Language Log guest blogger Paul Frommer, USC linguist and creator of the Na’vi language:
Given the interest that’s already been shown in Na’vi, I’m grateful to Ben Zimmer for the opportunity to post a few highlights of the language to Language Log. As will be apparent, the information below is not intended to be anything like a complete description; the Phonetics and Phonology section is the most complete, but the Morphology and Syntax sections are mere sketches. Given my contractual obligations, a more thorough treatment awaits another venue. But I hope this sketch will answer a few questions and perhaps serve to counterbalance some of the erroneous information that has made its way to the Internet. Needless to say, comments are welcome.
Paper isn’t the first medium most people think of when they imagine sculpture, but it has qualities that help papercraft artists create some of the most incredibly intricate 3D art ever seen. Master paper sculptors like Richard Sweeney, Brian Dettmer and Ingrid Siliakus cut, fold, glue and otherwise transform sheets of paper in various colors, sizes and textures into complex creations that mimic architecture, nature, the human form and subjects that are purely the products of their own fertile imaginations.
Shown above is the tetrahedral microphone array Dan uses to record his soundscapes, three of which he played back on the ACTlab’s surround-sound system. The tetrahedral microphone arrangement makes it possible to mathematically derive any number or spatial arrangement of surround-sound channels from the raw audio. Professional ambisonic microphones cost thousands of dollars; Dan put his together for nine bucks. He played amazing recordings of a babbling river, a clowder of feeding cats, and a pipe organ recital at UT’s Bass Concert Hall, while the audience milled about the room to experience the spatial simulation of the original sounds. The realism was absolutely uncanny. There’s more info on Dan’s Soundscapes page.
A recent wander through the outer suburbs of Flickrville yielded an exciting find – a set of Temari spheres, decorative thread balls combining mathematical principles, as well a love of colourful decoration. Originally developed in China and later spreading to Japan, Temari were traditionally made by grandmothers to give to their grand children. These engaging kaleidoscopic sphere’s have a something in common with Friedrich Froebel’s gifts as a way of introducing young children to the beauty of geometry and engaging them in the subjects of symmetry and tessellation through expertly crafted tactile objects. Froebel, the founder of the Kindergarten model, is well know for designing eductional puzzle like objects, known as Froebel Gifts, which encouraged geometric thinking and pattern building activities.
NanaAkua’s Flickr set [link above] contains a staggering 486 threadballs designed and made by her grandmother, now in her 80’s, who combines an excellent choice colours with a discerning eye for pattern. Also worth a visit is the Temari Flickr group.
For his student thesis project at the Bartlett School of Architecture, Thomas Hillier produced an immersive narrative world, complete with origami-filled hand-cut book pages and an elaborate model of the story’s architectural landscape. Hillier’s project was called The Emperor’s Castle and it was inspired by the work of Japanese printmaker Hiroshige.
The Emperor’s Castle originates from a mythical and ancient tale hidden within a woodblock landscape scene created by Japanese Ukiyo-e printmaker, Ando Hiroshige. This tale charts the story of two star-crossed lovers, the weaving Princess and the Cowherd, who have been separated by the Princess’s father, the Emperor. These characters have been replaced by architectonic metaphors creating an urban theatre within the grounds of the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.
What you’re seeing here are sand dunes on Mars. This region is in the center of a large crater at mid-north latitude on Mars, a couple of hours past local noon, and with a resolution of 50 cm (18 inches) per pixel. Sand dunes are common in crater beds, where the wind can blow steadily across the surface and sculpt the ever-present sand into those flowing sculptures.
But what this picture so spectacular are the graceful blue-gray swirls arcing across the dunes. These are caused by dust devils, which are a bit like mini-tornadoes. If the ground gets heated, rising air can punch through cooler air above it. This starts up a convection cell, with warm air rising and cool air sinking. If there is a horizontal wind the cell can start spinning, creating a vortex like a dust devil. I’ve seen hundreds of these on Earth, and they are wonderful and mesmerizing to watch.
The important thing to note here is that the sand in the craters of Mars is actually dark grey in color, since it’s made of basalt. The reason it looks red in pictures is because covering the sand is a thin layer of much finer dust, and the dust is what’s red. When a dust devil moves over the Martian surface, it can pick up the very light dust particles, but not the heavier sand grains. So those blue-grey swirls are tracks where the dust devil has vacuumed up the dust, revealing the darker sand underneath. If you look carefully in the tracks, you can see the sand dune ripples are undisturbed. Only the dust is gone.
The first attempts to reach Mars (1960) and Venus (1961) failed, yet triumph followed quickly. Of the nearly 200 solar, lunar, and interplanetary missions depicted on this map, most have been Earth’s closest neighbors. As rocketry, navigation, and imaging have become ever more capable and reliable, the planets and many of their moons have been examined in detail. The New Horizons mission to Pluto is under way, as is the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. Others not yet launched, perhaps not yet dreamed, await.
From a well-framed photographic perspective it is clear that this incredible wall-to-wall, ground-to-roof, full-building mural is compelling (and dizzying) in its realism – but even more amazing, it is likewise shockingly surreal from almost any other angle or position.
Playing both with perspective and with existing actually-3D decorative and structural elements, it is hard to see where the flat-painted optical illusion ends and the real architecture begins in this work of whole-building art in the middle of Paris, France – except at a few critical intersections that can be seen up close.
Customized jewelry maker Paragon Lake hosted a panel on Mass Customization last Thursday and assembled an interesting group of participants
I highly recommend clicking the above link and exploring the many innovative ideas that Joseph describes and links to.
An interesting takeaway for me:
Sung Park started the evening off by breaking mass customization into three broad categories:
1. Digital Front End/Digital Back End
This describes companies like Amazon that serve unique pages based on your interests in a completely digital fashion.
2. Digital Front End/Physical Customization and Assembly
Most current mass customization companies would fall into this bucket. You design something with a web based cad interface and then some factory produces it using modified traditional manufacturing processes. Think NikeID, Fashion Playtes, or Paragon Lake.
3. Sensor based Front End/CAD-CAM Back End
This is a more passive experience best illustrated by Brontes. In their case a sensor makes a model of your mouth and then automated equipment (a 3D printer) produces a physical copy of the scan. There is very little human involvement or intervention.
This Thursday, Oct 15, Metrix Create: Space will open its doors in Seattle (at 623A Broadway East). It’s hackerspace meets an indie coffee house. They’ll have tools and equipment for building projects, 3D fabbing machines, classes on various types of high-tech makery, coffee and snacks. They even have a vending machine that’ll dispense Sun Chips, M&Ms, Clif Bars, and Arduinos, breadboards, jumper wires, etc. How cool.
In collaboration with nano scientists Dr. Zhengwei Pan and his research group at the University of Georgia, I have created a new series of work called “innerspace”. These micrograph images are taken directly from their theoretical lab samples. While the scientists observe the nano structures as objects, I am approaching them as subjects and discovering new micro and macro relationships.
Using current photographic technology and a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) I have created grand scale micrograph interpretations of their research. In this series I selected perspectives of unusual microscopic happenings within the actual nano structure samples to blur scale into seemingly familiar human settings.