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Archive for November, 2009

TEDx and the European Parliament

The European Parliament building complex in Brussels

As one Belgian – the first European to do so – handed over the command of the ISS back to the Americans, and will be returning to earth shortly after a six month stint in space; another Belgian was handing in his government back to the king, so he can prepare to become the first president of Europe in January.

And I would, for the first time, be visiting the European Parliament in Brussels. As this event pales in comparison to what my fellow countrymen have lately achieved, don’t expect to find my little excursion mentioned in any history book; not even as a small obscure footnote on page 527 or other. But I was there for a reason though. The TEDx Brussels event, also a first, was being held there, an independent spin-off the TED events that have brought world inspiration since… well, since its inception. While the official TED event is by invitation only, they do post videos online of some of their most inspirational speakers and their ideas about the world. Definitely worth a visit if you haven’t heard of it yet.

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How to test your time machine actually works.

The problem with time travel is you never know where you'll end up

One might think that time travel is difficult at best and impossible at worst, but it’s not. It’s actually quite easy to accomplish. The most widely used method of time travel today is called growing old. We do it all the time.

The Dangers of Time Travel

If on the other hand, you want to travel back in time, that’s a whole different challenge. So let us assume we’re going to build a time machine that will let us do just that. How do we test it to make sure it works? Unless of course you want to be the guinea pig and risk ending up in a time or place that might not be so hospitable to your fragile existence. You wouldn’t be the first time traveler to end up frozen in the middle of space, due to the small oversight of earths moving trajectory around the sun, and the relative motion of the solar system within mind puzzling accelerated expansion of the larger universe. But let us not worry about that for now.

One theory states that even if a time machine were built, you would still not be able to time travel to an age prior to the existence of your workable machine. It was proposed as a reason why time travelers have not come back from the future so far, for lack of a vessel present in this day and age to do so. It also prevents you from going back in time and killing yourself before you were able to actually build your time machine, thus making it impossible to travel back in time to kill yourself in the first place, and creating a temporal rupture in the fabric of the space time continuum that could possibly destroy the entire universe. In other words, before we can bump into other time travelers or create utterly destructive paradoxes, we first have to build a time machine.

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The Box

Cemeron Diaz starring in The Box

Recently – and not knowing what to expect or what I was about to watch – I went to see The Box. It’s one of those films you’ll either love, or hate. It’s from the same director that brought us Donnie Darko, the movie that brought us the wonderful Mad World cover.

The Box starts with a simple premise. A family is presented a mysterious box with a large red button. They are given a day to decide whether to press it or not. If they do, they will receive a suitcase with one million dollars, tax free. But – and there is always a but – someone whom they do not know will be killed. If on the other hand they decline to press the button by the time the offer expires, the box will be taken away, reprogrammed and sent to someone else.

Given this choice, what would you do?

If this has peaked your interest, stop reading here and go and watch it. Otherwise, I have to warn you that the rest of the post contains spoilers.

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Jojo in the Stars


Pica Towers

In the days before YouTube — when video was still scarcely sprinkled over the internet — a moody website popped up with three short 1 minute animations called Pica Towers. The series was a disturbing glimpse into a distopian world. It focused around the life in a sky scraping tower — somewhere in the middle of a desolate nowhere — inhabited by strange robot like creatures. It is here where we witness some really awful and horrific scenes, yet we never quite make out what’s really going on , or why, if there even is a why.

The shorts were released in the following order:

There will be no comfort. Close the doors!

The success of the series led to a fourth and longer animation in 2004 called “Jojo in the Stars“. Not only do we finally learn more about the tower, it’s also a classic love story where the heart is stronger than struggle and abandon, or good looks for that matter. And before you start thinking: robot like creatures can’t possibly fall in love with each other; In a way, one might consider this the darker version of Pixar’s “WALL-E”.

Pica Towers and Jojo in the Stars were created by Marc Craste from Studio AKA.

Mapping Belgium’s Absurd Borders


It’s finally out: The Strange Maps book by Frank Jacobs, the man behind the wonderful Strange Maps blog. The book itself has become a hefty anti-atlas bringing together some of the strangest, weirdest and interesting maps ever created or found.

I’m also glad to say that it contains two maps of my own.

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T-shirts with the god Shiva print