Saturday Scenes

Thu 31 January 2013

A Whale of a Time

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:56

On the 26th of January in 2004, a 50-tonne sperm whale exploded on a busy Taiwanese street. Pedestrians, cars and shop-fronts were showered with with blood and organs from the whale which was being transported on the back of a trailer.

The whale had beached itself after being struck by a large shipping vessel and was dead by the time help arrived. It took three large cranes and 50 workers to lift the whale onto the trailer to be transported to the nearby Shi-Tsao Natural Preserve for a post-mortem examination. Sadly, the whale never made it there.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Whale explodes in Taiwanese city

“Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure build-up was too great, the whale’s belly exploded.”

However, he said despite the explosion, enough of the whale remained to allow for an examination by marine biologists.

As a helpful note, you really do not want to do an image search on “whale explodes in Taiwan” unless you have a very, very strong stomach. Just, don’t.

Don’t despair, however! These wonderful images taken on the 26 of January in 2013 are quite safe to browse through and enjoy:

And here are the wonderful photographers who took them:

Why don’t you join in?

We’d love to see your photos! Just take a picture on a Saturday and send it to @SatScenes with a location.

See you next week!

Fri 25 January 2013

The Mystery of the Poe Toaster

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 14:27

Every year on the 19th of January, the Poe Toaster appeared at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore. It’s not clear when the first visit took place, although by 1950 the local paper had already reported it as an annual event. The Poe Toaster was a mysterious person dressed in black with a hat and a white scarf who appeared at Edgar Allen Poe’s gravestone in the early hours of the morning of the 19th of Jan. Every year, he (or she) drank a glass of cognac at the grave and then left three roses and the rest of the bottle by the gravestone. Sometimes the Toaster left a note along with the gifts, including “The torch will be passed” in 1993. In 1998, visitors to the grave stated that the Toaster appeared to be a younger individual and the few notes left after that date were very different in tone, including a criticism of France after they opposed the war in Iraq: “The sacred memory of Poe and his final resting place is no place for French cognac. With great reluctance but for respect for family tradition the cognac is placed. The memory of Poe shall live evermore!” It’s commonly believed that the Poe Toaster’s son took over the visits starting in 1998 and continued the tradition until 2009.

Sadly, the Poe Toaster did not appear in 2010 and has not been seen since, although some “imposters” appeared at the grave. They did not make the signal that the Poe Taster did, nor were the roses placed in the traditional pattern which had not changed over 75 years.

However, others argue that the tradition of Poe Toasting lives on.

Poe Toaster | I was there — the Poe Toaster came – Baltimore Sun

When I arrived, I was told that there had already been three such imposters. Then, around 2 in the morning, a spry young woman in a cloche hat with roses and cognac tucked into her coat made her way deftly through the crowd. Without any pretension, she delivered her tribute to the grave and was gone – was whisked away in a passing car and disappeared into the night.

I left after that, satisfied, realizing that the Poe Toaster is not a particular person but rather a concept. An idea.

Although the “official” Poe Toaster was not photographed on the 19th of January in 2013, many Saturday scenes were taken and submitted, all according to the traditions built up over the past five years:

And here are those photographers who continue to show up every Saturday:

So the big question is: How many Saturday Scenes can we manage this week?

You know the drill: take a photograph, tweet it to @Satscenes with a location and bask in the glory.

I’m looking forward to many more scenes from Saturdays to come.

Thu 17 January 2013

Foolproof and Incapable of Error

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:31

On the 12th of January in 1992, HAL became operational. HAL (Heuristically progammed ALgorithmic computer) is the artificial intelligence which controlled the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft during the interplanatary mission to Jupiter. I’m talking, of course, about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL is capable of speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting and reproducing emotional behaviours, and reasoning. HAL is also an exceptional chess player, although HAL is programmed to lose 50% of the time.

This is why it confused many people that HAL made a mistake in the chess game against astronaut Franke Poole. HAL calls “Queen to Bishop three” when what he should have said was “Queen to Bishop SIX”.

The Kubrick Site: The Case For HAL’s Sanity

Kubrick, having played chess extensively in his youth, is well aware of this. Being a chess enthusiast and a film perfectionist, I wouldn’t think he would allow such a gaffe to crop up in a film of his. Moreover, I have recently been informed by Gerrit Bodde that this game was taken from a master game, Roesch vs. Schlage, played in 1913, and reported by the German news magazine “Der Spiegel.” This makes it exceedingly unlikely that this is a gaffe.

No chess-playing machine could possibly make a mistake in reporting a chess position. So HAL says “three” deliberately. Why does he do this? Perhaps to test Frank’s suitability for carrying out the mission. Does he conclude that Frank is not suitable? He doesn’t seem to be a very worthy opponent, he did not even pick up on the computers simple ‘mistake, ‘ which costs him the game. With his inexorable machine logic HAL might view Frank as flawed and therefore a risk to the mission.

Sadly, as a result of the bad press received in the film, HAL is now listed as the 13th-greatest film villain ever.

BUT we have plenty of heroes on the 12th of January in 2013! These are the stunning Saturday Scenes that were taken:

And here’s the list of good guys who saved the day:

Why don’t you join in?

We’d love to see your photos! Just take a picture on a Saturday and send it to @SatScenes with a location.

See you next week!

Fri 11 January 2013

That Was the Year that Was

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:22

2012 was a great year for photographs, especially when it came to Saturday Scenes. We had 1,639 photographs submitted over the last twelve months and 132 people took part. If all of you actually submitted a photograph on the same Saturday, it would be amazing!

Here are the top ten submitters for Saturday Scenes photographs in 2012.

10th with 36 submissions: oxonlady
 9th with 40 submissions: korwhai
 8th with 43 submissions: heidespruck pewari
 7th with 44 submissions: dudleypj
 6th with 45 submissions: carocat
 5th with 47 submissions: janetisserlis
 4th with 48 submissions: ernmander
 3rd with 50 submissions: icklemouse
 2nd with 51 submissions: mousewords

And …*drum roll please*… we have four submitters with a perfect score for 2012:

 1st with 52 submissions: akrabat jamesnnb raumsinn robdavies

Well done to everyone who took part. You are amazing!

And in the time it took me to sort out the above, it happened again! So gather round to see our very first photographs from the very first Saturday from 2013:

And here are the photographers off to a great start:

Thanks to all of you for making Saturday scenes so much fun. I’m looking forward to seeing many more photographs in 2013!

Fri 4 January 2013

Bombs for Everyone!

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 16:28

On the 29th of December in 1911, Klaus Fuchs was born in Russelsheim, Germany. He emigrated to England in 1933 and in 1941, after receiving his doctorate in Physics from the University of Bristol, he was invited to work on the British atomic bomb research project. In 1943, he was sent to the US to collaborate on the atom bomb development at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

However, Fuchs couldn’t understand why the collaboration between the UK, the US and Canada excluded the Soviet Union, their ally in the war. Fuchs was a supporter of communist politics and believed the Russians were leading the future. Initially, he secretly shared his own work with Russian informants. But soon, he was telling them all about the nuclear tests conducted in the New Mexican desert.

That August 1945 was a difficult time for the Los Alamos scientists. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from all reports, were even more devastating than they had imagined. Klaus was not certain that he had made the right decision. Yet, Klaus believed, the weapon was too powerful to remain in the custody of a single power. If such a force had to exist, it had to exist in such a way that no nation would be tempted to ever use it again.

Fuchs gave his contact the initial drafts for the development of a hydrogen bomb and the results of US testing with uranium and plutonium.

Fuchs confessed after the war and was sentenced to the maximum penalty for passing military secrets to a friendly nation: fourteen years imprisonment. Upon his release, he moved to East Germany to resume his scientific work.

Meanwhile, one hundred and one years exactly after he was born, an explosion of photographs were taken to celebrate the final Saturday of the year:

And here are the rocket scientists who took them:

And that is the last collection for the year 2012. Next week, we’ll be counting down the top ten submitters for the year.

Who will submit the first Saturday scene for 2013? Who will be the first to populate our brand new Saturday Scene list for the year? Be sure to join us on Twitter tomorrow to find out!

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