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Why Does Alcohol Cause the Spins?

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You lie down to get some sleep after a long night of drinking, and the room seems to be spinning uncontrollably. What gives?

The spins happen because of an odd effect alcohol has on your ears -- specifically, on three tiny, fluid-filled structures called the semicircular canals. Inside each of these canals is a fluid called endolymph and a gelationous structure called the cupula, which is filled with cells covered in fine, hair-like stereocilia.

As you move around, the movement of the endolymph lags behind the more solid cupula, distorting and bending it -- and those little hairs. When the hairs bend, the electrical signal they send to your brain is altered, helping you to make sense of the rotations your head experiences on each of the three planes the canals sit on -- movements up and down, left and right and backward and forward -- and keep your balance.

Booze throws this system out of whack. Alcohol thins the blood, and when boozy blood travels to the inner ear, it creates a density difference between the cupula and the fluid in the canals, and distorts the cupula's shape. The little hairs bend and send a signal to your brain that tells it you’re rotating when you’re really not, and this illusion of motion makes it seem like the room is spinning.

Some of the things that you most want to do when you’re good and drunk, like lie down and close your eyes, make the sensation worse, since you don’t have any visual or physical cues to counteract the false sense of motion. Looking at a fixed object and keeping your feet planted on the ground can help lessen the effect, but there's no real way to stop it.

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From Powder to Printer: Watch How Ink Gets Made
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Workers pour a lot of time, labor, and energy into the vividly colored inks that grace our newspapers, magazines, and product packages. The above video by Canadian production company Vepo Studios gives viewers a peek behind the scenes at The Printing Ink Company, a manufacturer in Western Canada that produces large batches of printer pigments.

Peter Welfare, the company’s president and head inkmaker, explains how ink starts out as a simple powder. Once it’s combined with varnish, the vividly-colored substance is cooked, milled, mixed, and tested before it’s put in a can and shipped to customers. Watch the mesmerizing process above.

[h/t Digg]

Banner image courtesy of YouTube.

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Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com
9 Amazing Masters of Hyperrealism
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Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com

For some artists, the prevalence of cameras in our modern world is a challenge to make even more realistic artwork. These are some of the most impressive artists working in the ultra-demanding realm of hyperrealism.

1. Jamie Salmon

Jamie Salmon from Avatar Sculpture Works is one of the best known hyperrealistic sculptors—and one of the top in this field: Every pore, hair follicle, wrinkle, and freckle looks completely real. Even more impressive, each of his works seems to evoke a very specific, very vivid emotion, which makes the viewer feel something, too—just like great art should.

2. Sam Jinks

Sam Jinks’ amazingly realistic silicon sculptures range from touching (a grandma holding an infant) to creepy (a human head with white orbs for eyes and a blank spot where the mouth should be). But no matter what he sculpts, the end result is realistic to the point where gallery viewers would be forgiven for trying to offer help to the artworks pinned to the wall or sprawled out on the floor.

3. Ron Mueck

Sometimes it’s practically impossible to tell that hyperrealistic sculptures are actually artworks and not just people standing around. Such is not the case when it comes to Ron Mueck’s creations, but only because his work is often massive in scale. In fact, one of his most famous pieces, “Mask II,” is a sleeping head that measures almost 4 feet long; "A Girl" (above) is 16 feet long.

4. Evan Penny

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about many of Evan Penny’s silicon sculptures is the fact that while they look exactly like the models they were based on when viewed from the correct angle, they are not accurate on a 3D level.

Viewed from another side, you can easily see that Penny has flattened out the subjects so they only look totally realistic when viewed from the right spot.

5. Carole Feuerman

Carole Feuerman has set herself apart from many of the other hyperrealism sculptors by not only using resin—a much harder material than silicon—but also by focusing on the way water drops form on human skin. Most of her creations appear as though they just emerged from a pool. The effect allows for an extra level of realism, and emphasizes Carole’s impressive grasp on human anatomy.

6. Roberto Bernardi

Plenty of artists and writers describe their work as depicting a “slice of life,” but in Roberto Bernardi’s case, viewers are likely to feel as though they are viewing a scene taken right out of their own daily lives. That’s because rather than finding inspiration in the extraordinary, Roberto finds his muse in showing the beauty trapped in the everyday scenes we all take for granted—market displays, vending machines, dirty dishes, etc.

7. Jason de Graaf

Like many artists specializing in hyperrealism, Jason de Graaf seems to enjoy a challenge.  He likes to throw a few extra difficulties into his artwork—often choosing to paint reflections in objects, and liquids splashing about in crystal glasses. Amazingly, even with these nearly impossible subjects, his works often tend to look as though they really are photos rather than paintings.

8. Juan Francisco Casas

It’s one thing to be able to make unbelievably real artworks with silicon, resin, and paint, but imagine creating something that looks just like a photograph that’s gone through a color Photoshop filter using just a ball point pen. That’s the magic of Juan Francisco Casas’ artwork. With the same writing utensil you used to draw explicit images in the margins of your high school notebook, this amazing artist is able to create hyperrealistic drawings chock full of passion and emotion.

9. WForrest

WForrest‘s digital artworks are so photorealistic that he has actually had to upload images of the designs being created from start to finish in order to show that yes, they are, in fact, not photographs. Be warned though: if you visit his website to look at more of his artworks, there are a lot of adult images and they’re realistic enough that you might have a hard time convincing your boss that you’re looking at art.

There are those who criticize artists who specialize in hyperrealism on the grounds that life casts and cameras could easily create the same things in a fraction of the time. But aside from appreciating the pure skill that goes into making something so totally realistic, it’s also good to remember that if something were to happen and cameras became a thing of the past, these artists will be the only people around who are able to accurately capture a moment in history—and that’s something to celebrate.

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