Monday, October 28, 2013

Link List: Plants Telling Time, Gold-Dusted Crickets, Books to Watch For, and Other Good Stuff

This and That

1) Sugar is not the root of all evil. It's quite useful, if you're a plant wanting to keep track of the time. Plants track the accumulation of sugar formed through photosynthesis and use the buildup as a way of measuring time, thus keeping their circadian rhythms in order.

According to Dr Mike Haydon of the University of York:
"The accumulation of sugar within the plant provides a kind of feedback for the circadian cycle in plants -- a bit like resetting a stopwatch. We think this might be a way of telling the plant that energy in the form of sugars is available to perform important metabolic tasks."

Sugar buildup, it seems, serves as something of an hourglass; the plant can, in effect, say "I have this amount of sugar, therefore that amount of time has passed."

From Science World Report and the article summary in Nature (the full article is behind a paywall).

2) Quirk Books blogger Allison Racicot has compiled a short list of "Breaking All Four Walls: Boston Bookstores That Aren’t Actually Stores". My favorite item on the list is actually a library: A red phone booth operating on the "Take one, leave one" or, "heck, just take one" policy. Go take a look at the rest of the list and get some ideas for what you might want to see in Boston.

Also: Let me know if you've spotted any similar bookstores elsewhere, will you? I'm no Bostonian, but I do love a good bookstore, and libraries are even better!

3) Continuing on the theme, Derek Attig writes of unusual library locations, past and present, over on Book Riot.. He talks about past librarians carrying books out to hard-to-reach places in the Cumberland Mountains during the Great Depression, a contemporary rider in Columbia transporting books by biblioburro, twenty-first century book vending machines, and more.

4) Chocolatier Sylvain Musquar is working to make insect-eating palatable in the finicky West. He tops his made-in-France chocolates with crickets and worms--after they have been dusted in gold dust to give them some “make-up ... to make them a bit sexy."

The crickets and worms come from MicroNutris, a Toulouse-based specialist company, which feeds them a “diet rich in vitamins, minerals and saturated fatty acids," so, you know, they're healthy themselves as well as being healthy for you.

As one of the "squeamish" I applaud the effort, but I'm not sure the gold-dust is going to make a lot of difference.

On the other hand, Sylvain Musquar's customers do appear to be buying.

What do you think? Will gold-dust convince you to eat bugs? Or do you already?

From The Star

5) Take a look at Fong Qi Wei’s Time Is a Dimension, photographs. In each of these photographs, Wei has taken pictures of the same place over a two to four hour period, melding them together to create one, unique image. Often, different strips of time are visually portrayed as strips, squares, or circles in the image as light changes and the day moves on.

I like them all, but I'm especially partial to the changing light on the bird of paradise. What about you? Got a favorite?

Found through Wired

Book News

It's a funny thing about to-read lists: They never get any shorter. Here are this week's additions to mine:

Out this week is The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin

Reasons I'm interested? The Smithsonian writers are always good, and it's a series of micro-histories. Of course I have to read it!

Found via Publisher's Weekly

From the publisher's description:
The Smithsonian Institution is America's largest, most important, and most beloved repository for the objects that define our common heritage. Now Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture Richard Kurin, aided by a team of top Smithsonian curators and scholars, has assembled a literary exhibition of 101 objects from across the Smithsonian's museums that together offer a marvelous new perspective on the history of the United States.

Ranging from the earliest years of the pre-Columbian continent to the digital age, and from the American Revolution to Vietnam, each entry pairs the fascinating history surrounding each object with the story of its creation or discovery and the place it has come to occupy in our national memory. Kurin sheds remarkable new light on objects we think we know well, from Lincoln's hat to Dorothy's ruby slippers and Julia Child's kitchen, including the often astonishing tales of how each made its way into the collections of the Smithsonian. Other objects will be eye-opening new discoveries for many, but no less evocative of the most poignant and important moments of the American experience. Some objects, such as Harriet Tubman's hymnal, Sitting Bull's ledger, Cesar Chavez's union jacket, and the Enola Gay bomber, tell difficult stories from the nation's history, and inspire controversies when exhibited at the Smithsonian. Others, from George Washington's sword to the space shuttle Discovery, celebrate the richness and vitality of the American spirit. In Kurin's hands, each object comes to vivid life, providing a tactile connection to American history.

Publication information
Hardcover, 784 pages
Publication: October 29th 2013 by Penguin Press
ISBN 1594205299 (ISBN13: 9781594205293)

Someone recently found a lost Pearl S. Buck novel in a Texas storage. It was apparently finished just before she died andcame out on October 22, 2013. has an excerpt up.

Reason I'm interested? It's Pearl S. Buck.

I've been reading her books off and on for years, and she always has strong characters and amazing world building. Yes, I know, she's writing historical fiction, not science fiction, but the ability to give the reader a world is still important.

From the publisher's description:

The Eternal Wonder tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax (Rann for short), an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, on a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love.

Rann falls for the beautiful and equally brilliant Stephanie Kung, who lives in Paris with her Chinese father and has not seen her American mother since she abandoned the family when Stephanie was six years old. Both Rann and Stephanie yearn for a sense of genuine identity. Rann feels plagued by his voracious intellectual curiosity and strives to integrate his life of the mind with his experience in the world. Stephanie struggles to reconcile the Chinese part of herself with her American and French selves. Separated for long periods of time, their final reunion leads to a conclusion that even Rann, in all his hard-earned wisdom, could never have imagined.
Publication information

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media E-riginal (October 22, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1480439703
ISBN-13: 978-1480439702

The Library: A World History
by James W. P. Campbell (Author) and Will Pryce (Photographer)

Reason I'm interested: This article in The Telegraph, "The Most Spectacular Libraries in the World" has some of the images with brief descriptions of the libraries in question. I'm all in favor of gorgeous images, and (as you all know by now) I'm in love with libraries.

I do hope my library carries it!

From the publisher's description as found on Amazon (Goodreads hasn't got its entry up to snuff yet):

A library is not just a collection of books, but also the buildings that house them. As varied and inventive as the volumes they hold, such buildings can be much more than the dusty, dark wooden shelves found in mystery stories or the catacombs of stacks in the basements of academia. From the great dome of the Library of Congress, to the white façade of the Seinäjoki Library in Finland, to the ancient ruins of the library of Pergamum in modern Turkey, the architecture of a library is a symbol of its time as well as of its builders’ wealth, culture, and learning.

Architectural historian James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce traveled the globe together, visiting and documenting over eighty libraries that exemplify the many different approaches to thinking about and designing libraries. The result of their travels, The Library: A World History is one of the first books to tell the story of library architecture around the world and through time in a single volume, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China and from the beginnings of writing to the present day. As these beautiful and striking photos reveal, each age and culture has reinvented the library, molding it to reflect their priorities and preoccupations—and in turn mirroring the history of civilization itself. Campbell’s authoritative yet readable text recounts the history of these libraries, while Pryce’s stunning photographs vividly capture each building’s structure and atmosphere.

Publication information:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (October 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 022609281X
ISBN-13: 978-0226092812


The graphic novel version of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (which is also on my to-read list, in case you were wondering; I have to see how a photo-based novel turns into a graphic novel. Also, it's a good book), has a trailer up on Entertainment Weekly's site.

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