The Fallen of World War II

A really interesting video giving visual representations of the deaths during World War II. Watching this raises many interesting questions.

How do these visual representations give us a different sense of the war than history books would or simply looking at numbers on a page?

How can we accurately communicate truth?

What does it mean that after a certain point, numbers get so large that that we lose any sense of reality with them?

What is also interesting is that our sense of World War II is painted by our involvement in the war but when you look at the number of people killed, the United States was far from the worst off nation. Because the Soviet Union became our enemy after the war was over, we never really learn about (or care about) how disastrous the war was for them or how much they lost during the war.

How does our historical perspective distort our sense of accuracy and historical truth? What role do our emotions play when it comes to topics like this?

Before Pantone Color Chips, There Was This 300-Year-Old Book


Not quite how I would use this for TOK but it’s really really cool.

“This one-of-a-kind book was created to demonstrate how watercolors could be manipulated to change shade when different measurements of water were added to the mixture. The concept of mixing one’s own colors as a primer on color theory will surely be familiar to any first-semester art student, but Boogert’s example is notable for its thoroughness — he filled approximately 800 pages with every example imaginable.”

Even Taylor Swift’s Mom Got That ‘Blank Space’ Lyric Wrong — Here’s Why

“There’s actually a science behind all your mis-perceived song lyrics — it’s a phenomenon called mondegreens and it happens all the time.

“Some Swift fans think the song’s line ‘got a long list of ex-lovers’ is actually ‘all the lonely Starbucks lovers’ including, apparently, her mom.”

Learning to See Data

“Scientists working in a little-known branch of psychology called perceptual learning have shown that it is possible to fast-forward a person’s gut instincts both in physical fields, like flying an airplane, and more academic ones, like deciphering advanced chemical notation. The idea is to train specific visual skills, usually with computer-game-like modules that require split-second decisions. Over time, a person develops a ‘good eye’ for the material, and with it an ability to extract meaningful patterns instantaneously.”

Mood And The Visual System – Optimists Literally See Better

“Seeing the world through ‘rose-colored glasses’  may be more biological reality than metaphor, according to a University of Toronto study that provides the first direct evidence that our mood literally changes the way our visual system filters our perceptual experience.”

How we feel affects what we see

“Thus, positive moods enhanced peripheral vision and increased the extent to which the brain encoded information in those parts of the visual field, to which the participants did not pay attention. Conversely, negative moods decreased the encoding of peripheral information. But does the enhanced peripheral vision that occurs because of positive mood induction come at the expense of central (or “foveal”) vision? Schmitz and his colleagues compared FFA activity in the positive and negative mood induction trials, but found no difference. The enhanced peripheral vision following positive mood induction does not, therefore, occur as a result of a trade-off with central vision.”

Does a Price Tag Have a Taste? Why $90 tastes different from $15.

“Since reported tastiness is a poor measure of true taste experience in the era of fMRI scanning machines, the researchers were careful enough to take a peek into their participant’s brains as these tasted the wines, and found something fairly surprising: When tasting the wine out of the $10 bottle, the medial orbitofrontal cortex – an area of the brain that is strongly related to experiences of pleasure – showed only very little activity. When the exact same wine was poured out of a $90 bottle however, this brain area showed levels of activation which indicate that the participants were indeed drawing much more enjoyment from the same wine this time around. In other words, the price tag seemed to have a real physiological influence on the taster’s taste experience.”

12 fascinating optical illusions show how color can trick the eye


“Changing a color’s appearance by changing the background or lighting is one of the most common techniques in optical illusions. As the examples below show, colors can change dramatically against different backgrounds. (If you’ve ever held a sock up to something black to see whether it was black or navy, you understand the concept.)”