Sculpture, Vermeer, Saudi Arabia, Robert Trivers, Virtual Reality, Drones For Africa


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In The Sculptor’s Studio

Jed Perl | New York Review of Books | 7th January 2016

Comparing the sculpture of Rodin and Picasso. "If modern painting is an argument with naturalism, modern sculpture, as it began with Rodin, is an argument with classicism". Rilke said that Rodin's art was not "of people, but rather of things". Picasso went further. His sculpture left even sculpture behind: It became entirely of things. "There is something almost lunatic about Picasso’s profligacy with methods and materials" (3,800 words)

Vermeer As Scientist

Claudia Swann | Times Literary Supplement | 7th January 2016

Laura Snyder's new study of Vermeer, Eye of the Beholder, develops the argument that Vermeer used a camera obscura to capture his images, perhaps inspired by the optical experiments of Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology, who was a fellow resident of Delft and almost exactly Vermeer's age. "Van Leeuwenhoek initiated a new way of seeing the world, and Vermeer transcribed it in paint" (1,760 words)

Saudi Arabia: Young Prince In A Hurry

The Economist | 7th January 2016 | | Read with 1Pass

Interesting if true. Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the "power behind the throne" in Saudi Arabia, wants to use the slump in oil prices to force through radical pro-market economic reforms — perhaps including a part-sale of the state oil monopoly Aramco, and more support for working women. "Nothing is taboo". But don't hold your breath. "Reform has long been talked about but never implemented" (2,390 words)

Trivers’s Pursuit

Psychology Today | 6th January 2016

To call Robert Trivers an acclaimed biologist is "an understatement akin to calling the late Richard Feynman a popular professor of physics". If there were a Nobel Prize in evolutionary studies, Trivers might well have five of them. In the 1970s he was a Black Panther and a good friend of Huey Newton. He is still something of a "hard man" today, deserving of a place on any short list of America’s most colorful academics (4,450 words)

Making Virtual Reality Feel Real

Tom Vanderbilt | Nautilus | 7th January 2016

Will we ever mistake virtual reality for the natural world? If we do, it will not be because virtual reality has achieved perfect fidelity, but because it has found more and better ways of tricking our senses. The question is not one of realism, but of believability. And we are easily fooled. "With redirected walking, users think exploring the twisting byways of a virtual city when in reality they are simply walking in circles" (2,630 words)

Cargo Drones For Africa

J.M. Ledgard | Wired | 22nd September 2014

"I spent a moonlit evening around a campfire in northern Kenya trying to explain to a Samburu elder the concept of a flying robot programmed to deliver whatever you wanted. At last he leaned back and laughed. 'I see! You want to put my donkey in the sky!' He had many donkeys. They walk steadily down dried up river beds, over mountains, through brush. I knew instantly he was right. We really did want to put his donkey in the sky" (3,700 words)

Video of the day: Nigel Farage Argues For Brexit

What to expect: UK Independence Party leader speaks at the Oxford Union in favour of Brexit (15'40")

Thought for the day

Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is
Terry Pratchett

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