Author Archives: Nicola

Happy Hour Again

Although I have today off (I’m giving a talk about my favourite subject, artificial refrigeration, at The Berlage in Delft), for the past couple of weeks I’ve been happily posting more booze-related stories over at Gizmodo each Friday at 5pm. IMAGE: Six almost-identical prototype glasses being tested during the final round in the design process. […]

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Ur-Pasta

In 1965, conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth created One and Three Chairs, a piece that consisted of one wooden folding chair, a mounted photograph of a chair, and a mounted photographic enlargement of the dictionary definition of “chair.” The question (aside from the inevitable “is this art?”) is, which representation of the chair is most accurate? […]

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The Lost Beer of Spring

IMAGE: Great Divide’s Orabelle, Ninkasi’s Spring Reign, Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest, and Southampton’s Bière de Mars beers. I spent some trying to track down traditional spring beers for Gizmodo, and ended up finding that, unlike the other seasons, there isn’t really any such thing. I did find a Lenten beer that you can live […]

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Marine Dark Matter

IMAGE: A fish captured during the Malaspina Expedition. Credit: CSIC / JOAN COSTA. If you descend below two hundred metres in the world’s oceans, you enter the mesopelagic, or twilight, zone. The temperature plummets, pressure increases, light levels drop off quickly to almost nothing at all, and the water is filled with a continuous shower […]

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Container Spotting

IMAGE: Shipping containers, via. Intermodal containers — the standardised steel boxes that carry 90 percent of everything* — are ubiquitous: stacked five or six high on enormous container ships, tracing their way across the landscape in long ribbons on railways or split up into individual units and hauled by lorries on motorways, before being built […]

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Harvesting Winter

IMAGE: A block of Thompson Lake Ice, hauled onto the surface with tongs. All photographs by Nicola Twilley. In 1805, a twenty-three year-old Bostonian called Frederic Tudor launched a new industry: the international frozen-water trade. Over the next fifty years, he and the men he worked with developed specialised ice harvesting tools, a global network […]

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Ice-cream Orchestra

IMAGE: Emilie coaching a licker through performance anxiety. Last week, in a former bodega in Alphabet City, food designer Emilie Baltz and smart object designer Carla Diana conducted the second performance of their “Lickestra” — a “musical licking performance” involving conductive ice cream cones, four volunteers, and a pre-recorded soundtrack of peculiar tones and baselines […]

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Crispy Wings

IMAGE: Tracks of a tagged Lesser Black-backed Gull, via the University of Amsterdam’s Bird Tracking System (UvA-BiTS) blog. While analysing the GPS tracks created by 22 Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding in the port city of Zeebrugge, researchers from the University of Amsterdam accidentally ended up mapping a severe case of snack addiction. The data showed […]

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Two Exhibitions I Will Never See

Thanks to the laws of economics and physics, I seem to miss more interesting exhibitions and events than I can attend. Here are two recent misses: one which will, I hope, be accessible as part of a larger exhibition in the future; and one that you can still catch if you’re in London this month. […]

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Greenhouse Time-Machine

IMAGE: Smithsonian scientists Dolores Piperno (right) and Irene Holst (left) growing teosinte under modern (chamber on the left) and past (chamber on the right) climate conditions. Photo: STRI photographer Sean Mattson. Equipped with only a pair of garden shed-sized, perfectly ordinary-looking glass greenhouses at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, archaeobotanist Dolores Piperno and […]

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