For eons, human beings have been obsessed with time. That’s why it really shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the earliest clocks date back to the BCE’s. These water clocks, or clepsydra, have been around since about the 16th century BCE in Babylon and Egypt, and also appearing in India and Greece (hence the name Clepsydra, meaning to steal water). Although scholars have argued that the the earliest versions of these things were not in the Middle East, but go as far back as 4000 BCE China.
The ancient Chinese were amazing scholars, so it would be unsurprising that a simple device would be available while most of the western world was still up in the trees throwing crap at each other. In fact, one such water clock was constructed with moving gears and such, and could calculate, the time of day, month, and year with near accuracy, as well as astrological events. Here’s the kicker- this clock wasn’t used for planting crops and such, although sowing seeds was definitely the purpose. They used the clock to let the emperor know when to conceive a child.
Firm believers in cosmic luck, the Chinese would select their crown prince based on when he was conceived, not when he was born, or born to. This is why it was important for the emperor to have concubines. Regardless whether or not it was his wife(s) that bore the child, the blessed seed of the god on Earth would be the new emperor.
But back to the Greeks for a minute. Water clocks gained popularity when prostitutes used them to time their johns. One of the first ones to use them was, herself, given the nickname of Clepsydra. I’m betting she was pretty darn popular.
Have you ever heard a sound, like say, music, or someone dropping a box full of flatware, and “saw” colors and/or shapes? Has something ever triggered a “flavor” that shouldn’t, like a word or a number? If so, then there’s a good chance you have synesthesia.
In a nutshell, synesthesia is a condition where certain stimuli trigger other, unrelated stimuli. Although technically a mental disorder, it isn’t as tragic as, say, schizophrenia or autism. In fact, many people have a form of synesthesia. 1 in 23, approximately. In some cases, its hereditary, but it can also be onset by a trauma such as a concussion or a stroke, or even by medicinal means (like LSD or mushrooms).
Many artists and musicians have it. In the case of artist Wassily Kandinsky (who’s piece, Composition VIII, can be seen above), he could hear colors. He claimed his box of paints “hissed” at him, and basically composed a sort of “music” on his canvas.
Like I said, its pretty common. You may have it, and not realize it, learning to deal with it. I, for one, see colors and shapes in sound. Its pretty awesome, acutally.
Have you ever taken stock as to how much people in our lives we consider to be close to? How many people, at the most, have a profound effect on our lives?
Apparently, there’s an answer. And its a little frightening. The comedic geniuses behind Cracked.com have compiled a study that’s pretty amazing, dubbed the Monkeysphere. Its a surprising look at the human mind, and worth a few minutes of your time. Although by the end of it, you’ll probably want to reexamine you Facebook friends list.
Don’t be too shy about reading their other articles, too. You might actually learn something from a site that used to be a MAD magazine ripoff.
Yes, this thing. The honey mushroom, Armarillaria Ostoyae, just so happens to be the World’s largest living organism.
Located in the Malheur National Forest, the honey mushroom lives a life of quiet decomposition. A life that has been lived anywhere from 2400 to 7200 years (depending on who you ask). But before you go trekking out to the woods of Eastern Oregon looking to live out your Smurf fantasy, know that the bulk of this thing is underground.
Mushrooms are more than what you see growing out of the ground. Beneath, it is really a network of tendrils (or for hentai fans, penis tentacles) called rhizomorphs that basically draw moisture and nutrients from plant life. So much so, that it can kill a tree. Circle of life, I guess.
The reason this particular networked organism could get so big has a lot to do with the climate in the area. Because its so dry, newer spores can’t establish another organism. Without that kind of competition, our hero just got bigger and bigger.
So just how big is this thing? After doing DNA testing in the area (yes, spores, molds, and fungi have DNA), the current estimate is approximately 2200 acres.
A few years ago, while stumbling home from the bar, I happened to find something laying near the sidewalk. In one quick motion, I stealthily picked up what appeared to be a book, despite the fact that stealth was completely unnecessary (It was 2:30 in the morning, and the lights were out in the house near where I found it). What I found turned out to be a crimson, leather bound diary. A flaming heart was embossed on the cover, and scrawled on the inside of it was the name of the owner: One Patrick H.
Still walking, I couldn’t help but start to read about the innermost secrets of this person. Who was he? Where was he? Does he know some random drunk is about to crawl inside his head?
His handwriting was atrocious, which could mean either of two things. He was a child, or his needs were special. The subject matter contained therein possibly quashed any notion that this was a child. Patrick had written his deepest, most visceral feelings on nearly every page that was written. Patrick was lonely.
Like the first time you find a box of porn in the woods, there is a certain mischievous glee that comes with looking at something you really shouldn’t. This was personal. This was deep. After a few pages, I could not stop reading it. The mischievous glee suddenly became empathic, as the sense of loneliness he felt touched my own.
Each page became heart wrenching, as he begged and pleaded with whatever forces that guide the universe for someone to call his own. Despite the poor handwriting, his simple sentences became alive, as he pined for “someone to love and loves me”. It wasn’t the same sentence repeated over and over, though. Each prayer was a little different, yet meant the same time and again.
It wasn’t all bad, though. He touched upon other things he was fond of, like stickers and trains. Still, it would always go back to its primary subject, despite the smattering of stickers applied here and there. Anyone reading it would have a pretty good idea at that point that he wanted someone to share his passions with. Nay, his life.
The final entry was dated two days before he lost his diary. By that point, a large part of me was pulling for him to find a companion. Someone he can spend his time with, that could share his interests.
I could never return the diary, since whomever lived at that house had appeared to move away. It probably fell out of a box during the evening, and passed over. What I could do, however, was share with others his words and feelings. Each person that read it cycled through the same experience I did. “God, I hope that guy finds someone,” seemed to have been a common response, touched by the simple nature of his words.
Although no longer in my possession, and quite possibly still being passed around, from time to time I think about it, and that it was his heart I crawled into, not his brain. It was his arrhythmic heartbeat that I felt, missing that one thing that would make it complete. I wonder if he ever found someone. I wonder if he’s still lonely. I offered up a prayer of my own, on behalf of him. Let him know that even if he feels lonely, let him know he’s not alone.
Besides being the man who popularized hardcore gansta rap (citation needed), Filippo Brunelleschi was a renowned architect during the early 15th century, although he was batshit insane.
His extensive studies of ancient Roman architecture led to a style that was unorthodox for the time. Like many geniuses (or IT nerds), he was prone to violent outbursts and would often speak out of turn, not unlike your average internet troll. However, Cosimo de’ Medici saw a very progressive thinker and believed that he would be the only person to solve a very serious issue.
At the time, the Cathedral of Florence, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, stood without a dome. This was kind of a big deal, since the dome usually defined the cathedral itself. Cosimo believed that Brunelleschi had the knowledge that would enable someone to construct a dome of that size. Utilizing his studies in ancient architecture, Brunelleschi not only came up with the design that was possible, but proved it by setting some of the bricks himself. But that’s not why I think he’s important.
Although he wasn’t known for artistry, he managed to solve a problem that had been bugging artists for years. By looking at and studying buildings, he was the first to truly observe that things in a distance seem to converge onto one point on the horizon: The vanishing point. In 1425, Filippo Brunelleschi came up with the simple formula for, and therefore, invented, linear perspective.
This is Cosimo de’ Medici. Although his father, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici founded the Medici bank, it was not until he took over the family business that his family would gain enormous power and influence in Florence.
Although wealthy, he used much of it to be patron to many artists and thinkers, including the tortured genius architect Brunelleschi (more on him later), and artist and sculptor Donatello. He also made the discovery of a lifetime in a young artist’s apprentice, who’s ideas on art set him far above others at an early age: Leonardo da Vinci.
Through his patronage of the arts, Florence started to become a cultural Mecca. Cosimo de’ Medici was directly responsible for the Italian Renaissance.
How can something so simple end up being so complicated? It is one of the basic necessities in life, yet there is much friction as to what is “acceptable”. Love is love, pure and simple. When two people care very much for each other, there shouldn’t be any sort of discussion on whether or not its “moral”. Bestiality is immoral. And gross. But love between two people of consenting age? Come on. Its a non-issue. They have found someone that fits them perfectly. Let them enjoy their ever after in peace.
Like I’ve said, love is a basic necessity in life. I suppose the reason I feel so strongly about letting someone care for whomever they choose is that for me, love is a luxury.