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Baby you can paint my car

If you live anywhere on the West Coast, or for that matter any town that has a significant contingent of Wacky People, you've probably seen them driving around: art cars. It just so happens that my brand new town, Santa Monica, has a rather large contingent of these cars. They tend to be older vehicles -- you don't see a lot of late-model Mercedes art cars -- painted just about any way you can imagine, often with foreign objects adhered to them in some thematically-consistent way. Since I have a habit of posting about strange things that go on in my neighborhood, I thought I'd share these shots of two vehicles I see, and marvel at, on a daily basis.

On the back of this car, a small inscription reads "hand-painted." Ha ha.IMG_4720.jpg
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If you look closely, you can tell: this car has no passenger-side windows.
IMG_4718.jpgIMG_4717.jpgI wonder if Matt Groening did a commission on this one? Nah ... IMG_4716.jpg

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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