Friday, 27 February 2009

Hooke's Flea on tour in the Hayward Gallery

Robert Hooke's 1665 drawing of a flea has gone south of the river for a few weeks. On loan from the Royal Society's collection at UCL it's now visible at the Hayward Gallery as part of Mark Wallinger's exhibition The Russian Linesman, "Frontiers, Borders and Thresholds".

"Mark Wallinger, winner of the 2007 Turner Prize and one of Britain's most original and unpredictable artists, curates this unique exhibition exploring notions of the liminal: thresholds between physical, political or metaphysical realms."

Exhibition Details

Robert Hooke was a scientist and inventor and is credited with improving the barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer. However he is most famous for his biological studies as documented in Micrographia which was made possible his design for a compound microscope based on Anton van Leeuwenhoek previous model. Hooke was asked by the Royal Society to confirm Leeuwenhoek's suggestion of microscoping life in water and duely did so. He also looked at Mites in Cheese, and the Blue of Plums confirming both to be living organisms.

ROBERT HOOKE (1635-1703)
Robert Hooke - experimental scientist
A picture of Robert Hooke

Monday, 23 February 2009

The making of the HP flea circus

Animation Blog's Ian Lumsden has a detailed write up on HP's Flea Circus advert including how it was made with a mixture of stop motion with props made from 3D printing with CGI for the fleas.

Hewlett Packard - Wobulation Hewlett Packard - Wobulation

Related links:

Making of the HP Flea Circus Advert.
Posters for the HP Flea Circus

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Flea Delusions

I've been reading about the unfortunate condition delusory parasitosis in May R. Berenbaum's book, "Bugs in the System". The condition is where people imagine bugs crawling on or in their bodies. The patient can be so convinced that they can actually persuade others that they have bugs on them too.

May writes of Spanish Film Maker, Luis Brunel's autobiography where he mentions a visit to see Salvador Dali in Montmatre.

'I found him stripped to the waist, an enormous bandage on his back. Apparently he thought he'd felt a "flea" or some other strange beast and had attacked his back with a razor blade. Bleeding profusely, he got the hotel manager to call a doctor, only to discover that the "flea" was in reality a pimple.'


May R. Berenbaum: Bugs in the System 1995, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bunel, Luis., 1982. My Last Sigh. New York: Vintage


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Strong Flea Act

Out of all of the acts that can be performed in a humbug flea circus, one of my favourites is the strongman flea. This flea would perform feats such as pulling a heavy wagon, turning a carousel or flipping a coin. The coin trick works by having a special coin and a powerful magnet.

I've not seen these coins available in the UK before and I've asked around a few shops. Here's one supplier of magic self flipping coins. Please let me know if you supply these or know of an alternative supplier.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Flea Adverts

Mirroring the jewelers and watchmakers of the 19th Century, Swiss Watch Makers International Watch Co. Schaffhausen have used a flea to show just how small and intricate they can make their watch parts.

IWC Flea Advert

Working with Agency Jung von Matt from Germany, IWC have created a series of adverts showing their "Passion for Detail", as well as the Flea Circus Advert, their adverts also include a tiny dartboard and a tiny labyrinth style game.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Flea Chariot Racing

Mr T. Smith of "Codex Transportica" has "translated" an interesting sport from the World of King Sprungtopf. Flea-Charioteering aka Capriolet Racing is a dangerous form of chariot racing using the Flea Hopsicle and the article goes into great detail of the practical and social aspects of this sport.

The Codex also contains many other forms of forgotten transport such as the Glittersniffer, the Misbegotten Toboggan and the Royal Orb.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

What's happening to all the bees

Regular viewers of Dr Who will know that the Dr and Donna found that all of the bees had left to follow a trail into the Medusa Cascade.

Norman Carreck from the Linnean Society however presents a scientific rather than science fiction approach to the issue.

On the 19th February, 6:00 PM the society will hear an evening talk about the declining bee population. Topics such as natural variations in population, viruses, parasites and mites will be covered. The talk will also cover recent work into this area.

"Tea will be served in the Library from 5.30pm and the lecture will be followed by a wine reception. This meeting is free and open to all; registration is not necessary."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Captain Peacock - Lice Hunter

Maureen Claydon has kindly sent me a link to for Captain Peacock "Lice Hunter" which she found via the Tyne and Wear Archives.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Herman Melville - Not a flea fan

I'm not in agreement with Herman Melville who claimed that

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 104

I suggest Herman needs to read one of the many flea books that are around.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Too dirty for fleas

The Manchester Evening News reports of a house that was so dirty even the fleas refused to live there.

Anna McDonald, prosecuting at Manchester Magistrates Court, said: "These cats walked, sat and slept in their own excrement. The conditions were so bad that even flea eggs could not survive. This is a case where a life ban from keeping animals is appropriate."

Obviously this is very unfortunate for the cats but I found it facinating that there were such conditions that would be damaging to flea reproduction.

Was it the lack of humidity that stopped the eggs? Or could be other cat illnesses within the excrement that have affected the fleas such as toxoplasmosis, bartonella or tapeworms (that use fleas as a carrier) that could have killed off the fleas? It could also have been a high quantity of ammonia from the cat urine.