Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Meara O'Reilly's Chladni singing

"Chladni patterns were discovered by Robert Hook and Ernst Chladni in the 18th and 19th centuries. They found that when they bowed a piece of glass covered in flour, (using an ordinary violin bow), the powder arranged itself in resonant patterns according to places of stillness and vibration. Today, Chladni plates are often electronically driven by tone generators and used in scientific demonstrations, but with carefully sung notes (and a transducer driving the plate), I'm able to explore the same resonances." - Meara O'Reilly

Here is a video of O'Reilly making amazing, shifting geometric patterns by singing a sequence of notes:

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Women directors, women screenwriters, and the Bechdel Test

To pass the Bechdel Test, a movie has to fulfill these criteria:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it

2. Who talk to each other

3. About something besides a man

Doesn't sound too hard, does it?  And yet about half of the movies in the Bechdel Test database fail the test.  More than 10% failed all the criteria.  Just to recap, that means they didn't have more than one named female character in the whole movie.

Here is a list of some of the IMDb's top-rated films, measured against the Bechdel Test.  And here are some graphs.

So where are all the women?  Well, probably the same place all the female screenwriters and directors are.  In Hollywood, 19% of screenwriters are women.  In television it's 28%.

And, far from getting easier, it's actually getting harder for women to get writing work in Hollywood.  You can read more about that here.

As you'd expect, there's a connection between the number of women working as writers, directors and producers, and the number of female characters onscreen.  More on that here.

From The Guardian:
"The irony is that women were in at the birth of cinema. The silent era was a golden age with female screenwriters writing half of all movies between 1911 and 1925. Jane Cussons, chief executive of the industry body Women in Film and Television, says: 'Just think of Alice Guy Blache, who was the first woman ever to direct a movie. She directed 400 films, produced hundreds more and ran her own studio. Then when sound came in, film making became big business. Men moved in and women just got sidelined.'"

[you can read the whole article here

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Extremely scary jobs

"The hazardous career field of commercial diving was once largely defined by the deep-water saturation divers working the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. But saturation diving isn't the only dangerous diving job around. Someone has to dive the 150-foot-tall water towers on the blizzard-blown Kansas prairies where it's gravity, not gas saturation, that will kill you. Someone needs to slip quietly inside the tangled gloom of a tuna net to check on great white sharks. Someone needs to make sure those scientists chasing penguins under the Antarctic ice cap don't drift away from the hole. And yes, someone has to dive inside nuclear reactors. (But hey, we hear the tan you get is just fabulous.)"

Read the whole article here. It's fascinating, but could give you nightmares!

Thanks to the NZ Geographic for this link.