5 Intriguing Things: Thursday, 1/23

The world's biggest windfarm, Prison Obscura, the difference between rocks and tools, Law & Order technology, and the street photography of Grand Theft Auto.

1. The world's largest windfarm, located where the Thames flows into the North Sea, imaged from a satellite.

"The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.

To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill."


Evidentiary images from Brown v. Plata

2. Prison Obscura is an exhibition of images from and about prisons in America

"Hackneyed and clichéd photos of razor wire, anonymous silhouettes, and hands through bars serve stock photography agency sales more than they do informed debate. But, we mustn’t give up on images. We must instead look toward more elusive and unexpected types of imagery. By showcasing vernacular, surveillance, evidentiary, workshop-inspired, collaborative, and prisoner-made photographs, Prison Obscura purposefully offers new models of seeing, recording, and making visible."


3. The Calico Early Man site in the desert north of LA could be an important archaeological find, but is probably just an old lakeshore stocked with interesting gravel

"However, the exact opposite point can be made—and, in fact, this is the dominant interpretation of this much-disputed desert site—which is that these remote and dusty landscapes are just gravel mistaken for tools. It's just a bunch of rocks.

There is nothing at all to see here, in other words, except some unremarkable stones, accidentally chipped and weathered over tens of thousands of years to resemble prehistoric human-made scrapers and blades.

So is this geology or is it technology? Are these natural objects or are they artificial tools? This weird interpretive dilemma is central to the Calico Early Man Site."


4. A guy cataloged every appearance of computing technology in every Law & Order episode

"And this is the 'the kind of obsessive project where you don’t remember starting it,' as he puts it. He started out watching old Law & Order episodes on Netflix just for diversion. But he would periodically take screenshots of interesting oddities for his blog.

Then he started noticing computers. And eventually he realized what he was really watching was a massive audio-visual database charting two decades of technological evolution.

So he applied for a grant from Rhizome, a nonprofit arts organization that specializes in tech-culture projects, and he won one of the 2012 commissions decided upon by Rhizome member votes. (Rhizome Commissions range from $1,000 to $5,000.) On February 1, he’ll give an 'illustrated lecture' at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, discussing his findings."


Cy Sperling

5. There are at least two photographers working the streets of Grand Theft Auto V. There is now a subreddit dedicated to in-game street images

"I should add that my character is wearing camo pants, a black jacket with 'MEDIA' printed across the back, and a helmet. I try very hard to find and use the WEZL News van to drive to the hot spots to take pictures.

It's fun to see who 'get it' and let me get up close while they fight. Most people seem to have fun with it, but there is always one guy who can't stop trying to run me over. And they are always dressed as some ridiculous ICP Clown nonsense..."

+ See also: Fernando Pereira Gomes


Today's 1957 English Usage Tip:

amazedly. Four syllables.

Ah-mayz-ed-ly: "in an amazed manner." Bring it back, Internet. (I guess the alternative was ah-mazed-ly? Gross.)


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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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