Category Archives: science

➤ Nutty scientist finds himself out of his depth in the shallows of pop

Trevor Horn, pop music, production, science, TV, documentary

Trevor Horn: sharing his own tried and tested secrets of pop onscreen (© BBC)

RECORD PRODUCER TREVOR HORN – who helped shape the sounds of such 80s acts as ABC, Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and Frankie – last night shared five keys to being a successful pop artist. During the repeat of The Secret Science of Pop on BBC4 he said:

1 – Be able to write or have access to the best material.
2 – Have a really great voice, across two octaves.
3 – Have personal charm and charisma.
4 – Be physically and mentally strong.
5 – And, you’ve got to want it.

All of which made a deal more sense than the deluded “scientist” – a professor at London’s Imperial College who doesn’t deserve to be named! – who attempted to analyse success in the pop charts of the past 50 years by deconstructing thousands of hit tunes note by note. Nothing he proposed made any sense at all and after wasting 60 minutes of our time he shamelessly admitted he had “singularly failed” to out-flank Horn.

As compensation, Horn’s production team shared quite a lot of their intuitive magic in perhaps 15 of those minutes. Shame the whole documentary wasn’t about them instead.

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➤ A big red hand please for this tiny rare fish!

Red Handfish ,Thymichthys politus,

Pushy little Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) © Michael Baron, Eaglehawk Dive Centre

DIVERS HAVE DISCOVERED a new population of what may be the world’s rarest fish, possibly doubling the number believed to exist. Only 20 to 40 of the critically endangered Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) were thought to live off the coast of Tasmania, Australia. Instead of swimming, the strange little fish scuttles along the seabed on four red pectoral fins that look like hands. Another population of at least eight fish a few miles away was announced this week by a team from IMAS and the Reef Life Survey (RLS) at the University of Tasmania. More detail on video here:

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2016 ➤ Britain’s first robot Eric comes back to life

science, robotics, Eric-the-robot, Science Museum, exhibitions,demonstrations, London,

Eric the robot, then and now: Emerging from the workshop in 1928, left, and today on gleaming display in London’s Science Museum. His former tight-lipped expression has been enlivened with spiky teeth by his builder Giles Walker

MEET ERIC, BRITAIN’S FIRST ROBOT, built in 1928 and reincarnated as this full-size working replica by London’s Science Museum in a preview of next year’s blockbuster exhibition on 500 years of robotics. Within a decade of the word robot being coined in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), the 6ft-tall Eric toured the world as superstar but four years later he suddenly vanished. More than 800 backers of the museum’s Kickstarter campaign funded an Eric lookalike to be recreated by artist and robot builder Giles Walker. The new Eric has now joined the permanent collection and you can see him on static display until 30 November, though he’s giving three animated demos daily as a sparky mechanical person. Free.

The world’s first robots: inrobots, Karel Čapek, RUR , theatre

The world’s first robots: in Čapek’s play R.U.R. of 1921

Originally built by Captain W.H. Richards & A.H. Reffell to stand in for the Duke of York and open a model engineers exhibition, Eric was everything we now imagine a robot to be: humanoid, metallic and able to talk, though he moved only in limited ways, standing and sitting and moving his limbs. Giles Walker’s reincarnation maintains Eric’s primitive charm but has added some sleek touches, such as flexible elbows. The original had 35,000 volts sparking through his lips as he spoke. Today Giles has given Eric LEDs flashing across some spiky teeth instead, which is “a lot safer”.

Of the insides, he adds: “I’ve converted what was originally a load of pulleys and electromagnets into a digital system.” This makes Eric a very modern old robot, despite the verdict of TV star John Barrowman when Eric appeared on BBC TV’s One Show last week. He thought Eric looked like “an older-type cyberman”. Actually, John, the truth is probably the exact opposite: that Doctor Who’s cybermen were inspired by the Eric of the 1920s.

➢ Visit Eric on display in London

➢ At the Science Museum curator Ben Russell reveals more about the building of Eric

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2012 ➤ Hockney paints Hawking — watch a glittering new portrait emerge as a movie

David Hockney,iPad portrait,Brushes,exhibitions , Stephen Hawking,London, Science Museum

David Hockney at work on his iPad portrait of Stephen Hawking, showing from today at London’s Science Museum. Photograph © Judith Croasdell

Britain’s best-known painter meets the world’s best-known scientist. The outcome is a dazzlingly intimate birthday portrait of the wheelchair- bound Prof Stephen Hawking, captured in February at his office in Cambridge looking serene and fascinating with strangely luminous violet eyes. Today’s Science Museum blog reports:

IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO SEE the British artist David Hockney create a new work, stroke by stroke, before your very eyes. Now imagine this work is a portrait, providing an insight into the way Hockney composes his famous likenesses. Even better, the subject is none other than the distinguished Cambridge University cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

For the next three weeks the Science Museum will display an animated version of Hockney’s portrait, running on the artist’s own iPad for more than three minutes and showing exactly how it was created. Visitors can see how his skill has evolved since he was first introduced to the Apple iPhone in late 2008 and then the iPad. Hockney draws with an app called Brushes which removes the need to cart around supplies, easel and palette… It is exhibited alongside a rarely seen Hockney line-drawing, dating from 1978, owned by Hawking’s first wife, Jane… / continued online

➢ Stephen Hawking: A 70th birthday celebration display at London’s Science Museum until April 9 … The book that made a celebrity of cosmologist Hawking in 1988, A Brief History of Time, broke records by staying on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for 237 weeks.

➢ More on Hockney at Shapersofthe80s: 1983’s landmark interview when he revealed “Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly”. Plus more of his iPad art

Ubermensch ,sculpture,Stephen Hawking, Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman

Ubermensch 1995, by Jake and Dinos Chapman: Hawking as Fiberglass “Superman”

➢ Thin line between art and hate: is this the most repellent work of modern art? “The Chapman brothers’ sneering sculpture of Stephen Hawking sickened me in 1995, and still does now. What do you think is the most hateful work of modern art?” — Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones writing in January … and Jones again today: “Hockney’s portraits of Hawking are important documents of what really mattered in the culture of our time. Like Epstein’s Einstein, they will still be looked at when much art that makes headlines is utterly forgotten.”

➢ Professor Stephen Hawking has filmed a cameo for TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, due to be aired next month in the US (May in the UK) — BBC News reports: The famous physicist will appear in a scene with socially awkward scientist Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons. He previously recorded voice-overs for animations The Simpsons and Futurama. Last year, he fronted his own TV series Brave New World for Channel 4, which looked at new developments in science and how they might benefit mankind … / continued online

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