This week we visit outer space: your brain doesn't know how big the moon is, and an astronaut is stuck on Mars. Also, amazing backlit paper cut dioramas, and tools to help you name stuff.
Video: The Moon Illusion
We all know the moon looks much bigger when it's close to the horizon than high in the middle of the sky. According to this video, that's just an optical illusion. The explanation makes sense, but my brain doesn't want to believe it.
Reading: The Martian by Andy Weir
My son dreams of being an “outer space scientist”, and his obsession with the cosmos is rubbing off on me. He's teaching me to identify the constellations, he drags me out in the evenings to spot the International Space Station as it flies over, we've had stargazing sessions in the bush, and we've read all about NASA's plan to send humans to Mars. This last item is the subject of Andy Weir's book, The Martian, in which an astronaut is left stranded alone on the red planet to fend for himself. It's a good, geeky survival story, though the technical details get a bit much, and Weir handles the protagonist's first-person journal entries far better than the rest of the narrative. The expository elements are especially clumsy, making for jarring switches between main character and narrator. But the premise is convincing and it's a fun read.
Simple ingredients – hand cut paper and LED lights – artists Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker create striking backlit dioramas that look more like concept art for an animated movie or video game than the intricate layered works of art they really are. I suspect the photos don't do justice to the in-person viewing experience. If I were in Denver, I'd be sure to visit their exhibition at the Black Book Gallery.
Design: How to Name Things
My increasing focus on branding and identity projects means I'm getting involved in naming products and services, companies and divisions. I dug up this gem in my Pocket queue shared by Khoi Vinh a while back, a presentation on 'How to Name Things' by Victor Pineiro, full of useful tools and tricks for generating names.