The Matryomin

The Matryomin is a theremin-like electronic instrument encased (for reasons unknown) in a wooden Russian doll. From the description of the Matryomin on inventor and theremin player Masami Takeuchi‘s website:

Matryomin is the unique, original erectronic musical instrument invented by Masami Takeuchi in 1999. It is a type of theremin – oldest electro-musical instrument invented in Russia – shaped Russian traditional wooden doll, Matrioshka. It hold form of Matrioshka perfectly, moreover, performing five octaves range. The distance of 1 octave at Low-Middle range is equal to Etherwavetheremin of Moog Music Inc. If you have acquired the basic technique to play theremin by Etherwavetheremin, you can enjoy playing Matryomin by same way. Matryomin is only pitch controlled theremin. Mandarin Electron, a company directed by Masami Takeuchi, started manufacturing Matryomin on a commercial basis in 2003. Now, Matryomin is going on 2nd generation model. Selled over 1,600 till now in Japan. (

via Infocult

Spooky Action Heroes

Physicists at the University of Geneva achieved the weird result by creating a pair of ‘entangled’ photons, separating them, then sending them down a fibre optic cable to the Swiss villages of Satigny and Jussy, some 18 kilometres apart.

The researchers found that when each photon reached its destination, it could instantly sense its twin’s behaviour without any direct communication. The finding does not violate the laws of quantum mechanics, the theory that physicists use to describe the behaviour of very small systems. Rather, it shows just how quantum mechanics can defy everyday expectation, says Nicolas Gisin, the researcher who led the study. “Our experiment just puts the finger where it hurts,” he says. (

The Antikythera Mechanism and the Olympics


Researchers have finally figured out (some of) what the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism does. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in The Lost Ring

The world’s first known scientific instrument plotted the positions of celestial bodies nineteen years into the future — and as an added bonus, it kept track of upcoming Olympics.

"The maker took information about astronomical theories, and made a machine that could predict the future," said Tony Freeth, co-author of a study to be published in Nature this week. "And it would tell you, as a bit of an add-on, what Olympic games would be in progress at the time."

A dictionary-size assemblage of 37 interlocking dials crafted with the precision and complexity of a 19th century Swiss clock, the machine was recovered in 1900 from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. Scientists dated it to 150 BC. (wired)

Ultimate Optimal Villager Strategy

Jane McGonigal is giving away Werewolf tricks on her blog:

Avi Bryant and I worked out on paper an Ultimate Optimal Villager Strategy for a Small Village playing “no reveal” (12 or fewer players, with both a seer and a healer). This is basically a PERFECT strategy that would work ruthlessly well to detect and lynch all of the Werewolves every single game, in almost any circumstance. We did all the math, we ran all the scenarios, and then we tested it in a bunch of games with lots of different players. And in ~20 games, the villagers won every time… (


In June 2005 the prestigious international monthly architecture magazine Domus launched the Call for Ideas on architecture and geopolitics for the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang (Boeri et al. 2005). This was the aftermath of Stefano Boeri, Armin Linke and Andrea Petrecca’s local investigation in North Korea’s capital – photographs of "emphatic sequences, portions of a standard city enriched with designed exceptions, subtitled with propaganda" (Petrecca 2005, p. 19) underlining several articles, one of which is significantly called "The Phantom Pyramid". At the end of this essay the invited delegation put it like that: "In requesting ideas conjuring up the future of this ‘ruin of the future’, we wanted to raise the game of replicas, analogies and visions of architecture […]" (Boeri 2005a). (

Related: Wikipedia: Ryugyong Hotel

EBR: Puppet-masters, Designers and Academics

Two recent EBR posts worth looking at when thinking about pervasive gaming: Jane McGonigal’s The Puppet Master Problem: Design for Real-World, Mission-Based Gaming

The gamer’s exercise of free will has long been assumed to be a core and constant experiential aspect of gaming. But the rise of the puppet master in pervasive gaming suggests that in the new ubiquitous computing landscape, many gamers want to experience precisely the opposite phenomenon. They are learning the immersive pleasures of becoming actors in a gaming environment, of transforming themselves into physical vehicles for someone else’s digital vision. As game-actors, they become masters of interpretative embodiment; they accept as their mission the real-world incarnation of a digital design, much as stage actors in traditional theater have long served as the actual embodiment of virtual texts. For players, the pleasures and challenges of real-world gaming missions are the pleasures and challenges of dramatic performance. And for puppet masters, writing real-world mission scripts is very much the same process as writing dramatic texts; redesigning them in real time is very much the process of directing live actors on stage. (EBR)

…and Christy Dena’s “riposte,” The Designer-Academic Problem:

The term ‘puppet master,’ it should be noted, is not necessarily regarded anymore as a power dynamic. ARG player ‘Konamouse’ recently explained the history and current perception of the term: “The term Puppet Master harkens back to the start of ARGs when it was felt the game authors were “pulling the strings of the players” (so to speak). Over the years, we have just habitually used PMs as an all encompassing term referring to the folks behind the curtain. Of course they are interacting with the players – through their characters (or making themselves a character in telling the story). It’s a well established nomenclature and has nothing to do with elitism or otherwise” (Konamouse 2008). . . . then why does McGonigal – a designer on many of the games she cites – also describe the genre of game as a ‘power play’? Is McGonigal describing the characteristics of the genre through the eyes of the players? Through the eyes of her own game design philosophy? Or through the eyes of an academic who believes the relationship between designers and players is such a power dynamic? The next question of course is: can a researcher, and a reader, distinguish these possible approaches? (EBR)

Kilometer-High Solar Tower


A new energy concept called a solar tower could generate enough electricity for 200,000 homes. Looking like a giant smokestack, it would release no noxious fumes — just sun-heated air. Demonstrated more than 20 years ago, the basic design calls for solar collectors to warm the air near Earth’s surface and then channel it up the tall central tower. Turbines placed at the bottom make electricity from the updraft.

"It’s a combination chimney, windmill, greenhouse," said Kim Forté of EnviroMission Limited in South Melbourne, Australia. EnviroMission has designed a kilometer-high solar tower (0.62 miles) and is now looking at possible sites in the southwestern United States. (