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The First Giant Telescope

Telescopes can be pretty high-tech these days, but the basic way they are designed is not much different from Sir Isaac Newton’s designs 220 years ago! Our Sun shows us the history behind the first giant telescope.

In 1892, François Deloncle, a member of the French Chamber of Deputies, commissioned the construction of a giant telescope as the centerpiece of the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900. It was to be the largest refracting telescope yet constructed, with a lens 1.25 meters (over 4 feet) in diameter and a focal length of 57 meters (over 187 feet), all affixed within a cast-iron tube nearly 60 meters (197 feet) long. Due to its immense size, the telescope had to be mounted in a fixed horizontal position and light from the sky redirected using a movable plane, or siderostat, mirror nearly 2 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter, which would take nine months to grind.

Although the telescope was not intended for scientific use, it could produce images of 500x magnification and more. The French astronomer Charles Le Morvan used it to take several photographs of the surface of the Moon that astonished the readers of Strand Magazine, which published the photos in the November 1900 issue.

Unfortunately, its immense size and virtual immobility made the Great Paris Exposition Telescope a hard sell. After the Expo, the company that had built it declared bankruptcy and put the telescope up for auction in 1909. When they could find no buyer, it was broken up for scrap metal. However, the 2-meter (6-foot) siderostat mirror was salvaged and put on display at the Paris Observatory. And in 2007, two of the telescope’s lenses were discovered in packing crates in the observatory’s basement.



5 Creative Geniuses Behind Burning Man


The creative genius at Burning Man is truly created from the raw energy and emotion of the festival attendees, from the group consciousness that rises in waves from the desert playa like steam. The men and women who can channel that intense power and beauty and turn it into epic works of art are the cultural shamans of Burning Man. Here are a few of these magic makers, as featured in Burning Man: Art on Fire.

These are five of the many, uncountable creative geniuses behind Burning Man.

1) Marco Cochrane, creator of Bliss Dance (2010) and Truth is Beauty (2013)

Each of these massive sculptures depicts a female nude in a state of joy. The first, Bliss Dance, appeared on the playa in 2010, followed by Truth Is Beauty in 2013. Artist Marco Cochrane imagined the sculptures as a series of three, designed to call attention to the treatment of women and to depict them in a state of beauty, safety, and self-acceptance. Inspired by the traumatic assault of a childhood friend, he dedicates this series to the empowerment of the female, which he believes would return the world to a more peaceful balance.

Cochrane credits the open-minded culture of Burning Man for inspiring the sculptures. “I’m trying to demystify nudity. I see how free women are on the playa, how they can possess a playful energy here that they cannot do in real life.” He channels the energy from the festival and uses his creativity to turn it into an epic, grand, timeless work of art.

2) Dana Albany, The Bone Tree 1999

Dana Albany is a long-time contributor to Burning Man, and the festival has grown because of her creative genius. In 1999, she was asked by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey to create the art centerpiece for the festival. The theme that year was “The Wheel of Time.” Dana thought about the desert, about DNA, about the march of time, and she created the piece of art, “The Bone Tree.”

In an interview on The Leonardo Gallery (which also has an amazing picture of The Bone Tree ablaze), Albany says, “The Bone Tree served several purposes. It was a tribute to the passage of time in which living animals transform from flesh to bone, a final reminder of their presence on earth. It was also an interactive sculpture in that its mobility was derived from participants who pushed it in a sweeping circle around the the Wheel of Time installations. This clockwise orbiting of the Bone Tree around the Wheel of Time acted as a magnet in drawing passersby to follow it and in turn be introduced to the various installations that were featured in sequence that evening. The third aspect of the Bone Tree was performance as it included a miniature stage where Father Time appeared with his acolytes who danced in front of him.” You can also read about the fitting end to The Bone Tree on The Leonardo Gallery site.

Albany has created and collaborated on more art installations featuring recycled and organic materials, including bones for the festival. Browse this gallery on to discover more from Dana Albany.


3) Duane Flatmo, El Pulpo Mecanico, 2012

Mutant Vehicles are a big part of Burning Man. These extraordinary machines require creative talent that extends beyond most artists’ wheel houses. They need artistic vision, plus technical execution, plus mechanical mastery. Duane Flatmo is the creative genius behind these Mutant Vehicles, and the creator of “El Pulpo Mecanico,” pictured below.

Duane Flatmo’s inspiration often comes from found materials. “I kept going to thrift stores and finding so much aluminum,” he says. “I started seeing it as textures: pizza pans, colanders, garbage cans … and decided it would be fun to make a vehicle out of junk parts. I was using intuition to figure out how to make something work, starting with what I knew about kinetic sculpture after 30 years building pedal racers. I had saved newspaper clippings of Burning Man for 20 years, but I’d never attended. When I went out there I was blown away.”

Duane Flatmo, El Pulpo Mecanico, 2012.

4) Kate Raudenbush, The Guardian of Eden, 2007

Kate Raudenbush does not take her creative genius for granted, or underestimate its meaning in our culture. She is highly conscious about the social impact of her art. She says in her Black Rock City TEDx, “art is the consciousness of our culture expressed in physical form.” Her work, “The Guardian of Eden” appeared at Burning Man in 2007, and has an energy of new beginnings, of new life, but also of ancient practices and Eastern tradition and myth. Raudenbush is the perfect artist to channel this message and turn it into huge sculptures for the Burning Man festival.

In Burning Man: Art on Fire, Raudenbush admits, “Burning Man challenges me to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, over and over again,” says Kate Raudenbush, who designs and fabricates enormous steel climbing structures with an otherworldly ethereality.

Kate Raudenbush, Brain Drop, 2007.

Kate Raudenbush, Futures Past, 2010.

5) Jon Sarriugarte and Krysten Mayte, The Golden Mean (2011) and The Serpent Twins (2011)

Husband and wife team Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mayte would often be seen driving this remarkable yin–yang pair of illuminated creatures with ten articulated joints that enabled their sinuous pas de deux on the expanse of the open playa. Their daughter, Zolie Mae, was often seen copiloting in her custom winged aviator cap as the light and dark creatures headed back to their home base, where they parked under a forged sign that read, “The Empire of Dirt.”

This family is fueled by creativity that knows no bounds, and their work is a celebration of ingenuity and invention.


If any of your are heading back to dorms this week, we have a special treat that you’re going to love!

Quarry SPOON, racepointpublishing and qgeekbooks are teaming up to host a Back to School Survival Kit giveaway that features a mug, 5-Minute Mug Cakes by Jennifer Lee, and a classics collection of your choosing!

For an awesome recipe from the book, head over to Quarry Spoon for a nutellausa Mug Cake to die for.

And here are the giveaways! Enter all four, or just your favorite:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dollar Bill Dragonfly

Did you every try your hand at Won Park’s origami dollar bill butterfly we shared? Whether you mastered that or could still use a little practice, here’s a dollar bill dragon fly from Origami Masters: Bugs.

Won Park is an origami artist who has been practicing the art of paper folding for more than 30 years. He specializes in folding paper currency from the United States and other countries. He is well known for his meticulous folding execution, his eye for detail, and a finely tuned sense of artistry.

Try out his creation:


A Look at Hendrix’s Woodstock Strat, 45 years later

We talked a little about Jimi’s Strats before, but let’s take a look specifically at the ‘68 Blonde as seen in Jimi Hendrix Gear by Michael Heatley and Harry Shapiro.

Hendrix acquired the white maple-neck Stratocaster played at Woodstock in August 1969, in the previous November; pictures exist of him playing it at his show at Yale University on the 17th of that month. Thanks to the magic of the big screen, the blonde, maple-neck guitar (serial number 240981) remains the one indelibly associated with him. It featured a laminated maple neck and a combination of larger headstock/large logo typical of Strats of the period.

The body color is Olympic White, and the original bears stains from Hendrix’s shirt.


The actual “Woodstock Strat” is an exhibit of the Experience Music Project. Olympic white and with a maple neck, it is somewhat iconic in appearance even though it is to all intents and purposes a stock Strat.

The neck was laminated and therefore did not have the darker “skunk stripe” denoting the insertion of a truss rod from behind. The body is believed to have been matched with several necks, however, in the two years it was used. The body color is Olympic White, and the original bears stains from Hendrix’s shirt.

The nut has been reversed to accommodate upside-down stringing and, as with many of Jimi’s guitars, there is evidence of cigarette burning from when he would wedge a stogie under the thickest strings. If he got carried away soloing, the cigarette would burn down to a stub and mark the wood.

It passed into the possession of Mitch Mitchell, who auctioned it at Sotheby’s, London, on April 25, 1990. It was then valued at £198,000, as bought by Gabriele Ansaloni, who resold it in 1993 for a reported sum of somewhere between $1.3 and $1.8 million. It has since been bought by Experience Music Project, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen stumping up the sum of money involved. “This guitar is iconic to people because it was one of a number of guitars that he just happened to play at Woodstock,” said curator Jacob McMurray. “It’s definitely one of those guitars that has a historic resonance.”

In 1997 Fender issued a replica of the Woodstock Strat, while in 2003, to celebrate what would have been Jimi’s 60th birthday, four clones were created by measuring and dismantling the original. One of these is now owned by current pop star John Mayer. The original was, in 2003, rated the world’s second most collectable Stratocaster by the website, beaten only by Eric Clapton’s legendary “Brownie.”

When Fender launched an Artist Centre in a London rehearsal complex just prior to its first auction in 1990, this was one of the iconic guitars exhibited. The original strings were discarded by Neville Marten, editor of Guitarist magazine, who had previously been Fender’s UK guitar repairer. “I cut off the strings and threw them in the bin. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? Today they alone would probably be worth £50,000 (with Jimi’s DNA all over them)!”

The spotted ocelot-fur strap was still in place, though Hendrix didn’t wear this strap at Woodstock; it seemed he changed it, as later photos confirm.

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Learn more about Jimi’s other guitars:

"Let’s Melt a Terminator!" - The Pretzel Man as EPIC Incarnate

Okay, so basically James Cameron set out to define the word “EPIC” before it was a thing. And let’s not deny that in recent years, movies have been very EPIC, and we use EPIC to describe a lot of really, really, cool things that are a pretty big deal. But none can compare like the Terminator movies.

EPIC is supposed to leave you in an awed and shocked state. You should feel overwhelmed and amazed. You should not know how to deal with all the awesome. In essence, ALL THE FEELS. That’s EPIC.

You know what else is EPIC? The Pretzel Man. And from there, Cameron pushes the boundaries of EPIC until our brains explode.

Here’s Ian Nathan on how Cameron went from bigger to better:

For the T-1000’s human disguise, a police officer named Austin (a joke in honor of co-producer Stephanie Austin), the impulse was almost the polar opposite from that behind the casting of John Connor. “He had to appear to be an average kind of guy,” the real Austin explains: the machine would be trying to infiltrate in broad daylight. “And yet there had to be something there that he wasn’t quite one of us.”


Robert Patrick as the human form of the T-1000, Officer Austin. In all his movements, Patrick thought of himself as liquid.

“The T-1000 is supposedly the only one of its kind in existence,” Cameron adds, “and I wanted to support that idea by casting someone who was basically an unknown. Robert Patrick was an unknown and he had that physical ability.” Cameron might also have seen something of his own restless spirit in the actor. Patrick came to Cameron’s blockbuster off the back of a raft of Roger Corman B-movies and a brief appearance in Die Hard 2: Die Harder. “I was totally broke, looking for a break in the industry,” he admits. “Luckily I embodied everything Jim Cameron was looking for.” Already a natural athlete, the actor was also assigned sessions with Uzi Gal to sharpen his weapon skills and get him to peak fitness. Patrick conditioned himself to run with his mouth closed, to keep his expression cool and his movements catlike. He thought of himself as liquid.


Once he had a script, Cameron didn’t dwell on the impossibility of the task—he set about achieving the impossible. “I plunged into a whirlwind of activity,” he says, “bringing aboard not one but two coproducers to share the burden with me.” Budgeting, storyboarding, and numerous special effects contracts were piling up on his plate, so he hired B. J. Rack, who had managed to keep Total Recall in some kind of order, and Austin, who came with invaluable experience in the tight schedules of television production. In effect, he had hired himself two Gale Anne Hurds.

Neither of them was immune to how daunting a mission they faced. “The most terrifying thing was reading the script,” Austin says, “and realizing what we had there was about three movies.” She was impressed by how coherent it remained over a long stretch, but there was just so much action, and on a phenomenal scale. “Every sequence was like the ending of Die Hard,” Rack concurs. “It was going to be the biggest movie ever made.” Alongside Cameron, they were going to have to pare down his epic sequel to fit into three months of preproduction, 100 days of shooting, and another three months in post. “It was overwhelming,” Austin admits. The close-knit team put in 16-hour days, seven days a week, right up until production began.

To create the film’s complex tapestry of 150 visual effects, Cameron hired those who had already proven themselves: Fantasy II, who had met his standards on The Abyss as well as The Terminator, was again responsible for the miniature shoots, although the sheer volume of shots required them to divide their work with 4 Ward Productions (Darkman, Tremors). And, of course, ILM had already signed up for the R&D challenge of the changeable super-Terminator.

Early on, Cameron had invited Stan Winston over for dinner to give him an extended preview of the story, acting out scenes, explaining the encyclopedic criteria behind his two Terminators. He invited Winston to join up, even though he didn’t foresee the same need for the makeup effects. Winston was only too willing to return to the fold. He felt proprietary about the material; his stamp was on The Terminator. “My answer was an emphatic ‘yes!’ I wouldn’t want anyone else to do them,” he said.


By the time Cameron revised his script, Winston’s part in T2 had experienced a radical growth spurt from the makeup effects on Schwarzenegger’s battered T-800—who progressively deteriorates the way his counterpart did in the original—to become, in the artist’s estimate, the biggest makeup effects film ever. “Jim came up with just hundreds of insane, impossible effects—which is what he always does. There were more effects in the first 2 minutes of this script than there had been in the entire first movie!” They needed a whole series of endoskeleton puppets, including several animatronic versions of Schwarzenegger’s upper torso (shot through to its metal undercarriage, hit repeatedly with a swinging metal girder, skewered with a steel rod, etc.). The promised T-1000 effects still had their limitations, and Winston had to invisibly back up ILM by creating practical extensions to their digital morphing. He created foam “body hits” that flower in silver profusion on Patrick’s chest when struck by bullets, bladelike augmentations of the T-1000’s body mass, and a ghoulish, madly malfunctioning T-1000 almost twisted in two by a grenade—one of the movie’s most singularly disturbing visions.


The process of making the Pretzel Man concept come to life after the T-1000 is hit by a grenade. From left: a Stan Winston Enterprises sketch of the deformed T-1000; the sketch rendered as a model; a technician setting up the painted model at the steel mill; the model in action on-screen.


Meanwhile, Cameron was also mapping out his massive action sequences with amusing minimalism: he holed up in a conference room at Lightstorm with his stunt coordinators, camera technicians, and production managers, and they played around with Hot Wheels cars on sketched-out road maps, shooting them with a snorkel camera the size of a tube of lipstick. These shots would appear on a computer screen, which could then be printed out to use as storyboards. “We’d literally sit there for 12 hours,” Rack remembers, “with grown men holding trucks, ‘Wheee, and then he jumps off the truck and goes bang, bang, bang, bang.’”


In a feat of multitasking, Cameron (and Wisher) also set about work wrestling the “bloated” screenplay into something filmable. The opening time displacement sequence in Skynet’s gothic citadel was cut, and so was an elaborate subplot involving a freedom fighter and former lover of Sarah’s named Gant. Eventually, they arrived at a script that was hopelessly ambitious in a mere mortal’s hands; for Cameron it was the next challenge.

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More movie magic in Terminator Vault


Sneak Peek at Olimpia Zagnoli’s View Into Oz


It matters not how professional or how seasoned a designer you are; when you see something designed really well, your inner-nerd squees like a child.

This happened to us when we saw our advanced copies of Olimpia Zagnoli's Classics Reimagined, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Olimpia’s recognizable simplistic illustrations add so much whimsy to Dorothy’s adventure through the land of Oz.




This is just a sampling of the unique and imaginative illustrations found in this book. Just like the new version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Yann Legendre, this is a must-have on your bookshelf.

You can enter to WIN your copy of this book on Goodreads right here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Classics Reimagined, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Classics Reimagined, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Pre-order your copy now and lock in the inexpensive price:


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