What I learned this week, May 14, 2017

After 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci’s music machine is brought to life

Rather than plucking the strings, as a harpsichord would, this instrument, called the viola organista, lowers the strings onto spinning wheels which are wrapped in horse hair. This acts as a bow would on a violin. The resulting sound gives the impression of a group of string instruments. The project took Zubrzycki 3 years and 5,000 hours to complete.


The Harlan Ellison Show

The star of the long-running Harlan Ellison show is 82 now. A stroke two years ago slowed him down somewhat, though not nearly enough to stop him from working. What his admirers fear above all is the loss of his voice—sometimes annoying, sometimes sappy, always funny, always insistent, and always arresting. As George Edgar Slusser puts it, “In its ubiquity and insistence, this voice becomes both guardian and guarantor of the stories, projecting a sense that here is not dead but living discourse—words spoken and re-spoken that are worthy of being guided through the years, mediated to other human beings, and reassessed in terms of their relevance again and again.”

It is this voice—Harlan Ellison’s voice—that deserves preservation for generations of readers, of writers, of 12 year olds who dream of other worlds.


What if We Discovered an Alien Civilization Less Advanced Than Our Own?

Fourth, what would we do if we really found rock-solid evidence of a pre-industrial civilization on a planet around another star? We couldn’t communicate with them by any currently known method. Unless physicists make some kind of wildly unanticipated new discovery, there is no practical way that humans could travel there, either. Potentially we could send miniature interstellar probes to examine the planet and learn more about its inhabitants. A project called Breakthrough Starshot is exploring the kind of technology needed to do something like that. Such probes would be so small and speedy that the aliens there would have no idea they were being watched


Oysters, Despite What You’ve Heard, Are Always in Season

The life cycle of a particular species, the temperature and quality of the water in which an oyster grows, and how the mollusk is handled after leaving that water all can affect its health and taste — and your health.

“Essentially if you buy oysters that are grown in healthy waters and they’re handled properly, then there’s no problem with eating them any time of the year,” said Donald Meritt, an aquaculturist at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.


Saudi Arabia Whines US Has Too Much Control Over World’s Oil

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has asked the U.S. to stop producing so much oil, according to a report Thursday.

OPEC’s report blames the U.S. in particular because hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has greatly increased American oil production. The new production has led a lengthy period of very low oil prices. OPEC claims raising global oil prices will “require the collective efforts of all oil producers” and should be done “not only for the benefit of the individual countries, but also for the general prosperity of the world economy.”


6 Reasons You Should Watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Before Season Three Premieres


How Alamo Drafthouse Is Changing the Moviegoing Experience

 


I have had a crush on the actress Natalie Dormer, ever since The Tudors. I saw this short “The Brunchers” on ShortsTV and really enjoyed it – even if it isn’t anything more than a bit of fluff. I was glad to find it was available to watch on Netflix.

You’re welcome.

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