Age Quiz Time

July 27, 2012

People have been posting this sort of picture onto Facebook and elsewhere with the message – “you know you are old if you recognise this”.

Here are a few from my childhood.

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One of the slightly surprising things that this exercise has thrown up, is in fact how little things have changed in the last 50 years or so. Setting aside the computer/mobile phone/ television examples, it is hard to find much that has changed so much that they are unrecognisable.

Even some of the objects I have shown here are in contemporary use in some form. The hand sprayer, the can opener and even the mini-blackboard (slate) for example.

The fundamental objects around us have been refined and re-designed but are generally fairly recognisable.

By the way, the objects are –

drive-in cinema speakers, sardine can opener, hi-fi stylus, US 45-rpm record centre, school inkwell, Philips videocassette, school slate, car starter-handle, clothes wringer, two can-openers, Tonette, fly-spray

Looks Can Deceive

July 4, 2012

The US Geological Survey has published this graphic showing how much water there is on the earth. The bubble represents all the water on the planet.

Picture of Earth showing if all, liquid fresh, and the water in rivers and lakes were put into spheres..

Apart from the obvious message about the preciousness of water, it is also a fascinating illustration of how differently we perceive volume and (almost) area. Almost, because in relation to the size of the earth, the oceans are not very deep.

It is the reverse of the surprising effect of seeing how far one drop of oil can spread on water.

For the geeks amongst you, the calculations are here.

Imagined Lives

July 3, 2012

 

So, London turned on a typically cold and wet summer again so far this year. Not that I regard that as a particular problem when visiting the old town. That’s what its fabulous museums and galleries are for.

I have written before about various visits to galleries. such as Art and Politics, Where Would We Be Without Maps.  

A particular favourite is the National Portrait Gallery. There is already a preponderance royal portraits at the best of times and during the Jubilee it was a bit overwhelmed with royal stuff.  But there are fortunately still other exhibitions on show.

As is often the case, the most interesting exhibitions are the ones tucked away in corners or downstairs by the bookshop. This time was no exception.

Imagined Lives is a small collection of portraits of unknown people that were once thought be be others.

Unknown woman, formerly known as Mary, Queen of Scots, by Unknown artist, circa 1570 - NPG 96 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

For example, this portrait which was once believed to be Mary Queen of Scots but which is now simply listed as a portrait of an unknown woman.

What makes this exhibition special is the very clever book that accompanies it. For each of the portraits a well-known author – John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope or Minette Walters has written a fictional account of what the lives of these sitters might have been like.

There are some wonderful portraits made all the more interesting by these stories.