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Posts Tagged ‘chaos theory

Totally random, man!…


Edward Lorenz, a pioneer of Chaos Theory, famously observed in a 1963 paper that the flap of a butterfly’s wings could ultimately determine the weather thousands of miles away and days later.

Now, thanks for the ever-extraordinary Exploratorium, readers can simulate their own butterflies, and watch them interact with “strange attractors.”

Try it here.

As we sidle up to the stochastic, we might recall that it was on this date in 1873 that Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain) received a U.S. patent (No. 140,245) for a self-pasting scrapbook– which was popular enough ultimately to sell 25,000 copies.  Two years earlier the innovative author had received his first patent– for “An Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Garment Straps” (No.121,992– used for shirts, underpants, and women’s corsets).  Later (in 1885) he patented a history trivia game.

The Self-Pasting Scrapbook (source)

It’s a scream…

It’s a little Munch…

They sell popcorn, justify the “reach-around hug,” and just generally make an audience’s hearts beat faster– screams are a critical element in the motion picture formula.  But screams aren’t easy.  As Science News reports, it’s all about chaos theory…

Filmmakers use chaotic, unpredictable sounds to evoke particular emotions, say researchers who have assessed screams and other outbursts from more than 100 movies. The new findings, reported May 25 in Biology Letters, come as no surprise, but they do highlight an emerging if little-known area of study…

By exploring the use of such dissonant, harsh sounds in film, scientists hope to get a better understanding of how fear is expressed, says study coauthor Daniel Blumstein of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Potentially, there are universal rules of arousal and ways to communicate fear,” says Blumstein, who typically studies screams in marmots, not starlets.

Blumstein and his coauthors acoustically analyzed 30-second cuts from more than 100 movies representing a broad array of genres. The movies included titles such as Aliens, Goldfinger, Annie Hall, The Green Mile, Slumdog Millionaire, Titanic, Carrie, The Shining and Black Hawk Down.

Not unexpectedly, the horror films had a lot of harsh and atonal screams. Dramatic films had sound tracks with fewer screams but a lot of abrupt changes in frequency. And adventure films, it turns out, had a surprising number of harsh male screams.

“Screams are basically chaos,” Fitch says…

A true, harsh scream “is not a trivial thing to do,” Fitch says. In fact, capturing a realistic, blood-curdling cry is so difficult that filmmakers have used the very same one, now found on many websites, in more than 200 movies. Known as the Wilhelm scream, it is named for the character who unleashed it in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River.

By way of illustration, this YouTube video:  three minutes of the Wilhelm scream through the years…

As we put our hands over our ears, we might recall that there was lots of screaming on this date in 455, as the Vandals entered Rome, which they plundered for the next two weeks.

The Sack of Rome


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