A few curious things
As ThinkingShift is having a pre-Xmas break, today’s post brings you some bits and pieces I’ve found very interesting over the last few weeks or months but haven’t had time to do separate posts about.
For my UFO and alien fans, there was a fascinating piece recently in The Fortean Times on the link between hippies and UFOs. Now, I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a hippie, but I haven’t seen too many UFOs lately. So what’s the connection? The article talks about John Michell, who was the leader of the Underground movement of the mid-1960s. The Underground refers to people during the 60s who were fed up with the post-WWII acquisitive society and were influenced by Eastern religions and belief systems. But the Underground was also influenced by the flying saucer culture that had built up steadily since the 1950s.
Michel noted that during the 50s people “were having experiences that weren’t allowed for within the context of our education. There was a split between the view of the world we’d been taught and accepted unquestioningly and the world of actual experience.” So he took himself off to the ancient site of Glastonbury, which is apparently the centre of weird and wonderful things in the UK. I’ve always noticed that UFOs seem to be reported around ancient sites and Michel made that same connection. And an awful lot of hippies during the 1960s were on the wacky tobaccy and this produced a “specifically British form of psychedelia which involved dancing gnomes and flying saucers”.
So with a new generation of post-WWII kids rejecting the values of their parents and doped up on LSD, Glastonbury, which is also associated with King Arthur and the Holy Grail, became the epicentre of UFO sightings, particuarly over Glastonbury Tor.
60s rock musicians also became interested in UFOs to express their psychedelic experience. You had David Bowie with his Ziggy Stardust persona for example. And you had album covers that depicted swirling universes and spinning discs. Michell even accompanied The Rolling Stones on a visit to Stonehenge for a spot of flying saucer viewing.
Anyway, read the article yourself – at the very least it goes a long way towards explaining the influence of outerspace on inner space ie the exploration of the soul and spiritual awakening that happened during the hippie movement of the 1960s.
You might not be so interested in hippies and flying objects, but you might lie awake at night wondering why the ancient Greeks and Romans always seemed to build their auditoriums and amphitheatres in elliptical shapes. Why not build the Colliseum in a square shape? Well, that’s because humans have long known that certain shaped structures can enhance or conversely stifle sound. So the elliptical shape of an amphitheatre, for example, allowed the audience to hear plays and speakers at a comfortable sound level.
So the space around us affects our neurological activity and of course designers and architects are well versed in creating the desired psychological effect. And apparently ceiling height can affect the way you think. The University of Minnesota conducted some experiments and found “people focused more on specifics when the ceiling was eight feet high and more on the abstract when the ceiling was ten feet high“. So high ceilings would encourage visionary, big-picture thinking, whilst lower ceilings would be perfect for detailed, technical tasks. Mmmmm….better have a look at the ceiling at my work place! And clearly knowledge managers know the importance of designing space that encourages collaboration. You can read more about the intersection between neuroscience and physical space on d/visible.
And finally, to my most precious find of the last few weeks – a screen saver that displays security camera images! SurveillanceSaver is an OS X screensaver that shows live images of over 600 network surveillance cameras worldwide. Just like a live soap opera! BoingBoing showed the picture below from one of the cameras. I’ve just uploaded Leopard to my MacBook and then I plan to download SurveillanceSaver.
Sources: Fortean Times; d/visible; BoingBoing; i.document