Previously on the Internet … with Thu-Huong Ha

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Every week at TED’s New York office, one media team staffer shares a handful of things on the web that intrigued, shocked or amused them. We call this session: Previously on the Internet. Here are this week’s finds, from me, Thu-Huong Ha, TED’s editorial projects specialist.

A tale of two very different empires
The Ottoman Empire was known for its ceramics and textiles, but even moreso for its geometric ornamentation. Illustrator Murat Palta has created an amazing series which blends Ottoman motifs with classic scenes from Western cinema. Crafted for his graduation thesis, the piece above is titled, “Ottoman Star Wars.”

The origin of O!M!G!
Admiral John “Jacky” Fisher served in the British Royal Navy for over 50 years, seeing the U.K. through several wars. From 1905 to 1907 he served as Admiral of the Fleet, the highest ranking officer in the Royal Navy. Incidentally, he also may have been the first person to ever use “O.M.G.” in print.  He first wrote the term to Winston Churchill in a letter in 1917.

Lines and logs
According to Alex Bellos, author of Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion through the Astonishing World of Math, the Munduruku Indians of the Amazon River Bason think of numbers differently than American adults do. Linguist Pierre Pica performed an experiment in which Munduruku and American adults were given a line on a screen and 10 dots. They were instructed to place the dots where they ought to go. The American subjects placed the dots evenly across the line — linearly, like a ruler — while the Munduruku placed the dots such that the distance decreased as the numbers got larger — logarithmically. But this logarithmic conception of numbers is not exclusive to the Munduruku. It seems to be instinctual. A similar experiment conducted in 2004 by Robert Siegler and Julie Booth of Carnegie Mellon with American children showed similar results. Read more about how we think about numbers, and subscribe to delancyplace’s daily email for more excerpts and weird facts from history books.


The perfect birthday present
The illustrious OED, aka the Oxford English Dictionary, aka the impeccable keeper of knowledge and all things good and true in the English language, contains 600,000 words from over 1,000 years of English history. Such a beloved institution cannot be without a sense of humor. If you tweet @OEDonline with your birth year using the hashtag #OEDBirthdayWords, the OED will tweet back with an English word that first came into existence that year. Above, “fnarr fnarr” represents lecherous or half-suppressed laughter, frequently indicating sexual innuendo.

A photographic mazel tov
Jim Webber is the father of our very own TEDxTalks manager, David Webber, and a highly sought-after wedding and bar/bat mitzvah photographer in the Boston area. His photos will make you feel young and alive again.