The Late Movies: Ray Bradbury, Interviewed

Today we learned that we had lost Ray Bradbury. Tonight, let's listen to the author speak about his life and career. If you watch nothing else in this list, scroll down and pick one of the short clips from 1968 -- they're all terrific.

On Books, Literacy, and Fahrenheit 451

Bradbury interviewed in a short film for the National Endowment for the Arts. This is all about the library.

Sample quote: "We should learn from history about the destruction of books. When I was 15 years old, Hitler burned books in the streets of Berlin." Also: "That's the great thing about our country: we are a democracy of readers. And we should keep it that way."

On Writing, Rejection, Death, and Persistence

"Slowly, one by one, you sell short stories, and even one sale in a year is enough to keep your spirits up." Check out the short around 1:40, when you get to see what's inside Bradbury's kitchen: Coors!

"Day at Night" Interview

James Day interviews Bradbury at length on public television circa 1975. Just wonderful. Sample quote: "You must never think at the typewriter; you must feel. Your intellect is buried in that feeling anyway."

Bradbury's Office, 1968

He has thirty years of Prince Valiant comic strips (!) in his office. You may also want some context on this interview -- it was part of a longer CBC program, though I have not found the entire program online.

The Illustrated Man Movie Adaptation, 1968

"We need artists, we need people like myself, who take hold of a piece of reality and say, 'This is what it is.' We've saved up a tension for tears. So I, as a writer, come along and try to help you to cry at the right time."

Life, Love, Work, and Books, 1968

"The man who cannot laugh freely is a sick man."

Waukegan Public Library Interview

Filmed towards the end of Bradbury's life, this interview shows the author discussing childhood in his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Discussed: the movies, the carnival, becoming a writer, the local library, malls, and literacy. This looks like it's extra material from the same shoot as the first video above.

Sample quote: "I ran down the hill, toward the lake, toward the carnival. What was I doing? I didn't realize: I was running away from death, wasn't I? I was running towards life."

Oli Scarff, Getty Images
How a Particle Accelerator Is Helping to Unearth Long-Lost Pieces of Art
Oli Scarff, Getty Images
Oli Scarff, Getty Images

A particle accelerator is revealing the people in 150-year-old photographs whose features had been lost to time, Science News reports.

For the first time, Madalena Kozachuk, a Ph.D. candidate at Canada’s Western University, and a team of scientists used an accelerator called a synchrotron to scan daguerreotypes, an ancestor of modern photography.

before and after image of a damaged dagguereotype
Kozachuk et al. in Scientific Reports, 2018

Invented by French painter and physicist Louis Daguerre, daguerreotypes were popular from around the 1840s to the 1860s. They were created by exposing an iodized silver-coated copper plate to a camera (the iodine helped make the plate's surface light-sensitive). Subjects had to sit in front of the camera for 20 to 30 minutes to set the portrait, down from the eight hours it took before Daguerre perfected his method. Photographers could then develop and fix the image with a combination of mercury and table salt.

Because they’re made of metal, though, daguerreotypes are prone to tarnish. Scientists can sometimes recover historical daguerreotypes by analyzing samples taken from their surface, but such attempts are often both destructive and futile, Kozachuk wrote in a study published in Scientific Reports.

Kozachuk found that using a particle accelerator is a less invasive and more accurate method. While some scientists have used X-ray imaging machines to digitally scan other historical objects, such instruments are too large to scan daguerreotypes. Reading the subtle variations on a daguerreotype surface requires a micron-level beam that only a particle accelerator can currently produce. By tracing the pattern of mercury deposits in the tarnished plate, the researchers were able to reveal the obscured image and create a digital photo of what the daguerrotype looked like when it was first made.

before and after image of a recovered dagguereotype
Kozachuk et al. in Scientific Reports, 2018

“When the image became apparent, it was jaw-dropping,” Kozachuk told Science News. “I squealed when the first face popped up.”

Scanning one square centimeter of each 8-by-7 centimeter plate took about eight hours. The technique, though time-intensive, may allow museums and collectors to restore old daguerreotypes with minimal damage.

“The ability to recover lost images will enable museums to expand their understanding of daguerreotype collections, as severely degraded plates would not otherwise have been able to be studied or viewed by interested scholars,” Kozachuk wrote.

[h/t Science News]

Courtesy of October Films
This Scientist's Idea of the 'Perfect' Human Body Is Kind of Terrifying
Courtesy of October Films
Courtesy of October Films

The perfect human body has the legs of an ostrich, the heart of a dog, and the eyes of an octopus, according to anatomist Alice Roberts. And it’s utterly terrifying.

With the help of anatomical artist Scott Eaton and special effects designer Sangeet Prabhaker, Roberts created a life-size replica of herself that fixes many design flaws inherent to the human body, Motherboard reports. Roberts unveiled the sculpture on April 23 at the Science Museum in London. On June 13, the BBC released a documentary about the project.

Among the flaws Roberts’s sculpture corrects are humans’ inferior ears, spine, and lungs. Roberts borrowed anatomy from reptiles, birds, and other mammals to create a Frankenstein-esque creature straight from the island of Dr. Moreau.

The sculpture of Alice 2.0, left, with Alice Roberts, right
Courtesy of October Films

The sculpture has legs like an ostrich because, as Roberts says on her website, the human knee is complex and prone to failure. Like humans, ostriches are bipedal, but they are far better runners. Bird-like lungs that keep air flowing in one direction, not two, make running and other aerobic activities easier for the perfect human to manage. And a chimpanzee’s sturdier spine and a dog’s heart (which has more connected arteries, leading to lower heart attack risk) make Roberts’s alternate self more resistant to injury and disease.

Roberts’s ideal human body also has skin like a frog that can change shades based on the environment, and large, bat-like ears that amplify sound. Roberts also fixed humans’ backwards retina, which produces a natural blind spot, by borrowing from octopus eye anatomy.

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the baby head poking out of the sculpture’s marsupial pouch. Roberts says marsupial pregnancy would be far easier on the human body and more convenient for parents on the go.

“This could be a human fit for the future,” Roberts says at the end of a trailer for her BBC documentary.

[h/t Motherboard]


More from mental floss studios