Each day Document has an agenda: news from the underread corners of the world, and the web, that might not end up crossing your path. Discoveries, curiosities, essential cultural dispatches—with this information, go forth.
What lies beneath the Antarctic: Rare species seen for the first time.
There aren’t many places left in the world that are as still ethereal and unexplored as Antarctica. Last month, as part of a scientific expedition organized by campaigning organization Greenpeace, Dr. Susanne Lockhart visited the seafloor in a submarine to try and get a glimpse into this entirely unknown environment. The result, as chronicled in The Guardian, are photographs of bizarre and colorful creatures The findings, Lockhart says, hold “great significance for the future of the Southern Ocean.”
“The range of colors and species diversity in certain important groups such as the soft and gorgonian corals and the colonial tunicates (or sea squirts) were truly spectacular. Bryozoans and hydroids also carpet the seabed, making it look like a wondrous garden. Feather stars and their relatives decorate enormous vase shaped glass sponges. And icefish and octopus can be found hiding if you look carefully enough. Even the water column was teeming with a surprising diversity of life.”
The least understood part of the brain might be the one responsible for making sense of the world around us.
Scientists have long been trying to crack the conundrum of consciousness. But now researchers may be one step towards understanding how we turn the outside world into our personal one. At the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy, scientists discovered how neural memories inform the way we face new tasks. Called the cortical circuit, this part of the brain is one of the least understood areas. How do we process things from moment to moment and how do our memories feed into the process?
“Neuroscientists now have, for the first time, a good indication of the cortical circuit that holds a record of previous sensory signals… Understanding how cortex identifies the current needs and adapts accordingly is an enormous challenge for the future.”
A future where movies reach out and grab you.
At cinemas, 3-D viewing experiences are now commonplace, but as we’re perfecting the art of immersive entertainment, what are the next frontiers in storytelling? Researchers at UC San Diego and San Diego State University have created 4-D goggles that makes your brain create real interactions with particular events on the big screen. When participants were monitored inside a fMRI scanner, more than a dozen of brain areas were found to have a stronger reaction to a multi-sensory event generated by the 4-D technology, as opposed to a uni-sensory experience. “We perceive and interact with the world around us through multiple senses in daily life,” said Ruey-Song Huang, the first author of the paper.
“Though an approaching object may generate visual, auditory, and tactile signals in an observer, these must be picked apart from the rest of world, originally colorfully described by William James as a ‘blooming buzzing confusion.’ To detect and avoid impending threats, it is essential to integrate and analyze multi-sensory looming signals across space and time and to determine whether they originate from the same sources.”
An interview with a UK club scene fan who’s created an archive of the movement’s design
Nightlife is integral to culture. Ever evolving, there’s a strong nostalgia that goes with each era, as clubbers reminisce about the music, relationships, and stories that shaped their formative years. In this interview with Design Week, designer Rick Banks talks about why he launched a Kickstarter to archive the last 35 years of the UK club scene, and how he spent ten months trying to hunt down the designers and the creations that visually singled the superclubs of the period.
“The book is split up by club, and is chronological, starting with the Hacienda’s founding in 1981 through to the Ministry of Sound, which is still open. I got Bill Brewster, who is a DJ and writer, to write the introductory text for each club. I wanted these to be about the history and context, rather than focus on design. I’ve captioned the designs myself. I wanted the book to appeal to designers and non-designers.”
A thousand pictures can tell a story: the science of how Netflix picks their film stills.
Film stills are a rare art. They have to sum up an entire story into one striking, compelling image. This aspect of digital merchandising has long been about aesthetics, decided by a single person who merits their choice on the faith of their taste. But behind the scenes, Netflix has been changing the game. An in-depth Medium post by the content creator’s tech team, explainss how AI is programmed to find meaningful images.
“Creative and visual diversity is a highly subjective discipline, as there are many different ways to perceive and define diversity in imagery. In the context of this solution, image diversity more specifically refers to the algorithms ability to capture the heuristic variance that naturally occurs within a single movie or episode. In doing so, we hope to provide designers and creatives with a scalable mechanism to quickly understand which visual elements are most representative of the title, and which elements are misrepresentative of the title.”
The story behind the mysterious Russian radio station broadcasting a single tone for three decades.
A radio station in Russia by the name “MDZhB” has been broadcasting since 1982, but no one knows who owns it or the reason it continues on. In this BBC feature, writer Zaria Gorvett decodes the station’s cryptic sound to try and uncover the truth, and debunk a plethora of conspiracy theories along the way.
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.
Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.”
Read Jonathan Medes’s moving eulogy of architectural historian Gavin Stamp.
At the start of the year, the writer, broadcaster and architecture fanatic Gavin Stamp died aged 69 from prostate cancer. Stamp, who was a founding member of the Twentieth Century Society—who safeguarded the heritage of architecture and design in Britain from 1914 onwards, and aficionado of British Architecture, often favoring ugly buildings for their cultural prowess. The London Review of Books has published the broadcaster and cult icon Jonathan Medes’s eulogy read out at Stamp’s funeral on 25 January.
“Gavin belonged to a school of one. Throughout most of his career – which was a vocation conducted on his own terms – it was evident to anyone of the slightest sentience that he was the eminent architectural writer of his generation. During much of that time architectural criticism in Ingerlandlandland was no such thing; it was a matter of giving great forelock to a few big names, it was fawning, anilingual sycophancy, a barely dissembled form of PR.”