Design, History

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Becomes The World’s Most Expensive Wristwatch

Well, it happened. The hammer has fallen on Paul Newman’s very own Paul Newman Daytona, and it has become the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, fetching $17,752,500 (including buyer’s premium) at Phillips in New York City. While many people thought the iconic watch would surely break records, likely beating the most expensive Daytona ever sold and the most expensive Rolex ever sold, it is still a surprise to see the iconic chronograph break the record for most expensive wristwatch — via Hodinkee

History

Australian huskies on Mawson expedition immortalised in Antarctic place names

The man who wrote the Australian Antarctic manual for husky team training has welcomed the commemoration of the dogs’ critical roles on maps.

The Antarctic Place Names Committee is naming 26 islands, rocks and reefs after the beloved dogs, that were depended on during Australia’s heroic era of ice exploration a century ago, and had a role into the 1990s.

The dogs were all on Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-14, but the naming is a tribute to all the huskies that underpinned Australian exploration in the icy continent — via ABC News

History, Technology

Scrap dealer finds Apollo-era NASA computers in dead engineer’s basement

A pair of Apollo-era NASA computers and hundreds of mysterious tape reels have been discovered in a deceased engineer’s basement in Pittsburgh, according to a NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Most of the tapes are unmarked, but the majority of the rest appear to be instrumentation reels for Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, NASA’s fly-by missions to Jupiter and Saturn.

The two computers are so heavy that a crane was likely used to move the machines, the report concluded.

At some point in the early 1970s, an IBM engineer working for NASA at the height of the Space Race took home the computers — and the mysterious tape reels. A scrap dealer, invited to clean out the deceased’s electronics-filled basement, discovered the computers. The devices were clearly labelled NASA PROPERTY, so the dealer called NASA to report the find.

Please tell NASA these items were not stolen, the engineer’s heir told the scrap dealer, according to the report. They belonged to IBM Allegheny Center Pittsburgh, PA 15212. During the 1968-1972 timeframe, IBM was getting rid of the items so [redacted engineer] asked if he could have them and was told he could have them.

You can read the entire report; the engineer’s identity has been redacted — Ars Technica UK

History, Science

Scientists uncover Ancient Roman recipe for world’s most durable concrete

Ancient Roman concrete marine structures built thousands of years ago are stronger now than when they were first built.

So how has Roman concrete outlasted the empire, while modern concrete mixtures erode within decades of being exposed to seawater?

Scientists have uncovered the chemistry behind how Roman sea walls and harbour piers resisted the elements, and what modern engineers could learn from it.

Romans built their sea walls from a mixture of lime (calcium oxide), volcanic rocks and volcanic ash, a study, published in the journal American Mineralogist, found.

Elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the concrete structure and prevent cracks from growing over time.

It’s the most durable building material in human history, and I say that as an engineer not prone to hyperbole, Roman monument expert Phillip Brune told the Washington Post — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Art, History, Science

History’s deadliest colours / JV Maranto

When radium was first discovered, its luminous green colour inspired people to add it into beauty products and jewelry. It wasn’t until much later that we realized that radium’s harmful effects outweighed its visual benefits. Unfortunately, radium isn’t the only pigment that historically seemed harmless or useful but turned out to be deadly. JV Maranto details history’s deadliest colours — via Youtube

Mediaeval Yorkshirefolk mutilated, burned t’dead to prevent reanimation

Archaeologists investigating human bones excavated from the deserted mediaeval village of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire have suggested that the villagers burned and mutilated corpses to prevent the dead from rising from their graves to terrorise the living.

Although starvation cannibalism often accounts for the mutilation of corpses during the Middle Ages, when famines were common, researchers from Historic England and the University of Southampton have found that the ways in which the Wharram Perry remains had been dismembered suggested actions more significant of folk beliefs about preventing the dead from going walkabout.

Their paper, titled A multidisciplinary study of a burnt and mutilated assemblage of human remains from a deserted mediaeval village in England, is published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Entertainment, History

Blue Monday / Orkestra Obsolete

New Order’s Blue Monday was released on 7 March 1983, and its cutting-edge electronic groove changed pop music forever. But what would it have sounded like if it had been made 50 years earlier? In a special film, using only instruments available in the 1930s — from the theremin and musical saw to the harmonium and prepared piano — the mysterious Orkestra Obsolete present this classic track as you’ve never heard it before — via Youtube

History

Discovery of Rare Bronze Age Weapon Hoard

GUARD Archaeologists have recently recovered a very rare and internationally significant hoard of metalwork that is a major addition to Scottish Late Bronze Age archaeology.

A bronze spearhead decorated with gold was found alongside a bronze sword, pin and scabbard fittings in a pit close to a Bronze Age settlement excavated by a team of GUARD Archaeologists led by Alan Hunter Blair, on behalf of Angus Council in advance of their development of two football pitches at Carnoustie.

Each individual object in the hoard is significant but the presence of gold ornament on the spearhead makes this an exceptional group. Within Britain and Ireland, only a handful of such spearheads are known — among them a weapon hoard found in 1963 at Pyotdykes Farm to the west of Dundee. These two weapon hoards from Angus — found only a few kilometres apart — hint at the wealth of the local warrior society during the centuries around 1000-800 BC — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History, Politics

Against Normalisation: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”

The Trump-Hitler comparison. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalisation?

Because I’d written a book called Explaining Hitler several editors had asked me, during the campaign, to see what could be said on the subject.

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simple-mindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had main-streamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with normal politics and everyday thuggish behaviour, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History

Updating a classic / Charles Stross

In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services — the predecessor of the post-war CIA — was concerned with sabotage directed against enemies of the US military. Among their ephemera, declassified and published today by the CIA, is a fascinating document called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual (PDF). It’s not just about blowing things up; a lot of its tips are concerned with how sympathizers with the allied cause can impair enemy material production and morale:

  1. Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  2. Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
  3. Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  4. Telephone: At office, hotel and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.
  5. Transportation: Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.

— via Charlie’s Diary

Design, History

Frank Lloyd Wright on Arrogance / Blank on Blank

Any man who really has faith in himself will be dubbed arrogant by his fellows — Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957, as told to Mike Wallace.

Hear more outtakes and watch the full interview @ Blank on Blank.

If you’ve ever been to Illinois, you’ll know all about the defining features of its landscape – namely, that it’s pretty much flat. But architect Frank Lloyd Wright did something new when he made buildings that somehow became one with the prairie. Long, low lines, and interiors that brought the light and space of the outside in. With the same approach, he built homes in the woods around waterfalls, on high bluffs that take in the stretch and space of the land below. If you’ve ever visited one of his houses, you’ll know how they manage to make you understand more about exactly where you live — via Youtube

History

Obituary: Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Captain Eric Winkle Brown, the pilot who flew more types of planes than anyone in history, has died in Britain at the age of 97.

Described as the Scotsman whose real-life adventures made James Bond’s fictional life seem dull, Captain Brown held the world record for flying the greatest number of different types of aircraft — 487.

He landed on aircraft carrier decks more times than any pilot in history, with 2,407 landings over the course of 65 years, and also led an elite British unit charged with testing captured Nazi experimental planes at the end of World War II.

Aviation experts say the records set by the Navy test pilot and war hero are unlikely to ever be broken — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design, History

ROC Listening Post / Cultybraggan

This UKWMO (United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation) base offers an intriguing piece of Cold War History, with a wood-burning stove and retains well-preserved relics relating to its history. Accommodation The underground accommodation comprises of a main room, measuring approximately 2.32 metres by 4.61 metres and a small subsidiary chamber, currently utilised for storage, which would be suited to development into a washroom facility — via Rettie & Co

History, Science

200,000 fish bones suggest ancient Scandinavian people were more complex than thought

200,000 fish bones discovered in and around a pit in Sweden suggest that the people living in the area more than 9000 years ago were more settled and cultured than we previously thought. Research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science suggests people were storing large amounts of fermented food much earlier than experts thought.

The new paper reveals the earliest evidence of fermentation in Scandinavia, from the Early Mesolithic time period, about 9,200 years ago. The author of the study, from Lund University in Sweden, say the findings suggest that people who survived by foraging for food were actually more advanced than assumed — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design, History

Simms House / Bernoudy-Mutrux

A Frank Lloyd Wright influence at work in this 1950s Bernoudy-Mutrux-designed Simms house in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Not that we are taking away anything from the architecture practice behind this house, which is the noted Bernoudy-Mutrux, a firm behind many modernist gems back in the day. But there is a connection. According to Curbed, the co-founder of Bernoudy-Mutrux, William Bernoudy, studied under Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s. They also add that this huge 3,371 sq. ft. property was designed on a parallelogram grid like Wright’s Kraus House (also in St. Louis), with the look and feel of the interior almost certainly tipping its hat to the work of FLW too. $1,139,000 is the asking price if it appeals — via WowHaus

Design, History

Providence Arcade Conversion / Northeast Collaborative Architects

Built in 1828, the first enclosed shopping mall in America now has affordable housing beyond its grand Ionic columns in place of cramped, struggling retail stores, with most of the historic architectural details preserved. Rhode Island’s Providence Arcade is a project of Northeast Collaborative Architects, this project could signal a new phase in adaptive reuse with respect to interior malls both old and new — via Urbanist

History, Rights, World

Britain Prunes Silly Laws on Salmon Handling and Armour Wearing

It is not a great idea to carry a plank of wood down a busy sidewalk. Nor should you ride a horse while drunk, or handle a salmon under suspicious circumstances.

But should such antics be illegal? Still?

Thanks to centuries of legislating by Parliament, which bans the wearing of suits of armor in its chambers, Britain has accumulated many laws that nowadays seem irrelevant, and often absurd.

So voluminous and eccentric is Britain’s collective body of 44,000 pieces of primary legislation that it has a small team of officials whose sole task is to prune it.

Their work is not just a constitutional curiosity, but a bulwark against hundreds of years of lawmaking running out of control.

Over the centuries, rules have piled up to penalize those who fire a cannon within 300 yards of a dwelling and those who beat a carpet in the street — unless the item can be classified as a doormat and it is beaten before 8.00am.

To have a legal situation where there is so much information that you cannot sit down and comprehend it, does seem to me a serious problem, said Andrew Lewis, professor emeritus of comparative legal history at University College London. I think it matters dreadfully that no one can get a handle on the whole of it.

Yet, as Professor Lewis also noted, many old laws have survived because crime and bad behaviour have, too.

One reason is that human nature doesn’t change much, Professor Lewis said, though of course the institutions which we develop to protect, organize, and govern ourselves do change, and then it becomes necessary to adjust the existing law to practice — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design, History

115 Years of US Residential Architecture / iMove

Moving specialists iMove have created 115 Years of American Homes, a Scrolling Parallax Infographic in which viewers can drive through a neighbourhood of single-family homes that reflect the style of their respective decades. For each home, graphics detail tell-tale architectural features, design trends, average home price, and the historical and cultural context of each decade from the 1900s through the present — via ArchDaily

History, Science

Alan Turing’s notebook sold for $1m in New York auction

A scientific notebook compiled by World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has sold for $1m in New York.

It is one of very few manuscripts from the head of the team that cracked the Germans’ Enigma code.

The handwritten notes, dating from 1942 when he worked at Bletchley Park, were entrusted to mathematician Robin Gandy after Turing’s death.

The notebook was sold at Bonhams for $1,025,000 (£700,850) to an unnamed buyer — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design, History

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery

No one seemed to notice him: A dark figure who often came to stand at the edge of London’s Hammersmith Bridge on nights in 1916. No one seemed to notice, either, that during his visits he was dropping something into the River Thames. Something heavy.

Over the course of more than a hundred illicit nightly trips, this man was committing a crime—against his partner, a man who owned half of what was being heaved into the Thames, and against himself, the force that had spurred its creation. This venerable figure, founder of the legendary Doves Press and the mastermind of its typeface, was a man named TJ Cobden Sanderson. And he was taking the metal type that he had painstakingly overseen and dumping thousands of pounds of it into the river.

As a driving force in the Arts & Crafts movement in England, Cobden Sanderson championed traditional craftsmanship against the rising tides of industrialization. He was brilliant and creative, and in some ways, a luddite — because he was concerned that the typeface he had designed would be sold to a mechanized printing press after his death by his business partner, with whom he was feuding.

So, night after night, he was making it his business to bequeath it to the river, in his words, screwing his partner out of his half of their work and destroying a legendarily beautiful typeface forever. Or so it seemed.

Almost exactly a century later, this November, a cadre of ex-military divers who work for the Port of London Authority were gearing up to descend into the Thames to look for the small metal bits—perhaps hundreds of thousands of them — that Cobden Sanderson had thrown overboard so many years ago.

They were doing this at the behest and personal expense of Robert Green, a designer who has spent years researching and recreating the lost typeface, which is available on Typespec. As Green told me over the phone recently, the Port of London Authority had been hesitant about letting him pay its diving team to search for the lost type. They were actually concerned that I was some crazy bloke looking for a needle in a haystack and throwing a couple grand away, he laughs.

It’s not hard to imagine how crazy he must have seemed. A civilian offering to pay the city’s salvage divers to troll the depths of the muddy Thames, possibly for weeks, looking for tiny chunks of metal that were thrown there by a deranged designer more than a century ago? Yeah, that’s pretty crazy.

In the end, it only took them 20 minutes to find some — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Photo: Sam Armstrong, courtesy of The Sunday Times

History

What the World Will Speak in 2115

Thankfully, fears that English will become the world’s only language are premature. Few are so pessimistic as to suppose that there will not continue to be a multiplicity of nations and cultures on our planet and, along with them, various languages besides English. It is difficult, after all, to interrupt something as intimate and spontaneous as what language people speak to their children. Who truly imagines a Japan with no Japanese or a Greece with no Greek? The spread of English just means that earthlings will tend to use a local language in their own orbit and English for communication beyond. Advertisement

But the days when English shared the planet with thousands of other languages are numbered. A traveller to the future, a century from now, is likely to notice two things about the language landscape of Earth. One, there will be vastly fewer languages. Two, languages will often be less complicated than they are today—especially in how they are spoken as opposed to how they are written.

Some may protest that it is not English but Mandarin Chinese that will eventually become the world’s language, because of the size of the Chinese population and the increasing economic might of their nation. But that’s unlikely. For one, English happens to have gotten there first. It is now so deeply entrenched in print, education and media that switching to anything else would entail an enormous effort. We retain the QWERTY keyboard and AC current for similar reasons.

Also, the tones of Chinese are extremely difficult to learn beyond childhood, and truly mastering the writing system virtually requires having been born to it. In the past, of course, notoriously challenging languages such as Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Arabic, Russian and even Chinese have been embraced by vast numbers of people. But now that English has settled in, its approachability as compared with Chinese will discourage its replacement. Many a world power has ruled without spreading its language, and just as the Mongols and Manchus once ruled China while leaving Chinese intact, if the Chinese rule the world, they will likely do so in English. A Chinese teacher gives an English lesson to students in the Gansu province of northwest China in July 2013. Some have predicted that Mandarin Chinese will eventually become the world’s language, but its elaborate tones are too difficult to learn beyond childhood.

Yet more to the point, by 2115, it’s possible that only about 600 languages will be left on the planet as opposed to today’s 6,000. Japanese will be fine, but languages spoken by smaller groups will have a hard time of it. Too often, colonisation has led to the disappearance of languages: Native speakers have been exterminated or punished for using their languages. This has rendered extinct or moribund, for example, most of the languages of Native Americans in North America and Aboriginal peoples of Australia. Urbanization has only furthered the destruction, by bringing people away from their homelands to cities where a single lingua franca reigns — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design, History

Custom Hangar / Boeing

In the past quarter century, recycling has moved from a new concept reserved mostly to hippies to something most people do, but new variations on the themes recycling and upcycling keep popping up. The newest twist in industrial recycling is Boeing’s new addition to their Custom Hangar online gift shop. Starting this holiday season, Boeing is making vintage parts from their airplanes available for sale on the website. You can now buy engine blades from various models for $200 to $400, windows from 747s and 767s for $600, a table made from the core of a jet engine for $9,600, the control stick from a P-51 Mustang fighter for $1,250, a full galley beverage cart for $1,900 and similar pieces of air travel engineering and history — via PSFK

Design, History

Pound Ridge Residence / David Henken

This David Henken-designed midcentury property in Pound Ridge, New York, dates from 1956 and looks like little has changed at first glance. But that’s probably done to a magazine quality restoration of this place. Look carefully and you’ll see it’s as much a modern house as a period property. But the overall look and feel of the original is still very much evident. It is pitched as a home or a weekend retreat, but you’ll need to be pretty affluent to consider it as the latter with a price of $1,495,000 — via WowHaus