July 21, 2017

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Poetic Kinetics

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Spots Jupiter’s Great Red Spot »

Those of you who follow space news probably already saw this by the time last week’s Linkage column went up. For the rest of you, NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured some highly detailed images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, the iconic (and enormous!) Jovian storm that humanity’s been observing for hundreds of years and which is 1.3 times wider than the Earth (though it’s been shrinking of late).

Phil “Bad Astronomer” Plait offers some perspective on why the new images and data are useful:

The detail is phenomenal. You can see how the rotation of the spot creates turbulence and smaller vortices as the atmospheric gas inside the spot rubs up against the atmosphere around it. Something I didn’t expect is that the level of resolution allows subtle details to catch the eye, like shadows of some clouds indicating their higher altitude! That’s astonishing; previous images of the spot tend to make it look flat, two-dimensional, but now we’re starting to see vertical information. I can imagine atmospheric scientists drooling over this data, allowing them to make more maps of the structure of Jupiter’s fantastically complicated atmosphere.

Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

How to Safely Enjoy the 2017 Solar Eclipse: A Buyer’s Guide for Normal People »

Speaking of space stuff, Jason Kottke’s been writing about the upcoming Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017, and in nerding out over the thing, he put together this buying guide to help others enjoy it too:

On August 21, 2017 across the entire United States, the Moon will move in front of the Sun, partially blocking it from our view. For those on the path of totality, the Moon will entirely block out the Sun for more than 2 minutes. I’ve been looking forward to seeing a total solar eclipse since I was a little kid, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on what to buy to enjoy the eclipse safely. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Bill Wurtz’s Music Videos »

Some of these videos (like the one above) are NSFW for language.

You probably know Bill Wurtz from his two viral videos, “The History of Japan” and “History of the Entire World, I Guess”. Did you know he’s also an incredibly talented musician? He has a whole playlist of music videos he’s been putting out for years, ranging from short-and-silly to longer-and-somewhat-less-silly.

My favorites:

If you want a better sense of 1) how this guy thinks and 2) his approach to making videos/music, check out the extensive “Questions” page on his own site, which he updates every day. You have to do some digging to find the good stuff, but you occasionally get things like this:

7.13.17 10:54 pm i get sick of ideas i have and i no longer want to work on them just a few days after i start working on them. they’re good ideas but i have more ideas and they’re more fun to think about. but i still want those original ideas made?

ah, welcome to the waterfall. after enjoying that free-falling feeling of helplessly falling into the abyss for quite a while, suddenly you will remember that with a little organization, you can easily separate this into 2 distinct job titles. one where you just write down and log the new ideas as they occur, like a bolt of lightening, try to get down as much as you can in the moment, (this may happen anywhere! at the mall, at the zoo, remember to keep small tools on hand to be able to catch these ideas at any time. in todays day in age i recommend a smart phone, etc). And then, at another time, in another suit, at another desk, as a different employee, you will get down to work in a nice, quiet place. Which idea the ‘worker’ chooses to work on will have nothing to do with which idea was created first, or last, or anything else. There will need to be another decision system that chooses which idea to do when. and i don’t know what the best way is, that is something you will have to manage within the company as a whole. but if all else fails, computer aided random number selection does work. So actually there is 3 job titles. the dreamer (idea creator) the worker (who works on the idea) and the manager, who SOMEHOW has to decide what idea to work on. i think it is very important that the worker and the manager do not play the same role at the same time– the worker needs to never question the authority of the decision to work on the project at hand, or else they will not be able to focus on making that project the best it can be. the manager needs to make that decision, and then tell the worker what the project is.

Illustration: Hannah Whitaker, Topic

Illustration: Hannah Whitaker, Topic

Divisions of Labor: Automation Nation »

In this week’s edition of “automation is coming for your job (yes yours)”, the folks at the newly launched Topic publication took a look at six industries that are about to lose people in favor of robots: telemarketers, waiters, radiologists, and more.

The article is from their debut issue (dubbed “American Psychosis”), which also features a great letter from the editor:

Much of the internet today runs on and rewards reactivity, putting a premium on split-second conclusions, outbursts, and jokes about the latest news headline, celebrity scandal, or political misstep. Meanwhile, developing an integrated, nuanced point of view is a luxury that requires time and space … and the ability to make mistakes. Conversations online have devolved to the point where assertions of absolute certainty and authority are given more weight than having the courage to acknowledge that, in the whole scheme of things, no one really knows anything.

Photo: "Kyle 🐍" (yeah, I dunno)

Photo: “Kyle 🐍” (yeah, I dunno)

Flip Your Steaks and Burgers Multiple Times for Better Results »

You know that adage your dad told you about how you should only flip your meats once while grilling or you’ll risk ruining that beautiful brown crust on each side? Back in 2013, J. Kenji López-Alt of the Serious Eats Food Lab did the science and debunked this old myth:

The idea sort of makes sense at first glance: flipping it only once will give your steak plenty of chance to brown and char properly on each side. But the reality is that flipping a steak repeatedly during cooking—as often as every 30 seconds or so—will produce a crust that is just as good (provided you start with meat with a good, dry surface, as you always should), give you a more evenly cooked interior, and cook in about 30% less time to boot!

Need proof? Here we go.

Firebird Descent »

“Firebird Descent” is a large-scale art installation designed by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics, the same artist behind (among other things) the “Liquid Shard” installation in Los Angeles last year (which you can view a short video of here).

The video embedded above shows how the installation was put together, and the project’s webpage offers some insight about its design:

According to Patrick’s concept, this figure should recall the magical firebird from Eastern Slavic folklore, as captured through the sumptuous illustrations of Ivan Bilibin. Firebird Descent lives in harmony with the wind, which directly influences his behavior: a light breeze may ruffle the “feathers,” while a mighty gust will send smooth ripples pulsing through the entire body. […] A particular source of inspiration for Firebird Descent is Shearn’s own personal experience watching the Northern Lights send streams of color rippling across the night sky.

If you happen to find yourself on New Holland Island in Saint Petersburg, Russia before September 30th, 2017, make sure you go see Firebird Descent with your own eyes and know that I’ll be jealous of you.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.