?


That’s the thing about the Phono Museum. Every last machine in this place works as well as the day it was sold.


From the art nouveau Pathé juke box, an old Parisian restaurant’s motor car gramophone (the vinyl goes in the back seat), to the kid’s wind-up record players– everything still plays music.


Just pick any phonograph in the museum’s endless collection and have a listen to the sound of a bygone era. Most of the machines actually have the very same music and vinyls they were found with, like this jukebox bought at auction along with the previous owner’s old favourite tunes still in the playlist.


You want to have a look inside the juke box? No problem! Have a poke around its belly…





There’s 140 years of recorded sound history stuffed inside this Aladdin’s cave and no outmoded format has been forgotten from the timeline. I think my favourite model might have been this bistro table moonlighting as a gramophone ↓


“The sound would have been at the same level as the diners, to be enjoyed as intended, not the way they blast music out of ceiling speakers in restaurants these days,” explains Jalal Aro. That’s the owner, the guy who collected it all, who knows the story and inner-workings of every last musical gadget in this place…


How did one person accumulate all this stuff? “Oh there’s much more that’s not even on display.” Jalal developed a knack for convincing landlords to lend him extra storage space over the years to hold his ever-growing collection.


He’s the guy that Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino come to when they need vintage music props. You can spot some of the Phono Museum’s pieces in Midnight in Paris or Inglorious Bastards. He’s a passionate collector and self-taught specialist in talking machines and old records, and he wants to share it all.


Jalal has so many back-stories, not just about the things you see in his museum, but about the neighbourhood that nurtured African American musicians between world wars and legitimised jazz for the rest of the world. “You see that hotel?” he points to the building with the art deco detailing just across the street. “Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier performed at the opening.” These are the kind of historical anecdotes that can be easily forgotten if not repeated by people like Jalal. It’s how a once revered building becomes just another cheap hotel on the boulevard; how a neighbourhood loses its soul if you look the other way for too long.


With an infectious laugh, his old-school cool cat style– the leather jacket, flat cap, and the best sideburns I’ve seen since Starsky & Hutch– Jalal is one of those memorable characters that make up what I like to call the “Humans of Montmartre”. And I believe it’s the appreciation of these nostalgic characters and the survival of their eccentric establishments that will keep the true spirit of Montmartre and bygone Paris alive.


At the back of the Phono Museum is the record store Jalal opened in 2004, the Phonogalerie, filled with rare recordings, antique gramophones and and original artwork for sale.


Did I not mention the art?


Not a single one of these centrepieces is a reproduction. Jalal only buys music memorabilia if it’s “one of five original edition posters” or “one of only ten paintings known to exist today”. Many of them have been professionally restored, which requires a technique that actually involves washing the paper.


Jalal’s collection of phonograph cyclinders (the earliest commercial medium for recording and reproducing sound) is nothing to sniff at. In fact I wonder if he ever actually counted them all whether he might find he has one of the largest collections going.


There are so many, he’ll occasionally break one deliberately just to show young visitors who have never come across them before, just how fragile they are…


One of the rewards for donors helping the museum to stay open, Jalal tells me, will be to make a record on a phonograph cylinder at the museum, as in the earliest years of recorded sound, and take it home.


I was having such a good time that I’d almost forgotten about that, or just didn’t want to bring it up. This place might be closing down.

The private museum cannot survive on admission fees alone. After a heavy investment in the preparation of the museum prior to opening in order to be up to code, the association now finds itself in debt to its landlords. Request for funding from the City of Paris to assist in the operation of the museum has unfortunately been met with no response up to now. And at this point Jalal is at risk of losing the lease, which would mean the immediate closure of the museum.


If the Phono Museum succeeds in crowdfunding and saving itself from inevitable closure, it has big plans, including building an in-house recording booth, a space dedicated to researching public music archives, organising vintage dance classes, temporary exhibitions, musical festivals and more. But not before they pay off the debt, hire a full-time employee and finance the installation of exterior signage for it to be less “hidden in plain sight” and get more butts inside the museum.


If you want to help, awesome! Just think of it as your museum entry fee, which comes complimentary with any donation of just €10 or more. Other rewards include access to the museum out of hours, an original etched label French Pathé record, an invitation to a local tour of recorded music history in Paris or a training workshop on the operation of phonographic records and cylinders. Find out how/ what’s involved when you make a donation here.


The bright young Parisian record collector, Thomas Henry, who urged me to visit in the first place, is responsible for getting Jalal and the Phono Museum set up on the easy-to-use crowdfunding platform, Ulele. Of course all this history is priceless, but it won’t be worth anything if the future generation doesn’t take an interest in preserving. So I’d like to thank Thomas for opening my eyes to such a place.


Instead of borrowing props from here, they should be making movies about it.

Stay tuned on their FB page and in the meantime, tell your friends, send word to music lovers across the world. Save the Phono Museum!! 


It is my absolute pleasure to confirm the Phono Museum’s crowdfunding project has been a success! You can still contribute until midnight tonight to give them a little extra boost in making sure the museum stays open. And if you’re in Paris tonight, there’s a museum open night to celebrate until the clock strikes twelve. 10 Rue Lallier, 75009 Paris.

12 Mar 22:35

Everything You Should Know About Sound

by Tim Urban

This post is part of Mini Week, where I’m posting a new mini post but not actually mini as it turns out every weekday this week.


I’ve always been a little confused about sound. So for “Tuesday’s” “mini” post, I decided to do something about that.

We think of sound as something we hear—something that makes noise. But in pure physics terms, sound is just a vibration going through matter.

The way a vibration “goes through” matter is in the form of a sound wave. When you think of sound waves, you probably think of something like this:1

But that’s not how sound waves work. A wave like that is called a transverse wave, where each individual particle moves up and down to create a snake situation.

A sound wave is more like an earthworm situation:2


Like an earthworm, sound moves by compressing and decompressing. This is called a longitudinal wave. A slinky can do both kinds of waves:13


Sound starts with a vibration of some kind creating a longitudinal wave through matter. Check this out:4

red dot

That’s what sound looks like—except picture an expanding ripple of spheres doing that. In this animation, the sound wave is being generated by that vibrating grey bar on the left. The bar might be your vocal chords, a guitar string, or a waterfall continually pounding down into the river below. By looking at the red dots, you can see that even though the wave moves in one direction, each individual particle only moves back and forth, mimicking the vibration of the gray bar.

So instead of a curvy snake wave, sound is a pressure wave, which causes each piece of the air to be at either higher-than-normal pressure or lower-than-normal pressure. So when you see a snake-like illustration of a sound wave, it’s referring to the measure of pressure, not the literal path of movement of the particles:5


Sound waves can go through air, which is how we normally experience it. But it can also go through liquid2 or solid matter—much of the jolting that happens during an earthquake is the result of a huge sound wave whizzing through the earth (in that case, the movement of the fault is serving as the gray and red bars in the animations above).

How about the speed of sound? Well it depends on how quickly the pressure wave can move in a given medium. A medium that’s more fluid, like air, is highly compressible, so it takes longer for the wave to move, while water is far less compressible, so there’s less “give” to slow the wave down. It’s like two people holding an outstretched slinky between them—if one pushes their end toward the other person, the wave will take a little time to travel down the slinky before the other person feels it. But if the two people are holding a broomstick, when one pushes, the other feels it immediately, because the broomstick is much less compressible.6

So it makes sense that the speed of sound in air (768 mph / 1,234 kmph under normal conditions) is about four times slower than the speed of sound in water, which itself is about four times slower than the speed of sound through a solid like iron.

Back to us and hearing. Ears are an evolutionary innovation that allows us to register sound waves in the air around us and process them as information—without ears, most sound waves would be imperceptible to a human with only the loudest sounds registering as a felt vibration on our skin. Ears give us a magical ability to sense even slight sound waves in a way so nuanced, it can usually tell us exactly where the sound is coming from and what the meaning of it is. And it enables us to talk. The most important kind of human communication happens when our brains send information to other brains through complex patterns of air pressure waves. Have you ever stopped and thought about how incredible that is?

I was about to move on, but sorry, I can’t get over this. The next time you’re talking to someone, I want you to stop and think about what’s happening. Your brain has a thought. It translates that thought into a pattern of pressure waves. Then your lungs send air out of your body, but as you do that, you vibrate your vocal chords in just the right way and you move your mouth and tongue into just the right shapes that by the time the air leaves you, it’s embedded with a pattern of high and low pressure areas. The code in that air then spreads out to all the air in the vicinity, a little bit of which ends up in your friend’s ear, where it passes by their eardrum. When it does, it vibrates their eardrum in such a way as to pass on not only the code, but exactly where in the room it came from and the particular tone of voice it came with. The eardrum’s vibrations are transmitted through three tiny bones and into a little sac of fluid, which then transmits the information into electrical impulses and sends them up the auditory nerve and into the brain, where the information is decoded. And all of that happens in an eighth of a second, without any effort from either of you. Talking is a miracle.


The ear can discern many qualities of a sound it hears, but two of the most fundamental are pitch and loudness.


Pitch is all about wavelength—i.e. how far apart the pressure waves are:7

Wave 2

The shorter the wavelength, the higher the pitch. Humans can hear frequencies as low as 20 Hz (which is a 56 ft /17 m long wave) and as high as 20,000 Hz (.7 in / 1.7 cm). As you age, you lose your ability to hear the highest pitches, so most of you probably hear nothing when you listen to the frequencies approaching 20,000 Hz (your dog will disagree). But you’ll have an easier time hearing the lowest part of the range.8 The reason you can feel low sounds, like low bass notes in music, is that the wavelength is so long that it actually takes 1/20th of a second for a full wave to pass your body (hence 20 Hz).34


The loudness5 of a sound we hear is determined by the amplitude of the pressure waves. In the animation above, the high and low-pitched sounds depicted have the same loudness, because the pressure curves at the bottom of the animation are the same size vertically. Louder sounds have a larger oscillation between the low and high pressure sections of the wave—i.e. loud sounds have higher high-pressure and lower low-pressure parts than quiet sounds.

For sounds through the air on Earth’s surface, the average of the high-pressure and low-pressure parts of the wave is our normal atmospheric pressure—what we call 1 “atmosphere” of pressure. So a sound wave might have a high pressure component of 1.0001 atmospheres and a low pressure component of .9999 atmospheres, and a louder sound might be 1.01/.99 instead—but in both cases, the average of the two is 1 atmosphere.

We often measure loudness using a unit called the decibel (named after Alexander Graham Bell). If you want to be confused, read the Wikipedia page on decibels. It’s a super icky unit. And rather than bore us both by explaining it, let’s just talk about how we use decibels to measure sound.

The scale of loudness has a very tiny minimum. The faintest sounds are far softer than any human could hear—even softer than any of our finest scientific instruments could detect. But depending on where you are, sound has a hard maximum. The reason is that sound isn’t a thing in itself—it’s a pressure wave moving through a medium. And since, as we talked about, the average of the high and low pressure points of a sound wave has to be the normal pressure of the medium, loudness is limited by the fact that eventually, the low pressure point hits zero-pressure—a vacuum. Since the low pressure can’t go any lower, that’s the max amplitude of a sound wave on the Earth’s surface and the loudest a sound can be here.

The convenient thing about decibels (dB) is that the absolute faintest sound detectable to the human ear is, by definition, 0 dB—we call that “the threshold of hearing.” Scientists do their best to study sounds far down into the negative decibel scale and there are man-made rooms on Earth that register as low as -9.4 dB—where it’s so quiet you can hear the blood pumping through your own brain—but we can only hear sounds in the dB positives. The loudest a sustained sound can possibly be on Earth’s surface is 194 dB—which is when the amplitude of the sound wave is so intense that the low pressure part is a perfect vacuum (the wave alternates between double the normal atmospheric pressure and no air at all—not something you want to be present for). Let’s take a look at the full scale, starting with the really quiet.

One thing to keep in mind is that with decibels, each increase of 10 dB doubles the loudness. So 20 dB is twice as loud as 10 dB, 30 dB is four times as loud as 10 dB, and 80 dB is 128 times louder than 10 dB.69

Decibels Chart

The scale stops at 194 because there’s no such thing as a louder sound on Earth’s surface. But we can go beyond here in two ways:

1) Shock Waves

When enough energy is released to pass the 194 dB mark, it’s too much to create a sustained pressure wave because we’ve bottomed out on low pressure—but things still happen. Very, very intense things.

At 194 dB, there’s a maxed out wave alternating between double the normal pressure and a total vacuum—but once we get to 195 dB, the energy stops moving through the air and starts pushing the air outward with an expanding vacuum. The more dBs above 194 there are, the farther reaching and higher-impact that vacuum bubble will be. It expands outward as a rapidly-growing half-sphere:10

bomb 1

On the edge of the bubble is a barrier of super-compressed gas, and when this barrier sweeps over the land, it usually flattens whatever’s in its path:11

bomb 2

As the hemisphere expands, it loses energy and eventually dissipates. But if you found yourself in the path of a shock wave before that happened, you’d have a bad time. First, the impact of the super-compressed barrier would be like hitting a brick wall (in the same way and for the same reason falling on water from a bridge is like falling on concrete). Second, compressed air is hot. Third, it wouldn’t just hit all parts of your body, it would go through your body, and if it were powerful enough it could turn your bones to powder and your organs to soup.

Here are some famous 194dB+ events:

Saturn V launch: The Saturn V was a beast, and the sound waves from its launches were so intense that they could light grass on fire a mile away. Even at three miles away, an observer would experience ear-splitting 135 dB sound.12 Rocket launches create such a powerful sound, that space agencies flood the launchpad with water as the rocket launches to absorb the sound so the force of the pressure wave doesn’t damage the rocket.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs: According to sources I read, these clocked in at well over 200 dB. The shock wave was so charged that it traveled 7 mi / 11 km in 30 seconds.

The 1883 Krakatoa volcano eruption:13 I’m overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to tell you about the Krakatoa. Let’s do bullets.

  • Krakatoa is an island in Indonesia, and the eruption happened on August 27, 1883.
  • The eruption completely annihilated the island, sent an enormous amount of debris 17 miles (27 km) high into the sky at half a mile per second. It also caused one of the most deadly and far-reaching tsunamis in history. In total, the eruption killed 36,000 people.
  • But the most amazing thing about the eruption was its sound. It made arguably the loudest sound on Earth in modern history.
  • It was so loud that the shock wave extended far enough to rupture the eardrums of sailors 40 miles away.
  • 100 miles away, the sound was still 172 dB, enough to permanently destroy someone’s ears or even kill them. Wherever you are, think of a place that’s about 100 miles (161 km) away. Now imagine something happening there that causes a sound so loud where you are that if you were screaming at the top of your lungs directly into someone’s ear when the sound hit, they wouldn’t be able to hear that you were doing it. For comparison, the Saturn V launch sound was at 170 dB 100 meters away. Krakatoa was higher than that 100 miles away.
  • The sound cracked a foot-thick concrete wall 300 miles (483 km) away.
  • The sound was heard all the way in Australia (where it sounded like a distant canon ball being fired) and even as far away as Rodrigues Island, 3,000 miles away. 3,000 miles away. I’m currently in New York. Imagine if something happened in California or in Europe that I could hear in New York. I can’t even.
  • After the sound eventually got far enough away that humans couldn’t hear it anymore, barometers all over the world were going nuts for the next few days, as the sound waves circled the Earth 3.5 times.
  • Finally, you know the famous painting The Scream? Well you know how the sky’s all red for some reason? The sky is red because the painter, Edvard Munch, was inspired to paint it after seeing the Krakatoa-caused red skies all over the Western Hemisphere in the year after the eruption.

It was a big eruption.

2) Other Mediums

There can be louder sound than 194 dB—just not on the Earth’s surface. There can be louder sounds in the ocean, in the land, or on other planets. The gas giants in our Solar System, for example, have denser atmospheres than Earth’s, which allow for higher pressure wave amplitudes, and with incredibly fast winds and powerful storms, there’s plenty of opportunity there to make loud things.

What isn’t loud is almost everything else in space. You’ve probably heard the term, “Sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum,” but it makes sense now, right? Sound is pressure waves through matter. If there’s no matter, there’s no sound. There can be immense heat, and radiation, and force, but to a nearby observing human, it’s all dead silent.

If, hypothetically, there were air filling the universe, then suddenly things would get very loud. Forget the terrifying concept of the sound of a supernova—just the dumb sun sitting there hanging out would ring in at an astounding 290 dB. According to one solar physicist, we’d hear that on Earth as a 100 dB sound—the volume of a motorcycle—all the time, every day, everywhere. Be happy that sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum.

One last thought—

Researching for this post and learning about what sound is gave me a new perspective on the tree falling in the forest with nobody there to hear it question. I now think that no, it doesn’t make a sound. It makes an air pressure wave and that’s it. The concept of sound is by definition a biological being’s perception of the pressure wave—and if there are no ears around to perceive the pressure wave, there’s no sound. It’s a little like asking, “If humans go extinct, and somewhere in the post-apocalyptic rubble, there’s a photo of a beautiful woman lying there—is she still beautiful?” I kind of don’t think she is. Because the only thing that’s beautiful about her is that humans found her beautiful, and without humans, she’s no more beautiful than the female beetle a few feet away, rummaging around the rubble. Right?


Three things I want you to read:

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How Tesla Will Change the World

The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence

Putting Time in Perspective


The awesome GIFS: Dan Russell and ISVR
CDC: Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention
US Department of Labor: Occupational Noise Exposure The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times
UNSW: What is a Decibel? Decibel Equivalent Table
Make it Louder: Ultimate Sound Pressure Level Decibel Table
NASA: Sound Suppression Test Unleashes a Flood
Idiom Zero: How Loud is the Sun? It Might Get Loud: The 10 Loudest Rock Bands of All Time
GC Audio: Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart The Speed of Sound
Turn it to the Left: Noise Levels
Extreme Tech: Can a Loud Enough Sound Kill You? Loud Music and Hearing Damage
Soundproof Cow: Loudest Sound Ever Heard
Chalmers: Quantum microphone captures extremely weak sound The eruption of Krakatoa, August 27, 1883

  1. Here’s a real slinky doing a longitudinal wave.

  2. Fun fact: The loudest animal on Earth is a blue whale, whose calls can reach an outrageous 188 decibels, far louder than a jet engine.

  3. If you want to see this in action, watch these two guys sit in a car while playing unthinkably loud bass music—at 2:11 you can see the guy’s shirt flapping about 20 times/second as the low and high pressure air passes through it (only watch the 10 seconds where I cued it up—I watched the whole video and it’s time I can’t get back now).

  4. Also—dog whistles sound silent to us but work on dogs because dogs can hear pitches as high as 44,000 Hz. Cats can go even higher—up to 79,000 Hz. But neither animal can hear pitches as low as we can. In fact, neither animal can hear the lowest seven keys on the piano—who knew.

  5. At first, I was using “volume” here but it seemed weird to use volume when talking about the natural world—like, you wouldn’t say, “What’s the volume of that waterfall?” So is volume just for man made things like stereos? In any case, we’ll be going with loudness.

  6. Going up by 10 dB multiplies the sound intensity, or the power, of the wave by ten—not two. But a 10x increase in power only sounds about 2x as loud to our ears, so for our purposes, the 2x increase is more relevant.

  1. GIF: ISVR

  2. GIF: GIF Soup

  3. GIF: GIF Soup

  4. GIF: Dan Russell

  5. GIF: ISVR

  6. Thanks to Christopher Reiss for that analogy.

  7. GIF: ISVR

  8. Thanks to commenter rebel28 for suggesting the pitch link.

  9. Sources for the info on this chart is down below. For each of these, I tried to find several sources that all agreed on the same number. It’s surprising, in general, how much disagreement there is online regarding dB figures.

  10. I couldn’t find the original source.



  13. Most of my info on this came from this excellent article on Nautilus

The post Everything You Should Know About Sound appeared first on Wait But Why.

08 Mar 07:03

If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them.

by Sketchaganda (@sketchaganda)

If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them.

08 Mar 06:55

Learn How to Code for Free: A DIY Guide for Learning HTML, Python, Javascript & More

by Dan Colman

free computer coding resources

This week, we’re launching the beginning of a new, ongoing series. We’re creating guides that will teach you how to learn important subjects on your own, using free resources available on the web. Want an example? Just look below. Here you’ll find a list of free resources–online courses, instructional videos, YouTube channels, textbooks, etc.–that will teach how to code for free. If we’re missing great items, please add your suggestions in the comments below.

This collection is just a start, and it will continue to grow over time. In the meantime, if there are other guides you’d like to see us develop in the coming weeks, please let us know in the comments section too. We’re happy to get your feedback.

How to Code (Software)

  • Codecademy: A free site for learning everything from Making a Website to Python in a “user active” style—meaning that users can use tutorials to design projects of their own choosing. The site also makes it easy to track your progress. Other topics you can learn include: Create an Interactive WebsiteRuby, Javascript, HTML & CSS, SQL and more. Register and sign up for all classes here. (See our post on Codecademy here.)
  • Code School: Code School courses are built around a creative theme and storyline so that it feels like you’re playing a game, not sitting in a classroom. The site offers a set of free courses covering JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby and more.
  • Free Code Camp: An open source community that helps you learn to code. You can work through self-paced coding challenges, build projects, and earn certifications. According to Wired, the site “features a sequence of online tutorials to help the absolute beginner learn become a web developer, starting with building a simple webpage. Students move on to programming with JavaScript and, eventually, learning to build complete web applications using modern frameworks such as Angular and Node.”
  • The Odin Project: Made by the creators of Viking Code School, an online coding bootcamp, the Odin Project offers free coding lessons in web development. Topics include: HTML, CSS, JavaScript & jQuery, Ruby programming, Ruby on Rails. Find an introduction to the curriculum here.

  • YouTube Channels for Learning Coding: Channels you might want to visit include:
    • Coder’s Guide: Features videos on HTML web development, cross-platform Java programming, beginner .net programming with Visual Basic and client side JavaScript web development.
    • Code Course: Learn to code and build things with easy to follow tutorials. A number of videos focus on PHP. Find more materials on the channel’s web site.
    • LearnCode.academyHTML, CSS, JavaScript, CSS Layouts, Responsive Design etc.
    • DevTips: Web design and web development.
    • The New Boston: Programming, web design, networking, video game development, graphic design, etc.
    • The Google Developers Channel: Offers lessons, talks, the latest news & best practices in subjects like Android, Chrome, Web Development, Polymer, Performance, iOS & more.
    • You can find more YouTube Channels here: 33 Useful Youtube-channels for learning Web Design and Development.
  • Free Programming Textbooks from Github: Access 500+ “free programming books that cover more than 80 different programming languages on the popular web-based Git repository hosting service.”
  • Free Computer Science Textbooks: On our site, find a list of free textbooks (aka open textbooks) written by knowledgable scholars.

Sources that helped us create this list above include: Inc., Learn to Code with Me, and WebBuildDesign.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

Learn How to Code for Free: A DIY Guide for Learning HTML, Python, Javascript & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

04 Mar 09:34

Photos interdites de la Corée du Nord (presque) ordinaire

by Delphine Cuny
Loin des images de propagande de Kim Jong-un, le photographe Michal Huniewicz vient de publier en ligne une série de clichés inédits pris à la dérobée lors d'un voyage à Pyongyang l'été dernier. Où l'on voit les Nord-Coréens dans leur quotidien sans joie.

04 Mar 09:34

280+ MOOCs Getting Started in March, Including Robert Pinsky’s Course on American Poetry

by Dan Colman

A quick FYI: This March, more than 280 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are getting underway, giving you the chance to take courses from top flight universities, at no cost. With the help of Class Central, we’ve pulled together a complete list of March MOOCS. Below, you can find a few courses that caught our eye.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.


280+ MOOCs Getting Started in March, Including Robert Pinsky’s Course on American Poetry is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

04 Mar 09:33

Orkney waves

by (ccgd)

ccgd a posté une photo :

Orkney waves

EMEC test site - next stop Greenland

26 Feb 14:57

Brochette de bœuf, légumes et pâtes de riz coréennes (Sanjeok)

by loukoum blog

beef veg and rice pasta

       Malgré votre visible manque d'enthousiasme pour la cuisine coréenne ;) je persiste puisque c'est une cuisine que j'adore. Aujourd'hui une recette bien moins pimentée spéciale âmes sensibles. Des brochettes un peu [...]