Greatest Universe Ever Sold

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (presented by Pom Wonderful) is proof that we have beaten bin Laden. Or at least, provides hope for the future of the American way. Morgan Spurlock (who you might remember from fast-food takedown Super Size Me) faces commercialization and product placement head on, and in exposing it, finds positives. He finds sponsors that understand where he’s going with the film and are fully behind the idea. They’re in on the joke, and that‘s a great selling point. It’s also good for the consumer.

Greatest Movie examines the effects of self-awareness on advertising, and finds the two are not mutually exclusive. This is a good thing. Advertising is not going to disappear any time soon; it has become part of our global culture. And even if it could, would we really want it to? Marketing and advertising are effective methods of disseminating information. What we don’t need is false advertising. The more enlightened companies are – in terms of what goes into making their products and what their customers are looking for – the more progress we can make as a society.

One of the major goals of humanity – of existence, in general – should be to become more self-aware. To explore the boundaries of awareness, as beings in this universe (as part of this universe). How much can we realize about the “now,” the present? How far does our perception extend, and what factors are influencing it, in real time? Continue reading Greatest Universe Ever Sold

Anna and the Universe

What is space?

Most likely, it is a property of the human mind. An algorithm, like time, that helps consciousness make sense of the world around us.

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That our idea of space is relative can be illustrated simply, without need to delve into quantum physics.

mirror bookTake the “Magic Mirror” toy that was popular in the late 19th century. Images that appear to be distorted blobs become detailed drawings when viewed in a different way — in this case as a cylindrical reflection. This is an example of anamorphosis, which has been used in art since Leonardo Da Vinci and by many since, including Salvador Dalí and Marchel Duchamps.

Putting the concept into practice in a very modern way is one of Swiss design firm Zmik‘s latest installations, appropriately entitled “Anna.”

The main corridor in the new offices of Swiss interactive firm iart is visually expanded by a series of large-scale drawings.

From five set viewpoints, these sketches coalesce to reveal wireframes of (both real and imagined) spaces behind the walls. Viewed from any other position, the design appears to be simply a rather random pattern of graphic lines.

Zmik describes the work as an “allegory for the quest of new perspectives.”

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It can also be viewed as a metaphor for the “fixed vantage point” each of us holds in this journey of life, along with its accompanying limitations, biases and opportunities.

But this rigidity is changing. Whole new online communities — such as Twitter, World of Warfare, Second Life — are forming with their own, different rules of space and time.

Dr. Robert Lanza says, “Reality is simply an information system that involves our consciousness.”

Understanding consciousness and the way it shapes our worlds is the next big step in evolution.

Let’s be intent on getting there.

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[via core77 and dezeen, interior photos by Eik Frenzel]

Don’t Crease the Cup

shuttle VABThe design of space travel technology, even the limited space travel we do today, is huge and complicated. 

Here, a rarely photographed but critical part of any shuttle flight, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where the shuttle body is attached to the fuel tanks and boosters. Photo via’s awesome “Big Picture” feature.

From some folks working at the Kennedy Space Center (via email):

The VAB was built for the Apollo program, and never reconfigured for the shuttle, hence the lift over the structure, up, over and down to mate with the tank and boosters). 
The certification for the persons operating the crane is awesome; I was lucky enough to be working in the VAB while they were certifying a fellow. In the early days they put a spray can on an upside down wastebasket sitting on VAB floor and the fellow operating the crane is up 467 ft., working blindly. A fellow on the floor with a Walkie Talkie guides him, the last foot or so  just going down in increments of 1/16th of an inch. The operator has to lay the crane on top of the spray can and empty the contents. One day they decided that the can might explode, so they went to an upside down styrofoam cup, the operator can’t crease it. The crane, by the way, weighs 50,000 lbs.

Immense Distances

“Man has invaded space — not in airplanes which would fall to pieces with age before Earth’s near neighbors were visited, but with thoughts which travel faster and work more miracles even than the light of the sun.”
Unbelievable Time
From a 1918 encylopedia of sorts, for children, this beautiful poster does a great job of illustrating the concept of the relative enormity of space. There is a lot of information here, presented in a very accessible design.

The spaceships themseles are whimsical but not entirely unlikely creations, amalgams of several different types of ships and planes, which seem to be leaping into space directly out of the ocean and into a map of our solar system.

The notes and captions around the sides of the drawing help paint the picture of the scale of this map (though using a now-common speed of around 120 mph — 2 miles per minute) with references to well-known historical happenings.

Still a useful teaching tool. Good design withstands the test of time.

Originally scanned in by Azrael Brown, much commented on here, and brought to my attention by John Nack.


The BatTangentially design related, but a follow up to my previous post about the International Space Station: Apparently a free-tailed bat was a stowaway on the fuel tank of the Discovery shuttle mission that made the recent delivery to the ISS.

It held on as rocket boosters fired and held on as the shuttle headed up above the launch tower. It is thought to have eventually been shaken off and incinerated. (A bat expert who inspected the pics after the fact postulated that it had a broken wing, and so couldn’t fly away sooner.)

After the bat was discovered during pre-flight walkthroughs, shuttle engineering did debris analysis on him and ultimately a waiver was written to accept the stowaway and allow the launch to continue as planned.

This was reported on the news at the time but I missed it. Aww. Poor bat. But great that the sensors and monitoring of the shuttle takeoff can notice such a miniscule thing. Can’t wait for 2001-like space flights. I hope in my lifetime. I hope.

UPDATE: Images now link to larger versions…

Bat Tech

S6 Truss

Click to View LargerThe International Space Station is very near completion with the success of the latest mission, the addition of the S6 Truss, the last part of the station’s “backbone.”

The design of the ISS evolved somewhat over the years since it was first conceptualized, but hasn’t changed too much.  It’s a relatively elegant structure.

I was surprised to remind myself that the Station’s construction began very recently in 1998, after the end of the Cold War allowed designs and ideas to flow more freely between Russia and the US, and also with Europe, Japan and others.

The ISS is a momentus accomplishment. Not only the impressive technology, but the coordination of design and construction thoughout so many nations all over the world.