Loch Ness Monster Spotted on British Coin Series

The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint

The latest British icon to be immortalized on currency isn’t human (or real, for that matter). As Atlas Obscura reports, the Loch Ness Monster is the face of a new 10-pence piece from the British Royal Mint.

The nickel-plated steel coin depicts Nessie swimming in her natural habitat, with her tail curled around the letter L. The cryptid (a creature that hasn’t been confirmed to exist by science) has been described as everything from a prehistoric marine reptile to a giant salamander, but the version on the coin shows a serpentine creature with a humped back.

The Nessie coin is one of 26 10-pence pieces in the new Quintessentially British A to Z series. Each coin represents a different letter of the alphabet and a corresponding piece of British culture. Along with L for Loch Ness, there’s B for Bond … James Bond, F for Fish and Chips, S for Stonehenge, and Q for Queuing. Britons are encouraged to take part in the “Great British Coin Hunt” by looking for the coins in their change and collecting all 26.

For coin collectors more interested in currency adorned with non-existent beasts than British treasures, there are many options. In 2011, the Canadian Mint produced a Bigfoot coin and a series of 25-cent coins commemorating legendary lake dragons and aquatic panthers. Though the pieces were limited-edition, they’re still easier to track down than an actual cryptid.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Disney's Most Magical Destinations Have Been Reimagined as Vintage Travel Posters

UpgradedPoints.com
UpgradedPoints.com

Many of the iconic settings of animated Disney movies were modeled after real places around the world. Ussé Castle in France’s Loire Valley, for example, is widely rumored to have been the inspiration behind the original Sleeping Beauty story. (Although the castle in the movie more closely resembles Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle.) Likewise, the fictional island in Moana was made to look like Samoa, and the Sultan’s palace in Aladdin shares some similarities with India's Taj Mahal.

If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring Agrabah or Neverland, then you’ll probably enjoy getting lost in these Disney-inspired travel posters from the designers at UpgradedPoints.com, an online resource that helps individuals maximize their credit card travel rewards. Only one of the posters features a real destination ("Beautiful France"), but these illustrations let you get one step closer to scaling Pride Rock or plumbing the depths of Atlantica.

All of the images are rendered in a vintage style with enticing slogans attached—much like the exotic travel posters that were prevalent in the 1930s.

“A few of our designers wanted to capture that longing to experience the true locations of these fantastic films, and the inner child in all of us couldn’t resist seeing how they interpreted the locations of their favorite films,” UpgradedPoints.com writes. “The results are breathtaking and make us wish we could fall into our favorite Disney movies.”

Keep scrolling to see the posters, and for more travel inspiration, read up on eight real-life locations that inspired Disney places (plus one that didn't).

A Disney-inspired poster of France
UpgradedPoints.com

An Atlantica travel poster
UpgradedPoints.com

A Disney-inspired poster
UpgradedPoints.com

A Disney-inspired poster
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A Lion King travel poster
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A Neverland travel poster
UpgradedPoints.com

Google Creates First AI Doodle for Bach’s Birthday

Google
Google

Although there’s some debate about Johann Sebastian Bach’s exact birth date, today is roughly the 334th anniversary of the famous composer’s birth. In celebration of Bach’s contributions to a genre that would later be called classical music, Google created a Doodle that lets users create a song in Bach’s signature style.

Google has created musical Doodles before, but what sets this one apart is that it’s the first-ever Doodle powered by artificial intelligence, according to Newsweek. In this case, users create a simple melody by choosing their preferred notes on a musical staff, then increasing or decreasing the pace (measured in beats per minute, or BPM) or changing the key, if desired. Once satisfied, all they have to do is hit the “harmonize” button and let AI create a more sophisticated tune.

Fortunately for Google, there was a lot of material to draw from. Bach was a busy man, creating more than 1100 compositions in his lifetime (while also finding time to father 20 children). However, for this Doodle, a machine-learning model called Coconet was fed a portion of his oeuvre—306 harmonies in total. In addition to being trained to recognize the musical patterns in Bach's work, the model is also capable of creating harmonies, smooth transitions, and compositions from scratch.

“So when you create a melody of your own on the model in the Doodle, it harmonizes that melody in Bach's specific style,” Google explained in a statement. And just for fun, there’s a feature that lets you hear what the harmony would sound like in a modern rock style.

For a behind-the-scenes look of how the Bach Doodle was made, from both an artistic and technical perspective, check out Google’s video below.

[h/t Newsweek]

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