Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'Miscelaneous' Category

3D in the Blink of Electrocuted Eyes?

Experience 3D without the fuss of cumbersome glasses! According to an experiment by Jonathan Post presented by one Francois, all you have to do is stick some small gadgets to the side of your head, activate them with two remote controls and have your eyes electrocuted so that they blink frenetically in synchrony with the images in a display.

This is such a great prank, and it definitely is a prank – even if the system was real, no one would seriously propose such a thing, not even for “CES 2012”.

But is the system real, that is, did they manage to have someone blink that fast?

You may remember one of the pioneers of face electrocution on the web, Japanese artist Daito Manabe. On the video above he tries to reproduce the feat with his equipment, without success.

With my device, muscle couldn’t move faster over 9Hz”, he writes. “Also it was impossible to open my eyes when blinking was too fast.

Note that in the video description, Jonathan Post claims his device only works on 120Hz displays! Surely no one can blink 120 times per second. The eyes would just shut. Twitching your eyes and actually having them fully shut and open are different things.

Even assuming he had his eyes blinking at a fraction of that speed (60, 30, 15 Hz…), we would also have to wonder how he managed to electrically stimulate his eyelids with such tiny wireless devices, which besides strobing lights also happen to be synchronized with very polished remote controls. Controls that must be sending infrared signals – he points the RCs to the tiny things – so besides strobing lights and electrocuting your face, those tiny, tiny things are also supposed to have infrared sensors.

One could speculate that perhaps on the right spot and the right voltages, one could stimulate not only the eyelids to shut, as Manabe did, but also to open, and then one would be able to blink faster. But then, when you see the video, he simply puts the tiny things in the side of his head without much care of exactly where he was putting it.

This works too well and is too polished a thing for a “prototype”. But is exactly what you would expect if you wanted to simulate you had some gadgets electrocuting your eyelids. The remote controls are more appropriated for an air conditioner, the 120Hz value is probably a number he got from actual 3D display technologies.

I bet that the video was instead created with CGI. He is not actually blinking that fast.

So far the only thing we know from Jonathan Post is the video itself, and very soon he will reveal what he was actually promoting. More than a couple million views in three days… well deserved, as this is one more of those virals that make you laugh and then think.

Something short of an Ig Nobel.

Popularity: 4% [?]


She is not naked


Look again, the brunette on the back is not naked. It’s the front girl’s left arm.

Just as this blonde is not hairy:


It’s some guy’s leg.

And this is just an armpit. [via MOI]

Popularity: 4% [?]


Understanding the “Time Travellers”


David Carr created this funny explanation for the “Charlie Chaplin time traveller”, a reference to Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images”.

Many suggested the old woman was using an early electric hearing aid (such as this one from Siemens), but Jeremy Hsu from LiveScience found the ear trumpet above, used from mid to late 19th century. An ear trumpet, more affordable and common, available in countless forms, is probably what the woman was holding.

As we noted, “her index and middle fingers are more extended, exactly as would be expected if she was holding not a candybar style mobile phone, but a more round object. Like an ear trumpet.


So this is yet another example of contemporary fashion interpreted outside the context of past eras. Nowadays we have inconspicuous tiny electronic hearing aids, but people go around holding phones to their ears. A century ago people held hearing aids in exactly the same fashion, though that probably wouldn’t have been that fashionable.

HiLobrow compiled more examples of “time travellers” with cellphones and PDAs, the best of which must be this one of Apollo taking a picture with his phone – or as someone mentioned, perhaps trying to get a better signal from the transtemporal carrier?


It illustrates perfectly what goes on here, our contemporary mannerisms cast upon past snapshots. Or evidence that a Greek god with a transtemporal iPhone also dealt with bad reception. [via BB, TDW]

Popularity: 6% [?]


Time Traveller in Charlie Chaplin Movie?

In a behind the scenes footage, part of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus” (1928) DVD, George Clarke found:

“A large woman dressed in black with a hat hiding most of her face, with what can only be described as a mobile phone device – talking as she walks alone. I have studied this film for over a year now – showing it to over 100 people and at a film festival, yet no-one can give any explanation as to what she is doing. My only theory – as well as many others – is simple… a time traveler on a mobile phone.”

Now here’s to our ordinary investigation, which I must say beforehand, won’t come to any definite conclusion since all we have is some seconds of a 1928 film where we can’t actually see what the woman is holding.

It could be anything, including nothing.


Theories abound, and besides the tantalizing idea of a cell phone from a time traveller, two more prosaic possibilities have been discussed. The first and to me, the most probable, is that the woman is simply using an ear trumpet, like this one, from Collect Medical Antiques:


To support this idea, note that her index and middle fingers are more extended, exactly as would be expected if she was holding not a candybar style mobile phone, but a more round object. Like an ear trumpet. Compare how she holds a supposed object with these pictures from Getty Images (left 1974, right 1954)


Those fellows, including English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams at right, were not using cell phones, but simple ear trumpets, available in those forms since very long agoo.

Then again, the woman attending the premiere of Chaplin’s “The Circus” could be holding nothing at all, and simply scratching her head (with her index and middle fingers) or merely blocking the glare of the Sun coming from her left.

The glare of the Sun, by the way, is what projects a shadow of her hand into her face, which is probably what many have confused with evidence of a black cell phone. Fact is, we can’t see what she is holding, if she is holding anything at all.

Granted, she does speak after she stops walking. Someone may have shouted that she was being filmed. If someone spoke to her at all.

But not to end this ordinary investigation without anything at all, let’s answer at least one little puzzle: Clarke wondered if the subject was even a woman, since her shoes seemed much too long. This is simple to explain: the aspect ratio of the image he captured from his widescreen TV is wrong.

If one corrects it, the elliptical sign at the background (“Now Playing Charlie Chaplin ‘The Circus’”) gets round again, and the horse and everything else, including the woman’s shoes, return a more normal aspect.


Even her hand and fingers seem more natural. And in my personal opinion, it seem she is actually using an ear trumpet.

Why would she use it while walking on the street, I don’t know. And judging from the many friends who suggested this topic to be blogged here (thank you all!), the idea that she was a time traveller using a communications device – with a transtemporal Eternal cell phone carrier – is certainly much more attractive.

The cellphone lady is just one more time traveller, along with the hipster and the punk.

Popularity: 8% [?]


Duck or Rabbit… in 3D!


Fabulous version of the classic ambiguous figure drawn by Joseph Jastrow in 1899, via Richard Wiseman’s blog:


John F. Kihlstrom has a nice history of “Joseph Jastrow and His Duck — Or Is It a Rabbit?”.

Popularity: 3% [?]