Boom and Bust in the Art World
Just when you thought the contemporary art world couldn’t get any more contrarian, it has begun disrespecting the economic facts of our time. Amidst the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the arts are posting bigger numbers than ever before and, as usual, they are being quite showy about it. But in America, where celebrity is synonymous with success, everyone's favorite photographer, Annie Leibovitz, is being sued over a $24 million loan—her two homes and the rights to her photographs are at stake.
One week ahead of the New York International Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe kicks off today in Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-borough), Scotland. Hosting over 18,000 performers from 60 different countries, it is the world’s largest arts festival celebrating all mediums from comedy to opera. Despite, or perhaps because of, economic woes worldwide, tickets for the festival have dramatically outsold years past.
But not everyone in the art world is laughing. Surprisingly, one of the contemporary masters, photographer Annie Leibovitz, finds herself in debt to the tune of $24 million. The Art Capital Group, a New York company that lends money to artists, extended a $24 million loan to Leibovitz, taking as collateral her two New York homes and the rights to her work.
While Leibovitz has not made a public statement, some are speculating that declaring bankruptcy would at least delay the lawsuit filed by the Art Capital Group. The firm alleges Leibovitz has reneged on the loan, which claims to hold the rights to work as collateral. Here is one blog following the story.
The Edinburgh Festival was established in response to such unpleasant financial realities. Begun in 1947, the festival sought to bring a little good cheer to mid-war England where rationing made every day life a struggle.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to get a laugh, you might be on your way to Scotland to record an Edinburgh Festival podcast. You can enter the standup comedy competition here.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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