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-- July 11, 2017 --

The World's Most Dangerous Book

In 1874, S. George & Company released a book by a doctor from Michigan, Robert Clark Kedzie, titled Shadows from the Walls of Death.

Upon returning to Michigan from his service in the Civil War in 1863, he was offered a chair in the Michigan Agricultural College's chemistry department. There he he experimented with beet sugars, and is now remembered as the "Father of the Michigan Beet Sugar Industry". During his tenure, he found high arsenic levels to be a major issue in the local soil, and was later (1873) asked to head a Board of Health committee on "Poisons, Special Sources of Danger to Life and Health". The following year he released a paper titled, "Poisonous Papers", and got the idea to release a book on the wallpaper industry's use of arsenic.
His book, Shadows from the Walls of Death, contained 86 pages, but only six of those - a preface - contained words. What followed Dr. Kedzie's introduction were 22 x 30" (56 x 76 cm) wallpaper samples. The reason for the book, which was released in a very limited quantity, was to showcase the ever-growing use of wallpaper dyed using arsenic pigments, and it contained actual pieces of the poisonous wallpapers.
Currently, there are only two known copies, both of which are housed at Michigan State University's Special Collections Library. Strangely enough, contemporary interest in the book spawned a 178-page reprint (minus the arsenic, of course), in 2014.

 

 

-- July 07, 2017 --

Huge Apologies

I have returned to the world of long-haul trucking. While I couldn't be happier, I was struggling for a bit to find the time to update this blog, and that kind of depressed me.
Well, I've settled in, and feel I can now devote some energy back here. You'll start seeing new posts before next month.
On a side note, I am no longer writing for No Echo, but you can still find an archive of over 30 of my articles on the site (click here).
Check back soon for new posts!

 

 

-- February 25, 2017 --

Gone Again!?

Yep. I'm hitting the road again for a bit: traveling up to Green Bay, WI, and Atlanta, GA, for about a month. Though I plan to keep up this blog when I return, I'll have no new projects out for some time (except the upcoming 156 Good-Bye, Bed-Stuy, Ten Times cassette / booklet, due out this summer). I'll also be working on, and wrapping up, my newest issue of Exscind, but that won't be out until almost next winter. Still, I wrote some great music pieces for No Echo, which they will post throughout the next two-three months, so check them out until I return to regular posting here. Cheers!

 

 

-- February 17, 2017 --

Well Heil Be Damned

Christian socialist and novelist Francis Julius Bellamy (1855 - 1931) is best known for penning the most recent version of the U.S. "Pledge of Allegiance" in 1892. Immediately after writing the Pledge, he recalled a salute created by James B. Upham, which Bellamy found in the children's magazine The Youth's Companion, and thought it would fit perfectly. He called it the "flag salute", and it was demonstrated for the first time on October 12, 1892 for the National School Celebration of Columbus Day. It originally had an open palm facing up, but many found it uncomfortable, and it was soon switched to holding the palm down.

The salute was picked up by Italian Fascists in the 1920s (calling it the Roman salute), and it was later adopted by the Germans (known as the Sieg Heil). Once the Unites States got involved in World War II, Congress amended the Flag Code in 1942, replacing what became known as the "Bellamy salute" with the simple gesture of holding one's hand over their heart for civilians performing the "Pledge of Allegiance".

 

 

-- February 06, 2017 --

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

In 1874, author Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens, 1835 - 1910) got to watch a typewriter demonstration in Boston, and immediately bought a Remington Typewriter. Even though the entire globe was suffering from an economic depression, Twain spent $125 on his newfound contraption - what would be about three grand today. A few days later, he typed his first letter to his brother on December 9th, complaining that his daughter was using it more than he was. By 1875, he had given it away twice, and it was returned to him both times. The following year, after publishing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he claimed it was the first novel to be written using a typewriter, but this was not true, and Twain probably made the statement only to be first at something.
The company who made his typewriter, Remington Typewriter Company, got wind of this, and asked him to help promote the machine, to which he replied:

Gentlemen:
Please do not use my name in any way. Please do not even divulge the fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the Type-Writer, for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to anybody without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only describe the machine but state what progress I had made in the use of it, etc., etc. I don't like to write letters, and so I don't want people to know that I own this curiosity-breeding little joker.
Yours truly,
Saml. L. Clemens

By the turn of the century, Mark changed his tune, and wrote in his 1904 autobiography, the "early machine was full of caprices, full of defects - devilish ones. It had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues."
The Remington company got wind of those lines from then-unpublished autobiography (from an article in The North American Review), and used the previous letter, and a section of the book, in a full-page advertisement in Harper's Magazine in 1905.


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All press is good press, I guess.

 

 

-- February 01, 2017 --

A Bone Shaking Good Time

Wednesday, February 8th, 156 will play a rare show at the 13th annual International Noise Conference in Miami, FL, @ Churchill's Pub (5501 NE 2nd Ave). The doors open at 9pm, but there are dozens of bands that night, so please turn up early to support all the artists. Others playing include Drowning the Virgin Silence, Erratix, Pain Appendix, Sloth, City Medicine, and Destructive Bodies.


click on image for larger view

It's been three years since the last 156 show, and - yes - this set will be based off the Memento Mori sessions. I will be using only human bones, hooked up to electronics manipulated by Brett Slutski of Destructive Bodies / Acid Casualty.

 

 

-- January 23, 2017 --

Put On Your Aluminium Foil Hats

Did you know there was a time when aluminium was more expensive than gold?
In fact, Napoleon III let most of his banquet guests use gold tableware, but he saved the aluminium cutlery for his most cherished visitors. Pure aluminium was so rare - even though it makes up 8% of Earth's crust - that whole bars were on heavily guarded display in most houses of European royalty. It even crowned the top of the Washington Monument in 1884 (a 6 lbs / 2.7 kg pyramid), because it was then the most expensive metal around.

Aluminium, element 13 on the Periodic Table, is never found in its pure metallic form, and is normally mixed with oxygen in rocks or clay. In the 1780s, many scientists thought alum salts contained an unknown metal, but it wasn't extracted until 1825, when Danish chemist Hans Christian Oersted developed a procedure to extract extremely small amounts of it. By 1845, German Friedrich Wöhler (using his own method) was able to produce larger samples. This still kept aluminium at around $1200 a kilo (current value would be at over $26,000). Wöhler's method was then improved in 1854 by Frenchman Henri Sainte-Claire Deville, which made its value drop to about $40 per kg ($900 today).
In 1886, American chemist Charles Martin Hall, and yet another French chemist, Paul Héroult, independently invented new processes (using electric batteries) to cheaply obtain aluminium oxide from bauxite ore. Karl Joseph Bayer, an Austrian chemist, further developed the practice in 1888, which is still the method we use today. Charles Hall established the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, producing 25 kilograms per day, but by 1909 the amount reached 41,000 per day, and this caused the price to fall to 60 cents per kilogram (just $10 in our modern economy).
On an interesting side note: the reason we Americans say, and write, "aluminum" is in part thanks to a small mistake. When Hall advertised his product, the "i" was erroneously dropped, and he thought that made it sound very similar to valuable platinum. While all his patents show the element as "aluminium", his company was soon named Aluminum Company of America, and it stuck in the States.

 

 

-- January 11, 2017 --

Active Again... Almost Radioactive

I'm back from my vacation, and although I have yet to find a place to settle down, I do have a story for you.
Remember a little over a year ago, a 14-year-old boy named Ahmed Mohamed was charged with a hoax bomb when bringing a homemade clock project to school? That scene has nothing on the case known as The Radioactive Boy Scout.

In 1994, 17-year-old David Hahn was in love with chemistry so much, that he decided to build a breeder reactor in his mom's backyard shed in Commerce Township, Michigan. Inspired by 1960 book The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments (by Kurt Saxon and Robert Brent), David had soon outgrown simple exercises, and began attempting dangerous procedures. For most chemists, these ventures were treacherous enough, but Hahn - being a poor student in school - was rather inept in this field. He once showed up to a Boy Scout meeting glowing orange, after creating a fake tanner that exploded in his face. Another time, he almost blew off his hand when he stupidly tried to stir a vat of pure potassium with a metal screwdriver.
One thing he was good at was subterfuge. In 1993, after receiving a merit badge in Atomic Energy (yep, it's real), he began to write to government officials as "Professor Hahn", saying he wanted to know of some atomic exercises his students could perform in class. Even though the letters contained several misspellings, and mistakes, many offered information that helped David begin to building a nuclear reactor. Hahn collected radioactive material from household products (radium from clocks, tritium from gunsights, and thorium from camping lanterns), as well as purchasing $1000 worth of batteries, to extract the lithium in helping to purify thorium ash using a Bunsen burner. If you're wondering where a minor could get that type of cash, I guess the children of divorced parents tend to get special treatment. So much in fact, that his mom and stepdad were hardly suspicious of why, every time David exited the shed, he would throw out his clothes and shoes.
It seems that Hahn was - even though wearing a dentist's lead apron - getting a bit nauseous, and decided to scrap his atomic trials a little before his home reactor reached critical mass. As he was dumping the goods, a passing officer thought the trash was a possible discarded drug lab, and called for backup. Once realizing they were out of their element, the fuzz called the FBI, who in turn turned to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which found over 1000x the normal level of background radiation. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the Hahn home a hazardous materials cleanup site, and later buried the shed in a Utah radioactive dump.
As you'd expect, things didn't go well for David after all this. Possibly due to the stress of the scandal, his mother committed suicide the following year. Hahn enrolled in community college, but soon dropped out. He followed it up with a stint in the Navy, and later the Marines, but was then diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar disorder. In 2007, DH was arrested for larceny, after being found with a large amount of smoke detectors from the apartment building were he lived. Due to his face being covered in sores, it was believed he was again exposed to a large dose of radiation from collecting the detector's americium.

Hahn died one year and 13 days after the Ahmed Mohamed clock incident, at only 39 years of age. It is believed his life was shortened due to his wild experiments with radioactive materials.

 

 

-- December 05, 2016 --

On Vacation, Sorta

I've decided to hit the road for a bit.
Packed up what little belongings I haven't got rid of yet, and am looking for a new home base. Brooklyn has been kind to me, and my seven years here have been filled with amazing days, and fun-filled nights, as well as nurturing one of the most creative times in my music and art career. I may return to the area, but may settle somewhere completely different, so I'm going to use this time to figure that out.
Orders are being filled by a few friends; if there is anything of mine you'd like to order, please feel free, and don't hesitate.

I hope to be back online a little after the New Year, so here's to posting again in 2017!
Until then, Razorcake's website should post the last collection of my "backpatch pics" pretty soon, plus music website No Echo has a few music articles of mine that should hold you over.
Otherwise, from here on down: read slowly.

 

 

-- November 23, 2016 --

Hijacked High Jinks

Allen Funt was once the host and producer of a tv prank show called Candid Camera. Predating Punk'd by half a century, the show actually began on the radio as The Candid Microphone in 1947 on ABC Radio. The show ran for three months, until Funt decided to film segments for theaters to screen before a movie, and their popularity led to a tv series on ABC Television. Still called The Candid Microphone, the prank show changed its name to Candid Camera when it was bought by NBC Studios in '49. After a three-year run, the show was canceled, but later became a segment on Jack Paar's The Tonight Show (NBC, 1958), and later on The Garry Moore Show (CBS, 1959). The idea for a tv show resurfaced, and new episodes began airing in 1960, and ran until 1967 on CBS. Even though off the air, the show's popularity supported Funt to produce a movie, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?, in 1969.

During production of the film (February 1969), Allen and his family scheduled a trip on Eastern Airlines from Newark, NJ, to Miami, FL. In the middle of the flight, the captain announced the plane would land in Havana, Cuba instead. It turned out they were being hijacked by terrorists, but many on the plane didn't believe it, thinking it was all part of some tv stunt. Four different passengers approached him throughout the flight to commend him on this new work.
Writing of his experience the next day for an Associated Press article, Funt said, "Looking back at the experience, the unbelievable thing is the way everybody took it as one big joke. We saw the knife, but everybody was cool and calm, just a little annoyed at the delay.
It is strange how you can be so close to danger, and not feel it. The biggest joke for me was how much the whole thing looked like a bad movie. Nobody looked the part. The hijackers were ridiculous in their business suits. The captain with super calm announced that we were going to Havana because two gentlemen seemed to want to go there."
In the end, no one was hurt, and all those aboard the plane were treated as guests upon arrival. For their eleven-hour stay, everyone was fed, and even given a guided bus tour of Havana. After racking up $5000 worth of expenses, the passengers were returned to the plane, and the flight continued back to Florida with no one laughing.

 

 

-- November 13, 2016 --

Ghost Island

There's an island out there, that exists in time, but not space, yet it's nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle. On maps, Null Island is located where the equator crosses the prime meridian, at coordinates 0°N, 0°E, in Africa's Gulf of Guinea. While described as a one square-meter island, on the physical plane, nothing is there, but a floating weather buoy (named Station 13010, also known as "Soul", an observatory for the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic data system).

Null Island has been used on maps for only the last half of the 20th Century, but didn't gain wide acceptance until 2011, when it was entered into the Natural Earth public domain map dataset (with support from the North American Cartographic Information Society). The plot of "land" at those coordinates in the digital dataset was intended to assist analysts in finding errors in geo-coding. If using a coordinate / map projection besides the Global Positioning System (GPS) - being different frameworks to convert spheres, ellipsoids, and planes for mapping - the position of "0,0" could land you in one of thousands of places around the world, so it's a necessary nonexistent land.
Sorry if I spooked you.

 

 

-- November 04, 2016 --

156 Record Release Party

On Saturday, November 12th in Manhattan's West Village, my experimental industrial outfit 156 will celebrate the release of our new 10" vinyl EP with a party at SoHo Psychoanalytic (30 Charlton Street, Suite #1), hosted by psychiatrist Vanessa Sinclair, PsyD. As well as a listening party, I will hold a talk on the recording of the EP, with special guest poet and publisher Katy Bohinc presenting a brief lecture on the anatomy of the universe in comparison to the human skeletal system.

Copies will be available for purchase. Otherwise, feel free to drop by the 156 Bandcamp page for mailorder or digital.
A track off Memento Mori premiered on episode #225 ("Take the Information" - October 29th) of the :zoviet*france: radio show, A Duck In A Tree. Click here to listen.
Lastly, a new music video was made for the first track off Memento Mori's side two, "Me-Olam, Ad-Olam".

Hope to see you Saturday!

 

 

-- October 26, 2016 --

The Kooky World of Cult Music

I wrote a two-part piece for No Echo on music made, and released, by cult organizations such as the Nation of Yahweh, Church of Satan, Branch Davidians, Werewolf Order, and more.

Check out my earlier part one here, and part two was just posted here. Enjoy!

 

 

-- October 17, 2016 --

The Man, the Myth, the Monster

So you think the Dylan nomination for a Nobel Prize is an odd one? Then let me tell you a story.
Ever since reading a stack of Robert Anton Wilson books back in the early 90s, I have been obsessed with the criminal mastermind Licio Gelli.

Gelli was born in 1919, though little is known about his early personal or family life. A Fascist through and through, and as a member of Mussolini's Blackshirts, he went to Spain in support of the Falangists in the Spanish Civil War. It is believed Licio became a spy for both Nazi Germany and the US's CIA, playing each off the other. After WWII, he helped establish the Italian Social Republic with Giorgio Almirante, and then became involved in business as a textile manufacturer. Gelli was also a member of a secret Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due (aka Propaganda Two), which, under his Mastership, morphed into an ultraright think tank. In 1970, he was a key figure in the Golpe Borghese coup d'état, where he was to arrest Italian President Giuseppe Saragat. After the failed coup, he was exiled to Argentina for several years, even initiating dictator Juan Perón into Freemasonry there. During this time, the Masonic Master set up oil and arms deals between Libya, Italy and Argentina through the Agency for Economic Development.
In 1981, banker Roberto Calvi was discovered hanged under a bridge, and was found to have been laundering money for the Italian mob, and Propaganda Due, through Banco Ambrosiano, then known as "the Vatican bank". Further investigation led the Italian government to almost 1000 names of military and civil servants on the P2 membership list, which was illegal under Article 18 of the Italian Constitution (future Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was on that list), as well as many of the Catholic Church's Italian hierarchy. Arrested, Licio escaped, and fled to Switzerland. Gelli surrendered in 1987, and was charged with the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, and in connection with the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing, that killed 85 people. He was sentenced to 12 years in '88, but again fled. Captured in Cannes, France, he sat under house arrest until an indictment was handed down, along with former Mafia boss Giuseppe Calò, for the murder of Roberto Calvi, and politician Aldo Moro. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.
I've only recently learned that, in 1996, in a move that defied any logic, the Swedish Academy nominated Licio Gelli for a Nobel Prize in Literature, a choice supported by both Mother Teresa and Naguib Mahfouz. In 2003, he claimed a "democratic rebirth plan" was being implemented by Silvio Berlusconi, and that "...all is becoming a reality little by little, piece by piece. To be truthful, I should have had the copyright to it. Justice, TV, public order."
On December 15th of 2015, Licio died in Tuscany, at the age of 96, a calm and happy man, caring little for the lives he played like pawns, while the shadows of those he helped put in power cast darkness throughout the world.

 

 

-- October 09, 2016 --

Classic Cuts From Cults

I wrote a two-part piece for No Echo on music made, and released, by cult organizations such as Scientology, The Process Church, Nation of Islam, Jews for Jesus, and more.

Check out part one here. Part two will be posted soon, so check back often.

 

 

-- October 01, 2016 --

Rattle My Bones

The Memento Mori EP is finally out! These sessions have been sporadically recording since 2012, due to the scarcity of the instruments, which include skulls, femurs, vertebrae, bone whistles, and Tibetan thighbone trumpets (kangling). While still in the spirit of the early industrial of Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Dept, and Z'EV, this release is 156's most primitive in sound. Nine tracks, playable at two speeds, with all the music being made using only human bones, or breath passing through human bones.
The new EP by 156 was mastered by James Plotkin for, both, the vinyl and digital release. The digital version is available for download on 156's Bandcamp page (for $8), otherwise contact me to purchase the bone-colored 10" vinyl version, which is limited to 489 copies ($20 postage paid in North America, $30 for the rest of the world). Physical copies come with a liner note placard, along with a postcard, and a free link to the digital download.

A music video has been uploaded for the first track, "Kokoro", off the Memento Mori EP.

The record was released to serve as - for those who cannot obtain one - the skull's replacement in the ritual room where a scholar contemplates death in the rite of ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying").
I have also made four artist editions, which include: one standard copy of the 10" EP, along with one test pressing (with hand-painted labels), and a human rib bone, with hand-painted lettering of the EP title. There is only one left (priced at $50), and is available by contacting me.


click on image for larger view

 

 

-- September 27, 2016 --

Not Lacking In Immortality

Henrietta Lacks died in 1951, but she's still growing. Huge, actually!
Lacks was an African-American woman from Roanoke, VA. She lived most of her life with her grandparents, as her father could not care for all the kids after her mom died during their 10th child birthing. Henrietta worked in the area's tobacco industry, until moving to Maryland. Not long after, she was diagnosed with cancer (adenocarcinoma of the cervix), and quickly died.

Doctor George Otto Gey noticed her cells reproduced at a uniquely high rate, and collected them, which helped scientists preserve, and work with, them for longer periods. Rather than the cells normally dying after a few days, they could be divided, and new cell groups formed almost infinitely, making Lacks the donor of the first Human Immortal Cell Line, now known as the HeLa cell line.
In the 1970s, a large sample had been contaminated, and to help further study it, researchers began to contact her family. Nervous of the many phone calls asking for blood samples, the woman's family looked into the matter, and discovered Henrietta's cells had been harvested without anyone's consent, though a court later ruled a person's discarded tissue is no longer their property.
The HeLa cell line is still alive today, and has since grown over twenty tons of cell life, along with collecting 11,000 medical patents.

 

 

-- September 16, 2016 --

Don't Get Tanked Around Trees

Readers of my New York blog, This Hidden City, know I'm a bit of a tree hugger - especially after my piece on visiting NYC's oldest living thing, the Alley Pond Giant (read it here).

I enjoy stories of old trees (like California's 4800-year-old Methuselah), weird trees (such as Somalian Dragon Blood, or Monkey Breads from Australia), flowering or poisonous trees (Wisteria and Manchineel), but here I'll share two quick tales where alcohol played a role in a tree's life.
First up is the Tree of Ténéré, thought to be an Acacia raddiana. It was the only tree for 250 miles (400 Km) in Niger's northeastern section of the Sahara Desert. For years it was the only tree located on maps, simply due to help in positioning oneself in the far expanse of the area. On November 8th of 1973, a Libyan trucker was driving drunk off his ass, when he hit the only thing for miles around. The dead tree is now on display in the capital city's Niger National Museum, and the spot is now marked by a metallic structure which represents the tree.

From sad to silly, we'll now learn that, in 1898, a drunk British officer (James Squid) was walking about a tribal area in Pakistan known as the Khyber Agency, when a he felt as if a certain banyan tree was about to attack him. Perceiving himself to be under threat, Squid ordered the arrest of the tree. A sergeant obeyed the officer's orders, and chained up the offender. Though many then said it was a joke to teach the locals about not obeying the British, today it's seen as a hundred-year-old testament to drunken stupidity, as well as nifty tourist spot.

All that's left to say is that if you are headed out to the woods any time soon, try to keep your spirits locked in the bottle, or you might find yourself on the wrong side of a plant's history.

 

 

-- September 05, 2016 --

Words To Battle Dreamless Sleep

I'm joining a handful of poets on Monday, Sept 19th, for Rendering Unconscious, a reading featuring automatic poetry inspired by chance, dreams, fantasies and other workings of the unconscious.
I've been asked to read some of my throwaways, as the project appropriately fits the evening's theme. I will be reading ten, with half the batch written before a life-changing event, and the other half after.

It starts at 8pm, and will be held at the Delancey's rooftop (168 Delancey St, Manhattan). Fellow speakers include Katy Bohinc, Katie Abbitt, Jason Haaf, Peter Milne Greiner, Vanessa Sinclair, and Jennifer Smith.

 

 

-- August 29, 2016 --

Reaching For the Sky

Mankind has always been fascinated with the stars, and we've been constructing observatories to watch them, track them, and worship them, since time immemorial.
The oldest known ground observatories are Goseck Circle in Germany (~5000 BCE), and Stonehenge in UK (~3300 BCE), which were built along to astronomic alignments, possibly for keeping track of dates to help with farming. Within a thousand years, monolithic calendars were to be found throughout Europe (such as Kokino in Macedonia), and Russia (Arkaim in the Urals steppe). By the general period of classical antiquity, they had changed from simple almanacs to laboratories, with record keeping, star catalogs, and instruments of astrometry, which soon helped humans develop geography, meteorology, astronomy, and furthering mathematics. Two notables worth mentioning are Hipparchus' observatory at Rhodes (Greece), and Chankillo in the coastal desert of Peru.
Throughout the Dark Ages, Islam and the East took a bigger interest in our place among those celestial bodies, and constructed some of the most beautiful observatories before the invention of the mega-telescope (Maragheh, Iran; Mahodayapuram in India; and Gaocheng, China). By 1600, Europe caught up, as they first appeared in Denmark, then outward from there.
Of course, holding a strange technological and metallic majesty, we have some beautiful ones today, too, such as ALMA in Chile, Arecibo in Puerto Rico, and Roque de los Muchachos in the Canary Islands.
Still, none compare to India's Jantar Mantar - in size, grand style, and proportion. This little-known location looks like a playground, yet everything looks like art.

Located in the city of Jaipur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the observatory was finished in 1734, and commissioned by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh. The grounds hold nineteen huge instruments, which operate in the three main classical celestial coordinate systems: horizon-zenith local, equatorial, and ecliptic.

Sadly, while the instruments are all made of brick, marble, stone, and brass, they are set with Ptolemaic positions (which are not heliocentric), so some of the sights will forever go slightly askew as time goes on.
Still, one of the most amazing tools there is the Vrihat Samrat Yantra (pictured tallest below). It is the world's largest sundial, and is accurate within 5 seconds or less.

Another real beauty here is the Jai Prakash Yantra (seen near bottom center below), which contains two half-bowl sundials, holding marked marble slabs with inverted images of the sky, allowing observers to move within the instrument; measuring altitude, azimuth, hour angle, and declination.

The name stems from the colloquial pronunciation of yantra (instrument) and mantar (calculate), and theories behind the instruments are found in ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts by Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Varahamihira, Lalla, Sripati, and Bhaskara (400 - 1000 CE, listed chronologically).
Though rarely known outside of India (it last served as the maze in Tarsem Singh's 2006 fantasy film The Fall), besides being an image chosen for the cover of electro-psych outfit Shpongle's 2008 DVD, Live at the Roundhouse, the west is far from recognizing this wonder of a king wise enough to stare at the stars, and dream big.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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