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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

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In Which Science Corner Wants To Take You Behind The Middle School And Get You Pregnant


Sexual Selection, Debunked

by Molly Lambert

Everybody pile on now! Let's go eighths on a baby!

I know I keep hammering this point home, but it's just so insane to me that scientists believed until very recently that sexual selection was dependent on male animals being slutty and females being monogamous. Animals are sluts! They will do whatever the hell it takes to ensure reproduction occurs. We are talking about Nature!

To use a couple of true clichés, variety is the spice of life and one animal's trash is another animal's treasure. We all like wildly different things, often at the same time. I have some sort of weird predisposition towards Blond Men, but that doesn't mean I'm not also constantly attracted to Dark-Haired and/or skinned dudes as well. Sexual attraction is not exactly a mutually exclusive thing.

I am not so attracted to fellow Gingers though, that'd be sick.

There is no such thing as a dysgenic trait. Genetic variety rulez!

It takes all kinds, and debating the "genetic fitness" of traits is what led to Eugenics, forced sterilization of the mentally ill, and the Holocaust concept of "life unworthy of life".

Anthopometry proves nothing! Social Darwinism is a lie!

Amplexus is like frottage (dry humping) that gets you pregnant. If you're a frog. It's literally Latin for "embrace" and it can involve more than two frogs, kind of a froggy swingers' party where everyone tries to knock a girl frog up. When multiple partners are involved (toads, newts, snakes, and other animals do a similar thing for sex) it's known as a "mating ball."

Froggy Went A Courtin' And He Did Ride

Basically female frogs fuck all the male frogs in the area and let their sperm fight it out. Competing sperm will literally form a circular barrier around the egg to stop a rival male's sperm from fertilizing it first. Similar behavior has been observed in other species, especially birds and monkeys.

Like many snakes, the male garter snake has two penises, called "hemipenes," on each side of its body. The male will try to use the best-positioned penis to mate with the female in the center of the mating ball.

Polyandry is a type of mating system where females mate with more than one male during a breeding season, resulting in the offspring of one female having more than one father. Polyandry has been traditionally thought of as a rare phenomenon, however recent research has shown this trend is widespread throughout the animal kingdom, with evidence of multiple mating by females in many groups. This trend is surprising because it appears to go against the basic principles of sexual selection.

Funfact! The form of polyandry in which two (or more) brothers marry the same woman is known as fraternal polyandry, and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered form. Double funfact, the most well known human practitioners of polyandry are in Tibet.

Scientist Kate Hutchence lays it out for you:

The current consensus is that females are mating multiply to gain genetic benefits for thier offspring. There are several different ways this might be happening, and it is possible that a combination of these factors may be driving polyandry:

1. Genetic bet-hedging: females mate with many males to gain greater genetic diversity in their offspring, thereby hedging their bets against a changing environment.

2. Genetic improvement or Trade-up: females are remating with a good quality male in order to 'trade-up' on a previous mating with a low-quality male.

3. The good genes model: females mate multiply to gain access to 'good genes' for their offspring by trading up, or post-copulatory cues (this assumes that there in one best male for all females).

4. The genetic incompatibility model: females are mating multiply to gain access to the male that they are most genetically compatible with by trading-up, or postcopulatory cues (this assumes that there is no one best male for all females, and that due to the genetic complexity of organisms each female has her own best mate).

The belief that Polygyny is somehow the "natural" order of the world is how the FLDS Mormons convince themselves and their followers old dudes should get to have 400 little girl wives. The fact that (founder of Mormonism) Joseph Smith was a total wingnut is something they tend to leave out.

Comfort Wives: Big Love Style

Charles Darwin believed and taught that women were biologically inferior to men, and this idea greatly influenced his theories of natural selection and the hundred plus years of scientific research that followed. It was also taken for granted that white people were superior, and that "nature" was to thank for all this. This is also how white dudes got to have ethnic "comfort wives" and not consider it cheating.

Comfort Wives: Creole Plaçage Style

That we are just now untangling the ingrained sexism and racism in Science is one of the many reasons I am thrilled to be living in the 21st century and not any other, when I would probably have been burned at the stake.

My science hero Stephen Jay Gould

The tremendous Natural Historian polymath Stephen Jay Gould is to thank for debunking much of the pseudoscience that passed for evolutionary psychology in the past. He would be stoked about this election, that's for sure.

Charles Darwin listed the advantages of marrying, which included: "constant companion, (friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, object to be beloved and played with—better than a dog anyhow—Home, and someone to take care of house". Darwin reasoned that as a married man he would be a "poor slave, worse than a Negro," but then reminisces that, "one cannot live the solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless and childless staring in one's face" Darwin concludes his discussion on the philosophical note, "there is many a happy slave" and shortly thereafter, married his cousin.

Darwin concluded that adult females of most species resembled the young of both sexes and from this and the other evidence, "reasoned that males are more evolutionarily advanced than females". Many anthropologists contemporary to Darwin concluded that "women's brains were analogous to those of animals," which had "overdeveloped" sense organs "to the detriment of the brain".

Carl Vogt, a University of Geneva natural history professor who accepted many of "the conclusions of England's great modern naturalist, Charles Darwin," argued that "the child, the female, and the senile white" all had the intellect and nature of the "grown up Negro"

Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931), a pioneer in the fields of social psychology and collective behavior, whose classic study of crowd behavior (The Crowd; 1895) is a social science staple, wrote:

"Even in the most intelligent races are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. Women represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man.

They excel in fickleness, inconsistency, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without a doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely."

Superior Women = A Gorilla With 2 Heads = Double Bananas!


It is most generally applied to a pollinator attempting to copulate with a flower. Some flowers mimic a potential female mate visually, but the key stimuli are often chemical and tactile. This form of mimicry in plants has been titled Pouyannian mimicry.

Orchids commonly achieve reproduction in this manner, secreting chemicals from glands called osmophores located in the sepals, petals, or labellum, that are indistinguishable from the insect's natural pheromones. The pollinator then has a pollinia attached to its body, which it transfers to the stigma of another flower when if it attempts another 'copulation'. Pollinators are often bees and wasps of the order Hymenoptera, and flies.

Orchids by Ernst Haeckel, master Zoologist and World Riddler.

Ontogeny does not really recapitulate phylogeny, but it's still a great turn of phrase.

Ernst Haeckel and friend

Parthenogenesis: In hybridogenesis reproduction is not completely asexual, but instead hemiclonal: half the genome passes intact to the next generation, while the other half is discarded. Hybridogenetic females can mate with males of a "donor" species and both will contribute genetic material to the offspring.

When the female offspring produce their own eggs, however, the eggs will contain no genetic material from their father, only the chromosomes from the offspring's own mother; the set of genes from the father is invariably discarded. This form of reproduction is seen in some live-bearing fish of the genus Poeciliopsis as well as in the waterfrog Rana esculenta and the donor waterfrog species Rana lessonae.

MARMORKREBS, the Amazonian crayfish civilization.

Komodo Dragon virgin births

Kaguya the bamboo princess mouse.

Female shark parthenogenesis

Apomixis is the process whereby plants produce asexually, and it very rarely involves a male. Meaning the mother produces a copy of herself using only her own DNA.

A unique example of male apomixis has recently been discovered in the Saharan Cypress, Cupressus dupreziana, where the seeds are derived entirely from the pollen with no genetic contribution from the female "parent."

Gregory Goodwin Pincus experimented with parthenogenesis in rabbits and later invented birth control. Thanks for The Pill, Mr. Pincus! It's helped all us liberated womynfolk to become more polyandrous than ever.

In short, chocolate chocolate chocolate! ACK!

Molly Lambert is the senior Science Expert at This Recording.


SPW myspace

"Semi Precious Weapons" - Semi Precious Weapons (mp3)

"Rock and Roll Never Looked So Beautiful" - Semi Precious Weapons (mp3)


Transexual African Bat-Bugs

Ginger Cavemen

The Evolution Of The Sex Act


In Which They Are So Simple Yet So Complex


Ernst Haeckel's Radiolaria

by Melanie Strong

German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) is not considered a household name by any means. His varied and extensive work gave rise to the terms ecology and First World War, the rise of Darwinism as a valid theory and the discovery and proposal of the Protista kingdom of organisms within biology.


Perhaps his greatest and most enduring work is found in his artistic endeavors, in which he sought to combine his creative vision with his desire for scientific accuracy.


Haeckel's focus for many years was an intricate, single-celled organism known as a Radiolarian. In his initial work with them, he found, named and depicted over 150 diverse species. He would go on to document thousands more.


Radiolarian are single-celled, oceanic organisms. Their cell is separated by a tiny central capsule into endo- and ectoplasm and it is on this endoplasmic exterior that amazingly intricate mineral skeletons are composed. Their remains comprise the majority of the ocean's worldwide fossil record, especially in shallow coastal waters.


Explanations for this organism's intricately patterned silica skeleton are disputed. Most believe that it allows for feeding and buoyancy.


The perpetually symmetrically patterned perforations form gradually as the organism feeds and the leftover skeleton is extracted from a build up of minerals and silica.


The radiolarians' inherent two-dimensional nature is directly altered by the effect of this process and it becomes an elaborate three-dimensional, microscopic structure.


While Ernst Haeckel was not the first or last scientist to work with radiolarian, his art and his work remain today as a testament to the marriage that can exist between the two. Haeckel believed that all shapes found in nature exist in radiolaria and wondered if God did not use these tiny creatures as a drawing board for further design.


Haeckel's work, life and the science of the times is outlined extensively in Icarus' Films award winning Proteus: A Nineteen Century Vision. Drawing on the apparent dichotomy in Haeckel's life (art versus science and then the twinning of the two), Proteus explores the complex simplicity in radiolarians and in science itself.

Melanie Strong is the senior contributor to This Recording. She also is an asshole on tumblr!


"Öngyilkos Vasárnap" - Venetian Snares (mp3)

"Strange Love (Don't Be Lazy)" - Brent Randall & His Pinecones (mp3)

"Ping Pong" - Stereolab (mp3)



Melanie on surrealism

Fatty Pontons

"There is nothing quite like sitting in your underwear"


Spores take control of your brain, Melanie shows you how

Binge and Purge


She controls the five elements of earth

Melanie's tumblr


Molly’s a mindfreak.

Why we are the way that we are.

Frank O’Hara was the man.



In Which We Promise Not To Apophallate You

SCIENCE CORNER '09: Hey, Space Brother

by Molly Lambert


Paleontologists claim they have unearthed a new type of pterosaur and a previously unknown sauropod dinosaur in the Sahara Desert.


The banana slug, beloved mascot of UC Santa Cruz, has a weird mating habit. First of all, they have an enormous penis. (In fact, their latin name dolichyphallus translates to "giant penis.") The average size of a banana slug penis is 6 to 8 inches. This is incredibly impressive, considering their entire body length is 6 to 8 inches as well! Banana slugs are hermaphrodites, so two slugs will try to fertilize each other.


To mate properly, a slug must choose a mate roughly its own size - if it miscalculates, its penis will get stuck during copulation. This isn’t just an embarrassing faux pas, the other slug will actually bite off the stuck penis, a term scientists euphemistically called "apophallation."


wats ur fave color of am appy neon techno mice powder?

Psychedelic Mice Reveal Clues to Disease Transmission


the rare pink iguana

An extinct phylum that made pearls, Conularids.


Gremlins, thought extinct, found after 82 years.

Giant Marine Life Found In Antarctica, including jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles and 2-foot-wide starfish. Learn more about how Jellyfish are going to take over the world and enslave us all Cthulhu style.


Salt Deposits a good indicator of Ancient Life On Mars

Frozen Semen Works in Rhinoceros Artificial Insemination

Yum, nootropics.

Some of the chemical pathways for physical pain and pain from social exclusion overlap. The physical pain system may have been co-opted to motivate social animals to respond to threats to their inclusion in the group. The physical-social pain overlap helps to explain the paradox that people who are threatened with social exclusion sometimes react with physical violence.

All octopuses are venomous but only a few species pose a significant threat to humans, such as octopuses in the genus Hapalochlaena which have a very poisonous bite.


A few of the larger tropical cone snail species have a very poisonous sting. These bites and stings can sometimes be fatal.

Ouroboros researches aging.

Maximum Life Span.

Identical twins tend to die within 3 years of each other, whereas fraternal twins tend to die within 6 years. Aging theories associated with DNA include programmed aging (or programmed aging-resistance) and theories that link aging with DNA damage/mutation or DNA repair capability.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording


The Early History Of Robots

Plants That Want To Kill You

A Giant Silvery Cloud Over The City



In Which Robots Are Your Homies

Scarier than E.T.A. Hoffman's The Sandman, more terrifying than Fritz Lang's Metropolis, realer than Blade Runner, the complete horrific history of Robots and Replicants, courtesy of Molly Lambert's Science Corner at This Recording.


Special Edition: History Of Humanoids

by Molly Lambert

A.E. reborn as a HUBO in A.I.

PART ONE: The Uncanny Valley

Since 30 Rock is throwing out references to The Uncanny Valley and in preparation for WALL•E, I thought I'd take some time to discuss one of my all-time favorite subjects. Androids, Gynoids, and all kinds of robotic horrors to give you a Frankenstein complex. Step into my Wunderkammern...

The Uncanny Valley is a hypothetical concept introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970, and has been linked to Ernst Jentsch's concept of "the uncanny" as first identified in his 1906 essay, "On the Psychology of the Uncanny." Jentsch's conception was famously elaborated on by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay "The Uncanny" ("Das Unheimliche").

The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley is the hypothesis that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost, but not entirely, like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion in human observers. The "valley" in question is a dip in a graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot's lifelikeness.

"Please don't make me go to Auschwitz Mr. CGI Tom Hanks"

A similar problem arises in 3D computer animation that attempts realism, especially with motion capture methods as used in Final Fantasy, The Polar Express and Beowulf. Most CGI suffers from this to some extent. For my money nobody (including, especially, Peter Jackson and LOThR) has surpassed the realism of fifteen year old movie Jurassic Park, which heavily augmented computer graphics with traditional animatronics.


Some theorists and scientists (and Tess) think crossing the Uncanny Valley will lead to accepting the possibilities of Transhumanism. These are the folks who think that steroids aren't necessarily bad for sports, that nootropics aren't cheating nature but enhancing it, and that the fear of post-humans is just alarmism about the future and what is as yet unfamiliar or unknown.

The Second Uncanny Valley

Transhumanists support the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and fix what it regards as undesirable or unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as stupidity, suffering, disease, aging and involuntary death.

Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings will eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman." It recalls eugenics with a modern technological twist, the racism against mutants in the Uncanny X-Men, and the Mecha suit of Iron Man.

PART TWO: Early Innovations In Automatons

I. Al-Jazari

Abū al-'Iz Ibn Ismā'īl ibn al-Razāz al-Jazarī (1136-1206) (Arabic: أَبُو اَلْعِزِ بْنُ إسْماعِيلِ بْنُ الرِّزاز الجزري) was an important Iraqi Artuqid Muslim scholar, artist, astronomer, craftsman, inventor and mechanical engineer from al-Jazira, Mesopotamia who flourished during the Islamic Golden Age (Middle Ages).

Al-Jaziri’s Elephant Clock replicated in Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall

He is best known for writing the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices in 1206, where he described fifty mechanical devices. Al-Jazari invented automated moving peacocks driven by hydropower, the earliest known automatic gates, which were driven by hydropower, and created automatic doors as part of one of his elaborate water clocks.

Al-Jazari's musical automatons

Al-Jazari created a musical automaton, which was a boat with four automatic musicians that floated on a lake to entertain guests at royal drinking parties. Professor Noel Sharkey has argued that it is quite likely that it was an early programmable automata and has produced a possible reconstruction of the mechanism.

Diagram Of The Floating Musical Automatons

It has a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bump into little levers that operated the percussion. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns if the pegs were moved around. According to Charles B. Fowler, the automata were a "robot band" which performed "more than fifty facial and body actions during each musical selection."

II. Pierre Jaquet-Droz

Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790) was a Swiss-born watchmaker of the late eighteenth century. He lived in Paris, London, and Geneva, where he designed and built animated dolls, or automata, to help his firm sell watches and mechanical birds.

I know why the caged bird sings. It's a robot.

Constructed by Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his son were The Writer (made of 6000 pieces), The Musician (2500 pieces) and The Draughtsman (2000 pieces). His astonishing mechanisms fascinated the world's most important people: the kings and emperors of Europe, China, India and Japan.

Some consider these devices to be the oldest examples of the computer. The Writer has an input device to set tabs that form a programmable memory, 40 cams that represents the read only program, and a quill pen for output. The work of Pierre Jaquet-Droz predates that of Charles Babbage by decades.

The automata of Jaquet-Droz are also considered to be some of the finest examples of human mechanical problem solving. Three particularly complex, and still working and functional dolls are housed at the art and history museum in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, now known as the Jaquet-Droz automata. There's a scene in (one of my favorite movies) The Thief Of Baghdad referencing this anecdote, which I'd never heard until now:

Droz built a clock which was capable of movement: when the clock struck, a shepherd played six tunes on his flute, and a dog approached and fawned upon him. This clock was exhibited to the King of Spain, who was delighted with it. "If your Majesty touch one of the apples," said Droz "which you see in the shepherd's basket, you will admire the fidelity of this animal."

The King took an apple, and the mechanical dog flew at his hand and barked so loudly that the King's real dog began also to bark; at this the Courtiers, hastily left the room crossing themselves, believing it to be witchcraft. The minister of Marine was the only one that ventured to stay.

III. Jacques de Vaucanson

Jacques de Vaucanson gained his interest in mechanical devices after meeting the surgeon Le Cat, from whom he would learn the details of anatomy. This new knowledge allowed him to develop his first mechanical devices that mimicked biological vital functions such as circulation, respiration, and digestion.

In 1737, he built his first automaton, The Flute Player, a life-size figure of a shepherd that played the tabor and the pipe and had a repertoire of twelve songs. The figure's fingers were not pliable enough to play the flute correctly, so Vaucanson had to glove the creation in skin.

The following year, in early 1738, he presented his creation to the Académie des Sciences. At the time, mechanical creatures were somewhat a fad in Europe, but most could be classified as toys, and de Vaucanson's creations were recognized as being revolutionary in their mechanical life-like sophistication.

Later that year, he created two additional automatons, The Tambourine Player and The Digesting Duck, which is considered his masterpiece. The duck had over 400 moving parts, and could flap its wings, drink water, digest grain, and defecate. Although the duck supposedly demonstration digestion accurately, it actually contained a hidden compartment of "digested food," so that what the duck shat out was not the same as what it ate.

While such "frauds" were sometimes controversial, they were common because scientific demonstrations needed to entertain the wealthy and powerful to attract their patronage. The Digesting Duck followed the principles of Descartes’s mechanistic universe, and bolstered the Enlightenment-era belief that animals were just meat machines, but automatons nonetheless.

The ability to create life no longer was the domain of God and of living organisms, but was now captive in the hands of man’s genius. These ideas terrified and excited many people, but were one of the major ideological changes from a natural to a mechanistic world view.

IV. Von Kemeplen's Hoax

The Turk or Automaton Chess Player was a chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, exhibited from 1770 for over 84 years, by various owners, as an automaton but later explained in January 1857 as an elaborate hoax.

Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard once and only once.

Publicly promoted as an automaton and given its common name based on its appearance, the Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years until its destruction by fire in 1854, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Although many had suspected the hidden human operator, the hoax was formally revealed in a series of articles in The Chess Monthly in 1857.

The Turk was visited in London by Rev. Edmund Cartwright in 1784. He was so intrigued by the Turk that he would later question whether "it is more difficult to construct a machine that shall weave than one which shall make all the variety of moves required in that complicated game." Cartwright would patent the prototype for a power loom within the year.

Sir Charles Wheatstone, an inventor, saw a later appearance of the Turk while it was owned by Mälzel. He also saw some of Mälzel's speaking machines, and Mälzel later presented a demonstration of speaking machines to Alexander Melville Bell and his teenage son. Wheatstone lent a book by Kempelen about the speaking machines to the son, Alexander Graham Bell; Bell would go on to invent the telephone.

Ajeeb, another chess playing automaton hoax

In Richmond, Virginia, the Turk was observed by Edgar Allan Poe, who was writing for the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe's famous essay "Maelzel's Chess Player" was published in April 1836 and is the most well-known analysis of the Turk, even though many of Poe's hypotheses were incorrect.

In 1849, just several years before the Turk was destroyed, Edgar Allan Poe published a tale "Von Kempelen and His Discovery". It also inspired "Moxon's Master", a morbid tale by Ambrose Bierce about a chess-playing automaton that resembles the Turk.

V. The Golden Age Of Automatons

a. Vichy

Vichy was known for the subtlety of motion their automata possessed. Vichy showed several automata at Paris Universal Exposition of 1878. One observer noted that, "...Vichy's automata are distinguished by the flexibility and precision of their gestures...". One hundred and thirty years later, they are still horrifically lifelike.

b. Leopold Lambert

Léopold Lambert, was born on October 8, 1854 in Aix-en-Provence (France). His parents were inn keepers. He worked some time in the Vichy society, where his competence and the quality of his work earned him the post of foreman. In 1886, Lambert formed his own company and sold musical mechanical toys and luxurious articles.

Toward 1876, he married a young parisian dressmaker who dressed the automata created by her husband. The Lambert pieces were of two kinds: those manufactured with few specimens, even single, and others, made in series; these last are, generally, of small girls with porcelain heads. They are in general equipped with three or four movements: they turned the head and greet, raise and lower the arms, and differ from each other mainly by their costumes and their accessories.

Lambert was rewarded with diplomas of honor in Liege in 1904, and Milan in 1905, then abruptly, his name ceases to appear among the participants in the international demonstrations. From 1910 the society started a slow but final decline. During the epoch of electric and advertising automata, Lambert had remained faithful to the mechanical automata. The sales slowed down and had difficulty earning a living at his trade. His automata survived him.

c. Roullet & Decamps

Roullet et Decamps, one of the most versatile and creative of all the Paris automaton makers, was in business for more than 120 years. Its remarkable accomplishments began in 1866 with mechanical toys, then musical automatons, and finally, in the first years of the twentieth century, electric automated displays for store windows.

O God help us they are self-replicating!

By 1995, when the firm closed its doors for the last time, the craft of the automaton maker was recognized as a cultural asset worthy of preservation. The French government established a state-of-the-art museum in the village of Souillac, a popular tourist destination in France's scenic Dordogne Valley. The Roullet and Decamps collection of antique automatons and electrically-operated automated displays was saved, along with tools, machinery, molds, parts, and materials that were used in the workshops.

d. Phalibois

Jean Marie Phalibois was born on October 29, 1835 in Paris. In 1871 he set up his shop and devoted himself to the production of scenes mecaniques, which were little scenes placed on wooden bases featuring monkeys, tightrope walkers, conjurers, etc.

Phalibois took part in the Paris Exhibition of 1878. This year also marked a turning point in his firm's orientation, for he began to produce more and more mechanical toys with music. In 1893, Phalibois retired from his business and turned control of the firm to his son Henry. In 1925, the family firm came to an end when Henry's son, Raymond, sold off the firm.

VI. Leonardo Torres y Quevedo

El Ajedrecista ("The Chess Player") was an automaton built in 1912 by Leonardo Torres y Quevedo. El Ajedrecista made a public debut during the Paris World Fair of 1914, creating great excitement at the time. It was first widely mentioned in Scientific American as "Torres and His Remarkable Automatic Devices" in November 6th, 1915.

Quevedo's Niagara Falls Whirlpool Aero Car

Using electromagnets under the board, it automatically played a three chesspiece endgame moving a King and a Rook against a human opponent King. By today's engineering standards, the automata built by Quevedo would not be viewed as remarkable. However, they were considered revolutionary in their day. If an illegal move were made by the opposite player the automaton would signal it. As opposed to The Turk and Ajeeb, El Ajedrecista was a true automaton built to play chess without human guidance.


Timeline Of Automatons

The Murtogh D Guinness Collection At The Morris Museum

Da Vinci Automata

Time To Get Transhumanist

Robot Fetishism

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

Cabinet Of Wonders

La Cité De L'Automate

Automata/Automaton Blog

Historical Gallery Of Automatons


Many Moons (Trackademics Remix) - Janelle Monae: (mp3)

Violet Stars Happy Hunting! - Janelle Monae: (mp3)

Call The Law - Outkast ft. Janelle Monae: (mp3)


Tess Is Our Resident Transhumanist

George On Showbiz Pizza's Rock-A-Fire Explosion

Molly On Prions And Ice-9

This Recording Is More Human Than Human


In Which We Are A Giant Silvery Cloud Over The City

SCIENCE CORNER: October Surprise

by Molly Lambert

Do we live in a giant cosmic bubble?

Earth may be trapped in an abnormal bubble of space-time that is particularly void of matter. Scientists say this condition could account for the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, for which dark energy currently is the leading explanation.

Universe gets its period with mysterious "dark flow"

underground plumbing on Mars

A1, the behemoth star


Invisible galaxy full of dark matter

Supernova impostors explode leaving stars in tact

Mars had seasons, Martian snow, sometimes massive floods, a river ran through it.

The U.S.S. Oriskany becomes an artificial reef

When astronomers look at distant objects, they are looking back in time, in this case seeing objects that are 7.7 billion light-years away.

"This is the most luminous, and therefore probably the most massive, cluster of galaxies discovered at this epoch"

This Recording loves polar bears. Sarah Palin hates them. We hate Sarah Palin.

Major Pre-Columbian site found in Puerto Rico.

Jurassic Park was correct! They also burrowed homes and behaved generally like birds.

Yangtze River less tainted than predicted.

Ancient headless skeletons found in island grave.

Sherwood Forest in trouble

Mice transformed into little Charles Bukowskis in the name of curing addictions with science.

Photographs show the progression of glare over the years in the Tucson area, as seen from Kitt Peak.

Here I come to save the day! It means that Mighty Mouse is on his way.

Scare; Crow

Old Folks can pay attention just fine, thank you.

Albert, Texas up for sale. Who wants to buy it and help found the This Recording Writers' Colony?

Scientists to ALVIN: Let Me Upgrade U

MOTHER INDIA! inspirer of fetishes, cradle of mammal life..

Scientist studying the Grand Canyon dies of the Plague.

Planetary formation in the first few million years often resembles a violent wrestling match among hungry siblings, with planets fighting to feed on gas and dust while pulling at each other with gravitational arms.

I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?

When the Northridge earthquake knocked out power in Los Angeles in 1994, numerous calls came into emergency centers and even the Griffith Observatory from people who had poured into the streets in the predawn hours. They had looked into the dark sky to see what some anxiously described as a “giant silvery cloud” over the shaken city.

The Pill won't give you cervical cancer, and breastfeeding won't make your boobs sag.

Explosion from edge of universe seen

How ventriloquists fool the brain, scare the kids.

Artist's conception of Saturn's rings forming

Your heart shrinks with age. Best be pumping some stem cells in there.

New dwarf planet named Haumea

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

Little Cloud - The Incredible String Band: (mp3)

Tell The World - Vivian Girls: (mp3)

Where Do You Run To - Vivian Girls: (mp3)


Monster Mash Ups

Vacation At Jellyfish Lake

Killer Plants From Outer Space