The must-have-played games Ep1 : Arcade games

All of you have already seen or played video-games but a long time ago, it did not exist !

Before computers got strong enough to allow heavy games to run, games were running on dedicated hardware called “arcade machines”. They still exist today, but the context isn’t really the same. In fact, back in the days, having a personal computer was a luxury not that many people could afford, and even with that there weren’t many games available.

So, if you wanted to flush your head for the time of an evening, you could go to an arcade and play games, like the ones I will now present to you. S

While there are many games, I chose to focus solely here on some of the most “popular” and “widely spread”. What I mean is that even if some games are considered popular in some countries, it may not be the case worldwide.(For instance, some games were extremely popular in Japan, while European people had never heard about them.

The Arcade principle

Visualize an automated cash dispenser, put 2 joysticks, and some buttons on it, and you have your arcade machine.

On these machines there was only one single game running at the time, all the time. No internet access, only one game, engraved on the internal chips.

At that time, it wasn’t a one-time purchase to play… You had to pay every time you started a game. Yes, EVERY TIME. And the average price was about 50 cents, for about 5 minutes of gameplay !

The only satisfaction you could have when playing was if you completed the game (which was near to impossible), or if you beat the high-scores, in which case you could add your own Nickname to the high-scores, stored on the machine and displayed when nobody played, as long as nobody else beat your score.

Today they still exist, but they aren’t the most used hardware anymore. In fact, we mostly use computers or consoles, which are able to run several games and only cost the price of the console plus the game one.


The first time society was introduced to video game violence (press sources).

The goal of Pong is stupidly-numb: Send back that ball. Players have a paddle they use to make the ball bounce. It’s 2 dimensions only, so the easiest strategy is just to be aligned with the ball.

It can be played against an other player or an AI, depending on the platform.

On many videos you can see that people can’t manage even simple moves. Well,it’s partly because it used to be played with really hard-to-use buttons that you must turn left or right, with an extremely high sensitivity…

Space invaders

This game was a huge success with its simple concept : Kill them all.

Dozens of aliens are moving from left to right, then right to left, and go down one level each time they touch a border. Every time you kill an alien, the others move faster. The bonus ? They also shoot projectiles at you, which instantly kills you if they touch you (well, at least they only move down and don’t have such a complex behavior).

You only have 1 ship to defend the earth, able to shoot one projectile at a time, and 3 lives.


Even today, it’s still one of the best solo games. The goal is to eat every tiny point (pac-gums) on the map, without touching the ghosts.

You can eat the bigger “gums”, which will allow you to eat ghosts for a limited time. If you manage to eat the 4 ghosts before the end of the timer, you’ll get an extra life.

Controls are simply made with a lone joystick.

What’s pretty interesting is that the original name of this game was “Puckman”, but they decided to change its name to avoid people replacing the P with an F.

Bubble Bobble

A more advanced gameplay, with elaborated levels. In this game, you must kill all the monsters by throwing a bubble (out of your mouth) at them, and then jumping on them. Randomly or when you kill an enemy, bonuses will appear on the level, which gives you extra points when you pick them.

You will proceed to the next level once you’ve killed all enemies in the level.

It’s a colorful game, and while many other arcade games are just an infinite repetition of the same level with a difficulty increase, each levels of this game are original, and you can finish the game after the level 30!

Puzzle Bobble

The original game introduced the mechanics of putting same color items next to each other to destroy them. You’re playing tiny dinosaurs who must save their houses from weird “balls” coming from the sky. They can shoot one-color balls at a time, and every ten balls they shoot, all the balls go down.

This game is from the same game creator as Bubble Bobble, which explains why they have very similar graphics. This gameplay was recycled by several other “clones”, and the idea of putting together elements of the same color is still a game strategy that is widely used by game makers…


You need to zoom on this one, as the lines aren’t that thick

This is an other basic concept: You’re a ship, and you have to clear the space portion around you by shooting at (guess why they chose this name?) asteroids. When you destroy one, it splits into two parts half the size of the original asteroid until they reach a given size where they just …disappear.

Sometimes, aliens will come and try to destroy your ship, so you must also destroy them.


THE “Shoot-them-up”. Survive, shoot at everything you can, that’s it. All you have to do is move on the screen (which scrolls to the right automatically), and shoot at whatever comes next to you. You can get bonuses from monsters which will upgrade your ship, adding missiles, better standard shots, shields…

Donkey Kong

Before Bowser even existed, Donkey Kong was already attempting to separate Mario and his princess. This game is pretty hard when you don’t understand the gameplay as each level requires you to do a specific task to complete it. Anyway, the goal is the same in each level: save the princess from Donkey Kong.

This game was pretty popular, but strangely Donkey Kong and the other characters won’t appear in a common game for years. After this game, Mario will make several more apparitions, but this may be the topic of a future episode.

Galaxian & Galaga

Similar to Space Invaders, but a little bit more evolved, these games focus on defeating waves of enemies. This time, each enemy type has their own move pattern, their own attacks.

Galaxian is an older version of Galaga, with less advanced patterns, and less features. The most annoying point is also that in Galaxian, you can only shoot one bullet at a time, like in Space Invaders.

In Galaga, the player can also recover lives in-game when one of its ships has been captured if he destroys the enemy which captured it.

The fun fact is that Namco (the game editor) also included Galaxian in some of its games for PlayStation. It starts during the loading screens, letting the player wait for the console to finish loading while playing.

(Bonus) Dragon’s lair

This game is well known to be a REALLY hard game. It takes the form of a cartoon in which you’re attempting to save the princess. Each time you enter a new room, you’ll have to press specific buttons at an insane speed (<0.5s) to continue the game, else you’ll instantly die.

It’s more a “must-have-seen” game than a “must-have-played” game, as you’ll certainly stop playing after a few tries on the first level, but I found it interesting to describe, because it really shows how easy today’s games have become.

What’s next ?

Next episode will be focused on videogame series !

Tales of Meilamar

Meilamar is a continent on an unknown planet, inhabited by elves, humans and several species of animals. It was historically ruled by only elves, until the human race was created in the year 2986 of the Current Era.

A very long time ago, before our Current Era, the only species capable of thinking were the elves. Moreover, they were given by the Gods the gift of magic. They were a developed civilization, and most were living happily in tribes all around the continent.

But soon came the events of the Ambarmetta. Sævel, the God of magic and spirituality, and one of the three Gods, was playing with his magic to create lifeforms. But as they were not to his taste, he locked them up in another realm than those of the livings or the Gods, the Ennorath realm.

But in -2, a tribe was experimenting with a new sort of magic, Oyalë. It was based on necromancy. They tried reviving one of their soldiers, one of the best the continent has ever seen, Thalion. But this tore through reality and created a passage between Meilamar and Ennorath. So the spirit of a powerful beast previously made by Sævel was infused into the body of the warrior. It transformed into a gigantic beast which went into rampage through the continent.

But in the year 0, Ernil Hawkrey successfully raised an army among the different tribes, and thanks to a godly spear, Huinë, given to him by Sævel, killed the beast named Duriobeth. But a lot of people were killed, and a lot was destroyed.

Duriobeth, while it was roaming the countryside.

Hawkrey went on to found a monarchy which lasted more than 3000 years, and banned the use of magic as it was declared the source of the cataclysm. As in Meilamar magic is hereditary, knowledge and ability to wield it were lost.

But in 2986 of the Current Era, an elf saw Sævel appearing before him. He told to Rennyn Perfir that as elves were losing faith in magic, and so into him, he was starting to disappear. He gave the power of magic to Rennyn and also the power to give it to others. This started the events of the Great Split.

The newly acquired magic started transforming elves into something else. They lost life expectation, and started to look differently. They became named Humans.

A slice of life in the Capital, Novaria.

Soon a Civil War started in the Capital, Novaria, in 3214, after the humans were put into quarantine. Most of them succeeded to flee into the second biggest city, or founded a hidden magical city.

Suddene, the hidden magic city.

At the end, the elves won and established drastic laws on the humans. Some lived into the countryside and were left freely, those in the two biggest cities were more or less reduced to servants. After a few centuries, most of the two races forgot what happened as it was shut to silence by the newly formed government after the war, the Romsterian Empire.

Today is 3562 of the Current Era. The heroine of our game, Diane, is an adopted elf in a remote village of humans. She was living a peaceful life, up until a few unfortunate events happened to her and her friend, Calum

The intro to this game will maybe be released later on this website. Until then, you can go read more about the lore of the events before it on our wiki:

Thank you for reading, have a nice day.

Arthur Kervevan, Julien Chateau, Thibault Nocchi and special thanks to Yann Moullec.

The Newton Horror Show

First contact

Portland, 7.30am, line 15 to Belmont Street. The same old and rusty bus is crowded. I am reading my newspaper while riding the 9 stops between my place and Meriwether College. I started to teach there four years ago as a physics lecturer. Four years and I still don’t understand why, even if people do know each other, no one is ever talking. They content themselves with a quick “hello, how’s it going ?”, that’s all. Such a drama scene. Everybody takes the very same place in the vehicle, stands there and waits doing nothing. Human behaviour is quite interesting. I am nearly there, waiting for the grumpy driver to announce the Meriwether stop, when I begin to experience an uncomfortable feeling into my eyes.  Colors are changing, alternating between purple and red faster and faster, feeling like a rainbow is springing into my eyes. Few seconds later, I do not see anymore, black-out. I feel like a hard tingling onto my cornea, same as watching the sun bare eyes. What could be happening ? My neighbor, an old guy working at the Northwest power plant, starts panicking and moving his head and arms around. The poor guy is petrified and starts holding on me, I am not so much into physical contact, but nevermind, I can not repel him. A few moment later the bus driver suddenly squeezed down the brake pedal, causing lots of people to tumble and hurt themselves. At this moment I understand I was not the only one affected by the phenomenon. In a blink of an eye and as quickly as it disappeared, my vision and that of other passengers reappeared. Disorienting. Few moments later, the bus slowly started to move again, carrying dozens of livid faces. People are staying relatively quiet, even if some, totally panicked, are phone calling to their relatives and speaking loudly.

Breaking news

Noon, time for having lunch. It has been a hard morning. Lost between incomprehension and curiosity, students and I had a lot of difficulties to remain attentive during the solid state physics lesson I gave. How embarrassing was that moment where I could not remember the law of Dulong and Petit, I hate to forget things. I’m arriving to the teacher’s cafeteria. I do appreciate lunch time, not especially because I eat food, but more for the time to think and the social interaction it brings to me. Putting aside these advantages, real food meals would certainly have been replaced by a single pill that contains all the nutrients we needs. Way more convenient, but it is what it is. The cafeteria is the only place where we have social interaction between teachers but today is not like any other days. Everyone in the room is stuck in front of the TV, which volume is abnormally high.

“Today at 7.44am, the United States of America as well as the whole North hemisphere have been experiencing what physicians just named a unique light spectral lag. The origin of this phenomenon, causing human color perception to change, is for now unknown. The US Government Health Agency recommends to all citizens affected by abnormal sun burns and headaches to consult a doctor. ”


Sun burns, hum. Ultraviolet rays are not far away from visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum, that makes sense. That also means ordinary light may have been shifted to X-rays, it is tremendous. Being irradiated could lead to fatal consequences on the human body including death if a certain threshold is exceeded. Should I warn my research unit supervisor ? Fuck off Ginevra, he is probably already aware of this. Let’s go back to work.


Saturday, three days after the phenomenon. Strangely, people seem to have forgotten what happened. Today the sky is blue and the sun is shining, it is 51°F, perfect conditions to go for a jogging at the park. Let’s go out for a 45 minutes run. I forgot how plaisant was breathing cold and fresh air, refreshing my lungs, while a slow and comfortable heating sensation is coming up from my legs, amazing feeling. I should definitely do sport more often. Nevermind. Lots of people are used to hang out here in the Boston Public Garden, some are having a picnic, others are reading books, kids are playing. I always loved this side of Human civilization. 14 minutes left, I am focused on keeping a constant speed, so much focused on my effort that I did not realize sky had severely darkened. It seems a bit stormy out there, I better have to follow people and going back my place. Still running I decided to exit the park throughout the north-west entrance, leading to Cambridge Street. First thunderclap. I forgot how crowded this place always been. There is a lot of people on sidewalks, also endless queues of cars waiting for stop lights to be green, welcome to Boston City. Second thunderclap, this one is the most violent I have ever heard. Another one, louder. I flinched. I am now waiting for the pedestrian light to change in my favor, watching cars passing by, when I begin to feel a weird lightness sensation into my body. It is like my feet do not touch the ground anymore, my sight seems higher than before. The feeling suddenly disappeared, strange. Well actually it reappeared few seconds later, but this time with more intensity. Am I seeing cars and people flying ? Am I out of my mind ? My head soon touched a tree branch and I am nearly 5 meters above the ground, what the hell is happening right now ? Is gravity failing ? It sounds like. In a survival instinct, I gripped my hardest this big tree branch. At this moment I really began to observe what was taking place in front of me. Objects and people are bouncing between the ground and the sky, like if gravity reversed itself every few seconds. I do feel these gravity changes, a moment it is like I am hanging upside of the branch, while another I feel like I am laying down onto it although keeping the same position. The phenomenon now becomes stronger and stronger, cars are crashing down onto the road, dispersing lots of debris; pedestrians are severely shaken, as well as bloody corpses. Fourth thunderclap, this one is deafening. When will this slaughter end ? Fortunately, the strength of the tremors tends to decrease, until the final stop. In the blink of an eye the sky retrieved its nice and charming blue, birds are whistling again. It is like nothing happened, the very hallmark of these weird phenomena. Luckily I did not have too much trouble to get down from the tree on which I sought refuge. I went home as fast as I could, switched on the radio and heard carefully the emergency announcements.

“Dear American citizens. Due to the unknown phenomenon that happened few moments ago, the US Government has declared a state of absolute emergency. We urge you to execute the following safety steps. Take shelter in an anchored place as soon as possible. Remove or secure all moving parts inside that could hurt yourself in case of another strike. Please do not try to go outside before the next announcement.”


I executed myself, cleaning my bedroom from all moving object, only keeping the TV that is fixed onto the wall. Late in the evening, I learned that over a billion people lost their lives today in what physicians called this time a quantum earthquake. Almost 50 million deaths in North-America, 800 million in Asia, and 150 million in Europe. This human toll is mind-boggling. Material damages are also significant : several planes have crashed, lots of trains went off the rails and nearly all cars and trucks across the hemisphere have been destructed. We are likely dealing with one of the worst disasters in our civilization’s history. Unbelievably, most of buildings in the US did not collapse, showing that humans are still great engineers. This demonstration of force, causing a serious toll, remind us we do not entirely control our habitat and we should always be aware of unknown phenomena. Our country, and at a global scale our hemisphere, can not undergo more of these strikes. It is enough, we are sufficiently weakened, we now have to determine whether it is a natural disaster or a deliberate attack. It is now time to launch investigations about the origin of these two misunderstood events.

World Research Coalition

3 days past the quantum earthquake. The curfew was lifted that morning, meaning people can go outside again but the use of all kinds of vehicles remains forbidden. In any case they would not been able to move until streets were cleaned. So I prudently went outside, first of all because I am a claustrophobic girl, then to lend a helping hand to authorities to gather dead bodies and to clean out the city. We are citizens, it is our duty to rebuild the country, and it will not be possible without making a collective effort. Talking about collective, I received a phone call from my research unit supervisor, Mr Adam, telling me I am requisitioned to join the freshly created and international World Research Coalition for inconsistent physics. This coalition, established by head of states from all the North hemisphere following the previous misunderstood disasters, has two mains research areas. The first one will focus on trying to link the unique light spectral lag and the quantum earthquake with known physical laws, i.e find a consistent explanation to these events using our knowledge and therefore be able to predict their arrival. The second branch will be in charge of the analysis of recorded data and the exploration of new physical models, this is clearly the most exciting part but also the most time-consuming. The World Research Coalition is currently requisitioning all available physicists, mathematicians, geologists and computer specialists around the world, representing more than 350 million scientist people. I have been affected to the Washington DC research center, soon I will move there for an undetermined amount of time. I will work in the first branch of the coalition, in a group of scientists from all the east side of the US. Our field of research is centered around gravitational waves, which are disturbances in the curvature of spacetime, generated by accelerated masses. These waves transport lots of energy as gravitational radiation, a form of radiant energy similar to electromagnetic radiation. My colleagues and myself will explore the possible impact of gravitational waves passing through the Earth, maybe it will bring some interesting clues. The Coalition is also setting up a giant sensors network in order to monitor any future event. I am packing up for Washington, making sure I do not forget my nerdy books. Excited to possibly bring progress to the Human civilization, I am also very scared to fail, and people to judge myself. Shit, why am I so pessimistic ? We are all going to fucking die if we do not do anything right now.


7 days after the quantum earthquake. 6 am, I am on my way to Washington. The government has taken the risk to bring us from Boston to DC by bus. So we are all awake and ready to get out and hang on onto the highway guardrails in case a quantum earthquake occurs. After a 9 hours journey, we are finally reaching out the capital. 9 hours without the possibility to take a nap, it has been exhausting. I meet my new colleagues at the George Washington University. After a dinner spent all together, I feel a good vibe going on between us, it bodes well for the important work to be done for the next months. A kind employee of the University took me to my accommodation so I can finally go for a rest, long-awaited moment. Tomorrow takes place an important meeting, giving us all the information we need concerning our laboratories, resources and obligations.

Today is a new day. After a substantial breakfast, my new colleagues and I are heading up to the University’s laboratories for a visit. While the group was walking across the campus, we were all struck by a brief and outlandish sensation. A sensation of being empty, volatile and broken down into a millions bits. Everybody is watching each other, understanding we are living a new phenomenon. These brief sensations becomes more and more frequent when a giant flashlight reaches my eyes. I can not see and hear anything, but I am feeling divinely great, like if I was in a deep hypnotic state. I did not last long, my sight came back. To my astonishment we are all lying onto the ground. Some of us are shirtless or pantless but the most incredible observation is that all building have disappeared. Well actually they have been reduced to a fine dust, pretty much the same as sand, but smoother. However trees and vegetation are still there. Lots people around me, petrified, are praying hard thinking the devil stole their souls. Confusing. A further look at the surroundings revealed that only things made of organic matter survived to this cataclysmic event : humans, vegetation, cotton clothing… My deepest hope is that only a localized part of the world has been striked by this spectacular matter disintegration.

3 months later, trying to survive in ex-Washington, a Brazilian squadron of helicopters landed near the Potomac river were me and other citizens settled down. The military told us that the whole north hemisphere has been reset to a wild life state, the south hemisphere remains intact. Apparently a wide rescuing mission is being organized by south-Earth nations. Before flying to New York city they kindly gave us survival kits, including shelters, guns and other useful stuff.

What could have gone wrong ?

Human civilization is helpless seeing for the very first time its science unable to solve an issue. Thousands of years spent to build up a huge knowledge base in order to solve the problems we are facing up everyday. Thousands of years this method works, and today it does not, and even worse, it compromises a part of our science. What we are observing today is in contradiction with what we once observed or deduced. Maybe are religious and philosophical people right, maybe can not we explain everything by science facts ? It is  difficult to imagine such a vision of things. But today we must point out something strange is hitting the north of the planet. It is like someone or something is playing with the Humankind.


The Enigmatic Lab

Welcome to this enigma game!

You’re about to enter the Enigmatic Lab, and your quest is simple: save the world! Or at least avoid several wars…

To play, please click here, and do the following actions:

  1. Download either the whole folder, either one of the archive files (lighter for slow internet connection). If you downloaded an archive file, extract it and open the destination folder.
  2. Open the file Start.html

It’s highly recommended playing this game using Firefox, for compatibility reasons.

If you are stuck, feel free to contact me :

Thank you for playing!

In the eyes of madness

The workshop was a tiny room. Colourful marks stained the walls, which were struggling to hold dozens of shelves filled with tins of paint. Brushes, canvases, and other useful material were scattered on the floor, as if a well-lubricated party had just ended.
The room was silent though. Through the small window, the setting sun was lighting up a young man facing a blank, untouched painting. Frowning at the canvas, he was motionless. By the look of his messy, short, brown hair and his stubble, one could see that care wasn’t his priority.
After a boring day at the office, the artist inside of him wanted to relax by practicing his favorite activity : painting. However, despite his firing urge, inspiration simply wouldn’t come. Actually, he had been sitting here for an hour now. Like a pendulum swing, his mind had constantly been going from the desperate search for inspiration to wondering why nothing had come yet. Suddenly, his shoulders went down, and he breathed out. He decided to free his mind, and let his instinct lead the way, unshackling his body. As he was about to raise his brush-armed hand, the smartphone rang.

“Hey, Hans ! It’s Sam calling. How are you doing ?”

“Hi Sam ! I’m fine, I’m fine. What about you ? How did your move go ? Have you finally chosen the colour for the walls ?”, answered Hans with a teasing voice.

“Oh, come on ! I told you already, blue is great, even if a light green could brighten up the room… but anyway ! Yes, I’m good, things are slowly coming together. Do you have any plans for tonight ? Let’s have a drink, you’ll be surprised at the progress.”

Hans put down the palette and stood up.

“That sounds great ! May I come right now ? I could really use a  beer.”

“Ok, do you want me to order some food ?”, asked Sam.

“Yes, let’s do this. I’ll be there in ten minutes. See you !”


Hans cleaned the brush, went to the bathroom, looked himself into the mirror, took a pack of beers in the fridge and walked out of his apartment in a light step.


After parking the car, Hans went straight to the third floor and knocked on the door. His friend welcomed him with a large smile and immediately began to show him all that had changed since Hans last visited. After having gone through the new furniture, especially the brand new leather sofa he’d fallen in love with weeks before, Sam explained proudly how he’d successfully fixed the leak in the bathroom.

“… and at that point, I understood where the leak was coming from ! So, I turned off the water supply, picked up my tools, took off the front panel, changed the damaged pipe, and the job was done !”

“How impressive ! I wasn’t aware you had such technical skills ! That being said, spending a week to do some shopping and repair a pipe isn’t the great progress you promised…”

Sam gave a faint smile.

“I have one last room to show you… may you open this door, sir I-am-not-convinced ?”

After a moment of hesitation, Hans reached for the handle and slowly opened the door.
The wooden desk was the center of the room, as a king’s throne, whose crown was the large screen professional photographers love. All of Sam’s previous cameras were resting in a long pristine glass case in chronological order. On the opposite side, a mosaic of photos covered the best part of the wall. With the dark shades of the wooden floor, and the brownish tone of the walls, the office was looking clean, professional, almost futuristic.
Hans made a quick whistle.

“Well, you have me convinced now ! This office looks so nice ! Clean, sharp, organised, it fits well with the character ! What about these pictures ?”

Hans walked to the wall of photos to have a closer look. Sam pointed out one of them. Two young teenagers were chasing each other in a overflooding inflatable swimming pool. The sun was shining an ocean of reflections on the surface, making this simple shot a receptacle of a long gone memory.

“Do you remember that day ? We had such a good time…”

“Summer holiday memories… but wait a minute, you cheater ! You’re displaying this photo, but it’s not even yours ! It’s your parents’ !”

Sam gave Han’s shoulder a push.

“You’re always so sarcastic ! They gave it to me ! I put whatever I want on the walls anyway ! Let’s drink those beers, shall we ?”

Hans smiled and agreed with a nod of his head.
Hans and Sam went back to the living room, where they settled down with some beers and their usual pizzas Sam had ordered. They spent the rest of the night on the sofa, watching TV and talking lightly about their respective lives.


When the alarm clock rang, Hans understood they shouldn’t have stayed up so late. With difficulty, Hans muted the loud ring and stood up. Like every morning, a warm shower would awaken him and clear off his clouded mind.
After that, time came to have breakfast.
Hans put the pan on the stove and turned on the cafetiere. After cooking the scrambled eggs, he fried some bacon. As always, the coffee was ready right in time.
Then, Hans sat down and opened his laptop. He knew that he now had about twenty minutes to watch the news while calmly eating and sipping his strong espresso.
Hans eventually went back to the bathroom to brush his teeth and made a last check in the mirror. As usual, he left the apartment at exactly five to eight to go to work.

As the office was on the opposite side of the city, Hans would take the tube to avoid the congested streets. He had to walk a few minutes to get to the nearest station, where he was to be taken directly to the closest station to his workplace.
During the ride, Hans usually listened to music with his soundproofing headset, without taking care of the lifeless atmosphere which was covering the tube like a darkening veil.
However, he sometimes liked to observe the passengers’ slow awakening process. Among them, one can distinguish different types of behaviours. There were those who were barely awakened, those who were – like Hans – focused enough to realize that they would have to work soon, and finally those who were completely fresh and ready. The sleeping ones were looking at the floor with that kind of surprize in the eyes, while the ones like Hans were checking their smartphones, or diverting themselves by gazing around. The ready-to-work often stared at a fixed point in front of them, already thinking about what’s going next, or they would actively use their smartphones, sending quickly-typed messages or even – for the most impudent of them – calling loudly in the tube.
As an inspiration seeking artist, Hans would spend hours studying all these dispersed eyes, all these disparate faces, all these miscellaneous driven citizens, regrouped for this mostly silent, short-lived ride.
“Maybe I could consider the passengers’ movements as a forced dance…” was thinking Hans. Slowly, a blurred and indistinct painting began to come to his mind. A painting staging a kind of dancing tube, where traveler and dancer would have the exact same meaning ! There could be curious contrasts between the usual boring atmosphere of the underground and the idea of dance… He was about to get it – for sure he would get it ! – when his eyes caught a stranger’s eyes from the platform the tube was serving. It literally stopped his mind.

What were those eyes ?

Hans came closer to the window and tried to identify where the eyes were caught, to whom they belonged ! But it was already too late : the tube was leaving the station.

Then, Hans felt hollow, empty.

Nothing, of all his surroundings, looked or sounded interesting anymore. He neither felt sad nor desperate, but he felt heavy and defeated, as if a sudden loss had occurred somewhere inside of him, and changed something, something deeply rooted within.
He couldn’t know how right he was…


As midday came, the colleague who was working next to Hans put his head over the dividing wall of the open space.

Lunch break routine.

“Hey Hans, my watch tells me that it’s lunch time, and my belly seems to agree, if you know what I mean ! We’re going to the pub downstreet for fish and chips, do you want to join us ?”

Hans stopped typing on the keyboard and removed his headset. Bill was the average thirty-five-year-old employee, careful of leaving his post as soon as allowed, who would rather spend his time eating and watching football. The kind of stereotypical lifestyle that repelled Hans’s artist nature. Hans looked at his watch, and pretented to be embarrassed.

“Well, sorry Bill I have planned to eat quickly to leave early tonight. I was actually just about to have a sandwich at the cafeteria…”

Bill seemed to take it well. He took his keys and smartphone from his desk and said :

“I think you’re missing out on something but well, enjoy your sandwich ! See you.”

“Have a good meal, see you.”

Now that Bill had left the open space – Hans noted Bill’s cheerful gait – Hans chose not to resume working and decided to have lunch right away.

Once sat at the table, Hans couldn’t help thinking back on his morning encounter.
But, was it really an encounter ? What happened exactly ? It happened so quickly that – or maybe it was Han’s memory ? – He wasn’t able to put words on what he saw.
On one hand, his brain was telling him that nothing actually happened and it was just the usual stuff of the underground. Every day, throughout a single ride by tube, Hans – like everybody else – would come across hundreds of strangers, of unknown faces, hundreds of pairs of eyes.
One the other hand though, it seemed like his heart had reacted to something. Although he couldn’t tell what he’d exactly seen, he felt that something had been changing since the encounter… as animals can feel danger somehow, Hans’ instinct had responded to those mysterious eyes.
The real question now was : did his instinct respond because of danger, or was it about something else ?
Hans, whose mind had been going in circles for minutes, was finally fed up with all these doubts and suspicions. His kaleidoscope of feelings had tired him and he decided to clear his head and go back to work.

To be continued…

Written by Mazouni Quentin and Moullec Yann.

Cinema and diversity Episode 2: Gender

During the past decade, Hollywood has come a long way when it comes to gender diversity in their casts. However, why is it that male lead movies and tv shows “sell” more? Why is it that female lead movies are always corny romantic comedies and chick flicks? And why are women always portrayed as attractive but dim-witted people? In this article, we’ll see that when it comes to gender diversity, Hollywood still has a long way to go.

Let’s start off with tv shows. I think we can all agree that the most famous (and probably the only one) all-female cast is Orange Is The New Black, which follows the lives of a group of women in prison. This series addresses various serious social issues like the prison system  such as racism, corruption, rape (guards raping female prisoners), and transgender people not getting the treatment they need. It also talks about racism within the prisoners, mental health, and the list goes on. In addition, the show helped viewers realize not all incarcerated people are actually guilty, and if they are, they’re not “evil” or “bad” people, it humanizes the inmates.

Another show that promotes gender equality in Hollywood is Game of Thrones. This series is part of the few good ones who actually portray strong, intelligent, badass women such as Cersei, Daenerys, Arya and Sansa Stark. For once, women are portrayed as people of power who don’t need a man to help them get where they want to go.

However, there are not many tv shows that have that kind of strong female presence. For example, Marvel and DC comics series are very known and have a huge fan base. However, out of all of them, there are only two that have a female heroine: Jessica Jones and Supergirl, and they’re not the most popular ones. Granted, both shows have a lot of fans but they’re not as nearly as comparable to shows like Arrow, the Flash, Daredevil, Gotham, and other male superhero series.

When watching Breaking Bad, I was quite heartbroken. I had heard so many good things about that show and I was eager to see where the story went. However, two male leads, and no strong female presence? Disappointing. There is of course Skyler White, Walter White’s wife, who was very present throughout the show, and she did stand up to him a couple of times and showed intelligence, but the show just left us wanting more from her.

Another very famous tv show is Stranger Things who mainly follows the lives of four male characters. There is of course Eleven, who is a young girl and is also part of the group, and Max who joined the gang during the last season, but is that really enough? Two female characters against four?

We’ve come a long way in the last few years with shows like Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, One Day At a Time, The Mindy Project, and other series who have a strong, smart female lead. However, these series represent a very small percentage of Hollywood.

All throughout movies history, men have gotten way more opportunities to lead all kinds of movies such as action, comedy, thriller, superhero, dramas and so on. Women definitely show up too but they always play love interests or secondary roles. Just imagine having a female play James Bond, wouldn’t it be so cool?

Researchers from Creative Artists Agency and Shift7 studied the 350 highest-grossing films from 2014 to 2017 (105 of them had female lead roles while the rest had male lead roles). The study found that movies with female lead roles outperformed the ones with male lead ones. The data also found that the films that passed the Bechdel test, meaning two female characters had a conversation about something other than a man, outperformed those that didn’t. “There is a perception in our industry that female-led films don’t make as much money and that’s partly why we don’t make as many of them, and we just wanted to know: Is that true? And we found, when comparing apples to apples in terms of budgets, the data do not support that assumption; in fact the female films slightly outperformed at every budget level.” says Christy Haubegger of the talent agency Creative Artists Agency.


Here is a list of the highest-grossing movies of 2018:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War  -> male dominated cast
  2. Black Panther -> male lead
  3. Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom -> male lead
  4. Incredibles 2 -> main character dad
  5. Aquaman -> male lead
  6. Venom -> male lead
  7. Mission:  Impossible -> male lead
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody -> male cast
  9. Deadpool 2 -> male lead
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald -> male dominated cast

According to the previous list, all of them have male dominated casts. Avengers being at the top of the list, in which a bunch of men are preparing to protect the world with the “help” of one or two women, and that is a perfect representation of gender inequality. In the same movie, those actresses are of course dressed in very tight suits that perfectly form to their curves. The same thing goes for basically all of the remaining movies on the list as for all other superhero movies. Generally, the gender roles are stereotypical: men fighting crimes and saving the world while having women at their sides helping them, probably acting as a love interest and praising them all along their missions. This is a huge misrepresentation of women in the world, especially in media, and only furthers the very common gender stereotypes. However, Hollywood is making a lot of improvement by introducing some female dominated casts in which women demonstrate courage and confidence, are not dependent on men, and can be the primary protagonists. A good example is the movie Oceans 8 that have an all badass female cast. According to a study made by “Box Office”, Oceans 8 all-female cast bests male-led trilogy with $41.5 million opening.

Now let’s come back to the Bechdel test. What is it? It’s a very simple test that can be applied to all movies. It has three very simple requirements:

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it (both must have names),
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man

Pretty basic right? Well, you might be surprised about the percentage of movies who actually fail the test. According to a BBC research, only 49% of the Oscar best picture winners have past the test since 1929. Movies that win Oscars are supposed to be good, and well made. I find it just tragic that even among the supposedly best movies of Hollywood, more than half fail this simple test. You know what other very famous movies don’t pass it? The Avengers, Avatar, The ENTIRE Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (the other Harry Potter movies barely pass), and the list goes on.

Granted, Hollywood has come a long way in the past decades, however, all of this shows that we still have a very long way to go. Next time you watch an episode or a movie, try and see whether it passes the bechdel test, or how many female characters it has and whether they’re actually smart and present. You’ll be surprised by your own observations.

Google Home Style Exercises

Exercices de style est l’un des ouvrages les plus célèbres de l’écrivain français Raymond Queneau. Paru en 1947, ce livre singulier raconte 99 fois la même histoire, de 99 façons différentes. “

In the videos below we are sharing 4 different stories with the same video, which is the Google Home ad. We hope you will enjoy and have a good time !

You can put subtitles on, they are home-made !

Made by : Sidi Tfeil, Ronan Bebin, Regis Graptin & Augustin Janvier.

Change in eating patterns – Overpopulation [#5]

With this fast evolution of the human population, it is legitimate to ask how to feed all these people, especially with the reduction of arable land. It is urgent to find new food sources. From insects to urban agriculture, to meat in vitro, new trends are already emerging to change our eating habits.

The first reason for this radical change in diet is the fight against hunger. FAO says “forest products, including insects, are essential to fight hunger”. Insects are rich in protein, low in fat and especially good for food. For comparison, it takes two kilograms of plants to produce one kilogram of insects, while eight kilograms are needed to produce one kilogram of meat. Insects are very popular in many countries in the world where more than 2 billion people consume some 1,400 species. Insects could be a sustainable and inexpensive alternative for ensuring food security for humankind. Coleoptera, caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, locusts and other bee larvae contain more protein than a steak and their farming have a much lighter carbon impact than that of cattle, pigs or cattle poultry.

As seen previously, we consume a lot of meat which raises many problems. According to the FAO, world meat production was 280 million tons in 2008, more than 6 times its value in 1950. We are seeing an increase of 1 to 6% per year. The average growth rate is 2.4% over the period 1998-2008. And according to FAO, meat demand could grow by 200 million tons between 2010 (286.2 million tons) and 2050. To answer this demand, new methods of meat production are needed.

Currently in the experimental phase, in vitro meat could in the coming decades help us to meet worldwide’s nutritional needs. Despite its price is quite high today, around 188 000 euros per piece, an industrial process could lower its price in the next few years, to reach about 55 dollars per kilo. This industrialization, does not lack investors with big names like Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), Peter Thiel (a German investor very present in Silicon Valley, which supported PayPal and Facebook in their beginning) and Sergei Brin (Google’s founder).

Other solutions are also envisaged. Today consumed in Asia, algae could appear in the rest of the world. These aquatic vegetables have already proven their benefits especially in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or hypertension. However, not all algae are edible. Today only 24 species are allowed for consumption in France.

More ambitious projects make us imagine a new form of agriculture. With the increase in the demand for food, and the decrease of arable land, it is urgent to find an alternative to classical agriculture, in the countryside. Urban agriculture could help us. There are already some urban farms, in England in a former anti-aircraft shelter but also in France, in Saint Malo where a young startup promises to grow plants in sea containers. In the future, some architects already imagine skyscrapers dedicated to farming.

Our way of life – Overpopulation [#4]

The way of life of an individual is principally characterized in particular by his habits, his tastes, his interests, his social level, etc. Each country is characterized by its own way of life, but it can be divided into two distinct groups: the northern countries, or “rich” countries, and the southern countries, otherwise called the “poor” countries. The lifestyles of these two areas have a major impact on today’s world. It is obvious that food and water are two major challenges that will be the focus of concern in the coming years if we want to cross the threshold of 10 billion people in a sustainable way. Our lifestyles are at the root of all these challenges and it is from our ways of life that the way we use the Earth is determined.

We are huge consumers of meat, both in developing and developed countries. Despite a decline in recent years, especially in France, the effects are invisible because of an increasing population. This high consumption of meat is a major concern to meet the challenges ahead. Indeed, between 10 and 15,000 liters of water and 6kg of cereals are needed to produce 1kg of meat. Knowing the current situation, where populations still have precarious access to food and water, it is obvious that livestock is partly a cause of this problem. In addition, this sector also has a strong impact on the environment, which we know today, is under threat. In addition to consuming a lot of water, livestock farming is one of the biggest sources of water pollution. This pollution comes from, among other things, medicines and hormones that are given to animals, chemicals used in the tanning industry and pesticides used in cereal farming.

Due to the resources needed for breeding, our demands for meats are not in harmony with an increasing world population. About 70% of the world’s arable land is used for livestock. On its own, animal feed production occupies more than 30% of available land. It implies that one-third of the world’s cereals are used directly for animal feed ; however, a decline in livestock production would not lead to a drop in world hunger despite a certain increase in land and available cereals. In fact, we produce in a large excess to feed the whole world, about 50% of additional production compared to the needs necessary to feed all populations. The problem, therefore, has another origin. It is believed that a decline in livestock production around the world would have a major impact on the environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which today account for about 14.5% of total emissions, as well as water pollution and global impact on biodiversity.

So, we produce enough food for all populations but it is very unequally distributed as mentioned above. In the same way, an increase in agricultural production is not a viable solution for feeding the world. It would only push our limits while aggravating the situation of the planet from an environmental point of view. Our demands for food and the financialization of the world make it less and less possible for the poorest people to have access to food. On average, people in rich countries spend between 10% and 20% of their income, while those living in poor countries spend between 50% and 80% of their income. Our current system leaves today little space and little right to poor countries, which suffer the consequences of our way of lives. As a result, the environment is neglected in favor of our appetite and inequalities are important between rich and poor countries. We already see the limits of this system while 2.5 billion more people are announced by 2050. It is therefore imperative to find viable solutions to meet the challenges ahead.

Ressource management – Overpopulation [#3]

While famines are still relevant, food waste has reached records. Nowadays, 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away. Only in France, no less than 10 million tons of food are discarded per year, or about 150 kilograms per inhabitant, counting the entire sector. This food waste costs France about 12 to 20 billion euros each year. On a global scale, the wasted value reaches 640 billion euros.

While we could say that the waste mainly concerns the northern countries, it turns out that it spares no country. This phenomenon, however, is directly related to the way of life of developed countries. Indeed, when we go shopping, we are used to having the shelves always full, with a huge diversity of products. Then when we go to the fruit and vegetable department, it is almost impossible for us to see a deformed vegetable: all are identical and flawless. The figures speak for themselves: production alone accounts for nearly 1/3 of food waste. Countries are affected differently by this waste, according to their incomes, related at the same time to the “producer” and “consumer” countries. In northern countries, 65% of the waste comes from the upstream of the chain (i.e. production, storage, …) while for southern countries, this waste represents 90%.

In order to feed a more urban and richer population in 2050, food production will have to increase by 70%, according to a FAO’s report. Water will be directly impacted by this huge increase in production. Farming is using 70% of freshwater resources, which implies that its demand will explode by 55% by 2050. Water control is a major geopolitical issue, especially in the Middle East, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. In this region of the world, Iraq and Syria depend on Turkey for the flows Tiger and Euphrates. These two rivers have their source in Turkey and 88% of the flow of these rivers also comes from this country. Syria and Iraq, which are downstream of these rivers, therefore depend on the Turks for the irrigation of their fields. Water is now nicknamed by some people “blue gold”. The United Nations has noted in its latest reports that this resource is increasingly poorly managed, despite the exploding demand. If water management does not change in the coming years, the Earth could face a water deficit of nearly 40% by 2030, well before the 10 billion mark. North Africa already reports a global water deficit of 30% of its needs. Like access to food, people still do not have access to an “improved” water source (defined by the UN as water that has never been in contact with animals). Not less than 740 million people do not have access to these water sources.

The explosion in water demand is also the consequence of the explosion of energy demand, the evolution of our way of life (consumption of more and more meat) and global warming. All these phenomena are interrelated, which only aggravates the situation.

The basic needs challenge – Overpopulation [#2]

The first basic human needs are physiological ones : eating, drinking, sleeping or breathing. To date, despite a decline in the number of people undernourished since 1991, inequalities persist and 1 in 9 people remain undernourished. Regarding freshwater, it represents only 0.7% of the water on Earth according to recent estimations. It is already a source of conflict between nations since its importance is undeniable: water is what we have most precious on Earth. We can already see the limits of our system and we expect 2.5 billion more people by 2050.

Access to food is very unequal. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a consumption of 2500 kcal for a man and 2000 kcal for women to support our body needs. These figures may vary by country but are a basis of comparison between countries. For example, in France, the National Agency for Food Safety (ANSES) recommends 2600 kcal for a man and 2100 kcal for a woman.

At the sight of the figures, the European countries, the United States, or more generally the rich countries are for the majority above 3000 kcal of energy supply per inhabitant. In contrast, nearly a dozen is below the threshold of 2000 kcal, the average of recommendations for a woman, and 60 countries are below the threshold of 2500 kcal, average recommendations of energy intake for a man. So, there are countries with a large excess of calories at the same time as countries that are struggling to reach the recommendations.

Daily calorie intake per capita, FAO, 2010

In the same vein, we can see that the phenomenon also affects access to proteins, which are vital to the proper functioning of the body. The recommendations for proteins are 60g per day and per person. As with calorie intake, nearly 50 countries are below recommendations. The most protein-consuming countries are above 120g per day per person. The gap between poor and rich countries is once again demonstrated. Both maps highlight the numbers.

Daily protein intake per capita, FAO, 2010

Beyond the statistical information that the previous maps give us, they are also a good indicator of malnutrition. The term “malnutrition” defines both nutritional deficiencies and food overages. In a general way this term defines the imbalances of the nutritional contributions. Malnutrition therefore spares no country, only the group to which each of them belongs differs. The first group defined by the WHO is undernutrition, which includes the low height-to-age ratio, called stunting, the low weight / height ratio, called emaciation, the low weight / age ratio, called underweight, as well as various micronutrient deficiencies. This group concerns 2 billion people, mainly Africans or Asians. In contrast, the second group concerns people with obesity, overweight or diet-related noncommunicable diseases. As many people are affected by undernutrition as by overnutrition.

The reasons for this malnutrition are difficult to detect. Nevertheless, concerning the countries or the regions of Africa and Asia, 3 main causes are at the origin of the malnutrition issue. These are the increasing number and intensity of conflicts, the climate change which affects crop growing, and the financialization of the world. Wars and conflicts, as well as climate change, will not cause this malnutrition if they did not reach already weakened countries, which have no or little food reserves. Indeed, some conflicts have lasted for many years in the majority affected regions, such as the Central African Republic. Added to this, there is the purchase, or the grabbing, of significant agricultural land by various multinationals, particularly in Africa. Globalization helped by the financialization of the world are the source of these low prices land purchases. For rich countries, also affected by malnutrition, the reasons are much more diverse, stemming mainly from their lifestyles and the consumer society in which they live.

You say overpopulation ? [#1]

The world’s population is already over 7.5 billion humans. It has been multiplied by two in the last 45 years, and even the most optimistic projections show we will reach the 10 billion mark about 2050. Many experts in population and development discuss this problematic. Is the world ready and capable of welcoming 10 billion people ?

What’s behind “Overpopulation” ?

Population growth is not a new phenomenon. The carrying capacity and WWF recently brought back questions about the world’s population in the foreground. The carrying capacity is the maximum or optimal number of people that a certain territory can accommodate without being destroyed by this population. In our case the territory is Earth and humans. In theory, this capacity is ideal to define overpopulation but in practice it is impossible to calculate it. In fact, it is not hard to model the resources present on the earth but the problem is to know which resources humans will consume over a period of time. For example, a few dozen years ago, rare-earth elements were not used at all and today it’s a major preoccupation.

Despite these difficulties, WWF and some other studies defined at approximately 8 billion the earth’s carrying capacity. A 2001 report from the UN indicated that two-thirds of the estimates are between 4 and 16 billion.

The possible consequences of overpopulation are numerous and we can already see the stakes that such an important population will raise. Nowadays, while we have almost reached the carrying capacity of the planet, we face energy, environmental and social challenges that can only increase.




It’s been a while since I wrote in my logbook and well, things have not been doing well in space. This journey can bring us some bad surprises…

However, today, I have time to continue my logbook and more precisely continue what I started last time, the story that revolves around information. I managed to write a logbook and try to share it with you myself but, will it ever reach you? In the hypothesis where my journey ends up at the bottom of a black hole if we may say, in theory, we would be able to have access to everything by catching and assembling each atom that has been disassembled and put it in the position where it was. By doing so, we would be able to retrieve what has been destroyed.

So, you may wonder what the link is with losing information if we could in theory reconstruct it. Well, black holes in all their mystery bring us problem. It’s what we call the information paradox. 

In fact, it’s paradoxical because the laws of physics say that nothing -particularly information- can disappear, but it can change its form. However, British scientist Hawking came up with a theory saying that black holes are ‘evaporating’. Extremely slowly, but surely. What could potentially be a problem is that the information that is suck in would be lost forever. Indeed, as mentioned previously, black holes can suck in literally everything. And, by saying that, also information that is present in the Universe. So, all the indication about the creation of the Universe would disappear into the black hole. 

But, why is it so important? Information is crucial to understand how things are made, how the world is what it is now. As, you may probably know, everything in the Universe is made up of the same atoms. Take the same number of atoms from an object and change their arrangement and you will get something totally different. So, if it weren’t because of the arrangement of atoms, everything in the Universe would be the same. 

How exactly do black holes evaporate and what does eventually evaporate? Before the discovery of the Hawking radiation, scientists thought that everything including information is trapped in the black hole, so is in theory secured. However, in the 1970’s, Hawking with his theory of black holes evaporating their mass shakes all this up. In fact, a black hole has to evaporate especially when its temperature pass over the cosmic microwave background one’s. To put it simple, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is an electromagnetism radiation which can be observe in every direction of the Universe and showed up a few years after the Big Bang. At that time, the Universe was smaller than now and the CMB was hotter. Now, its temperature has decreased because of the expansion of the Universe and stagnates now at 3 Kelvin (-270,15°C). So, that is why, black holes are evaporating because of thermal diffusion. Just to set up everything, basically thermal diffusion result in hot things -here mass of black holes, temperature: 10 billion degrees to say the least- “going” or “traveling” to cold things (CMB at -270,15°C). But to make this diffusion possible, a black hole has to emit particles that carry thermal energy. And those types of particles don’t carry information because the process is unpredictable. Hence, information could be lost forever. Doesn’t sound good…

Regardless of what it is, what could be the various scenarios to this… Information is lost forever.  Or from what Hawking came up with a few years later, there is a potential solution for this information paradox. In fact, the information could be stored on the surface of the black hole (the event horizon) and not inside. So, due to the evaporation of the black hole, the information could be get back. Another possibility is that black hole could split a part of itself and create a new Universe and so the information could be stored here. 

I have to end my logbook now. But keep in mind that every theory is just a theory and needs to be proven.

Today’s media

Today, it is a fact that Young people are more interested in VOD (Video On Demand) than adults. At the same time, the oldest people, generally parents and grandparents, are more attracted by television. But why is that so? Can we see here, a change between two generations.

Traditionally, the favorite communication media have been newspapers and television. Our parents and grandparents used to watch the “JT ” (or TV News), the 8 pm news show on the main television stream. However young people today are far less attracted to the TV Format, considered less dynamic and too rigid. In fact, with the rise of YouTube, this generation began to feel the need for something different. The new generations prefer to see what they want when they want and this is what YouTube does. To adapt, TV developed applications such as Video on Demand or VOD. We are at a pivotal point now, in the battle between TV which symbolises seriousness and maturity and YouTube that is younger, more dynamic and daring.

YouTube is an American video-sharing website created by 3 PayPal employees. The first video on YouTube was posted on the 23th of April, 2005. One year after, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. YouTube definitely made it very easy to upload videos and release it to the public. YouTube launched its partner program in May 2007. Some of its users are partners and can have control of the monetisation of the videos they post on their channel. These users can win approximately half of the advertising revenue on their videos. As time goes on, YouTube has been adding new features like live streaming or 360-degree videos. The latter can be viewed using virtual reality headsets, computers and smartphones. Moreover, a lot of music is available for free on YouTube. Well, not exactly free but all you have to do is watch a short ad. YouTube is ranked as the second-most popular social network in 2018 and more than one billion hours of content is watched on YouTube every day.

In 2014, a third party entered the game, US media service provider Netflix. With VOD being embodied by Netflix, this third party has become the main competitor of television and YouTube. Netflix launched its streaming web site in 2007 but became popular in 2014-2016. Netflix, as everyone knows, shares series and films for cheap. This website brought a new approach of VOD service and today Amazon and YouTube are beginning to do the same. VOD is the best way to watch TV series and films on one’s computer legally.

Mass television was born in the 70s. At that time there is no competition between the few channels available. Television is also the only picture provider and doesn’t really suffer from radio competition. Now there are plenty of other media which can compete with television channels. On the one hand, there are other channels which all want to score the best audience. On the other hand, there are all the other media (the internet, Netflix…). As every company’s television channel has to make profits, they broadcast advertisements which are the main income sources but they also have to decrease their outgoing. In order to reduce spending, we can notice a loss in programs’ quality. Channels trie to produce cheap content such as reality shows or rerun old programs.

With the advent of the internet the programs on offer increase and people can choose among lots of different channels. The strength of the internet is that people can choose when they want to watch programs and what they want to watch. Television strikes back with the release of an internet website where viewers can watch their program in time shift thanks to the replay option. However contents are available just for a short time after the first TV broadcast. The second problem with television is the programs themselves. Sometimes there are far from the expectation of the audience especially the young public. Young people don’t really have the cult of television like their parents or grandparents and were born with computer science, which definitely makes it  easier for them to find content on the internet than on television.

Television tries to launch their own VOD services so as to compete with the new broadcaster such as the internet or Netflix. Netflix or YouTube, though, remain the first media for young people and are trying to attract older people with more mature content, for instance Roma from Alfonso Quarrone which was rewarded by 3 Oscars in 2019.

As seen before, TV lost its monopoly to the benefit of YouTube and Netflix. In response to that, TV launched its own VOD service. Moreover, TV programming is increasingly criticised, particularly by the young. Generally, the problem comes from reality shows that are considered meaningless if not void and also from the news considered today as biased. Television is also beginning to upload all of its programmes on YouTube to generate more views, even inviting famous YouTubers in its programmes but has not been very successful so far and television has been losing its audience in the last 10 years.

Television criticises more and more the people who make videos on YouTube. On November 13, Thierry Ardisson received Squeezie. The latter is currently the most popular YouTuber in France and came to present his first book on the set of “Salut les Terriens”. At the beginning of the show, Ardisson criticized the title of the book. Then, he spent a lot of time speaking about the activity of his guest by making fun. For example, Ardisson said : “You are a genius because your job is to film yourself playing video games, and broadcast it. People watch, and as there is advertising, you earn money. Congrats.” Then he said, “Has eating pizzas become a profession?” Another entertainer added : “We have already interviewed a lot of wankers in the show, but this one is exceptional.” During the show, Squeezie kept his calm and detailed in a pedagogical way the different types of approaches on YouTube and he presented his YouTube channel . Many observers familiar with YouTube and social networks regretted the television’s bad image given by the show.

YouTube has been changing for some years. Even if, at the beginning, YouTubers were just men recording themselves in their bedrooms, now there are more professional. Some YouTubers have production teams and contracts with networks but continue to produce programmes that are still not mature at all. Best example of this change is the permanent struggle to get first on YouTube. In fact, PewDiePie, currently most popular Youtuber has  been struggling to keep his place for 6 months against T-series, the YouTube channel of a big Indian film production.

We don’t know if YouTube will be the same in 10 years. But famous YouTubers have to think about their future if they have problems with the platform. Felix Kjellberg alias PewDiePie has already hinted that he thinks he could do a better job at running a network than current companies in that area.

We are now in a really interesting struggle because we have some different solution and the reality is that they have all good and bad points. Is the thing going to continue like this, or a new contender will enter the game with new ideas? Or someone is about to surpass others and take advantage?

Is Rap the new Rock ?

It’s 40 years since the fans of rock and rap have been very distinct species (different dress style for example). Each group has their own musical universe, like System of a Down, AC / DC on one side and Jay-Z, WTC on the other. However, today, a new generation of American artists has been emerging lately called emotrap artists or soundcloud rappers. The best known are Post Malone, XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, Trippie Redd and Suicide Boys and we can say that they are neither rap nor rock but a new genre that borrows from both worlds.


Their look is a kind of mix between rap and rock (black sweater and gold chains but with Texan rocker fringes for example).

They have a gesture that is also between rap and rock. When it comes to gestures inspired by rap, we have pointed it out, the simildab, gold teeth for example, and in the case of gestures inspired by rock, we can name our tongue drawn, playing the air guitar, horns of the devil.

The Rockstar’s way of life has long been a rapper’s dream (Post Malone ft. 21 Savage – Rockstar) and there are many references to Kurt Cobain, be it in the lyrics of French or American rappers, for example.

These soundcloud rappers live in the same way, being more sulphurous, more extreme.


Now, we are going to talk about another aspect which can show that soundcloud rappers use beats that are different from the usual instruments used for the trap, with more rock influenced instrumentals. We can see this Lil Peep’s Spotify where we find the names of Sum 41, Red hot chili peppers, Good charlotte who are definitely rock artists. We can find that also at XXXtentacion who sample Slipknot for his single Off the wall.  For his instrumentals he also uses guitar saturated sounds in punk rock mode.


Some flows used by these rappers are reminiscent of rock. For example, we can note the fact that Lil peep used a type of flow in 2 syllables which is rarely used in rap but which we can find in sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and notably the song  “you always sing the same”.

As we can see, Lil peep is deeply influenced by this group. It’s not a coincidence as the red hot are the first rockers who rapped during a rap concert, they also distinguished themselves by melting rap and punk rock in some of their sounds as it was the case in “Give it away”. A song which inspired the scene rap in the United States in the 80s and whose chorus was taken over by Busta Rhymes.

It can also be possible to note the appearance of sung chorus in rap song and it is a phenomenon also found in rap in Europe.

In addition, we can find some flows more aggressive which shows likeness to rock. This is particularly the case with Trippie Redd, some of which are close to those of Linkin park.


In the lyrics of soundcloud rappers, the emotions communicated are larger and deeper than in traditional rap (sad emotions, often linked to disappointments in love (ex: Trippie Redd)). These are not the first rappers to talk about feelings but today there is a whole movement around this sadness. It brings these rappers to take refuge in drugs like Xanax, one of the drugs which unfortunately caused the death of Lil Peep on November 15, 2017 at 21 years old or the lean which is today really present in the USA and also in the french rap notably with Freeze Corleone or Senamo.

This cocktail of sadness and drugs brings these rappers to suicidal tendencies (as can be explicit in XXXTentatcion’s songs). Thus, rap explores a new range of emotions that were previously reserved for rock.


In 1976, a new type of danse appeared in rock and punk concerts, the pogo, a dance in which the dancers jump up and down, while either remaining on the spot or moving around. Nowadays, this type of dance is really present during rap concerts, in this way we can name XTRM Tour or Biffty & Dj Weedim which are real adepts of this type of atmosphere. That’s why, today, it doesn’t solely concerns rock or punk concerts as was the case in the past. This is another aspect where rock and rap present similarities.


The distinction between different styles of music does not really make sense today. There are no more boxes but a lot of mix, inspiration and new ideas to stand out and come up with a new genre, a new music to transmit new emotions or at least different emotions.

We talked a lot about the rap in America, but in France, it’s the same thing ; sometimes it’s difficult to actually categorize the type of music and we only have to accept that it doesn’t belong to any type.


3 Video Games we’ll never forget

With this article, we’re going to make you discover 3 video games we wanted to share our love for each ones in order to give you the will to interest you in more.

Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human is an adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 4, in May 2018. The plot deals with humans, living  with androids, who are working for them, doing some tasks like the house-keeping, resolving crimes or taking care of older people.

 When I started the game, i have been directly immersed in the universe of the game, and the attachment for the 3 androids you play became naturally: Kara, ready to lose her life to save the child; Connor, which each case he manages make him more and more compassionate for the deviants; and Markus, who’s fighting for androids rights.

The three characters

In the whole game, you make the decisions, where each one is important, and can change the future. For instance, a bad choice and Kara died during the second scene. I had the impression to control the whole story, where I could do what i want: Each scene owns dozens ends. That’s why, when i ended the game after more than 20 hours, i immediately started another one, to discover what other decisions will make on the story until the end.

Every Possibilities of endings for one scene

Besides the amazing story proposed by Detroit, it also has an awesome art direction: i often forgot that i was playing a game, and not watching a movie. The movements, reactions of the characters were so similar to real ones, that i was really impressed: this is thanks to motion capture method. It took several months to end the shooting, directed by David Cage, a master of this type of games.

Extract of the making of

Finally, let’s talk about something essential: Musics. And Oh My God this was good.
For each characters, one composer made the music for its character scene, at the level of a good movie.

The composer of Kara’s theme

To summarize this game with a few words, Detroit will transport you with its huge story and its beautiful Art Direction.

Second on our list,  the wonderful game… Borderlands 2. the game was developed by video game  studio Gearbox Software and published by 2K in 2012 on every platform used at the time. Borderlands 2 sold over 13 million copies, making it 2K’s best-selling title ever.

The story:the plot takes place on Planet pandora. This fictional planet was exploited before the time the story began for its alien technologies and its mining resources.

The ambiance of the game is  fun offbeat and amazing. The story is full of humour and there are a lot of cool jokes ! The main plot is that there is an alien vault that contains lots of  alien ore called ERIDIUM on pandora. The shelter is said to give a huge power to the one controle it. The Planet is dominated by a company called hyperion and his CEO the handsome Jack. The company exploit the planet with a iron hand. His company have soldier robot to defend the interest of the company. His goal is, as for every bad guy ever in video games, to control the vault because he discovered that the shelter contain an alien monster that can give an unbelievable power. But this information remind a secrets and a lot of adventurer are attracted by the mystery of the vault and the opportunity it offers of being rich by exploiting its resources. But those vault hunter are considered as enemies by Jack that kill most of them when they arrive in the planet. You embody a vault hunter that succeed to escape and will fight with pandora opponent to jack.

In this game you beat monsters, destroy robots, kill criminals and all this happen it those hand drawing comics like graphics. The game is a first person shooter. The weapons in the game are created by a random generator that assemble randomly part of weapons. There are more than 17 million possibility in total. You will never find a weapon twice and there are a lot of special weapons like those:

Since the story doesn’t take place on earth there is a different gravity and every time we jump we stay in the air  like forever. The game also have a system of skill tree in which every capacity has a funny name. This enabled the player to give his character the abilities he want which enable a lot of different ways of playing.

What I like in this game is that crazy atmosphere and the fact that we can replay the game again and again and always have a different experience.

As gamers, we all have a game that has left a mark on our life. I have several games like this but if I had to keep one, I’m pretty sure it would be Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption is a western action-adventure game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games on Xbox 360 and PS3 on May 2010.

The story takes place in the year 1911 during the decline of the American frontier. All along the game, we follow John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son have been taken under hostage by the government in order to force Marston to track down three of his former brothers in arms and bring them to justice.

The game is describe has a GTA like due to its editor and its likeness to the GTA series: a third person shooter gameplay in an open world with a liberty of actions and movements while keeping a logic in its scenario.

Rockstar has made a lot of effort in order to offer the most immersive experience in a western game. Music transports you into that spaghetti western ambiance, you can hear western whistle gimmick, old country violin and harmonica, western brass and piano, vibrates while modern electric guitars rings alongside bass and percussion that gives a modern vibes to the experience.

Alongside to the main storyline and during his exploration, Marston will encounter ambushes, public hangings, plea for assistance. All of these random events are here to provides a total immersion into this western universe. You will also encounter strangers who can require your help and are a bit of a story by themself. Also, you can also take part in optional side activities such as duelings in which you have to be the fastest drawer, bounty hunting to make some money, ambling (poker, blackjack…) and hunting.

Gunfights are fast and vigorous just like we want in a western video game. Be prepared to aim properly because most of the weapons are not automatic. But you can make it precise and deadly with one shot or multiple by using the enhanced gameplay mechanic called “Dead Eye” that allows players to mark multiple shooting targets on enemies in slow motion so it can makes you the fastest gunslinger of the West.

If you’ve always wanted to play a “cowboy” in the wild west by becoming an hero in the path of redemption who protect the weak and the defenceless or a desperado that kill everyone who standing in your way, Red Dead Redemption is the game you looking for.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and even if you’re not passionated by video games, we wish that these .3 different presentations gave you the want to discover these universes.
Give us your 3 favorites games in comments, and critics if you have some!

Steins gate, or how to mix anime, time travel, and world conspiration

What if our current view of reality was wrong ? What if what we call reality was only one of the infinite lines that « time » could offer ? It’s an example of the type of question you will ask yourselves after watching Steins Gate, an artwork mixing time travel, conspiration, and appealing characters, that will keep you hooked, and in whose complexity you will certainly lose yourselves.

But what is Steins Gate ? It’s a visual journey as well as an audio journey, from the beginning till the end, in which we will follow Okabe Rintaro, a young student of the Tokyo Denki University, self-proclaimed « Mad Scientist, Houyinn Kyouma » and his « future gadget laboratory ». It’s an adaptation of a Japanese visual novel, produced by White Fox, which released a first season in 2011, then a movie in 2013 and finally a second season in 2018. How can you produce this amount of content, without falling into the trap of repetitiveness and fan service ? The answer is simple. The story is so well directed that it gives them various possibilities to exploit. In fact, we follow Okabe Rintarou, a extravagant character, who loves to be called by his self-invented second identity, Houyinn Kyouma, who is surrounded in mystery, and his crew, composed of Itaru, one of his university friends, a experienced hacker, and Mayuri, a childhood friend of Rintarou. After a slow start, presenting a usual « slice of life » artwork, the spectator will be taken by surprise by a unexpected series of events. That will mark the beginning of the plot and the mystery and rhythm will greatly increase. This plot will continuously be rhythmed by unexpected and surprising events, mixed with other funnier scenes, the goals of which are to light up the series of all this drama. This great mix with also time travel, romance, and the Houyin Kyouma presence will keep you captivated throughout the series.

Besides the story, it’s also with its Character Design that Steins gate differentiate itself from the others, with the development of most of the characters in a way that we are bound to feel connected with them, and in a certain way starting to understand how they react and feel. But the closer you get to them, the harder it will be to let them go. Although the graphism paints a luminous world, it will be the dark and creepy path that Okabe take that we will follow, in which we will see, beside his strong character, how human he is.

As we are talking about graphics, it might be a topic on which Steins Gate is lacking. In fact the saga didn’t have much financing at the beginning which explains why the overall quality of its graphism is less spectacular than most of the anime that are released today. Although the financing was limited, I can assure you that every Yen was used properly. The overall art level is not jaw-dropping compared to other artwork of the same kind but the drawing and colorization fit the overall ambience focusing more on a realistic and detailed representation of our society today, making it different to the anime that we see the most.

A last point that I didn’t talk about is the soundtrack. It has a well rythmed opening and ending, perfectly fitted to the images. The background music is incredibly fitting to the scene, and, like the graphics, it also gives some weight to the accompanying scene.

To conclude, I enjoyed the series overall, as well as the way time travel is tackled, and all the theory related to the « butterfly effect ». It’s also interesting to observe the effect of these time travels on our main and favorite character Okabe. Despite the slow start, I started to be hooked after a triggering event that occurs in the sixth episode and by the way the events were going on. It’s also the infinite possibilities of development that the story offer that surprised me. For the film, Steins gate movie : Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu, as well as for the second season : Steins Gate 0, I found that these sequels perfectly continue the story started in the first season. To me, there is a lot to experience/discover watching this story. There is a lot of mystery to solve clue by clue, at the same time as the main character does, but you will also have to go a little further, like making your own theory or finding it on the internet. You will also learn how much endearing and captivating Okabe is. I have done my best not to spoil any moments of this amazing anime, and I will let you discover the series by youself, and lose yourself in this amazing colored, animated, and auditory journey.

El Psy Kongroo

Cinema and diversity Episode 1: race

Why is Hollywood “too white”? There’s been a huge progress by bringing in much more diverse casts and leads, going from the all-white cast of the very famous tv show “Friends” to  much more diverse ones such as “How To Get Away With Murder”, “Empire” or “Sense8”. Moreover, releasing films such as “Crazy Rich Asians”, “Black Panther” were a very big win for people of color. However, in this article we’ll see how when it comes to ethnic diversity and stereotypes, Hollywood still has a long way to go.

Even though there are more diverse actors being introduced in movies and tv shows nowadays, they are most of the time given roles that fall into those common clichés such as being black equals being a criminal, Arabs as villains, Latinos as drug dealers/addicts and Indians as either scientists or taxi drivers.

Based on the top 100 films of 2014, it appears that the US is much less racially diverse than it actually is. Caucasians make up to 62.6 percent of the total population in 2013 but they are much more represented in Hollywood as you can see in the pie chart above. While African Americans were slightly under-represented (12.5 instead of 13.2), it was the Hispanics and Latinos who were practically absent in the movies at just 4.9 percent of characters even though they represent 17.1 percent of the population at the time those films were made.

The saddest part of all of this, is that even if people of color might actually appear in a movie every once in a while, they rarely have a lead role. It seems like they’re just there to meet the racial quota. According to the UCLA diversity report, 86% of the lead roles in the top films of 2016 were played by caucasian whilst people of color, all combined, represented 14%.

Moreover, out of the top 100 films of 2014:

  • about 17 of them have no african american speaking characters.
  • more than 40 of them have no speaking asian characters.
  • just 17 of them featured a lead or co-lead from an ethnic minority group.

You might think that things would’ve gotten better by 2018 but these lists will surely open your eyes to the racism going on in Hollywood. Here are the top 10 highest-grossing movies of 2018:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War  -> mostly white men
  2. Black Panther -> finally a diverse movie
  3. Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom -> white lead
  4. Incredibles 2 -> family of white people
  5. Aquaman -> white lead
  6. Venom -> white cast
  7. Mission:  Impossible –  Fallout -> white lead
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody -> white dominated cast
  9. Deadpool 2 -> white lead
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald -> white dominated cast
Editorial: A Look Back At Friends 20 Years Later ...
– Friends cast

Some of the whitest tv shows:

  1. Friends
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Gossip Girl
  4. Dexter
  5. Breaking Bad
  6. Pretty Little Liars
  7. Gilmore Girls
  8. Sex and the City
  9. Riverdale

According to Ralph J. Bunch Center for African-American Studies at UCLA, the number of television roles for actors of color dropped dramatically over the last 15 years. Black actors are often misrepresented if hired. Most directors will not hire black actors unless the role calls for it. It is believed that some of the reasons Hollywood casts black actors in supporting roles just because they feel obligated to show some racial diversity. Moreover, “Studio executives explain the lack of presence of the African Americans in supporting or starring roles by stating “only 4 out of 10 movies turn a profit, according to the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. But because pictures with nearly all-black casts come along more infrequently, they tend to stand out more when they fail”.

Furthermore, many researchers argue that media portrayals of minorities tend to reflect caucasians’ attitudes toward minorities and, therefore, reveal more about caucasians themselves than about the varied and lived experiences of minorities.

However, there are black dominated casts being introduced in movies such as Black Panther, Nappily Ever After, The Hate U Give and Back on The Net, and in tv series such as Empire, How To Get Away With Murder and Scandal.

'Empire' Star Arrested for Domestic Violence | Morocco ...
– Empire cast

The study, which is called the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, found Latinos are among the least represented speaking roles in film and TV, even though they make up about 17.4 percent of the U.S. population. Out of more than 11,000 speaking characters surveyed in film and TV, only 5.8% were Hispanic or Latino. Felix Sánchez, co-founder of the National Hispanics Foundation for the Arts, said the report reiterates a pattern he has seen in Hollywood for 20 years. He said on-screen representation, and whether or not a character even gets named, starts in predominantly white writers’ rooms. “It all depends on who is in the writer’s room because they control the words and images the actors produce,” Sánchez told NBC Latino. “When you don’t have diverse writers, you won’t have three-dimensional minority characters.”

There is also a notable gender disparity when it comes to onscreen Latino-speaking characters. Fewer than 38 percent of the actresses are Latina, and according to the report, they are the most sexualized identifiable minority group. Usually, when Latinos are represented, they just play stereotypes like everyone else who is not white. While Latinas are being overly sexualized, Latinos are most of the time given macho roles, drug dealers, etc.

When it comes to Indians, they are also often forgotten when it comes to tv shows and movies, and even when they’re there, they’re either a doctor, scientist or cab driver, there is no other roles for them. The tv series Master of None shows really well the problems Indian actors face whilst trying to build their career. That show alongside the Mindy project are practically the only american tv shows where the main lead is Indian.

Since Arab and Middle Eastern people are constantly facing sweeping cultural and religious stereotypes, they are most of the time portrayed as villains. Not only that, Hollywood also portrays Arabs as Muslims, overlooking the significant number of Christian Arabs and other religions in the United States and the Middle East. Racial stereotyping of Middle Eastern people made by the media has produced unfortunate consequences, such as hate crimes, racism, discrimination, islamophobia and bullying. Arabs are often portrayed as terrorists, witches or oil sheiks. However, this is kind of changing as there are more Arabs being introduced in tv series and movies such as Sayid Jarrah in Lost and Sense 8, Raina and Nima Amin in Quantico, and the 2019 Oscar Winner for Best Actor Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody and Mr. Robot.

Now let’s talk about Netflix. At an accessible price, and with  services provided in 190 countries, Netflix is growing constantly and can be considered as one of the biggest pure media companies in the world.

It’s doing a pretty good job at creating movies and tv shows with diverse casts like Dear White People, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Sense8, Luther, Narcos and many more. However, most of Netflix’s tv shows and movies casts remain white dominant. Especially when it comes to the more successful and popular ones like Riverdale, Breaking Bad, 13 Reasons Why, Stranger Things, etc.

It begs the question, do people actually prefer white dominant shows and movies or is the marketing completely different when it comes to these shows? The number of times we’ve seen a Riverdale or a 13 Reasons Why ad is uncountable but I’ve never seen them promote as much for a more diverse cast.

Also, aren’t we just used to seeing white actors in movies and tv shows? Aren’t we programmed to believe that actors are supposed to be white? It is obvious that some people think that a show or movie that is predominantly caucasian is just “normal”, and they would never notice how the casts are overwhelmingly white until someone brings it up to them.

When science fiction becomes science… #1

Looking at the progress we have made in the fields of science and technology, one is always wondering whether it is science which impacts the vision we have of our future or whether it is fiction that drags mankind to newer horizons. Fiction is powered by human imagination. Without this unlimited power of imagination nothing could have ever been conceived. Everything started when someone imagined the concept of zero in counting and then there was no looking back . This is only one example but history is full of that kind of story.

Now a few questions arise: “What is the real force at work behind progress? Are the advances of sciences getting inspiration from fiction or is it the other way round?”

We can very likely say that when it comes to discoveries or inventions, science has always drawn inspiration from fiction. It is quite natural because before building up something we need to imagine, visualize and even analyse its use. In reality, imagination is nothing but free flowing ideas coming from the human mind and presented in the form of fiction. Later in pursuit of these ideas or thoughts, efforts are made to turn this imagination into reality. This is how things have progressed in the history of mankind.

Humans have imagined so many things which would later become reality. In ancient times, alchemists imagined a secret formula to convert metal into gold and make life eternal. In fact, in 1980 Glenn Seaborg,the nobel prize laureate in chemistry was suspect of being able to find the formula to transmute lead into gold. But, theoretically it is still considered impossible. Yet, scientists in the centuries that followed could not find this magical formula but in the course of their efforts they were able to discover many chemical processes which are still useful today. Indeed, they introduced on the market different “types” of gold, especially the fake ones.

But, now the question is: “Where does fiction get its inspiration from?”  

We can say that we usually get inspiration from our daily lives. For centuries, people always wondered why we humans weren’t able to fly when birds could. To fulfil their curiosity, they tried to copy birds and make wooden wings, wings with feathers, etc. And these continuous efforts were finally paid back when airplanes came to existence.

In more recent times, the huge variety of science fiction films, comic strips, books has given scientists more ideas. An example to illustrate this could be the communicator from Star Trek. Communicator was a fictional device used for communicating. The inventor of the first mobile phone credits the communicator for inspiring him. This is another example to prove that science inspired from fiction. Similarly many of the inventions were first seen in science-fictional series before entering our lives.




Somewhere in carina-sagittarius arm

You may be wondering why you should be interested in black holes when those objects are far, far from us and do not impact us directly and live their lives peacefully. A lot of you probably have in mind this scene in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar where you can see that gigantic black hole. Or, maybe not, because it’s far too old now. Well, you are not asking yourself the good questions because Black Holes are probably the most fascinating objects ever and could even be considered as the biggest objects in our Universe.

However, we don’t really know what’s behind those objects and that’s undoubtedly why it makes them so mysterious. Mysterious and yet so terrifying because even light cannot escape from a black hole and Stars are literally devoured by them.

A lot of theories revolve around them but we will discuss them later. First, let’s continue our journey in the incredible world of Black Holes. Let’s discover what they are… or are not… 

Black holes are the result of the implosion of a Star due to the loss of its stability. To put it simply, the main ‘job’ of a Star is to fuse hydrogen into helium. Fusion happens in its core and this type of fusion particularly creates energy in the form of radiation. What makes a Star stable is the balance between gravity and radiation. In fact, as you all know, gravity (Hi Newton!) is a force exerted by a body with an important mass that will attract other objects. That being said, gravity will exert a force against the radiation. This war will take thousands or even millions of years, but good (gravity) will triumph. Indeed, the star sacrifices a lot of its soldiers (hydrogen) to create more powerful soldiers (helium) and so energy. However, stars that are heavier, will eventually start the fusion of more complex elements like iron which in that case, will not produce energy. This will lead to a decrease in energy and so to the implosion of the star. The balance in the force is therefore broken. The star war is lost. The implosion of the star will either give birth to a neutron star or in some other cases (if the star is big enough) a black hole. In that precise case, the entire mass of the star will collapse to create a black hole.

So, you may be wondering, “If your aim is to find a black hole, and if it’s black, how will you be able to see it?”. Well, we give it the name “black” hole because this massive object cannot reflect or emit any light and so that is why we call it black. However, when black holes devour other objects, those objects will heat and so they will emit X-rays and that is why we can actually see black holes. Basically, the “black” part is called the Event Horizon and whatever crosses the Event Horizon cannot escape. Also, the “hole” is known as the singularity but let’s get deeper into it if we may say. What exactly is a singularity? To make it short, the singularity is situated at the center of a black hole and represents the place where the gravitational field is concentrated.

However, we don’t have enough information about it.

What could possibly make it so unique is that time doesn’t flow the same way according to the point of view. In fact, if you fell into a Black Hole, you would see time pass quickly whereas from another point of view, watching something fall into a black hole will seem slow.

And by that, I mean what would happen if you fell into it. Well, the moment you cross the Event Horizon, you cannot escape. Certainly, death will await you. Again, we don’t know for sure.

As we understand it, black holes are objects that could possibly suck everything from tiny objects to massive ones. And, by everything, could they possibility delete information?


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A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 3

Ladies and gentlemen, time has come for the third episode of A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE III – Arthedain


Two days and several dozen miles later, Niphredil and Thorbjörn reached the city of Bree. Bree was an important trading center between Men and the hobbits of the Shire, a small town where the Big and the Little People coexisted in a unique but most excellent arrangement. The town was set on the most important crossroads of Eriador, the north-western lands of Middle-Earth. Two roads crossed there, the Great East road, which stretched from the lands of Elves far to the West, towards the Misty Mountains in the East; and the Greenway, a north-south axis connecting the lands of Men in the North, Arnor, to Gondor in the South.

“What peculiar houses !” said Niphredil.

“Never seen what normal housing looks like ?”, ironized Thorbjörn.

“I haven’t, so what ?”, she grumbled quietly.

A few hundred stone houses stood on the Bree-hill, the only height in a hundred miles radius. A deep dike before a wooden wall encircled it, with gates breaking it up at regular intervals. The fortifications were derelict and in parts in ruin. The life in Bree was calm, and away from danger.

Many roads led to Bree, yet most of them were empty at this time of day. In the noon of night, the gibbous moon was at its highest. The glittering stars made for a bewitching firmament. The ghostly moonlight gave an odd atmosphere to the landscape below. From the many lights flickering at the houses’ windows, emanated a warm feeling, and the two companions hastened their pace towards them. Towards the inn, at last. A warm meal and a bed. What luxury.

After a well-earned night’s rest, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were ready for their morning preparations. They had decided to make some purchases in Bree, for the rest of the road would lead them for many days into Wilderness and uninhabited lands. The merchant stalls were already open, and they found a grocer that seemed to suit their needs.

“Good day to you ! Everything’s for sale my friend. Everything ! ‘f I had a sister, I’d sell her in a second !”

“Ehm, right. We’re only going to need food, enough for-”

“I’d even buy one of your relatives, if you’re looking to sell. Ha ha ha ha. That’s a little joke.”

“Yes, no.”, stammered Niphredil, less and less convinced now that this was the right shop. Or indeed a shop at all. “We’re just looking to buy enough food for a fortnight’s travel”.

“Well why didn’t you say so ? I’ve got just what you need.”

After a substantial monetary exchange, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were now in possession of enough equipment and victuals for a long journey.

“Do come back !” called the shopkeeper after them.

“What a queer man.” commented Niphredil.

The two travellers started walking towards the southern end of the city. In the morning light, Niphredil could finally observe her surroundings. In the lower half of Bree, the stone and thatch houses were built on fairly flat ground. Sturdy yet ancient looking, with mossy roofs and ivy-covered walls, they blended in with the wilderness beyond. Wild patches of color distinguished them, formed by rhododendrons and anemones growing freely around them; thereby dotting the landscape with warm shades of pink, blue and purple.

Shortly after leaving Bree, all traces of human settlement disappeared from the landscape, save for the road, ever present, a testimony of civilization in a desperately flat and empty land. These lands, home to the descendants of Númenor, once the greatest kingdom of Men beyond the Sea, were now slowly declining into nothingness. The might of the Dúnedain, bearers of the blood of old Númenor, was waning against the growing darkness cast by the Shadow of Angmar.

For many days they walked the Great South Road. They passed through the defile of Andrath, between the Barrow-Downs and the South Downs. The Downs were two series of low, barren hills, home to the remains of the old kings of Arnor. Here and there, megaliths stood upon the hills, looming in the distance. From the Downs, they followed the road into a deserted and sullen land, where vegetation scarcely grew, for many miles.

A long voyage, with nothing to differentiate one day from the other. A featureless and desolate landscape, whose brown dirt was darkened by an equally featureless layer of clouds above.

“This region feels dead. As devoid of life as the people who used to live in this land and are now buried beneath it.”, said Niphredil drily.

“Didn’t know you were into this kind of humour. Harrowing dark thoughts like that won’t help the atmosphere of the place much.”, answered Thorbjörn with a wry smile.

“It’s just tiring to be there, is all.”, she said blearily.

The solitude in this empty land would have been unbearable if she were travelling alone, thought Niphredil. She was glad to have someone she could talk to, remind her she wasn’t stuck in some neverending nightmare.

A little less than a fortnight later, Niphredil and Thorbjörn finally came into sight of a city.

“This must be Tharbad, if our feet haven’t strayed off the path we were supposed to take. Whatever it is, I am glad to be out of these Downs.”, said Thorbjörn.

“I think it is. A city built on either side of the Mitheithel River, the innkeeper told us in Bree. I don’t know if this is the Mitheithel River, but it certainly is a city built on either side of a river. We should at least be able to replenish our victuals here.”

“Not many roads our paths could have strayed off anyways. What a depressing place. How you people can bear to live in this wasteland is beyond my comprehension.”

“They’re not my people. If I remember my history right, there were hobbits here for a long time, but they’ve left for the Shire about 200 years ago.”, said Niphredil.

“You know much, O Wise One. It’s all old nonsense to me. The lore of smithing though, that I can comprehend. What do you say to a mug of beer and a comfortable bed for the night ?”, answered Thorbjörn, apparently insensible to the charms of hobbit genealogy.

Indeed had the foundation of Tharbad been lost in the mists of time to all but masters of lore, many centuries ago. It had been built by the sea-faring Númenoreans to protect their shipyards and wood-stores from the local population, whose forests they were exploiting. In their efforts to conquer these lands, the fortress promptly became a great river-port, built on one of the most expeditious routes between Arnor in the North and Gondor in the South, in the early days of both kingdoms. A fortified town and haven grew on either side of the Mitheithel River, home to a great garrison of soldiers, mariners and engineers. Symbol of the skill of the Númenorean builders and masons, a graceful bridge of white stone spanned across the flowing river. Upon it rode the Great South Road, itself another connection between the North and the South.

This road would Niphredil and Thorbjörn follow, to reach the Halls of Durin in Khazad-Dûm.

After a mug of beer (only tea for Niphredil) and a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, the two companions were ready to take the road again. Their bags were stocked with food for the rest of the journey.

“If I understood correctly what the innkeeper told me, we must now travel through the Nîn-in-Eilph fenland, north of Tharbad; then follow the Sirannon stream that flows into it, until we reach it’s source, conveniently right under the door of Khazad-Dûm.”, explained Thorbjörn.

“So we must leave the road ?”, said Niphredil.

“Roads ? Where we’re going we don’t need roads. That is, there are none.”, retorted Thorbjörn.

“Well then, better get going quick. We can make it to the Halls of Durin in two days if we hurry.”

They left when the Sun started cresting the Misty Mountains, away to the East, and headed in that direction, their shadows stretching long on the road behind them. The fenland bore its name well : Nîn-in-Eilph, water-land of the Swans; home to many of the white wingéd bird. On the west of the marsh lay Tharbad, on the northern borders flowed the Mitheithel. Towards the eastern end of the mire, a waterfall rushed down, and beyond it was a ford over the Glanduin. Out of these lowlands and into the plain beyond, the road led to the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. Another once mighty city, now lost to time, of which only ruins remained to this day.

Arriving to the ruins, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were surprised to see a man there. He was sitting on a tree stump, under the cover of a tent stretched between four wooden poles. His disheveled white hair and beard shone in the sun. Before him was a wide slab of white stone, probably fallen from a building long ago. He was writing on a sheet of paper, a half-filled inkwell beside him on the desk. Many more books and paper sheets were stacked in improbable piles all over the stony floor of his makeshift office. Hearing their footsteps, he turned to say :

“Well met, travelers. Are you lost ? It is rare to see visitors coming to this forsaken place.”

“Well met. I don’t believe we are lost. We’re on the way to Khazad-Dûm. Is this Ost-in-Edhil ?”

The old man smiled, his eyes tinted with melancholy. “This is indeed what remains of Ost-in-Edhil, the ancient elven capital of Eregion. Allow me to present myself, I am Alwis Peredhil, member of the guild of historians in Tharbad.”

“I am Thorbjörn son of Thorgald, and this is Niphredil.”, said Thorbjörn with a slight bow.

Niphredil had always been curious about the Elves. That these ruins were originated from the Fair Folk ignited her curiosity.

“If you don’t mind my asking, what is your purpose here ? What is Eregion ? And why are there no elves here today ?”

“So many questions ! I wish my students were so eager to learn.”, answered the historian, amused. “The story you wish to hear would take me many hours to tell in full. The history behind this city spans many millennia.”

“To answer your questions, I come here regularly in order to learn more about the inhabitants of Eregion. Eregion is the region west of the Misty Mountains and east of the Mitheithel river. You may know it under the name of Hollin.

The story begins in the early days of the Second Age, when Galadriel and Celeborn, Lady and Lord of the Lothlórien, founded Ost-in-Edhil. It was meant to become a trade center with both the Dwarves of Khazad-Dûm to the east, and the Men of Númenor to the west. In its time, it was a beautiful city, the gem of the West. Imagine a city filled with many fountains and statues finely carved by skilled craftsmen. A city of slender spires, towering to the sky, and houses of white stone, that held the sun’s light long after evening fell. It was home to the greatest smiths in Middle-Earth, and the greatest of all was the unrivaled Celebrimbor.

Ost-in-Edhil ultimately met its doom at the peak of its glory, at the hand of Sauron himself. Under the guise of a craftsman named Annatar, Sauron befriended the elvish smiths of Eregion, easier to mislead because of their thirst for knowledge. But a knowledge gained without wisdom comes at a price. Through cunning lies and insidious persuasion, he taught the Elves dangerous secrets for 400 years, and together with Celebrimbor, he forged the Rings of Power. Then Annatar revealed himself as Sauron by forging The One Ring and declaring war on all that was living, and Ost-in-Edhil fell shortly thereafter. Thus started the War of Elves and Sauron, and it was long and bloody, leaving all of Eriador ravaged and broken.

Dwarves, Elves and Men alike suffered heavy casualties, and many fair cities were destroyed by the forces of Sauron. He was eventually defeated near Tharbad at the Battle of Gwathló; his army routed by the combined forces of the Elves, led by Gil-galad, and Men of Númenor, who had sent a great fleet across the sea to their aid.

Ost-in-Edhil was never rebuilt, a symbol of its smith’s folly in their lust for knowledge. Forgotten by Men and forsaken by Elves, it came to us today, a ruin full of the glory and regrets of the past.”

Alwis was silent for a while, as if lost in his own story. Niphredil eventually spoke up.

“Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t born in the wrong time. Stories of the old days fascinate me. It seems like the world was so full of powers and magic beyond the reach of Man, a strength that has now departed and been lost forever. A world vividly alive, terrible and wonderful. Perilous without a doubt, yet today we relish in the marvels of those times, gazing longingly at this grandiose past.

In any case, I thank you for the tale, loremaster.”

“I am no loremaster. Though some call me half-elven because of my fascination for the lore of the Fair Folk, I have nowhere near the depth of knowledge of the only true half-elven loremaster there is : Elrond of Imladris. I am however glad you appreciated the lesson. Perhaps we’ll have the occasion of talking again if you come here on your return journey.”

The return journey. The words had a distant yet heartening feel to them. Filled with determination, Niphredil turned away from the ruins and started walking towards the road leading from the ancient elven city to the mines of Khazad-Dûm. Thorbjörn had taken the lead, uninterested by a past that was already gone anyways, and impatient of reaching his kinfolks’ dwellings.


This, dear listeners, was the third episode of A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Comb your beards, pick up your helmets and sharpen your axes, we are headed to the fourth episode : to the dwarven halls of Khazad-Dûm.

A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 2

Ladies and gentlemen, time has come for the second episode of A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE II – The Old Forest


Today was the day. She was an adult, and ready to abandon the Shire. Her backpack filled to the brim with victuals, a blanket and a towel, Niphredil closed the round door of her smial; her parents still asleep behind. No point in waking them up, she thought.

She now stood on top of The Hill, the main residential district of Hobbiton. Her long chestnut hair waving in the wind, chin up and gaze set on the horizon, she felt great joy and hope, for the first time in long years. Determined, she took her first step forward, out of her smial and out of her previous life, thus leaving the hurtful memories of her parents behind.
Towards a new life of adventure, where glory and mayhaps even love awaited her.

Walking down the streets she had known since forever, every step memories resurfaced and appeared before her eyes. Every step she chased them, freeing her mind of these shackles. She wanted to convince herself this was the right choice, the only choice, to get away from this land she desperately needed to hate.
The gardens of the Shire, always peaceful and still green despite the progressing Autumn, shone under the rising Sun. Quiet they were yet, only troubled by the rustle of leaves and the swishing of the grass blades in the wind.
On the edge of Hobbiton, near the Bywater river, she met the first person that was already awake in all the Shire, beside herself. Petula Brockhouse was already working her garden, trimming the cypress hedge.
“Hullo there ! Why, aren’t you out early today, Niphredil ? Going for a walk ?”
“Hmm ? Oh, yes. Something like that.” answered Niphredil, taken aback by the sudden interruption of her thoughts. Regaining her composure, she continued, “Yes. I’m going for a long, long walk. I don’t think I’ll be back this evening. In fact, I don’t plan to come back at all.”
It is known, hobbits are a simple people, and have difficulty finding an interest to the world outside of the Bounds of the Shire, or imagining why anyone would want to live in the troublesome lands of the Big People, Men. They call it simply Outside, and the farthest points of the Shire reflect this : the South, West, East and North Farthings. Beyond are things that are too far to be considered a matter of worry for decent and definitely-not-interested-by-adventure hobbits.
Petula’s answer will therefore come as a surprise to no one.
“Oh really, is that so ? Well, do be careful, eh ? Seems like the weather won’t hold for long. Oh, should you find any, would you be so kind and bring a handful of mushrooms back ? I’d like to cook something special tomorrow. See, ‘t’ll be the old Balbo’s birthday ! His 85th birthday already. How time flies, eh ! Ah, but I’m sure you young’uns only think it too slow. Always in a hurry instead of enjoying yourselves.”
Not wanting to engage in further fruitless conversation of which hobbits are so fond of, Niphredil simply nodded and went on her way.

She walked tirelessly the rest of the day and the day that followed, towards the East Farthing. She only stopped to rest at an inn in Frogmorton, before resuming her journey to the border of the Shire, through Whitfurrows and to the Bridge of the Brandywine river. There she finally marked a pause in her steps, for this was the farthest she’d ever been from home. On the other side of the bridge, the wooden fences on either side of the road quickly yielded to the sprawling vegetation, then succumbed under tall grasses, before disappearing entirely, consumed by briar and brambles. Unpruned, beech trees arched over the road. The rutted tracks thus faded, covered by a blanket of yellow and brown leaves. The road itself was however in very good shape. It was the main road in and out of the Shire, chiefly to Bree, the closest city of Men in the vicinity and principal trade partner of Hobbits. After a short meal, she took to the road once more, advancing swiftly.
Wilderness, at last. Beyond the Brandywine river was the Old Forest, though the road only traversed its outskirts. Most of the forest lay further south. An old forest indeed, left untouched since millennia uncounted. Only remnant of a once much greater primordial forest that spanned almost all of the continent. It had been awakened by Elves in the Elder Days, and Ents had roamed its paths, though none had remained to this day.

The forest seemed to stretch itself around the road indefinitely. Rows upon rows of moss covered trunks and roots wherever the eye could see. When the light grew dim, on her third day since she closed the door to her previous life, Niphredil set up camp in a small glen. A small brook burbled quietly in the distance. Tired but content from her first days of march, she ate, then unfurled her blanket and went to sleep.
Quickly, she realized that the forest wasn’t so still as it seemed at first. Noises of the night surrounded her. The sound of water, acorns falling and leaves whispering prevented her from sleeping. Although these were but the outskirts of the Old Forest, it remained a wild and peculiar place. Hobbits believed the trees of the Old Forest were in some manner “awake”. They would sway when there is no wind, whisper at night, and mislead and waylay travelers. These tales were of no concern to Niphredil, so she eventually fell asleep. For a while.
A particularly irritating child threw little pebbles on the window of her smial. The pebbles, clattering, formed a maddeningly irritating noise. It seemed that child had also emptied a bucket of water on her, for she was dripping wet. Drowsy and tired, she awoke from her dream, disturbed by an omnipresently annoying noise environing her. Accompanied by a very distinct sensation of sogginess. Sogged to the bone, that is.
It was bucketing down, and had been for a little while now, judging from the swamped ground. It pounded the trees, it churned and slopped the scrubby land into a mudbath.
“Ugh.” was the only sound she could utter, before gathering her things and running to the closest semblant of a shelter : a small hollow under the roots of a great oak. She lay there shivering, in a transitory state between sleep and waking.

Morning come, she was tired and sick but determined to go on.
“I was naive to think adventure would be easy”, she thought, looking with apprehension upon the muddy road before her. The road was submerged in parts, making her advance slower.
Come evening, her feet were covered in mud and she wished only for a warm meal in her smial, in front of a good chimney. With tea. She liked tea.
This time she searched for a proper place to sleep, and found a small burrow, not too far from the road. Exhausted, her mind didn’t have time to focus on anything other than a blissful void before her body plunged into a deep slumber.

The next day, the sun was shining again, and the water had already receded from the road. She realized she hadn’t yet looked at the forest around her, occupied as she was with avoiding to slip in the mud or thinking about her future.
With the humidity of the previous day’s draught, the forest sprang to life. Bright green moss sprawled on the ground between the trees. Brown, red and white capped mushrooms were scattered all over. She walked all day long, until the sun started westering.
At a turn of the road, she suddenly stopped in wonder, awestruck by the heavenly scenery that lay before her. Time halted.
Under the razing light of the westering Sun, colour and light were weaved into a vibrant tapestry, as the green foliage, forming a ceiling over the road, glowed with shades of red, orange and gold.
The road, straight ahead, was wreathed in the shade of linden trees. Dim should the pathway have been, yet it shone as if from its own light. As if no darkness was to be in this timeless place.
Further along the road, the forest dwindled and opened into a glen. The Sun shone through the opening upon the path, a circle of light like a portal to another time and place.
Shimmering leaves fell whispering, brought down by a slight breeze from the trees. Catching the westering rays of the sun through the foliage, they shone like so many sparks of light.
This warm, impossibly bright light gave an eerie feeling to the scene, and Niphredil felt as if she didn’t belong there. Or rather, that this scenery couldn’t belong to this world. For a fleeting moment you could catch a glimpse of a time that was to be no more, long gone countless millennia ago.
The moment passed. The Sun was hidden by clouds, the birds started chirping again, and Niphredil realized she had been holding her breath for, well she had lost count of time, but enough for her to need air. Quickly.

It took her a moment to realize someone else was standing there, in the middle of the road. A small man, seemingly middle-aged, red-haired.
“Pretty, ain’t it ?” he said, matter-of-factly.
Niphredil could but nod, speechless as she was. It was quite impressive that the man could speak at all, after such a moment.
“I didn’t know woods could be this beautiful.” he said, entering the pathway. “Looks like we’re going the same way, where are you headed ?”.
“Nowhere in particular.” answered the hobbit, finally finding her words.
“Oh. Well that’s as good a destination as any, I suppose. I am Thorbjörn, son of Thorgald. Shall we walk together towards nowhere in particular, for a while ?”
“That name doesn’t sound very hobbitish at all. It sounds very dwarfish, in fact.”
“Makes sense, I’m a dwarf. I come from the Ered Luin, far to the East. I believe you call them the Blue Mountains here.”
“You’re a dwarf ? But, you have no-”
“-beard, yes, I know. I’m a very young dwarf. And you, are a very impolite young lady. What’s your name ?”
“I am Niphredil, from the Shire.”
“A hobbit ? That much is obvious, I suppose, what with the walking-barefoot-in-the-forest business. But a hobbit with an elvish name ? Now that’s peculiar.”
“My parents used to travel a lot.” she said, not wanting to discuss this particular subject. “The Blue Mountains are very distant from here, what could you be looking for in the Shire ?”
“Nothing in particular. I’m merely passing through these lands on my way to the ancient capital of the dwarves, towards the vast halls of Khazad-Dûm. There, my folk is most numerous in all of Middle-Earth, and I hope to learn much from them in the arts of craftsmanship and lore. There is mithril in them darn mines. Can you imagine that ? Mithril !”
At the mere mention of mithril and highly-skilled smiths, Thorbjörn brimmed with anticipation. His brow twitched strangely, until he calmed down a little.
“Khazad-Dûm ? Would you mind if I accompanied you there ? I want to see the world, and what better way to discover the realm of the dwarves than guided by a dwarf ?”
“I see no reason to refuse. If we’re going the same way, might as well travel together.”
All the while talking, they had already reached the edge of the northern end of the Old Forest, which wasn’t very far from where they started off.
From there they now had to follow the Great East road (named from the Shire’s point of view), towards the city of Bree, and through the realms of Men. A long journey awaited them in these peaceful lands, until they finally reached Khazad-Dûm, jewel of the kingdoms of the Dwarves.
But that, is a story for another day.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

This, dear listeners, was the second episode of A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Next week (or two ?), we’ll follow Niphredil and Thorbjörn to the third episode of their tale, to the realms of men, in Arthedain.

A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 1

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first episode of our journey to the lands of Middle-Earth. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE I – The Shire


Third Age 1800. Eriador, The Shire.

Niphredil woke up in the early hours of the morning. Like every day, she woke before her parents, who were still fast asleep in the room adjacent to hers. She slipped quietly in her clothes and opened wide the windows of her bedroom, letting a refreshing breeze in the smial. Leaning on the window sill, she closed her eyes and let her thoughts wander.

She liked these quiet early mornings, alone at her window. Soon, the Shire would rouse from its slumber and life would fill the streets of Hobbiton. Until then, it was as if time had decided to slow down for a while and the world belonged only to her and the bird’s chirping. Scents of ripening fields filled her lungs. It was already Autumn, and the harvest-time was nigh.

She opened her eyes again. Far to the East, the Sun was already starting to cast her light over the crest of the hills. Everywhere, trees and leaves and flowers started glittering, as the sunrays were scattered by the morning dew. Like a prism of light, the red and gold shades of the falling leaves mingled with the green of the grass of the Shire. The rising mists enshrouding the rolling hills of the Shire truly were a sight to behold. Yet Niphredil saw it not, as her eyes looked beyond the hills, her gaze attempting to pierce the haze and see what lies beyond. Beyond her village of Hobbiton, beyond the Bywater river, beyond Frogmorton, Whitfurrows and the bridge of Stonebows that crossed the Brandywine and was the eastern border of the Shire. Beyond that even, far to the East, to mythical lands, lost forests and cities you could easily get lost in.

Unheeding, time went on and the Sun continued its ascension, and the Shire arose with the cries of the roosters. Yet another day, thought Niphredil. Another day in the Shire. Nothing unexpected ever happened here. Only trees, gardens and fields as far as the eye could see. Its people were little more interesting, peaceful and content with their quiet lives.

She loathed this simple and rustic beauty, for she had never seen anything else. She was tired of peace and calm, and wished to seek adventure beyond the border of the Shire. Explore the world, and maybe, hopefully, see some of the Fair People, the Elves.

Wearyingly dull were the days here, ever the same, ever unchanging, month after month, year after year. 33 years it had been already. Well, not quite. Tomorrow was to be her 33rd birthday. Tomorrow she would become an adult, as hobbit tradition wants it. Incidentally, she would become free to leave the Shire and live a life of adventure like her ancestors.

Always she had dreamt of adventure. To flee the heady atmosphere of her parents smial on the hillside of Hobbiton. To walk in the tracks of her legendary ancestors.

When she was but a young hobbit lass, she marvelled at the tale of the history of the ancient forefathers of the hobbits of the Shire. Indeed had the Shire not always been inhabited by hobbits. They originally lived in the upper vales of the river Anduin, which flowed east of the Misty Mountains, from the far northern mountains of Ered Mithrin to Gondor in the South.

About 200 years ago, gentlehobbits of great strength and honor led their people into a long voyage from their initial homes into the West, towards the Misty Mountains. To flee the rising evil of Mirkwood and the increasing number of Men, they began their wandering days.

Three hobbit kindreds, the Fallohides, Harfoots and Stoors, took three different roads. The Fallohides, people of the woods, crossed the Misty Mountains and met the Elves by Rivendell. The Stoors, people of the rivers, climbed the Redhorn Pass above the dwarven capital of Khazad-Dûm, which would later be known as the Moria. The Harfoots, people of the hills and closest to the hobbits we know, wandered further into the West, into Wilderland, until they finally settled into what we know today as the Shire.

Such a rich history, full of great deeds and accomplishments. Yet the hobbits of today were nothing like their wandering ancestors. Preferring peace and quiet to the risks and dangers of adventure, the old gaffers and gammers of Hobbiton said to her when she told them of her plans :

“You’re like all the young’uns now’days, restless young lass. Ye better worry ‘bout yer future, yer family and yer land instead of worrying ‘bout queer places you’re not meant to go. We don’t want no adventures here, thank you, brings only trouble and disquiet”.

As for her parents, well, they hadn’t answered when she told them of her plans of travel. Though that was as she had expected. They hadn’t uttered a word since they had returned from their own journey, to visit distant relatives in the East. Though that was almost 20 years ago now, they had remained obstinately mute and indifferent to the world around them ever since; accomplishing only daily tasks in the fields to assure their survival, like automats.

Their own daughter they ignored. The initial happiness to see them return quickly turned into tears, the tears into despair. She cried and wailed, in vain. The smiling and loving parents that had left her for their many months long journey in the East would never return. She’d never feel their embrace again. She mourned for weeks as desolation struck her. Eventually, she recovered, finding strength in the memories she reminisced of her parents before their doomed journey.

Thus she had to repress her excruciating loneliness and heartrending despair to live on, and for the better part of her late childhood, she had to care for herself alone. Even though she still lived in the same house as her parents, she was now living with strangers. Every now and then, the empty eyes of her parents woke the painful emotions she thought she had hidden far enough in her mind, never to be seen again. She wanted to be strong to be able to flee the Shire, now synonym of a lost times of happiness and an unending sorrow.

Friends came to see them and were met only with silence. Even today, she still remembers how apathetic her parents were against the increasing concern from their neighbours, despite the unease their state caused around them. Wholly detached from their environment they seemed to be, as if they didn’t belong to this world anymore.

After the final attempt the friends of Veryan and Nostariel Took made at making them reconnect with their surroundings, they gathered at their doorstep to decide what was to be done. Apprehending her parents absence of reaction, Niphredil had hidden herself when the four hobbits had arrived, but overheard their conversation when finally they came out, discouraged by the obtuse silence opposed to them. Bruno Bracegirdle, Pansy Proudfoot, Goldilocks Goodenough and Mirabella Mugwort shared their thoughts :

“I don’t understand what’s happened with them. Used to be very respectable folk. Very nice, well-spoken gentlehobbits. They were always ready to help me out in the fields, come harvest season. And their daughter was so sweet, as nice a young hobbit as you could wish to meet.” said Mirabella.

“They’ve been like that since they returned. All this adventuring must have knocked the senses outta them. Their relatives beyond the Brandywine River, they’re queer folk. Fool about with boats on that big river. Anduin they call it, or so I heard. There’re dark places out there, if all tales be true.” agreed Pansy.

“T’is what you get for leaving your home, going off to odd places with queer people and just altogether meddling with strange and unnatural things. Small wonder trouble came of it, I say.” said Goldilocks.

“Beats me why they left their young daughter alone, too. Poor thing.” vituperated Mirabella.

“Bloody adventures. Hate them.” put in Bruno.

“I think we better leave them alone. Can’t do much about their current state anyways, I figure.” Pansy, one of the longest friends of Veryan, Niphredil’s father, further added, “Never saw anything like them empty eyes of theirs, gave me shivers.”

They parted on these words.

Niphredil had wanted to hate her parents for leaving her alone, but could not. Instead, she hated this artefact they had brought back in their linen sack. One night she went with a torch to the hidden room her parents had stashed it away, out of sight. She wanted to burn the vile thing, to destroy the symbol of her parents doom. Opening the sack however, she saw nothing unusual, only an old parchment, similar to those she used to see her father write on. On the parchment lay several verses of an old traditional poem, scribbled down in the neat and tidy handwriting of her father. Determined, she had closed the sack and extinguished the torch. She couldn’t destroy the last token of her parent’s sanity. To this day, she remembers the entirety of the poem.

So it began.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

And so it goes. Tomorrow, she will set out at dawn.

This, dear listeners, was the first episode of our voyage in Middle-Earth; A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Pack your bags, we’re going on an adventure ! Tune in next week for the second episode : The Old Forest.

Down the hill

I was running for my life. Down the hill, to the woods, throwing frightened glances over my shoulders. I had no idea what was coming for me but I knew it definitely was. My legs felt numb, heavy like stone, but the adrenalin rushing into my veins kept me moving forward. I did not know why but I had the feeling to have already done this a thousand times before. The feeling of a life-threatening danger , the certainty of something worse than death coming for me, it was as if it was nothing but a far too familiar sensation. My body knew exactly how to move into the darkness of the forest, so complete, only troubled by scarce rays of light due to the crescent moon. I did not have to think about anything, my instinct was doing it for me. Run, do not stop, rush through the woods in the direction of the river, it will give you a tiny chance to escape, to survive, do not stop. I was moving silently, efficiently, with a motion economy that only an automaton could reach. But I was no robot. I was something else. I did not have any idea what I could be, my memories were still blurry, but deep inside I knew that this was my main goal, my only purpose. To survive in hostile territory. But even if I had been created for it, I had the impression that I was not going to make it this time. It was such a strong déjà-vu, me trying desperately to escape while destiny was coming, slowly but inexorably, gaining ground on me every step I took. Suddenly it was here, the river I had been running to. Hope felt like a breath of fresh air. Except it was a very little, tiny, breath, which stopped at the exact same time as me. I have no idea how a perfectly built machine like me could have tripped over anything. It was impossible. Impossible but true. My body was betraying me, I could not do anything but crawl on the grass, towards the dark glittering mass of water. My strength was leaving me, I could not feel my legs anymore, it felt like something was sucking up all the energy I had left. Blood was rushing to my head, all my senses were screaming to me that danger was way too close. I almost made it. I had finally attained my goal, the calm waters of the river and was trying to slip my useless body into the water when I turned around and saw what was after me. I was running from me from the very beginning. I felt an intense pain in my forehead and the whole world shattered before me. Then, everything went black.


– “Well. Seems like this one is a failure too. Every time it comes to face himself it just shatters and loses every sense of survival instinct. But we still have to run that test several times to figure out the problem.

– Yes Captain. However it’s interesting how this model headed for the river, it’s the first one who’s ever done that.

– Hmm. It might be due to the fact that we don’t seem to be able to erase his memory entirely as we were with the previous ones. It seems he still has latent memories of his past lives and that sometimes they just resurface when in stimulating conditions.

– I think we can hold a deviant gene for this problem.

– Yes, you must be right. About that, when will the next generation be ready?

– The incubation period is almost coming to its end, we should be able to start the testing process in a few weeks.

– That’s great news, we need more of them for the upcoming events. Erase the memory of this one, heal it and re-run the escape test. Good job, doctor.

– Thank you, Captain.”

A transhuman future

Years ago, the world was really different than today. There were no computers, machines seemed primitive compared to today’s. People made plans for their lives, got a job, got married, founded a family…

Things haven’t changed a lot : the more technology evolves, the more people seek pleasure and the less they want to work, but people still have the same objectives.

Technological progress through time has eventually enabled to replace dangerous, extremely physical or boring jobs by machines. These changes caused a lot of jobs to disappear but also created even more, more interesting ones.  


The past centuries saw humans come up with incredible inventions which changed human life forever and, each time, with more and more effects.

Technology revolutionized the world in the past:

  • The steam machine allowed us to make giant leaps: the train and the automobile changed everything in people’s lives, first in the life of those who could afford it but eventually in everybody’s.
  • Computers changed the way we communicate : The Internet allows us to chat with everybody in the world instantly. It also changed the way we seek information : a few people still use the old way to learn things but they are getting fewer and fewer. Today, everybody browses the web when they need information.


Even today, technology is changing the world:

  • 3D printers are still in development but they already changed a lot of things : in China, huge 3D printers are are used to build houses, even skyscrapers. 3D printers can also print bridges and a lot more and it is just the beginning.
  • Advance in bionics allows us to replace humans’ parts or organs by augmented and more efficient ones.


The point is that technology reshapes the way we live, the way we think, but people’s major goal hasn’t evolved. The human body hasn’t evolved either in more than 200,000 years : we still have a similar primitive darwinian brain, which is the result of nearly 4 billion years of evolution.

The evolution is, as we all know, a natural process based on random choices made by nature.

The problem of this process is that it does not consider the future and it does not make decisions. If we want to evolve, we have to pass the genes and there are no other ways.

But if humans didn’t evolve a lot in more than 200,000 years, they will probably not be so different in another 200,000 years, and probably in a million years, if they are still here. That means we have to find a different way than passing the genes if we want to evolve and if we want to choose how we will evolve. Most people are not ready to change : they see the world as it was and they think it will remain like that forever, so they plan their lives as theirs parents and grand-parents did. They are not able to imagine what could happen and how their lives can dramatically change within a very short time. It’s not refusing change, it is that they don’t believe really important change could occur, and it is way worse.

In fact, changes occur all the time, and fast, even if we don’t see it and are not impacted yet : since 1900, the power of machines has been doubling every eighteen month, increasing significantly computation power. This leads to an exponential growth of computing. For example a simple PS3 is more than 800 times more powerful than the old but very famous  1975 Cray-1 supercomputer.


This chart is a bit out of date : nowadays, computers are more powerful than a mouse brain.

To make a comparison, the human brain has a capacity of 2.88*1017 calculus per second. A current computer has a capacity of 2.25*1015 calculus per second. It means that the brain is more than 100 times more powerful than computers. How much time do we have before computers can have the same power as our brains ?


This exponential growth is based on Moore’s law. This law will not last forever, but there are other paradigms with other ways of computation than classical computation (Quantum, DNA…).

An important paradigm is Rose’s law for quantum computers, which illustrates how important quantum computers are.


Nowaday, Google and NASA are in possession of a 1024 quantum bits computer that allow them to run a 10.000 years algorithm in only one second : computation is about 100 million times faster than conventional computer. Event through, quantum computation is only at its beginnings.

This exponential growth of computing is a part of the law of accelerating returns, one of the most powerful concept ever made for evolution in computer science.


The law of accelerating return is an analysis of evolution on earth. It does not limit itself to computer nor technology but also biological evolution. This law states that changes, especially technological, are exponential. The concept is that the more time passes, the less time between two major evolutions is reduced.



The graph is a good representation of this exponential evolution and we can believe that one day, the time between two events will be lower than a single second.

This law shows that the period 1900 to 2000 only saw 20 years of technological progress instead of 100 years based on the 2000 to 2020 scale. It also predict that this interval will be reduced again and again : 20 years of progress between 2020 and 2035, 20 between 2035 and 2041, 20 between 2041 and 2045 etc…


At last, this exponential evolution tells that the XXIth century will not see 20 or 100 years of progress based on today’s scale but 20.000 years.


The law of accelerating returns leads to an important event, potentially the most important event in human history : the technological singularity.


The technological singularity (or simpler, the singularity) is not a sure event, it is possible it will never occur but even if, we mustn’t ignore it because of all of its’ impacts. The singularity is an idea that one day, progress will be so fast that we will no longer be able to understand or control it : for example, you have the most powerful computer in the world, and, a second later, computers thousands of time more powerful already exists.

The question is if we can’t understand what we can create, how will we be able to create other thing even more powerful ? The answer is pretty simple : artificial intelligence. The singularity can be resumed in one citation :


“Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind.“  Irving John Good


The singularity may not dure forever, and it can also be finish within a minute. The major problem will be physical, there are always limits.

This event will occur (let assume it will) in a few years. Specialist estimated it will happen in 2045, based on the exponential growths. These growths predicts that in 2045, an artificial intelligence will be more powerful than all humans brains gathered.


This lead to an explosion of intelligence and a single human will not be able to live a life as he could have planned it nowadays. If we want to keep control we don’t have lots of choice.


We can decide to stop progress, but it’s quite unlikely or we can decide to evolve with technology, but as it was said previously, we still are primitive animals depending on nature to evolve. In a few years, technology allows us to change that : we are now able to change ourselves, to make us evolve in a predefined direction. The changes we can make are still in their beginnings and not always efficient for now. If we want to keep control or at least understand what will happen in a few decades, we have to become more than human, we need to transcend biology.


Transhumanism is an intellectual movement based on this idea. Transhumanists think that it is time to choose a direction to evolve, to change everything it means to be human through technology. One of the major objective of the movement is to destroy diseases, aging and even death.

Some ideas of transhumanists are quite extreme and non transhumanists people think it could be an abomination, such as eugenism like in the movie Gattaca. They also want to use artificial womb, like in the movie Man of Steel. A vast majority of their ideas are considered as unethical for lots of people.


The movement is based on Ray Kurzweil’s predictions and ideas about the future. He is at the head of engineering at Google which support and leads breakthrough in these ideas. All of his predictions have been listed on this page :


Google (or Alphabet) is the leading organisation in transhumanists ideas and want to change the world following these ideas by extend human life, developing artificial intelligence and others. X lab for example is leading research in theses direction with projects such as bicentennial man or the Google car. Calico wants to push Human longevity further, Deepmind is designed to be the very first artificial consciousness… But even if Google is the leader in this kind of projects, Facebook, Tesla and Space X are also in the race for transhumanists’ technology.

The main ideas of transhumanism can be divided in some points :




As it was said previously, an important idea of transhumanism is to eliminate death and all other disease.

Let’s take an example :

Imagine a disease that kill 100.000 people a day. In thirty years, over a billion people will have died because of this virus. How much money in research would have been spend to stop this virus ? How people would have reacted ? We can imagine it will be priority number one and nobody would talk about anything else.

In fact, 100.000 people really die every day by ageing, and nobody bat an eye, it is not a global priority at all. So why that paradox? Maybe because people are thinking that ageing is part of life and inevitable, even if we now have the technology to fight it. Even worse, some people fight against the idea to fight ageing. The problem is that, even if we have the technology to stop ageing, there are a few support to do it. There are only company from the private sector to try something, such as Google with Calico which say that today’s millennium will not have to worry about ageing and will probably have the ability to live forever. The health system is based on the idea to make us live as long as possible. The idea of transhumanism’s longevity is to change the system to make us live as long as we want.

How transhumanists wants to make this possible ? There are some differents methods :

  • Nanotechnology that exist in our body and act like antibodies : they can change our bodies, make us smarter, stronger and keep us from being sick. Nowadays nanotechnology are able to destroy cancer in mice.
  • Cryonics allow us to preserve bodies by freezing them, but it is only recently that we succeeding in unfreezing these bodies without damages them.
  • Uploading minds into computers and bionic could allow us to preserve minds, and upload them into non biological bodies, buts it is not a viable technology yet, even if some billionaires spend billions to make this technology possible. To do such a thing, we need more knowledge about the human brain.
  • Gene therapy that could reverse the process of ageing, making us younger than we are. This method has already been successfully tested on human being.


Of course, this idea of longevity is the source of important ethical questions such as “How will we live on earth if nobody dies?” or “What about the resources?”…



Another main part in transhumanism’s ideas is the super intelligence. Transhumanists want to make themselves smarter. By smarter, they don’t mean to switch to 140 IQ to 180, but way more than that. They thinks that we have to develop artificial intelligence (AI) for many reason. First : achieve the singularity if possible, and next, fusion with AI.

We can distinguish three kind of AI :

  • Basic AI like Deep Blue and even AlphaGo because they are making a tree of possibility, they don’t really think about what they are doing. It is the only kind of AI we master nowadays, even if it is a difficult field to work in.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) are, nowadays, one of the world greatest challenge : an AI that learn and think, a kind of artificial consciousness. Even if it is not really AGI, there are Microsoft’s Tay or Google’s Deepmind. The main technology we use for AGI is the neural network, but none artificial consciousness as even been made.
  • Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is the same thing than an AGI, but way more powerful. An ASI is to an AGI what a supercomputer is to a laptop.


Today’s research in artificial intelligence is making some noise : Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and even Bill Gates are saying that AGI could rebel against us, turning the world into a Terminator’s world like. In general, people don’t understand nor know what could happen so it is not a recurrent actuality question yet, but chances are great it will be in the upcoming years.




Super intelligence and longevity could be great, but it could have a price on how we feel : we could feel bad, feel pain or live miserably… Transhumanists’ goal on well being is to eliminate everything that could lead us to pain. The vast majority of the projects require advances in artificial intelligence, computing and robotics. One of the most famous project is the jobless future, a world where all jobs are done by machine with artificial intelligence.

Others projects that already exist are the 3D printed organs to replace damaged ones, bionic to replace missing members.

In this idea of healthcare, there are projects that could reinforce longevity, strength, intelligence, such as cancer killer nanobots, muscles stimulators substances (In the same way than in Captain America).

This is not the most developed area in transhumanism’s ideas, but there are already important questions to ask for a jobless future : what will people do ? Will people get bored ? How people will gain money ?



In the same idea than artificial intelligence, there is an idea of augmentation of the human body. Transhumanists want to enhance themselves through technology. Let’s take an example :


This is Neil Harbisson. He was born color blind. He is considered as a cyborg since he wear a device that allow him to hear colors, even those beyond the range of sight.

There are a lots of other ideas : perfect vision regardless to the distance, night vision… These technologies exist, and are the beginning for something even more important : bionic. Nowadays bionic is efficient, but far away from biological members. Even if bionic can replace, it does not compete with biology. Not yet. A lot of people think that, one day, in a very near future, bionic will be far better. It is possible that some day, voluntary amputation will be a common thing.

We also can imagine that technology allow us to perceive new senses we never dreamed about.

The idea of augmentation could make us godlike because we could be way more than human : impressive strength and resistance, new senses and augmented one, new abilities such as flying, breathing underwater…



It is probably the most unethical idea because of all it impact on culture, religion, etc… There are a lot of religious people, and for a majority, change the human body like that is unthinkable and has to be punish or forbid. We can also ask ourselves about what could happen if augmentation became the new fashion.


All of these ideas could lead to an utopian future, but, as I said previously, there are some risks, such as artificial intelligence revolt. Theses risks are really important and cause the utopia to become a dystopia. We have to be careful about what a transhumanist future could bring. But whatever we do, the current evolution proves that this kind of future is inevitable, so we have to make it right and embrace whatever it brings.


A transhuman future is very likely to begin for the majority in the early 2030, although it has already begun for a few selected. Once these ideas will be seen as normal, and not as unethical as it is nowadays, more extreme ideas will start to become popular. For now, we only can make some suppositions or prediction. On the very long term, some of them have already been made on what the technological singularity could bring.


The technological singularity plays a very important important part in transhumanists plans. If it does not happen, things will still work the same way, only change will be slower.

Currently, there are two important concept of what could happen in an undated future. Nothing is certain, maybe it is nothing more than fantasy, but since we can’t say what the singularity will bring and how advanced our technology will be, we can’t be sure it will not happen.



The computronium is an hypothetical substance that could be used as a programmable material. The idea of the computronium is to turn everything we can into computable matter. This matter would opper calculus at the molecular level, that could lead to nearly infinite calculus power.

However, it is a dangerous idea : to create computronium, we must disassemble original and “stupid” matter before reassemble it. It means the creation of computronium implicate that we have to destroy resources and environment, even if it is only temporary. The risk is that computronium became a clever version of gray jelly.


Waking up the universe

The concept of waking up the universe in probably the most promising concept ever conceived. This concept is a list of prediction of what could occur :

  • The end of transistor’s reduction will lead to bigger computers
  • Because of this, AI will create more and more computronium until complete planets will be turned into computronium.
  • Interstellar exploration will be made by nanobots turning entire solar systems into computronium.
  • Possibility of transcending the law of physic : go faster than the speed of light.
  • The universe will be entirely turned into a giant powerful computer. This mean humans will have both supreme intelligence and control over the entire universe.

The final phase of the process is to make human able to create other universes or to keep our own from dying.


The world is going to change in the upcoming years. The change will be very fast, and will impact everything in our lives for ever. People will resist ; people always do, but it will be vain, progress (good or bad) is unstoppable. We have to accept whatever the future could bring instead of looking back in time and think “it was better before”. People have to understand that nothing, especially technology is doomed to stay the way it is, and they have to embrace this reality instead of trying to keep it the way it is.

Cosplay : a brief introduction

Hyrule warriors’ group : Joshua Yip, Carol Fairbanks, Kaarowl,Zach Wood,Puns and Needles Cosplay, and Caroline L. Clutterbuck, by Mineralblu – PAX South Convention, San Antonio, Texas, USA

  • What is “cosplay” ?

Cosplay is a Japanese word コスプレ (kosupure) coming from the contraction of two English terms : costume and role-play. This is a hobby in which participants called “cosplayers” wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character. Those characters could come from manga, anime, comics, films, video-games and so more.


Even if “cosplay” is a Japanese term, it originally was an American hobby called ‘costuming’ where the main subjects in 1908 were the Mr-Skygack-from-Mars ‘s character from Armundo Dreisbach -A.D. Condo’s science-fiction comic. But the first apparition of costuming dates back to the “futuristicostume” of Forest J Ackerman during the first World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in 1939, New-York, USA. The word cosplay appears many years later during the 1984 WorldCon in Los Angeles. Japanese Nobuyuki Takahashi of Studio Hard who was impressed by the hall and the costumed fans, reported in the magazine My Anime where the two terms “costume” and “play” became コス (kosu) and プレ (pure). Cosplay was born.


  • Cosplay today

Today’s cosplay is more related to its Japanese “origin”. Since the 2000’s, cosplay’s popularity has increased with the spread of anime and manga worldwide and the multiplication of conventions. But the trends are also following the development of video-games and the international success of some films such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Ring or the Marvel’s films. This is why we can find cosplayers in all kinds of conventions.


Cosplay in Japan

In Japan, what actually matters in cosplay is ‘appearance’. Japanese often buy their costume. This subculture is a true business, with a lot of shops selling costumes, wigs, accessories…

That explains the complete lack of cosplay contest in the country. During conventions, cosplayers are not allowed to move around, except if they don’t stop for photos not to disturb non-cosplayer visitors. They are supposed to stay where they are told to.

The only cosplay contest in Japan is the World Cosplay Summit which is an international contest. As the other contests around the world, the cosplay must be totally hand-made, from the little accessory to the huge weapon without forgetting sewing the  dress.

Winners of World Cosplay Summit 2015 – Mexican team, Legend of Zelda : Majora’s Mask

Cosplay in Western culture

In North America and Europe, cosplay is more about performance and acting. One of the most significant things about it is the hand-made costume … Costumes which have been bought are completely banned from contests and the market of cosplay is mostly based on wigs and crafting materials such as fabrics, worbla, EVA foam, …

Contrary to Japan, western countries’ conventions welcome the cosplayers which are now a huge part of the animation. Visitors often come to take photos and to watch the numerous contests. In those contest, the cosplayers are judged according to their acting, the quality of their hand-made cosplay. As said before, bought costumes are banned, and the cosplayers wearing those are called hall-cosplayers and are definitely apart from classic cosplayers.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Last time, I talked about Brandon Sanderdon’s Misborn trilogy. So, I thought I had to introduce you to his rival: Patrick Rothfuss. I think this is quite funny that he be his long-time rival as his writings are miles apart from Sanderson’s. Indeed, Rothfuss focuses on one story, The Kingkiller Chronicles, that takes place on a world we barely know anything about at first, but progressively happen to discover as details are revealed to he reader little by little to help us understand this world. What’s surprising is that the magic system is split into two: the rational system on the one hand, which is used to improve objects and is also taught at the University like every ordinary subject, and the real magic. This latter can only be used by a few people who know what’s called the Name of Things. It is the most powerful magic as it allows you to take control of an element if you know its name.

‘Theindex slow regard of silent things’ is a side story of this trilogy and focuses on a secondary character called Auri. She is very particular as she sees the world very differently from us. It can be seen in the trilogy but it’s made even more obvious in this book as she is the only character and we’re given her point of view, which can be disturbing at times. That must be why this book had two kinds of reviews: those who loved it, and those who really disliked it.

But who’s Auri ? She is like a wild child, a former student at the University (where magic is taught) that’s changed because of what she’s seen during her studies. She lives under the University in harmony with everything around her, whether it is animals, items, weather…and gives feelings to everything, even ash boards: “It was wise enough to know itself, and brave enough to be itself, and wild enough to change itself while somehow staying altogether true.”

In this book, we’re following Auri for a week in her everyday-life. It can seem boring at first but it’s written in such a beautiful way that when I first opened the book, I couldn’t stop reading until the very end. It is a really strange book as nothing happens, literally. It’s all about poetry and seeing the world in a new way…Auri’s way.

Patrick Rothfuss obviously knew not every reader would like it , that is why he added a pretty long preface explaining why he wanted to write this book and what it was all about. This really is interesting as he tells us a lot about his state of mind and that definitely allows us to better understand him onc eyou’ve started reading the book.

I highly recommend that you read his trilogy (the Kingkiller Chronicles) which is really well-written and, if you liked it, to give the Slow Regard of Silent Things a try.

You need to see the World !

Travel, what’s that? Some would say it’s going out of your home town, others would see things larger and say it’s leaving your country for a while. I would say it’s simply challenging yourself. No matter where you go, to me, a real trip is something that still looks impossible one week before the big departure. It’s one of those things you see others do, but don’t believe you can achieve yourself before you actually do. You wish you could do it one day and, in the end, you never really go for it.

So let’s do this! When can you go? Different possibilities for different ages. When you’re young, around 20-25, you can actually travel during summer holidays or take a gap year at uni or even right after, just before you jump into professional life. If you’ve already been working for a while, there are two possibilities: ask your company for an unpaid leave during the year or go when on holiday. Eventually, if you’ve retired, you can go whenever you want, you are one of those who have absolutely no excuses not to travel!

Where to go? That is entirely up to you, but I highly recommend a region of the world where nature has taken over. Places where you can look around and see nothing but breath-taking landscapes, where there’s no human beings within 100 miles at least. Why am I advocating that? Because I strongly believe that’s how it should be done if you want to experience something that really is going to change you.

Not convinced yet? Alright, here are some example of people who took the plunge.


Sylvain Kevin Islande

Who are they? Sylvain, 21, and Kevin, 23, are two students from Nantes in France.
What was their plan? Just the two of them, walking through the cold desert of Iceland. Two pals travelling with nothing else but two backpacks and a tent.
For how long? Only 10 days, as they had to carry with them all the food they will eat.
Why this destination? Contrasted landscapes, and a very sporty challenge.
Best memory? Smoking a cigar in a spot where the view were sensational.
Final words? “It always seems impossible before it’s done.”



World cuple tour

Who are they? Kendrick and David are a couple but also professional photographers living in Los Angeles in the US.
What was their plan? To travel America taking pictures each day with the exact same pose, a lovely ode to love.
For how long? Over one year, taking breaks at some points.
Why this destination? America holds quite a lot of amazing places, that’s all they needed to shoot their love pictures.
Best memory? When they found out their special pose had gone viral on Twitter and Instagram, couples started taking the same picture all over America.
Final words? “We went on a creative field trip, that’s it.”




Who is he? Oleg Grigoryev is a Russian photographer.
What was their plan? To see the beauty of the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan and their amazing lakes.
For how long? Several weeks, not more.
Why this destination? Imagine waking up each morning in a different place, with each day a different view when you open you’re tent.
Best memory? When he drank a warm coffee and the outside temperature were nice although he was high in the mountains.
Final words? “After that I just want to love people.”


And there you go ! You no longer have any excuses not to pack your things and just go for it.

Representative democracy: when people can’t voice.

What is democracy? Quoting Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address, the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” could be a faithful definition. The word comes from Greek “demos” (“the people”) and “kratos” (“the power”). It appeared a long time ago during antiquity like in the first Greek city-states like Athens. Now, it represents an important part of government systems: among the 195 states recognized by UNO, 88 are considered as democracies.

But what about France now? Our country is considering itself a symbol of liberty and democracy, waving the French Revolution as the best proof of our attachment to people’s liberty and of the end of monarchy. But is it really? There are plenty of systems in the world: is the French one so fair?

Today, in France, in the Vth Republic, we are using representative democracy: it means that people are not deciding directly, they elect people to represent them to decide for them. French people are voting for two kinds of representation: the president and the national assembly. The first one is in charge of the executive power. He appoints ministers (and especially the Prime Minister as a member of the major marty elected at the national assembly) who propose laws to the national assembly. The national assembly is composed of 577 deputies elected from all districts and votes the laws. Here are the two tools we have: to decide who names those who propose laws and who accept them. But is it enough?

The true question is maybe “Are we well represented?” and the answer is not as simple as it seems. Let me give you some figures: people aged 25-40 represent 19% of the French population, nearly one in five citizens, whereas only 4% of the ‘députés’ – French MPs — are, almost one in twenty-five! And conversely, 32% of the MPs are aged 60-70, whereas they represent only 11% of the French population. Can we imagine that the decisions taken actually reflect our opinion if people who vote for us are much older? And what about Senate, elected by only 0.3% of the population and constituted by 80% of men, and where 75% of the senators are older than 60? We can also talk about plurality of offices: if the new law will make it illegal in 2017, for the moment, almost 40% of MPs are assuming several offices. Less representatives for less of people’s opinion. Considering all these facts, you can really wonder if the people who are passing laws for ‘the sake’ of our country are so close to what you’re expecting. Even if we can understand that elected people with a certain experience should be useful, we also perfectly know that they are not considering  things the way we do.

What are the tools to express our disagreement ? During the latest elections, abstention was at its highest. Is it a way to make our voice heard? Apparently not, compared to a  blank vote in Colombia or Peru, which is taken into consideration in those countries where a majority of white ballots can result in the election being canceled whereas no participating rate is required in France (where the blank vote is just null) to validate a vote. Other countries have also invented alternative ways to express: in Switzerland, the people can demand a referendum if they disagree with a law voted by the Federal Assembly, simply by collecting 50,000 signatures within 100 days after the law has been voted. People can also directly suggest a law by collecting 100,000 signatures within 18 rolling months.

Our democracy is slightly limited, and growing abstention proves that politics is becoming pointless when reducing people’s voices. Maybe is it time to think about our system and to rebuild it differently to allow every citizen to be well-represented, to express their opinion and ideas for the future.

Virtual Reality

During the Mobile World Congress (Barcelona), Samsung released its new flagship : The Galaxy S7 ; this phone is bundled with a Virtual Reality headset which enables new applications and experience for games or videos.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was invited on stage, following his recent acquisition of Oculus, a company specialized in Virtual Reality Headsets and that co-develops the Samsung product. He said that VR is the “most social platform”, as its development will be boosted by users themselves, by replacing selfies by 360 degrees immersive photos.

But how do those headsets work ?

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that he feels like he is in a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two senses: sight and sound.

Nowadays, me mostly find Virtual Reality headsets, such as for instance the Oculus Rift that I’ve already mentioned. Those products are built by assembling circular lenses in front of a high-resolution screen that is a few centimeters away from your eyes. The goal is to immerse the user into a virtual world. Some sensors are embedded in the headset to detect head movements in order to adapt the content displayed on the screen.

Another way to do it is with a smartphone. Recently, Google released a cardboard that folds up into kinds of glasses. The main advantage is that it is very cheap.

Samsung’s concept is a mix between those two solutions, as it needs a smartphone as a screen but provides additional sensors and buttons.

hero                                       one-cardboard.png

What are the usages of Virtual Reality ?

There are numerous ways virtual reality can be used. It applies to differents fields such as : Gaming, Education, Healthcare, and so on ! Let me give you a few examples.

First of all, immersiveness is really great in first-person games, as we see through the player’s eyes. It’s sometimes combined with a sort of platform where you can actually walk, go different directions, to copy players’ movements in the game. Not to mention that similar system are being used by military forces to train.

For entertainment purposes, it is possible to play 3D movies with those headset. It gives you the impression to be in front of a huge TV ! The problem is … the limitation to one user at a time. Another usage is with 360 degrees videos. YouTube offers it since a couple of month, it works great with a mice or with a smartphone, but it’ll be better with a VR compatible product.

Virtual reality could also serve as a tool for rehabilitation. Stroke and brain injury victims can now use an immersive virtual-reality therapy. The virtual exercises and real-time feedback are made to feel like games, helping to motivate patients to practise everyday activities.

Last but not least, VR is being used in museums or classes to teach history. In fact, it is possible to recreate in 3 dimensions some parts of the world as they used to be in the past and to discover them as if we’re here ! Exciting isn’t it ?

Future of virtual reality

We may assume that 2016 will be the year of Virtual Reality. It’s going to be a mainstream technology by the end of the year or so. Yet the prices are still pretty high, but with the demand, it’s going to decrease.

Are you willing to get yourself a VR Headset ? Let a comment in the section bellow !

The Martian

The Martian : How the United States spent millions to save Matt Damon. Again.

I can’t help but wonder about how Matt Damon manages to get lost in such places. Seriously ? Mars ? Anyway, let’s get back to the movie. The story is about Mark Watney, a botanist, and his crew on a scientific expedition on Mars. The mission has to be aborted as a sandstorm approaches, threatening to destroy the ship which is their only way to get back to Earth. And as you’ve already guessed, this anticipated retreat doesn’t go so well, and Watney is left dead on the Red Planet. But well, he’s still alive.

the martian_surprise

“Surprise !”


Now he has to survive in this deadly (yet majestic) land, alone, with only 400 days of food, whereas the next mission is scheduled to land on Mars 4 years after, kilometers away from his temporary shelter. The plot may seem simple and dull. “Are we going to watch a man grow potatoes on Mars for 2 hours and half ?” Absolutely not! , there is much more to it.


First of all, Watney is funny. Even if he’s struggling every minute to save his life, he still finds the time to complain about the awful mixtape of his mates. Every step he takes, every move he makes, is totally captivating, and we cannot but get emotionally invested. It’s so good to see him “science he sh– out of this planet” as he says. It’s hard to see him fail. We live through Watney, almost like we were on Mars with him.


Then, this movie is an ode to science. And it is realistic. You may have also seen Interstellar ; I did and I liked it. However, everyone must agree if I say that Interstellar’s representation of space travels and stuff is completely far-fetched. On the contrary, every piece of science from The Martian is understandable ; everything is explained ; everything seems logic, probably because NASA is the source of 50 pages of the script. So don’t be afraid if you’re not a “nerd”, the movie is made to be enjoyed by everyone.


“Ok great, but seeing the same landscapes and panoramas … I mean it’s only dust, mountains and NASA’s stuff”. Well you do not see a lot of Mars landscapes, and the few which are present in the movie serve a purpose and are beautiful and even stunning at some points. Special mention to the sandstorm in first scenes which is absolutely impressive in 3D. The design of the suits, ships and the shelter also comes from NASA, but with a few adjustments to make them more stylish.

Peaceful moments feels like a breath of fresh air, even though there is nothing to breathe.


No need to explain why it has definitely become part of my top 5 movies, if not the top and I tend to get bored quickly. If you have not seen it yet, please rush to the closest theater, sit down and enjoy your movie. It’s one of the best space movies ever made, mixing science, humor, emotion, and DIY (Do it yourself) stuff.

Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN TRILOGY

Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN TRILOGY


A few months ago, I read the Mistborn Trilogy and I strongly advise you to give it a try if you’re looking for some great heroic-fantasy books. The author, Brandon Sanderson, has lately been recognized as one of the most famous authors of the genre and many of his books have turned into bestsellers. The guy has the particularity of inventing, creating stories which take place in a lot of different worlds, instead of just focusing on one as most authors do. But every single world of his is really unique, with its own magic, economic, political and religious systems, each influencing the others, eventually creating realistic worlds. For now, I’d like to talk about one of them, called Scadrial, where the Mistborn trilogy takes place.

The story focuses on one continent, called the Final Empire, which has been ruled for many centuries by Lord Ruler, a man considered a god because of his impressive longevity and his incredible strength. But many think this has lasted for too long. It’s time to take the power back. It’s time to defeat a god. This shortly sums up the plot, which seems very basic, but the characters’ deepness and the unexpected plot twists make these books unforgivable. I remember I thought I knew this world perfectly and then, something happened, forcing me to re-consider everything because I knew the author would never have introduced anything illogical. And it’s mostly by paying attention to little details that I could somehow anticipate some events.

Another uncommon thing with this writer is that he often gives very important roles to female characters, whereas they are often left behind in most other books of the genre (they are only used as an impotent and naive character and often kidnapped to trap the hero). In his universe, they are very independent, in need of freedom and add a lot to the story. In Mistborn, we follow the story of many characters, but the most important one is Vin, the girl you can see in the center of the picture below.


This world, just like the others he wrote, follows what’s called ‘Sanderson’s 3 laws of magic’. These 3 laws are, I think, what makes his books so interesting, allowing him to create such realistic worlds.

The first one is: “An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic”. It’s really easy to see in his books as his magic system is perfectly described and we know what a character can do on nearly any given situation. I think that’s a good thing because some authors are using it too easily and we don’t really understand what’s going on, or the limits of one character’s power, creating Deus Ex Machina events that could be disturbing sometimes. For example, in Mistborn, the magic system is based on metals. 16 of them can be “absorbed”, each one granting a different power. Using steel allows you to push on nearby metals lighter than you are (coins can be used as throwing weapons this way) otherwise you’ll be pushed in the other way. Iron is basically the opposite as it allows you to pull lighter metalic items.

The second law is: “Limitations > Powers”. This law can easily be understood with the example of Superman. Indeed, what’s interesting about this character is what happens when he his facing someone using kryptonite. Were he always strong as hell, the comic would be pretty boring. In Mistborn, the limitations can be seen as the need of metals to have powers, and with the limitations linked with every single one of them. This forces characters to work harder to achieve their goals as they can’t just destroy everything in front of them throwing fireballs.

While the first 2 laws are mostly about characters, the final one is totally different but is definitely my favourite. The third law is: “Expand what you already have before adding something new”. It’s a huge problem with many new authors that try to add too many things to their universe, making it too hard to understand for the reader. This law can be easily observec in Mistborn very. Indeed, the power of absorbing metals is at the center of everything in this world. As only the nobles can use this power (it’s transmitted genetically), it reinforces their powers, adding a social dimension to this problem. This is exacerbated by atium, a very rare and expensive metal, which grants the ability of seeing the near future. This metal is the source of most of the struggles between the great houses as its gathering is controlled by Lord Ruler himself. Therefore, we can see that one power involves, in this trilogy, an economic and a social system. This law improves the realistic side of the worlds Sanderson created.

If you’re looking for an epic story that will keep you short-breathing until the end, just go for it.


5 Rules to follow for a Peaceful Roommate

You are about to plunge: you have decided to rent an apartment with some of your friends! What a groundbreaking change in your student life, unless you have not weighed the pros and the cons… You will quickly realize that flat-sharing could be a marvelous adventure as long as everyone follows these simple rules…

Here are five rules you have to respect in order to maintain a peace and love feeling in your roommate.


Gravitational Waves

As you may know, 2016 has already turned into a big year for physicists, probably one of the most important of the century. On 11 February 2016, the LIGO collaboration (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) announced they had detected gravitational waves.

What are gravitational waves? Predicted by Einstein in 1916,“gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source”. (Wikipedia). Let’s make it a bit clearer. Imagine the universe as a big flat lake. Put a balloon on that water and you have got a planet. When you move the balloon, a wave is created on the surface of the water. In the universe, this phenomenon is called gravitational waves and needs a tremendous amount of energy to exist.

Gravitational waves
Gravitational waves from

Despite the determination of scientists, there was no scientific proof that gravitational waves actually existed, that was…until this year. LIGO‘s first operations between 2002 and 2010 did not detect any waves signal, the intensity of the signal that had to be detected being too small. It was then decided to replace the interferometers, the component responsible for the precision of the measures. The new ones were expected to have about four times the sensitivity of the initial LIGO interferometers.

In September 2015, after 5 years of intensive development and investments of $200.000.000, LIGO became Advanced LIGO. On 14 September which is only a few days after the reopening, Advanced LIGO detected a signal from two black holes with masses of 29 and 36 solar masses merging together about 1.3 billion light years away. Let’s take a moment to appreciate what it is we are talking about. 1 solar mass is equivalent to 2 x 10^30 kg with a light year equaling 1 x 10^16 metres. It is indeed a tremendous amount of energy. During the final fraction of a second of the merge, it released more power than 50 times that of all the stars in the observable universe combined. The mass of the new black hole obtained from merging the two was 62 solar masses.

Not only is this a life goal achievement for the physicists who have been working on it since 1980 and the first and only direct proof of the existence of black holes, but detecting gravitational waves was fundamentally different from what had been done previously. Rather than looking at particles or large objects, gravity science looks at “the medium of the universe itself”. That means physicists, and more generally scientists, could have an insight into previously impossible areas to study.

So, what we have here is not just a confirmation of gravitational waves, not just a window into black hole collisions, but a proof that we have at our disposal a whole new form of astronomy.

Sossagradulida Adventures Part II

So our mighty adventurers decided to head for to the farm to help the farmers solve their goblins problems.

When we arrived at the farm, there were no farmers anymore. They had probably all finished their work for the day being. Since we had no better plan, we decided to hide to try a surprise attack when the gobelin came. The dwarf found a hole which fitted perfectly his height, while I and SossaMasta were hiding behind a house.
As the night was falling, they guided me to the farm and we hid wherever we could.
I found a hole in the ground and managed to get in, while the two others just ran behind a wall.
It’s calm, really calm, all the farmers have left, we are close to a house and hiding, we will surprise them, Lidda is behind me and Gradule is not very far.

After almost an hour waiting, we finally started to hear light sounds coming from the forest, and a short moment after, we saw a big mass coming out from the dark, with strange noises like “ratata ! ratata !”. Seven gobelins and one orc came from behind the trees. An orc ! Damnit ! Those stupid farmers didn’t tell us anything about an orc !
Holy Sausage, there are 8 of them ! 7 gobelins, they look prettt stupid, but there is an orc. A damned orc !

After some time, we all heard noises and the noise was moving towards us. They walked above my head and were running to the farm. I took the time to make sure there was no gem or anything precious in the surrounding dirt, and decided to get out of my cache. I saw seven gobelins and an orc, running to my mates on the farm. I went after them but couldn’t catch up… Well, dwarves are not sprinters after all.

It seemed they hadn’t seen us for now. They hadn’t even seen the dwarf, who came out of his hole once he was sure he was behind the enemies. The priest, to take advantage of surprise, came out and cast a strong spell right on the orc ! Well, at least, he tried to. The spell remarkably missed, and the orc was shouting something like “kill him” while pointing at the priest. It hadn’t started very very well, that was the least we could say. Our better hope was the dwarf, running towards enemies. Meanwhile, I decided to stay hidden just a little bit longer.
The dwarf is a bit drunk so I think I will pull them, Adathie give me strength !
“Coup de fourchette” is my most powerful spell, I should focus the orc.
“FOR ADATHIE ! COUP DE FOURCHETTE” – I missed… it went right near his ear… Good point is that I got their attention… But the 8 of them are looking at me… and… what… is behind them? Oh it’s the dwarf…

I didn’t stay hidden for a long time and was quickly forced back into the battle. The priest was doing pretty well hitting and dodging, while I missed my attack and was hit. I was not badly hurt, but still, it really didn’t start well for me. Hopefully I managed to block another attack. I think I should be more careful in the battles. In the background, I can see the orc trying to hit the dwarf, ending up hitting himself. I’m a not very good, but he was even worse ! It appeared that the gobelins were not very good either.
Once they started fighting with Lidda, I sneaked behind the orc for a backstab but failed. He noticed me and tried to hit me but managed to hit his leg instead. Everything was going well according to my plan… Gobs were beating up the halfling, while SossaMasta was dodging the assault.
There are a lot of them but me and Lidda are fighting pretty tough, we are of course inevitably getting hit and beaten but I managed to smash some with my staff, the dwarf is taking on the orc.

They can’t hit me, and one of them even cut his own leg, falling dead.
I think I just saw a gobelin cutting his own leg. It’s frustrating, I recognized him as the one I had smashed earlier !
One of them stabbed his leg instead of the priest, and ended up dying. Are they all retarded ? Well they are greenskins anyway…

The fight is tough ! *splitting a gobelin in half* Oh it’s mushy.
Unfortunately, it distracted me for a sec, and I took another hit. Damn, I really should have paid more attention ! If the situation got worse, I might have some serious wounds. Meanwhile, it looked like the priest killed a gobelin too, as for the dwarf… Did the orc really hurt himself again ?!
I just stopped trying, and waited for them to commit suicide. And it actually happened. The orc fell after hitting himself for the second time, and I saw SossaMasta slicing two gobs in half… With a staff ? Nevermind.

After that, all I could remember was my vision fading and me falling and fainting. I suppose they hit me another time and I fell unconscious.
Nooo Lidda just fainted ! “ AADAAATHIIIIE ! You evil creatures, you will pay for this !” *smashing the skull of another gobelin*

The last gobs ran away, probably afraid at the sight of my beard, or the fact that I killed what seemed to be their captain. Result of the battle: I killed an orc. The priest is so proud because he killed two gobs (not so bad for a priest, I guess), and… the halfling is half dead, lying on the ground. Damn.
The other gobelin already went elsewhere, Okay we are safe, the orc is dead. We have to bring Lidda to the doctor.
I think these gobelins and this orc where worshipping some god of suicide or self-mutilation, I’ve seen one gobelin cut himself to death and the orc did too.

Sossagradulida Adventures Part I

Here begins the journey of our newly formed adventurers : this story is the story of a Halfing, a Dwarf and a Human, obviously trying to be famous and really rich. But, even the mightiest adventurers need to begin somewhere in a literally dirty place like a little farming village. We are in Terre de Fangh, 10 km away in the South from the huge Forest of Schlipak.

  I’m Lidda, a small rogue halfling. I belong to the SossaGraduLidda Company, a small group of adventurers, with Gradule the warrior dwarf and SossoMasta the human, priest of the Holy Sausage and Justice.
This adventure takes place in a small village, so small we didn’t pay attention to the name. We arrived quite early in the afternoon and immediately went to the tavern, like every company does, looking for a quest to have epic battles and gold. Well, we wanted the gold more than the battle, I must admit.

Every adventure starts in a tavern. This one is no exception. We were in a small village of farmers, waiting for gold to fall from the sky or whatever.
I don’t know why I’m in this tavern, and I don’t know why I’m travelling with a dwarf, Dragule, and a halfling, Lidda… After all, it’s not that bad… but hey ! Why are we called the SossaGraduLidda Company? It is lame ! Argh, I still have to find the Mighty Sausage Fork, oh Adathie I am sorry I still haven’t found it. But I will ! I promise!

  There were not many people inside the building, and the impression of emptiness was increase by the huge size of the room. Without hesitation, we addressed to the bartender and asked if there were any problem we could take care of. He couldn’t give us any informations, but said the farmers might have something for us. We ordered some drinks and went to the villagers’ table. Well, me and the priest went to the table, while the dwarf was staying drinking beer at the opposite at the tavern. Hope we still have some money left after that…
The tavern was quite empty, but I was having a good time getting drunk and spending my last gold coins in some tankards of the local beer. I was part of the SossaGraduLidda Company, with a sausage-fanatic called SossaMasta, and a half(weak)ling called Lidda. It seemed like they found something to do but…
The dwarf is drinking, he will lose some gold I think… Again. I hate it when he lose gold like this, but if there was a sausage I wouldn’t resist to buy it. Okay, at the moment we need a job, let’s ask the bartender !
The bartender told us to go to the farm, they are being raided by gobelins, at the East of the town. Fucking dwarf ! He is too drunk to come with us, well it’s better for us if he doesn’t come drunk.

  We spend some time speaking with the farmers and they told us they had a gobelin problem. Every week, a group of those ugly / stupid / stinky creatures were raiding the farm and stealing crops. A group of gobelin was a perfect occasion to have some fight and rewards for a company like ours. They also said they camp was in the eastern forest, and that the next raid would be this night or tomorrow. It was a pretty good timing. We thanked the villagers and decided to go see the farms, letting the dwarf spending our last gold drinking.
Too drunk to go, I stayed at the tavern. They tried to grab me out, but you can’t force a dwarf to leave a tavern. You just can’t. What I remember is that a boy tried to scam me, selling me a shitty weapon. I may be drunk, but I’m no fool, and somehow managed to sell him his own weapon for 10 golds.
More beer for me, yay !

  On the way, I started to think about setting a trap. The priest wasn’t very enthousiast about it but I was sure it could work. We finally made it to the farms and started to have a look to the situation. There was a small empty area between the forest and the farm, it could be perfect to dig a great hole there ! Since it was too difficult for only two people, I called all the villagers to help. With my great charisma, I managed to make all of them listen to me. But no one took care of it. I didn’t know if it was because they had already tried or if my idea was just bad but I didn’t have the results I was excepting.
Lidda wanted the farmers to dig some trench, they ignored her. *HAHA* too bad, it could have been a great start for a trap.

  A little bit disappointed, I started to search for a new idea to make tonight’s fight a little bit easier. And so I tried to climb up on a building, but this time, the farmers were trying to make me fall ! They said it was dangerous for me to go up. They are the one who are dangerous for me ! I had no risk of falling without them ! Since it didn’t offered me a good point of view anyway, I accepted to go down, grumbling about how stupid they were. If they wasn’t a reward, I’m not sure I would have continued to help them…
Lidda wanted to climb to a grain silo, I don’t know why, maybe it’s to get a better view of the future battlefield. At the same time, farmers were putting down the damn silo, so yeah, *facepalm*
I don’t remember who asked the farmers, but we are now in charge of protecting the crops tonight, the monsters will surely come when the night is dark and full of terror.
Shit, we have to pick up Gradule, I forgot him…

  We had nothing else to do until nighttime and decided to go back to the tavern and try to take the dwarf -even drunk, he would be more useful than those farmers ! And, yes, he was drunk, and maybe thanks to that, he agreed to stop drinking and came with us. His purse seemed bigger than it should be, did he managed to earn money while we were not here ? Anyway, we could see the orange light of sunset by the window, it was time for the SossaGraduLidda to go !
A little later, my companions came back to me, and as they really needed me on this one, I decided to give them a piece of my attention. Some farmers were having trouble, involving orcs and gobs, of course I was in !
He is still drinking…Maybe I can convince him to come…
“Come on Gradule, time to kill some gobelins” I told to him.
I don’t know how but he stood up and came with us ! He must like to genocide some gobelins Let’s go to the farm, it’s getting darker.

Silicon Valley History

You may have already heard about this southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, famous for the ITs corporations that settled there , but do you know its history ?


First of all, about the name : The term originally comes from the many innovators and manufacturers that were building chips out of silicon. But now it means all the high-tech businesses in the area. Even though it’s not truly a valley, it is a term for the high-tech sector generally.


During the 19th century it was only a fruit-growing area, we may wonder how does it became one of the most attractive place for high tech companies.

Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

381078 15: Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

The key figure in this development was Frederick Terman, a professor from Stanford University in the 30s, who encourages his students to start business locally, and not to move on the East Coast. The first two graduates to start were William Hewlett and David Packard, with the company name after them : “HP”, which is a large company nowadays.


In this capacity he continued to encourage the development of local businesses in electronics and attracted venture capitals to invest in the area.


Then, in 1968, the Intel business started, they were manufacturing memory chips, and microprocessors. Those components were made of silicon, which inspired Don Hoefler, a journalist from a local newspaper, who eventually nicknamed the region “Silicon Valley” in one of his articles.


From the 70s to the 90s, more and more software development company invaded the area, and innovation was at its maximum. As an example, Xerox Research center played a major role in the development of Object Oriented Programming, or Graphical User Interface.


Those inventions led indirectly to other companies such as Apple or Microsoft. In fact, the Macintosh GUI was a result of a Steve Jobs visit at Xerox.


That was just before the Internet bubble, which started in quickly after the opening of Internet to commercial use. Companies such as Amazon or Ebay were then created.



Movember, let’s wear a moustache during november to sensitize people about men’s health

It has been a few weeks now that you suddenly started seeing more moustaches than usual and you are wondering why ?

In 2003, two Australian blokes, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery founded a charity called Movember. They actually realized that the moustache was not fashionable anymore. The first year, they succeeded in reruiting 30 Mo Bros (short for Movember brother) but unfortunatly they raised £0.

£527,492 had been raised

Thanks to word of mouth, by 2005,  £527,492 had been raised and Movember found its first official partner : Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). A few years later, the charity can count on Mo Bros from 21 countries worldwide and in 2013, GQ Australia magazine awarded the Social Force of the Year award to the foundation.

Today, the Movember Foundation can rely on a little less than 5 million Mo Bros et Mo Sistas. For sure, you know one of them…maybe you ARE one of them. But what is the motivation for people to get involved in this project ? Why this charity more than any other ?

Well, we can’t say that there is a lot of prevention around male deseases. The Medias rarely deal with this subject. That’s where the moustache comes in!

It generally is intriguing and leads people to wonder why some men are actually wearing it. It is a way to start conversations, put down taboos and eventually move to more serious topics.
Moreover, the movement has a real festive side ! First, you can openly make fun of your friends wearing the moustache, especially if they look like idiots with it. And believe me, it has no price. Then, the charity encourages Mo Bros and Sis to organize parties and events to collect even more money.

Finally, I think you should have a look at the TedxToronto conference Adam Garone gave in 2011. He is telling his story, his “Movember journey”, giving us some quite funny anecdotes and sharing all his love.

So, next year, think about it and speak about it around you. It is so important for the research and the education above all. Let’s keep in mind that faster a cancer is revealed, more luck there is to recover from it.

Crypt of the Necrodancer

Title: Crypt of the NecroDancer

Genre: Action, Indie, RPG

Developer:Brace Yourself Games

Publisher: Brace Yourself Games, Klei Entertainment       

Release Date: 23 Apr, 2015

Mix music, dance, challenge in a videogame and you obtain “Crypt of the Necrodancer”. It is an indie hardcore roguelike rhythm game developed and edited by Brace Yourself Games, released on 23 April 2015. So, you play an heroine called “Cadence” in randomly generated dungeons. She is looking for her missing father who was searching the “Golden Lute” when she fell on rocks in the “Crypt”. However, the “Necrodancer” saved her by cursing her, stealing her heart and forcing her to move to the beat of the music. Thus, she decided to go deeper into the “Crypt”, trying to find her father and a way to get rid of her curse. The story is not that important but it is very cool and well written.


So why am I talking about “Crypt of the Necrodancer”. It’s because it is very special game. Its gameplay is unique. As I said before, your character, “Cadence”, is in a dungeon designed in pixel art. The goal is to reach the exit of each level but it is not that easy : you have to slain many enemies, avoid many traps plus face difficult bosses. The brilliant idea is that you control “Cadence” only with the arrow keys and have to move to the beat of the music. Moreover, enemies move also to the music. If you want to slain a monster, you need to move towards it and avoid being hurt when or if you move onto a tile where the enemy is going or attacking. It seems very complex but it is not. Because each monster has a unique pattern and you can’t stop moving to the music, you have the feeling that you are dancing around the enemies. Consequently, the game becomes very addictive and mesmerizing. I actually surprised myself doing things in rhythm after playing the game because I had been totally absorbed and focused.


I almost forgot to mention the amazing music by Danny Baranowsky. He did a really great job composing about thirty unique tracks. There are metal, rock, electronic songs which are all epic.


Now, you probably want to join the adventure too but I need to warn you. “Crypt of the Necrodancer” is a hard game. It is hard…but not unfair. You will have to learn how the game works and maybe die a lot but it won’t be frustrating, believe me. It is a part of the game which gives it a an additional charm.

To conclude, I would say that  “Crypt of the Necrodancer” is a rare gem which I discovered six months ago and which I highly recommend to all the people who want to live a unique experience through a video game.

Mattotti’s “Fires” : full colours


    This is not an article: this is a proposition. What I’m suggesting to do here is simple. I suppose that you work or study at INSA. Then you may sometimes have to go to the library, to borrow a book. Simple indeed, isn’t it? Especially because in a few days, this book will be available, if I don’t forget to take it back. But you should know that I’m talking about a quite special book. In fact, it’s a comic, a “graphic novel”, and one of the greatest you’ll see around. Its author is named Lorenzo Mattotti. The book is composed of two novels: Fires and Murmur. And by the end of the article, I hope you will want to read them.


The story became my own travel, where I learned the techniques that allow to truly express an emotion without having to narrate it.”

"Fires", between Impressionism and Expressionism
“Fires”, between Impressionism and Expressionism

orenzo Mattotti was born in Brescia (Italy) in 1954 – and is not dead yet. Quickly in his childhood he becomes fascinated by comics. During college, he meets Kramsky (his true name is Fabrizio Ostiani), the script writer of Murmur, with whom he begins to create some comic strips. Together they go to Venice to study architecture, but not in a school of art, due to their high-school scientific background. There he discovers painting and architecture which has helped him ever since to structure his frames and create his? settings. In 1980, he co-creates the collective Valvoline, which gathers some Italians authors that want like him to modernize comic books’ language. His goal was to mix “rock and Robert Crumb (a famous underground cartoonist), Hugo Pratt (Corto Maltese’s creator) and Nick Drake, Francis Bacon (Google is your friend) and fanzines”; or more modestly to “bring about revolution in comic books”. Yet,that’s when he decides to split from the group that he starts drawing more personal albums, such as Fires in 1984.

The cover of "Fires"
The cover of “Fires”

    It’s the story of young lieutenant Absinthe, travelling on a battleship, the Anselm, to a mysterious island, Saint-Agatha, from where nobody returns, or if returning, then totally insane . Absinthe and his crew decide to go and to explore this mysterious island… but I’m not going to tell you the whole story. And the interest of the comic is definitely not only in the story. Now, what does Mattotti himself say about it (and I couldn’t agree more): “It’s a novel based on the strength of emotions. The fascination is for me, in the colour, in the expressiveness of the line, in the energy. Here the drawing is always at the limit of abstraction, and that is why he creates such emotions. But there is also a strong narrative tension between speeches and drawings: it’s not a drawing simply supporting the text, but a mysterious matching between the picture and the text where all becomes impalpable.”, and believe me, that is totally true. But how the hell can he do that?

From Top to Bottom : "La Chute d'Icare" (1943) by Henri Matisse and "Fires"
From Top to Bottom : “La Chute d’Icare” (1943) by Henri Matisse and “Fires”

    First of all: the colour. It’s the most gripping thing about it. Pick up any page, and keep your eyes open : the incredible strength of the colours, their texture, their eloquence. And colours are truly eloquent because they are the reflection of the characters’ emotions, or role in the story; or just maybe because the colours are true characters here. The story couldn’t exist or make sense without them . At the beginning, the novel has no texts. But the author has discovered that the text has the power to slow down the reading, to make the reader meditate on the whole frame, and to create new matches, new sensations.

The First Page of "Fires" (sorry for odd colours)
The First Page of “Fires” (sorry for odd colours)

    Let’s focus on the very first page of the comic: a deeply blue sea; a green island, huge; and the warship, small and purple that seems so incompatible, so strange in this scenery! Here we have two worlds that can’t understand each other: one quiet and mysterious, and the other brutal and terribly rational. Those worlds are going to destroy each other. Colour has the role of a narrator : we have here the perfect reflection of the instability of Absinthe, our main character : “How many times had I found myself on a diving board with the blue sea below and never dived in?” he says.

    You see, firstly it’s that deep blue that attracted him, and now it’s the green of the island. And, at night, a bright red joins the attack against the warship and its degenerated and morbid violet. It’s far later that Absinthe finds a new balance, on the island : sweet green, light yellow, orange. And in the following page, he’s back into the madness of men and war, still with this clumsy violet. The battle continues. Black, red. And at the end, quietness , again. Pastel colours: “This is perhaps why I only paint windows and rooms full of light : out of self-defense. I’ve had enough of that fire illuminating the night. In my head, I want the day-light.”, ultimate confession as beautiful as disconcerting of Absinthe, or could it be the author? You think so?

From Top to Bottom : "Fires" and "The Revolt" (1911) by Luigi Russolo
From Top to Bottom : “Fires” and “The Revolt” (1911) by Luigi Russolo

ut colour is just one of the technical devices that Mattotti resorts to to achieve this precision, this true emotion : the numerous and recurrent references to other painters also contribute to make this album what it is. During an interview, Mattotti was talking about Francis Bacon as a source of inspiration, but also about Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Dennis. The book itself is continuing the work of expressionists : shapes and colours have to express their subject through the prism of the artist’s and character’s emotions: in the book , colors of the environment change with the evolution of Absinthe’s thoughts. We can also see references to the ‘collages’ of Matisse; the stunning colours of Paul Sérusier; the movement you can find in the art of futurism, diving sometimes into the most incredible abstraction, especially when Mattotti draws the final battle and all of these explosions.

    So each frame is a painting, but it’s not only about giving his book more prestige thanks to famous painters; this album is a journey for the author, and he uses what artistically stroke him during his life and what helps him understand and express an emotion, maybe his own emotions. And this album everything but a succession of paintings : each frame is linked to the next, emotionally, but also through a very articulate narrative, and this is simply why it’s a comic book, and such a great one.

A frame of “Murmur”

Because I’m a cool guy, I give you a secret link to read Fires for free, on the internet; but I can only advise you to borrow it and see by yourself its great colours.

Furthermore, in interviews of Mattotti I read, he speaks a lot about music, and how it was important during the creation of the comic books. I think it’s also very important when you’re reading. So if you read Murmur, I think you should listen to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon.

Save the Bees



Human society is extremely complex and fragile built on various pillars. One of them is the honey bee !

One meal out of 3 eaten by humans would not exist, weren’t there without honey bees. They are so important that if all the honey bees were to die out, thousands of plants would follow which could lead to billions of people starving in the following years!

On top of that, honey bees have a huge economic impact. The dollar value of plants pollinated by them each year is around 265 Billion dollars!

Food we take for granted would just stop existing without them or there would be a massive drop in the production of fruit, vegetables, including apples, onions, pumpkins and also life-stuck feeding food and we all know how crucial it is for us to preserve resources such as milk and meat !


Einstein is often quoted for having said: « If honey bees die out, humans will follow a few years later.»

Actually he probably didn’t say that but there might be some truth in that statement.

It’s unsettling but honey bees are starting to disappear. Millions of hives have died out in the last few years. Bee keepers from all over the world have seen an annual loss of 30 to 90 % of their colonies.
In the US alone, bees are constantly declining, from 5 million in 1988 to 2.5 million today! 50% gone in just 17 years !!

Since 2006 a phenomenon referred to as « Colony Collapse Disorder » or CCD, has affected honey bees in many countries.

Scientists are not entirely sure what is causing it. All we know is that it’s really serious!

Over the last decades bees have seen an invasion of very dangerous foes :


– Parasites straight out of a horror movie like « Acarapis Woodi». Microscopic mites infect the trachea which is the breathing tubes of bees. Here, they lay their eggs and feed from the fluids of their victims weakening them considerably and spending their whole life inside the bees



-Or the « Vorroa Destructor », they can only reproduce in honey bee hives and are one the bees’ greatest enemies. The female mite enters the honey bee’s alveolus and lays eggs on the bee larva before the hive bee cover the cell with a wax capping. The eggs hatch and the newly-born mites feed themselves on the developing bee in the safety of the cap cell. The bee is not normally killed at this stage, just weakened so it still has enough strength to make its way through the wax capping and release itself from the cell. As it does, it releases the mother’s mites and her new offspring and these are then free to spread across the hive. Starting the process over again and again in a cycle of about 10 days. Their numbers grow exponentially. After a few months this could lead to the collapse of the entire bee hive.

Once outside the cell, adult mites also suck the body fluids of bees and weaken them considerably. To make things worse, they also transmit viruses that harm the bees even more and can lead to bugs defect like useless wings.

Besides there are other threads too, such as viruses and fungi. Under normal circumstances,

these phenomena should be manageable and are not enough to explain the huge number of deaths among bees.



Over the recent years, new insecticides have been introduced and are deadly to bees. New Neonicotinoid, a chemical family similar to Nicotine was approved in the early 1990s as an alternative to chemicals like DDT. They attack insects by harming their nervous system. Today they are the most wildly used insecticide in the world, with sales reaching 1.5 Billion euros in 2008 and representing 24% of the insecticide global market.

In 2013 Neonicotinoid was used in the US on about 95% of corn and canola crops and also on the majority of fruits and vegetables.

Bees coming into contact with the toxin while they are collecting pollen or via contaminated water will eventually take the contaminated stuff back into the hive, where it can accumulate and slowly kill the whole colony…

The toxin harms bees in a variety of dreadful ways. In high enough doses, it quickly leads to convulsions, paralysis and death.But even in small doses it could be deadly. Indeed, this can lead to bees forgetting how to navigate the world. So bees fly into the wild, get lost and die alone, separated from their hive. If this happens often enough, a hive can lose its ability to sustain itself.

We know Neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and we expressly need an alternative to it. But there are millions of dollars to be made in delaying this…

Studies sponsored by the chemical industry magically appear toprove a much lower toxicity to bees compared to those produced by independent scientists.

There are even more facts contributing to the demise of bees like too much genetic uniformity, monocultures or nutrition due to overcrowding, stress due to human activity and other pesticides.

Each of those factors on their own is a major problem for bees but together they probably account for the colony’s collapse disorder. With parasites up in the game in the recent decades, the honey bees are now fighting for survival. It would be a catasrophe if they lost this fight. This is a conundrum we have to solve if we want to go on living with a relative albundance and diversity of food.

Humanity is deeply interconnected with earth and he other life forms on it. Even if we claim the opposite we have to take better care of our surroundings. If not to preserve the beauty of nature, then at least to assure our own survival !


Water on Mars ; revolution or overreaction ?


”An artist’s impression of what ancient Mars may have looked like”


On 28 September this year, a piece of  news caused a frenzy of excitement in the world. “There is liquid water on Mars!”, NASA announced . Another big piece to add to the space-related trend we can observe today, with the pictures of Pluto released in february and the “active region loops “ on the sun this september. But is water on mars really such a big deal, or is it more like a seek of attention from the NASA?


First of all, there have been clues of water on mars for years now. This water was, however, found in small proportions in vapour state or in ice form. The discovery of liquid water could have at least one important meaning, the possibility of life on Mars. Well, maybe not dinosaurs and such, but microbacterial life. Or, who knows, it could be easier for mankind to adapt to a martian lifestyle with water. This water could indeed be purified for human consumption, turned into oxygen, or even transformed to  create rocket fuel. This, at least, is what the medias have repeated over and over, filling people with hopes and dreams for the future.


Now, what are the actual evidences of water on Mars?

In June 2000, possible evidence of  liquid water flowing at the surface of Mars was discovered in the form of flood-like gullies. The images did not actually show flowing water. Rather, they showed changes in steep crater walls and sediment deposits. Well, it could look like a shabby proof, but well done NASA; you’ve at least got something. Even if there are other  theories about these craters, like erosion due to the strong winds on the surface of the red planet.

Traces of water
“Traces of water flow on Mars , photo released by NASA on September 27 , 2015. (NASA)“



In May 2007, the Spirit rover disturbed a patch of ground with its inoperative wheel, uncovering an area extremely rich in silica (90%). The feature is reminiscent of the effect of hot spring water or steam coming into contact with volcanic rocks. Scientists consider this as evidence of a past environment that may have been favorable for microbial life, and theorize that one possible origin for the silica may have been produced by the interaction of soil with acid vapors produced by volcanic activity in the presence of water. Again, this is only an hypothesis.


Then, first identified in 2011, features known as recurring slope lineae (RSL) were confirmed to be signs of salty water running on the surface of the planet today. Scientists also discovered a slab of ice as large as California combined in the region between the equator and north pole of the Red Planet. And in the new reports, NASA declared to have found liquid water. In fact, they could not observe it directly but they are sure that liquid water runs seasonally on the martian surface. But instead of fresh, pure water, it would be water filled with salts and perchlorates, acting as antifreeze. Thanks to that, water can flow even in negative temperatures. But not many species could survive in such an environment.


Furthermore, the world’s space powers are bound by rules agreed to under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty  that forbid anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth. What does that mean? Well, that even if there were water on Mars, it is impossible to study or even come close to it for the moment. If the rover was sterilized, it still carries microbes and bacterias that could alter or kill alien life.


NASA’s hype around the discovery of liquid water on Mars can be explained by its constant need to increase funding for its work. And that attention seems to be helping. But it won’t be eager to tell you that its human mission, currently planned for 2030, will inevitably contaminate Mars with microbes, and break the rules of an international treaty.


So if there certainly is water on Mars, it is maybe not worth all the hype that happened; not for the moment, at least.

Fukushima disaster, today.


Reminder, how it happened

For those who already forgot, in March 2011, the nuclear plant of Fukushima was hit by an enormous tsunami and a series of dramatic earthquakes. The damage caused equipment failures, and three nuclear meltdowns leading to releases of radioactive materials. Sure, we all heard about it a lot when it happened, but what about today ?

Rumours of Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) falsifying official radiation figures have been confirmed for a while, and the Japanese government is still trying to maintain a sense of security, even though the situation is so dire.

To make matters worse, most media have stopped covering the events, as the initial buzz has passed.


Fukushima current state


1.Reactor fuel


Utilizing “cosmic ray muon radiography with nuclear emulsion”, researchers looked inside the reactors at Fukushima. They found out that the fuel in one of the reactors was missing : “The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down”. In short, researchers do not yet know if the molten fuel has penetrated the base beyond the containment vessel, going below the ground.

High-level nuclear waste is incredibly poisonous. If leaked and not contained, it could spread and make large areas uninhabitable for over a century.


2.Water contamination


Probably the biggest issue of Fukushima is the water flowing through the nuclear infected zone. As shown in this graph, after all these years, they still cannot contain this much water. This has been leading to extreme pollution of the ocean near Fukushima, and currents have been spreading this water all over the pacific ocean.


The flow of water is constant and uncontainable.



Present impact on environment




While direct impact on most human food has not been observed, researchers have found that species in a 1000 km area consume irradiated food. “Wildlife has probably been damaged even at relatively low doses of radiation, and our research showed that sensitivity varies among individuals within a species,” says Professor Joji Otaki, one of the researchers.

According to research, butterflies are the most affected by the newly radioactive plants.

All in all, human food is safe for consumption for now, but as the leaks continue, the effect on wildlife may become bad enough to impact humans.




Though the effect of radiation has been greatly dispersed due to the strong currents in the pacific, fish with traces of radiation poisoning have been observed recently. For now, it seems that the poisoning is minor but some species have shown unusual mutations. The rate the water is leaking from the powerplant is a growing concern, and with the Japanese government in denial, ocean life in the Pacific is extremely at risk.


Here we see the concentration of radioactive water throughout the Pacific.



Future impact on society


Experts believe we will see a rise in cancer development all over Japan in the coming years, but the reality is that we really don’t know. Low radiation exposure hasn’t been observed enough to predict precisely what’ll happen. But if the Japanese government continues to refuse help and denies the danger of the situation, the consequences could be irreversible.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)  is a proposed trade agreement  between the EU and US being negotiated, which aims to create a free trade zone. That would be the most important free trade deal ever achieved, as it would include half of the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and one third of all commercial trades.

So, this TTIP thing is kind of a big deal. But we don’t hear about it much, do we? If it is as important as we say, it should make the news, unless some individuals do not want you to know about it. Indeed, the talks about TTIP have mostly been conducted in secret, behind the doors of big international hotels. The documents about the negotiations can’t be read either, only in ultra-secured lecture rooms in Brussels or some American embassies.

As press and citizens cannot access the contents of the deal, we don’t know much about the treaty, but it is intended to grow big companies’ power, and reduce government’s’ control. Its goal is to “remove regulatory barriers”. The problem is that these “barriers” are actually environmental regulations, food safety rules, regulations on the use of toxic chemicals… Yes, that means that any product from the United States may be imported in Europe, even if it does not respect the rules of the country in which it is imported..

I hope you don’t mind a little Roundup in your vegetables.

It could lead to a lot more privatization in sectors such as water, health, education and transport, providing even more power to corporations, and still at the expense of citizens.

In theory, TTIP will allow private investors to sue governments if their decisions make the profits drop. Yes, crazy.
Countries where corporations can do whatever they want and governments (so, people) do not have a say, does not bode well for individuals liberties and democracy…

Are we doomed yet ?

Although the TTIP is likely to be ratified, due to huge backing by lobbies and corporations, there is still hope : France recently threatened to stop the negotiations. Matthias Fekl, the French minister of state for foreign trade, criticized the opacity in the talks and the absence of any interesting offer for European countries. France does not really have the power to stop everything, but its opinion weighs enough to influence the decision of the European commission.

Matthias Fekl

A petition recently gathered 3.2 million of signature from European citizens, showing that TTIP is strongly disagreed with among citizens.

But it still is a topic on which people are not informed enough. We must do our best to spread the word and have our say.

Black Mirror

“Black Mirror? Best TV series ever!”

What?! You guys don’t agree with me? Okay, maybe not as good as Game of Thrones, but still pretty awesome. I just finished watching it, and I just wanted to share about it because so far, I haven’t seen anyone who has actually seen it. That surprised me, because even if it’s not really a major production, it’s definitely better than most major TV series I have seen. Do you want to know why it’s so great? Read on…


Okay then, let’s get to the point and talk about content (no worries, no spoilers)! Roughly speaking, Charlie Brooker’s Black mirror is kind of a short-term satirical science-fiction anthology series… Yeah right, I agree with you it’s not very clear so far, but let me explain: Satirical-science fiction? Well, it’s like a 2nd degree humoristic criticism of our system and the way it could go wrong if we don’t take care. Anthology means that the story and the casting are completely different from one episode to the other, and that they are just theme related. What’s Black Mirror’s gathering theme? Well black mirrors of course! A black mirror is actually a poetic way of designating a screen.

This leads us to the argument of the series. It deals with our addiction to screens, and more generally with the devious impacts technology and hyper-connected society have on us. Right now you might be thinking: “oh yeah this guy is in an engineering school but he is only about criticizing technological advance, WTF is he doing here?!…” But I think it’s exactly the opposite: as future engineers, we should be the first ones concerned about technological breakthroughs and the way they can deeply influence our hobbies, reorganize how society works, and even affect our freewill.

And that’s exactly where Black Mirror is so powerful: each episode comes with a different story, a different point of view, and a different point is made. But the questions implied are always relevant: Until what point can politicians’ actions be dictated by surveys? Are social networks a source socialization, or isolation? Can we really learn out of television?… Anyway, there wasn’t a single time where I ended an episode without wondering about it for ages… Definitely the type of series you want to avoid if you have had too much thinking during the day. But if TV watching doesn’t rhyme with brainwashing for you, then go for it!


In case you happen to be interested in this series I am going to give you some useful tips. So far, only 7 episodes have been screened: 3 for each of the two seasons, plus one bonus for Christmas (don’t ask me why, it’s like that, period). Length varies from one episode to the other, but it’s generally about 1 hour long. In 2012, Black mirror won the Emmy award of the best mini-series (see? I told you it’s good :p). This might, for a part, explain why 12 other episodes are being produced by Netflix, and will eventually be broadcasted by summer of 2016. Hopefully the spirit will have stayed unchanged…


Flexible OLED display, the future of mobile phones?

After successfully reducing the thinness of screens to almost an inch, also making them more convenient than those old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors we used to know, IT companies are setting up a new challenge to themselves :  to invent a display that could actually  bend like paper, allowing readers to wrap it up around their arm like a bracelet or like a telescope. It has been made possible with the invention of flexible OLED displays.


But what are OLED displays ?

OLED stands for Organic light-emitting diode. It is a film of organic compound that emits light when an electric current cross it. This film is situated between 2 layers of electrodes with at least one is transparent.


schela bilayer OLED

Schematic of a bilayer OLED (source :


This technology is frequently used to create digital displays such as television or computer screens, mobile phones and game consoles. It is not so expensive and lightweight, so it is used more and more to build low-cost displays.

Flexible OLED are similar to standard  OLED display, except that they are not built on a glass substrate, but on a flexible plastic that allows to bend them.


The idea of creating a flexible display was first put forth by Xerox PARC in 1974. An employee produced the first flexible e-paper display (a display that mimics the appearance of ink on a paper).

Then, in 2005, HP and ASU (Arizon State University) started research about flexible display.

Since 2010, Sony Electronics, AU Optronics and LG Electronics have expressed interest in this technology. For now on, only LG have announced plans for mass production of flexible displays.


An exemple of e-paper (source :


Prototypes :

Currently there only are prototypes of devices using flexible OLED technology. Here are two of the most advanced ones.


In January 2013, Samsung officially announced the launch of their flexible OLED display technology, called YOUM display. They also previewed several prototypes using it, such as the Samsung Galaxy Round mobile phone that was just launched on 9 Oct. in Korea. It is not possible to actually bend the phone, but the flexibility of the screen allows the phone to be curved in such position.

Another unnamed prototype extends the screen to the side of the phone. With this additional “strip”, it could be possible to display information such as notifications or emails with closing apps or opening the case covering the screen.

prototype samsung

A prototype of Samsung Galaxy Note edge (source :



At Consumer Electronics Show CES 2013 LG introduced curved OLED television. This 55” prototype, which looks like a cinema screen, is really thin (7.56″) and is also 3D capable.

In August this year, they also presented a paper-thin (1mm thick) television than can be bent. It is attachable to magnetic surfaces on curved walls.


Machinae Supremacy: when metal meets video games

It is not a rare thing for people to link metal with satanism, blood rituals and the like… Videogames merely have a slightly better reputation. Thus, when Machinae Supremacy claims to make video game metal on their website, you can expect people to picture Satan-worshipping nerds. However, the truth is utterly different.


Machinae Supremacy — or MaSu, for short — is a Swedish metal band born in 2000. You could describe their music as being either heavy metal or power metal, but then this would be missing a major element of what  Machinae Supremacy is: the chiptunes. Indeed, most of their songs feature an unusual instrument: the SidStation. It uses the SID chip of the Commodore 64, a console from the 80s (other bands such as Depeche Mode have used it, though in far less extensive ways). This is the reason why they define their music as SID metal, a genre played only by…MaSu. Since 2000, they have released a dozen albums including two game soundtracks.



Machinae Supremacy is also strongly linked to the Internet. Indeed, they accept and encourage file-sharing of their songs to increase their fan base, and have even made most of their albums freely available for download on their website. In fact, their first “albums” are compilations of webography tracks, meaning these tracks were previously released on the Internet. But this goes even further, as they strive to involve their fans in their music. With this in mind, they maintain a forum to keep in touch with their fans. Pretty common, you might say. Well, the official video for Rise of a Digital Nation is made entirely with bits and pieces from fanmade videos:




Youtube Channel:

( )


Stand fast and proud.


The Switch, Netflix and chill

Have you ever dreamed of throwing your shoes into the corner of the room, jumping in your couch and doing nothing else than enjoying your evening. Netflix may have the answer and it is call The Switch!

Superman has the power to turn on Netflix, dim the light, order food and silence all his devices at once, we get it. But can you do the same? You couldn’t until now! Netflix has presented a switch that may sound a little magical, but it’s in fact a simple DIY remote that can do almost anything at once.

Simple… how simple exactly?” No more than switching the light on! Basically, it is a single-button remote that can connect to any IR (infra-red) or Wi-Fi devices. You only have to press, and relax. I see you coming: “How can one single button do all of this?” Well, nothing magical here. There is a small electronic circuit inside that gives a succession of orders. And that is the DIY part.

You said DIY?” That’s the best part; you can do your own at home! But first of all, you should know your basics in electronics and programming. Read the manual written by Netflix (here) and be creative. Each TV has their remote, and each home has their own Netflix Switch! It is unique to your need and to your devices. If you are interested, you shall find the pieces (here).

Sounds pretty good, but is there a catch? In fact, there may be a problem, depending on your devices: you must have a fully connected house. Remember, the switch works like a Wi-Fi remote. If you want to do everything I mentioned, you’ll need to have Wi-Fi connected light bulbs (such as Philips Hue’s smart LED lightbulbs), a new connected TV…

 You’ll also need an always-on machine, a small computer (a Raspberry Pi for example) that will serve as a node between all your devices.

It is an excellent idea that Netflix had with the Switch, but it might be complicated work, and it sure will be expensive if you do not have the proper equipment. But it is also quite the bucket of gold at the end of the DIY rainbow.

Quentin Fournier

Source: Netflix

Hawkwind, the forgotten child of prog rock

With the recent release of Pink Floyd’s new album The Endless River, fans around the globe were delighted to hear the progressive, analog sound of the 70s once again. As older people among us will undoubtedly recall, the 70s were deeply rooted in the psychedelic experience and were instrumental in refining rock music through electronic effects and highly conceptual lyrics. This article will focus on Hawkwind, a lesser-known band from this distinctive and sonically creative era.

Hawkwind is a UK « space rock » band born in the early 70s and whose contribution to psychedelic music in general is considerable. If you’re thinking Saucerful of Secrets-era Pink Floyd on steroids, then you’re not far from the Hawkwind sound. Generally harsher and more experimental than Pink Floyd in nature, Hawkwind has gained a cult following throughout the years and remains active to this day, even after countless lineup changes. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the band released a huge number of albums (not to mention bootlegs) and that this article spans mainly the 1970 to 1975 period where, in my opinion, Hawkwind had reached the pinnacle of its creativity.

It all starts with the elusive Hawkwind, their debut album which is sometimes considered alien and rather unfocused when compared to the rest of the group’s discography. One of the tracks on this album is actually a cover of a Pink Floyd song, highlighting Hawkwind’s early influences. The rest is a sparse patchwork of bizarre analog atmospheres, among which the Paranoia suite is the most memorable. Apparently people would either pass out or freak out completely when this track was played live back in 1969. Although Hawkwind is a rather mixed album, it already showcases a primitive expression of the patterns that would later establish the Hawkwind sound proper: crazy sax, sci-fi themes and long, atmospheric tracks. Their second album In Search of Space is where the spaceship Hawkwind obviously departs from the earth and the group defines itself as a space rock band. Space themes are all over the lyrics and the sound no longer has the folksiness of the previous album. The music also acquires a stronger character bordering on heavy metal sometimes (proto-metal actually, we’re in 1971). This is especially noticeable on the track Master of the Universe.

The next three albums, Doremi Fasol Latido, Space Ritual and Hall of the Mountain Grill all feature bassist and vocalist Lemmy Kilmister, who would later be kicked out of the group to eventually form Motörhead, which everyone knows about. Lemmy’s bass further developed Hawkwind’s raw edge, this kind of sound culminating in 1973 on the live, double-album Space Ritual which remains Hawkwind’s most widely known and arguably best performance to date.

Their last studio album in the “raw space rock” period is Warrior on the Edge of Time. This album is more progressive in nature as it incorporates majestic synth leads and adopts slower, more epic compositions. The cover imagery, a dreamy landscape featuring a knight on his horse standing on a mountain top, as well as the clean, chorus-like vocals are reminiscent of The Moody Blues albums from the late 60s (Days of the Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord…). This glorious prog-rock album was recently remastered in high definition by Atomhenge and was repackaged in a huge box-set featuring a DVD with high quality 5.1 surround sound, a poster, photos and even a replica from an original Warrior on the Edge of Time tour ticket.

The rest of Hawkwind’s discography encompasses multiple periods and musical styles too diverse to enumerate. But you should hopefully have an idea of what the original Hawkwind sound is about. If any of what I said in this article rang a bell, you should definitely check out this incredible and prolific band.

Satellites: fun targets for hackers!

Many hackers love breaking into computers and servers all around the world. These attacks are terrifying, but exciting at the same time. But it becomes really more impressive when hackers do their stuff in sensitive places. In late September 2014, a US weather system was hacked during a short period. Classic, isn’t it ? Actually, it was a full satellite network that was hacked for two full days.


Continue reading Satellites: fun targets for hackers!

The Fallen Star – Chapter 2

“I told you this was a bad idea… And why did you rush in like that Shayitah?!” exclaimed Bowdoc.
“Duncan said let’s go, so I go. Why didn’t YOU rush in?”
“Hey! I only suggested that maybe we could take our chances, but Thaufar had to push things, like he always does!”
“Oh, I push things?”
“Did you suddenly start to notice?” added Círeth.
“What? Don’t you dare speak to me like that, elf!”
“And here he goes again… Anyway, just be quiet, everyone. I hear something.”

“Snort snort snart! Oïïïïnk!”

“Was that a werepig?”
“A werepig? Are you still drunk or what? Plus, it’s not nighttime yet.”
“Anyway… *sigh* Let’s just move on.”

The insides of the star were made out of pure metal. The walls were veined with grey conduits, cables and screws. Occasionally, bursts of steam came out of the tubes, leaving large trails in the thickening air. As they advanced in the corridor, the sound of their steps resounding deeply through the ship, they found themselves surrounded by a dim orange light.

“What is that, Duncan?”, nervously asked Círeth.
“I don’t know, but I can see an intersection up ahead. Let’s go check it out.”

They arrived at the crossing, and what was meant to happen… happened…

“Which way should we go? Left or right?” asked Duncan.
“Lrifth!” they said.

“Okay, so let me put it this way then: left XOR right?”
“Right.” said Shayitah.
“We can’t go right, the corridor is burning! And zapping like crazy.”
“That’s why I wanted to go right Bowdoc.”
“But… When… How even? Okay, I give up. We can’t go right, let’s go to the left first, and then we’ll go right so you can meet your friendly flames.”
“What is that glowing green light? It seems to come from the left corridor…”, asked Círeth.
“I don’t know, let’s go check it out.”

Following the light like summer flies, they trod through more moist passageways, and eventually made it to a closed door. Onto it was painted an enormous animal. After several minutes of close inspection, they realized that the so called beast was in fact a cute kitten, playing with a ball of yarn. Hanging next to the closed door, a rope disappeared through a hole in the wall.

“Great, what do we do now?” asked Shayitah.
“It’s obvious! We pull the rope, and the door opens. Easy.” said Bowdoc, proud of himself for being so manly…
“How do you know that?”
“I’m a rogue, I know how doors work… Didn’t you ever hear ‘Pull the hanging rope, and the door shall open’?”
“We don’t have doors in my tribe.”
“Just pull it Bowdoc!” pushed Thaufar.

Upon pulling the rope, the door slowly slid sideways.

They entered the room, and immediately noticed a big buzzing machine, right in the middle. It had a small drawing on it, ‘E-Kitty’. The machine exhaled green vapor from a panel on its left side. On the right side, a series of buttons and symbols gloomily beeped in loneliness. They started to examine he room, looking for anything that could prove either useful, or valuable.

“~ What does the button say? ~” hummed Shayitah, while forcing a big red emergency button down on the reactor’s control panel.

”Processus de réparation automatique de la coque enclenché. Veuillez vous éloigner des parois pendant que nos robots de maintenance résolvent les problèmes.”

“Oh great, couldn’t you have used your brain for once? Just for once! Didn’t you see the writing? It reads ‘Emergency case only’” said Thaufar with exasperation.
“No it doesn’t, it’s something more like ‘Life Renewal’”.
“Oh, and of course you elves know that better than everyone else?”
“As a matter of fact, yes! I know how to read, and you don’t. It looks like infernal to me.”

“I’m bored! I go back to corridor!” concluded Shayitah.
“Good, we don’t need you here! Go burn yourself!”
“And get zapped too!”
“Guys we can’t let her go on her own to that other path, plus there is nothing left to see here. Let’s go check it out.”
“Gosh! Is that all you ever say, Duncan?”
“Say what? Let’s just go, and check it out.”

As they left the room, a panel on the ceiling opened and plated boots descended towards the floor. Unfortunately, our adventurers were already far when the 8 feet tall maintenance robot turned on and started examining the damaged walls.

They made it to the intersection, only to discover that the burning corridor was now fully repaired.

“Hey Shayitah, what did you do with the corridor? Why isn’t it burning, nor zapping?” asked Duncan.
“I don’t know, it was that way when I came back. I was kind of disappointed, you know…”
“Yeah, I’m sorry Shayitah, but maybe there’s fire elsewhere on this ship?”
“There’s only one way to find out, let’s continue exploring.”

Several corridors later, the group arrived into a large room, with huge windows and a lot of seats. On the walls, countless dials, measurement devices and screens we flashing, red, blue, green, and teal.

“Look at these!” exclaimed Círeth.
“I know right? All this technology seems very advanced compared to what we have at home… Stars are definitely strange things…” pondered Duncan.
“What? No I mean: look at those seats, they are so comfortable!”
And as Círeth lazily sat in the central chair, the flashing suddenly stopped, and a deafening metallic sound came from the corridor they just left.

“What NOW?!” screamed Círeth.
“Can’t stop for even a minute, there’s always something to disturb you!”
“That’s why it’s called ‘adventure’, Círeth… You know, things wouldn’t be fun if it was easy.”
“Please, not that debate again, I tell you my point of view: you can’t know this because things have NEVER BEEN easy Duncan, so how can you tell? Plus, easy adventure means safe adventure, no random events, no extra-planar travelers to teleport on you…”
“Is she barging against the odds again?” asked Bowdoc, as Círeth continued on with her monologue.
“Yeah… Just leave it be, in one minute she’ll stand and shout at us for not being motivated…”
“And I am the only motivated person around, none of you really want to be exploring dungeons and fighting for our lives!”
“See? I told you…”

“I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about it. After all, I am the only elf around, surrounded by dwarves, orcs and humans… What a fate!”
“Listen everybody, there was a sound, so let’s go and check it out. Círeth you’re free to stay…”
“Fine, I come. Otherwise you would just get yourselves killed, and I would have to live with it. Move on already!”

As they arrived at the intersection, the noises got louder. It seemed to come from the reactor room. Slowly, they approached the door.

“There’s definitely something inside.” said Duncan.
“Sure, but what? I can recognize these sounds…” whispered Círeth.
“It sounds like, … like in a smith’s shop. You know, like someone is hammering stuff. Hard.” said Thaufar.
“Everybody’s ready? I’m opening the door.”

Duncan pulled down the rope, and the door slid open in a screechy sound. As they entered, they finally discovered the source of all this noise.

“What in the seven mountains?!”

Before them, an 8 feet tall maintenance robot was hammering down the deformed walls, trying to reshape them anew. On its back were written letters: ‘ER4-04PNF’. So far it had done a very good job, for the room was now very clean, and freshly painted. Only the south wall was left to attend to.

Suddenly, the robot froze. After several seconds, he dropped his hammer, which fell to the ground in a blast, echoed by the corridors of the fallen star. And before they could realize was what happening, ER4-04PNF turned around,  aimed at them with his spray-paint machine from which teal drops were still leaking out, and pressed the trigger…

To be continued…

By Axel Caro and Quentin Dauchy

How to deal with the number one problem at every event

Two weeks ago you went to the Gala at the INSA, you enjoyed the night, but still something got on your nerves. Security and their ugly bastard dog? People having cooler suits than yours? Try to think harder, I’m talking about the number one problem here… And of course it is ECOLOGICAL REUSABLE CUPS!

Some eco-friendly evil genius was like: “The world is in danger, we should like get rid of all plastic pint glasses and replace it with reusable cups. How cool, genius me!” (To be read with that eco-friendly people stupid and irritating voice).

The shiny bastard
The shiny bastard

So, you go to the festival or a random event and then you head to the bar. Or not even the bar, you need to buy tickets/coins first that will be exchanged against drinks. So, you go to the coin desk, and you buy your goddamn coins. And then the girl tells you: “But Sir, you need to buy a pint-sized reusable cup for you to drink at the bar. I’m going to charge you 1€ for that.” and you go: “What !? Ok, I’ll pay. What choice do I have, my hands?“. You sigh, that’s one buck you won’t spend on drinks.

Look at them, don't you want to slap one?
Look at them, don’t you want to slap one?

Then you head to the bar, you buy your beer. Pretty expensive, but that’s okay, the queue for the coin desk made you thirsty. You go back to the concert to meet your friends. You drink your beer. And, there comes the trouble. You are left with a huge empty plastic reusable cup. You want to dance, to enjoy the party but you are way too afraid of losing your cup. You want to have your hands free, to clap your hands. But, you are stuck with that cup from hell.

But of course INSANE is here to help you on how to deal with that bastard cup.

Solution 1: YOLO


Ok, people of the festival you have won. You decide to throw your cup toward a random person’s face within the crowd. You’ve lost 1€ but what is the price of freedom? Maybe you will eventually find another cup that someone threw, like you. Or you’ll buy another one…


Solution 2: Hide it


Do you see that carpeting fixed to some fence for decoration? Maybe you can insert your cup between the carpet and the fence, your cup won’t get stolen that way you are sure! But snap! Someone saw you do that and is now heading toward the carpet, stealing your cup. Basically the kind of guy who is funding his festival tickets on stolen reusable cup. But maybe no one saw you, cool…


Solution 3: Bag it


One of your girl friends decided to bring a bag to the festival, the kind of in-couple friend, who took the bigger handbag she could find to show that she is not available. Ask her kindly to store your cup while you head to the mosh pit. When some of the alcohol in you circulatory system has worn off and you decide to drink again, you can’t find the girl. Yeah, she was bored and went home. You check your phone “Hi Dude, I was a little tired and went home. I will give you back your cup on monday! XOXO”. No comment.

Or you can bring your own bag. Put your cup in your bag. Though, when you get out of the mosh pit, you’ll find it crushed.


Solution 4: Wear a collar


Seriously no.
Seriously no.


I hope this article will help you even if, I admit, there is no universal solution to that problem. There is always a risk of your cup being lost. Good luck with that at your next festival!

Who was Alexander Grohendieck, the greatest mathematician of the XXth century?

Alexander Grohendieck who was deemed the greatest Mathematician of the 20th century died this Thursday at 86. He lived his last 15 years as a recluse in a village of Ariège, France. He is living behind about 20,000 pages of notes he denied publication.

Alexander Grohendieck’s field of work was on Algebraic geometry, a branch of Mathematics at the meeting of algebra and geometry. He received the Fields Medal in 1966 and the Crafoord Prize in 1988 even though he declined it; he didn’t like

E-CAT : Mankind’s answer to the world’s energy problem?

As you probably know, mankind is facing one of the biggest challenges of its time : how to produce clean energy without wasting the Earth’s natural ressources, while producing enough energy to actually keep the world going?

We’re currently heavily relying on fossil fuels (around 70-80%), and nuclear power (6%) to sustain our consumption, but none of these options can actually keep us going, there’re always side effects : pollution and nuclear wastes for the most, not even mentionning that yes, we’re running low on fuels, that is a fact. Should our consumption continue on its way, Earth’s ressources on oil will be gone by 2050, as well as nickel (2048). This last point will start to make sense as you read the following.

The good thing about nuclear energy, is that there’s plenty of it, and that it doesn’t waste our remaining ressources. Using fission process, we don’t need a lot of atoms to create huge energy outputs, but it requires strict protocols and safety measures to do it “safely”. Still it is a very risky way of producing our energy, as history proved us many times.

But, what if we had discovered another source of energy? One that isn’t dangerous for our natural ressources? One that everyone of us could safely have at home? Well, that’s what E-Cats are all about.

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat (for Energy Catalyzer) is a power source generator that presumably uses cold fusion to achieve its amazing results. While not wanting to reveal how these are exactly made, Andrea Rossi gave out some intel we are glad to share. E-Cats are power units that can be combined to create a power source of the desired range. For instance, the 1MW plant consists of 106 single units combined together into a shipping container (quite practical to deliver and stack). These a being tested in specific companies.


I said “presumably uses cold fusion” because cold fusion is a concept that is usually considered a fantasy by the scientific community. Very few people believe in its existence, and the vast majority simply ignores it. However, further analysis tends to relate E-Cats to that “impossible” nuclear reaction.

Indeed, E-Cats are not as new as they may sound. Andrea Rossi’s research teams have been working on it for several years now, and while the first prototypes of E-Cats were supposed to have 10 000 times the energy density of gasoline, the latest analysis would give it more like, well, just 1 million times the energy density of gasoline… They have been doing displays during the year 2011, destined to researchers, journalists, and the scientific community in general. But how do they do? Well, it needs a little explanation.

The difference between cold fusion and standard fission process used today is that with cold fusion, the reaction happens at a much lower energy range. Basically, while we have to spend huge amounts of efforts to protect the current reactors (because the neutrons produced by the reaction are at such a high velocity), it’s not a problem for cold fusion.

The produced neutrons are next to harmless, so it’s easy to protect people from it. Putting the generator into a box made of lead will be enough protection for the power source! The other main difference is that while standard fission tears atoms apart, cold fusion fuses hydrogene and nickel atoms together. If you remember your chemistry lessons, you may notice two things : first, the energy produced will be astonishing. Second, the atoms produced by the fusion will mostly consist in copper. Quite convenient isn’t it? However, as I mentionned earlier, mankind is also running low on nickel, but maybe it would be worth saving this nickel for the E-Cats, since it is considered that 10% of the worldwide nickel production would suffice to sustain the entire Earth’s need for energy.

And the best part : due to the low energy and the low velociy of the produced particles, no radioactive waste! The copper will be usable in our industry, and the nickel used could be recycled at around 80%! And these power sources will certainly be available at home! (see image below)


To be more precise, third-party researchers were allowed to run series of tests onto an E-Cat unit, and their observations are detailed in a report available for download (see link in sources section).

What mainly comes out of it is that, first, the energy output of this device is simply amazing. “These values place the E-Cat beyond any other known conventional source of energy”, researchers said. The process, of course, costs a little bit of energy to start, but how much exactly? Well, the first prototypes fuel cost are about 1$/MWh (1$ per megawatt-hour), whereas common coal power costs around 100$/MWh.

And second, the six reputable researchers that realized these tests also analyzed the nickel state, before and after the reactions. And they realized that there was an isotrope shift, from a mix of Nickel-58 and Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62, a reaction that “cannot occur without nuclear reactions (ie fusion)”.

If you’re still not convinced of the potential consequences of this discovery, consider this for a moment :
– NASA also made research about Hydrogene-Nickel fusion (see this article)
– Moreover, after the mentionned report was published (March 2013) and then submitted to the Arxiv pre-print server (usual way of doing in the scientific community), report form Sifferkoll shows that “a” big bank downloaded the report immediatly after it had been made available. And elsewhere, the morning Glasgow University decided to sell its fossil fuel investments…

The world is changing, and the race has already started.



Full report

All images come from


World Of Warcraft : Warlords Of Draenor is out !

A major event in the MMORPG world took place yesterday at the time of this writing. At 00:01 AM as the European servers braced themselves for an intense stress-test, thousands of players discovered the new contents of the fifth World Of Warcraft expansion to date. To those of you who lived under a rock for the last ten years or so, World of Warcraft is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game and in fact, it is the biggest and most successful one that’s ever existed. Boasting a huge player base of 7.4 million players across the world, World Of Warcraft (or WoW for short) is simply the MMORPG of the last decade and you have probably heard of it at least once in your life. The game is actively developed by videogame industry giant Blizzard Entertainment and has been subject to numerous enhancements throughout the years since its debut back in 2004.

Giant battleaxe impaled into a taxi in Time Square in celebration of the WoD release
Giant battleaxe impaled into a taxi in Time Square in celebration of the WoD release

With this new expansion, Blizzard hopes to draw more players (back) into the Warcraft universe and counter the steady decline in population that it underwent as a result of fresher MMORPGs being graced upon avid gamers recently. To this effect and certainly not to everyone’s satisfaction, Blizzard has already made several changes in the past such as Free-to-Play™ content until level 20, oversimplified game mechanics compared to early versions, better graphics and reduced difficulty in general. Warlords Of Draenor follows the trend as it reduces the number of skills available to characters, raises the level cap to 100, brings more balance to the game and introduces a whole new continent and more detailed character models.

It is probably too early to speculate on whether WoD will be a success or a letdown, but judging by the previews and early feedback that I could collect, and the oversized marketing campaign led by Blizzard, it seems that the odds are on the company’s side this time. Nevertheless, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t played WoW in a long time and when I last did, it was around version 1.12 (current version is 6.0.3). Back then the game was a real challenge and you took pride in battling your way to level 60, which could take up to several months. Nowadays with instant level 90, automatic dungeon finder and insane damage figures, one could legitimately wonder what’s left of the challenge there once was in this mythical game.

Wait and see…

Tetris: the movie

Movies such as Prince of Persia, Resident Evil and Need for Speed have been doing extremely well lately, making hundreds of millions of dollars at the box-office. That’s the smartest way Hollywood has found to make big hits, and of course big money. And movies based on video games have almost become a new genre.

Actually, for movie companies it’s easier to sell a movie with pre-existing characters and stories that  audiences are already familiar with. But what about a completely abstract game without characters and without a plot? Threshold Entertainment Group, the production company that turned the Mortal Kombat video-game into films, recently came with a strange idea and annouced plans to make a new movie based on the legendary puzzle game ‘Tetris’. This is a marketing ploy as Tetris celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year.

Tetris’ importance is undeniable as a video game but the idea it could function as a movie is not obvious. “Everyone knows that Tetris is one of the best known, most beloved brands in the world,” said Threshold chairman Larry Kasanoff, producer of the movie. “What everyone doesn’t know yet is this epic sci-­fi story that we’re going to tell. That’s what’s really exciting.”

So it will be a sci-fi movie, but no more information has been leaking for the moment. This raises some questions: Will the famous shapes, called “Tetriminos” be really featured on screen? If so, will they be a danger ? Or is the story based on Tetris geek players ? The people at Tetris remain purposedly mysterious: the release has to be a surprise. According to Kasanoff “This isn’t a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We’re not giving feet to the geometric shapes.”

What’s interesting here is the way cinema has become a business beyond simply selling movies. Kasanoff has understood it, “Brands are the new stars of Hollywood”. All is about marketing. Latest example, the Lego movie has been a success because children knew the building game. And lots of movie companies make contracts to place products, even though it doesn’t yield so much to the production. Movies are becoming products. It’s becoming more and more common to buy children by-products of their favorite characters. So much that some fiction characters become actual brands. Mickey Mouse is now a major selling brand.

So we can say the concept of a Tetris movie follows the trend of product placement. Of course, nowadays this video game is more than a brand, it’s a part of our collective knowledge. As Tetris company’s Henk Rogers said : “What started as a simple, computer puzzle game 30 years ago, today is part of our global consciousness, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds and feeding our innate desire to create order out of chaos” . But cinema is a mirror, a media that talks to us about our world and our time. So what to think of this movie project ? Are we now living in a time when brands, such as Tetris, are the true main characters ? For now it’s hard to know if that movie is an original idea or a simple marketing trick. But time will probably tell.


What kind of threat does the Islamic State pose?


Where does it come from?
The origins of IS can be traced back to the terrorist group named “al-Qaeda in Iraq” (AQI) which was created a year after the US invasion of Iraq and was pledged to Ben Laden. After its leader (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) died in 2006 it became the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) but began a slow decline.

In 2010, Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai (better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) became the leader of ISI and started rebuilding its assets. In 2013 it was very much renewed and started new fronts such as al-Nustra against Bashar al-Asad in Syria.

In April 2013, the group reunited its forces in Iraq and Syria into the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a move that was condemned by its brother organisations al-Nostra and al-Qaeda. ISIL was on a rise however and many fighters left other armed forces for it.

Between December 2013 and June 2014, ISIL captured vast portions of Iraq and Syria, including the important town of Mosul in June. That is when Baghdadi announced the creation of a caliphate and changed the name of his group to Islamic State.


What are its motivations?
IS wants to create a caliphate (a Muslim state led by an all-powerful caliph who is a descendant of Mahomet) in Iraq and Syria, but also Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and more.
Its partisans want to impose the strict Sunni interpretation of Islam to the whole area. They believe they are the only true believers, thus targeting non-Muslims and non-Sunni Muslims alike.


What are its methods?
IS uses footmen from all around the world, attracted by their expansive online “advertising” methods, and claims of purification. Many European Muslim extremists have already travelled to the Middle-East to join the ranks of this terrorist organisation. The western world has of yet not found an effective counter to this recruitment campaign.

The group reportedly has $2bn (£1.2bn) worth of resources at the moment, initially from private funds and now fuelled by the oil they have captured. This allows them to “import” and equip their fighter with light and heavy weaponry. They even have tanks captured from the Iraqi and Syrian armies. The number of ground troops it has deployed may be as high as 31.000 according to US intelligence.

Because of their extremist belief in Sunni Islam, they have beheaded, crucified and organised mass shootings in the different regions under their control. Muslims all over the world have denounced them, to the point that al-Nostra and al-Qaeda, have warned them against such acts of brutality.


Where is the conflict now?
Right now the conflict is concentrated in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds have organised a resistance in Kobani, near the Turkish border, and have been resisting for over a month now with little help from the Western countries and none from the Turkish troops. The Iraqi army is defending Baghdad and its surroundings but has been pushed back in many towns leading to the capital.

Millions of refugees are on the road or in neighbouring countries, having been thrown for their homes by the advance of the armed group.

To this day western countries have carried out many airstrikes against key objectives, but have yet to decide to send ground troops in order protect what is left of IS-free territory in Iraq and Syria. They have however raised their alarm level to maximum after IS promised bombing attacks against many countries, including France, the UK, the US and Australia.



Laurent Favier


Sources : BBC, the Guardian, CBS, NYTimes, CNN

Kitchen – Band Overview

Kitchen is a Canadian band started in 2012, often recording all instruments live. Its music is generally ambient tinted with a melancholic vibe, giving an impression of a landscape going through its usual, daily routine. However, the chords used typically sound alien, eery, as if the landscape was from another planet altogether. The pattern tends to be a series of slowly rising tensions, followed by climaxes, then back to peace – cycling back to rising tension. This creates a relatively light, but interesting, flow of music.

I love lamp is a very calm, soothing piece, typical of Kitchen. The repetiveness of the main chords serves to give a swaying feeling to the music, and stays interesting due to minor variations put upon it. The adding of the melancholic, almost whimpering guitar gives a feeling of a person reflecting on a hopeless situation. This feeling is kept even during and after the climax of the piece, underlying a feeling of rage and then resignation.

T.V. Eyes is a much more fast paced, atypical track. It starts off with a rapid set of guitar chords that are quickly joined by cymbals, then another guitar, with a much more alien theme. This surreal theme then gives way to a much more rock-ish one, that goes through several cycles of rise and fall, before climaxing into a set of simple piano notes, giving a calm but eerie feeling. This is then followed by cycles of tense, yet almost silent, music and bouts of much stronger music, giving the impression of running from some alien being. This rises in another strong rock set, rich with variations, which ends the song.

There are many more interesting tracks on their website, which I highly recommend.

When journalism meets sensationalism

Have you ever heard of Bitcoin ?

It’s a digital currency created in 2009 by either man or group -nobody knows- akaed “Satoshi Nakamoto”. This man-group’s real identity is still unknown, but there have been some studies trying to determine who he was. There are some -more or less- serious theories, but none of it could be proven. Among those, someone wondered if this name was a reference to SAmsung TOSHIba NAKAmichi MOTOrola, the top four tech companies. But in March 2014, the American weekly news magazine Newsweek claimed it had discovered “the face behind Bitcoin”.
His name ? Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto,

Dorian Nakamoto was trained as a physicist, but worked as a systems engineer on classified defense projects and as a computer engineer for technology and financial information services companies. Journalist Leah McGrath Goodman conducted a very thorough investigation. She studied his life, interviewed him, his family, his friends. But truth is, her theory relies on two (very arguable) main things :
-Mr. Nakamoto turned libertarian in the early 90s
-During an interview, he was asked a question about Bitcoin and replied : “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it.
It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
BUT, later in the same interview he said that he had misunderstood the question, and he had never heard about Bitoin before.

Here is an interesting fact : the day the article was published, Nakamoto’s pseudonymous P2P Fundation came out of its 5-years silence by posting “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

As you can see, this was almost nothing. However, the article was very oriented, and presented Dorian Nakamoto not as Bitcoin’s likely inventor, but as THE true Bitcoin’s inventor. But there were no facts, only hypothesis over hypothesis. This article was disturbing, but harmless. What was harmful was the media frenzy engendered. Right after, Mr. Nakamoto’s life became a true ordeal. There were reporters camping outside his home, he would be followed by cars while on his way to interviews. His private relations became very complicated.




The most surprising is that Newsweek defends its theory, despite the numerous flaws in the article, and the proofs presented. These are, to my mind, the biggest incoherences :

-Judging by his work, Satoshi Nakamoto is very smart. He has a deep understanding about security, the connected world, networks, internet and its dangers, etc…
He has also a deep knowledge about the latest cryptographic processes, and he is way better than the average coder. According to Newsweek, someone like this is likely to put his real name carelessly while developing a world-size project based on anonymity.
Because the starting point of their investigation relies on a list of people all named “Satoshi Nakamoto”.

-Satoshi Nakamoto is very rich. The exact amount of money he has is unknown, but so far, every study has agreed that he earned millions of dollars in bitcoins.
Dorian Nakamoto lives in a modest house. As he’s unemployed, he strives to take care of basic needs for himself and his 93-year-old mother.

Some people got moved by his story, and a fundraising campaign was set up. Overall, it raised about $23,000 to help Dorian. However, a few weeks ago, Mr.Nakamoto took the initiative of starting another fundraising campaign. He wants to use the money collected to sue Newsweek for their article.

To be followed…

Midterms Elections: a huge defeat for Obama

On 4 November, the midterm elections were held in the USA. The midterms are elections that are held two years after the election of the president, right in the middle of the president’s four-year term.

Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms are members of the United States Congress, including all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, and about a third of the 100 seats in the US Senate (36 this year) and eventually some state governors.

Before the elections, 45 seats were controlled by the Republicans in Senate while 53 were held by the Democrats. Republicans needed to win 6 more seats to have the majority. Republicans already got control of the House of Representatives in 2010. But they sought victory in the Senate which would give them more leverage to oppose Obama’s reforms.

The elections were indeed a large victory for the Republicans. In all, the Democrats lost 13 seats in the House of Representatives and 7 seats in the senate which is now controlled by the Republicans. A true landslide for the Democrats, a ‘red tuesday’ for Obama’s party. This is the first time in 10 years that the Republicans have gained control of the Senate.

Barack Obama’s defeat is one of the worst defeat ever a president has ever faced in midterm elections. We need to go back as far as Harry Truman to find worse midterm results. But Obama shouldn’t take it too personally. The only candidate who managed not to make his party lose seats in a midterm election, whatever the party was…Bill Clinton!

This huge defeat can be explained by a number of hot issues that American citizens are blaming the president for not handling properly such as gun control, legalization of marijuana, immigration, infrastructure and particularly the healthcare reform.

Another key factor in this election was also the low turnout as is generally the case with the midterm elctions. Noone votes in the midterms! It has been the same old story since the 1840s The young, the minorities, the female voters that generally tend to vote Democrat did not make it to the ballot-box while the older whiter men did. And they usually vote Republican.

The Congress now looks nothing like the Congress Obama started with in 2008. Within the house of Representatives, 244 seats are controlled by the Republicans and 186 by the Democrats. As for the Senate, 53 seats are controlled by the Republicans and 44 by the Democrats (plus 2 seats for the Independent party)

What options are left to President Obama? Well, not many, obviously. The president still has the possibility to bypass Congress through executive orders, he can still veto the laws Republicans will eventually pass. But he could end up being blocked by the Senate, even challenged to court. Time has probably come for compromise. But whatever the political options Obama will opt for, the next two years might get a little…tense?!

The Fallen Star – Chapter One

Every now and then, strange things can occur. Everybody has experienced such an event in their lives. But what could possibly be found strange in a world of magic? Our story takes place in a small village, where the main activity consists in taking care of cattle and sowing the fields. Interestingly enough, this village has nothing to do with the Island of Sorrow, even though those two locations are only distant by two hundred miles, that is to say nothing for a brave group of adventurers.

Amongst the locals’ habits, the most popular ones certainly are brawling, something else that we cannot decently describe here, and of course, drinking contests. So what better place to start our adventure than… an overcrowded tavern?

Like every other night, the Green Eel’s inn is filled with peasants and guards, most of them tired after the harsh labor of the day, but still willing to spend a good evening with each other. At the tables, some drink, some sleep, and some try to sleep but fail because of the ambient noise. The bartender keeps his customers fed, and his tankards clean… sort of.

In one of the corners of the room, a small group of people is gathered around a table, where a man has challenged a half-orc barbarian into a drinking duel. The glasses are quickly drank, and the bets go higher each time they’re refilled. They’ve been almost thirty minutes in the duel, and both contestants are showing signs of weakness.

“Is that all you’ve got?!” shouted the inebriated farmer, violently putting down yet another glass on the table.
“Don’t make me laugh! I’m just getting started!” replied his orcish opponent.

“Is she done yet? We haven’t got all night. I know she has to defend her pride, but… man, this guy is a tough one!”
“And what would you do? Try to stop her? She has orc blood in her veins, and you, you’re just a dwarf. I don’t want to be rude, but who’s the one who drank all that beer again?”
“Watch your tongue, priest! I am Thaufar, son of Rabrann of the Great Mountain clan, and no one talks to me like that. Not even you, Duncan.”
“Okay, you’re right. Forget what I said. But I also have my pride, and you should remember that I’m a monk, not a priest.”
“Monks, priests, they’re all the same. You’re not as bad as those elves when it comes to fighting, but nothing can replace a well forged axe, made of good steel!”

“CHEAT!” screamed the barbarian. Thaufar and Duncan just had the time to turn around to see their companion grab her wooden tankard, and smash it onto the farmer’s face.
“Ain’t talking funny no more, hey?”

As his body hit the ground with an overly loud thud, the little crowd cheered their winner, and moved towards the counter to spend their newly acquired gold.
“What was that?” asked Duncan.
“What’s what?” replied the half-orc, as she collected the losing bets.
“He tried to give up the duel, the cheater! True men drink and faint on spot, that one was nothing but a cheater!”
“No I mean: what was that sound? There’s no way this guy’s that heavy! There must be something going on outside.”

At that precise moment, the entrance doors of the Green Eel opened wide, and a man rushed into the bar.
“They’re here! I told you they would come! I told you but no one believed me! Now they’re here and nothing can save us from them. Repent! Repent while you still have time!”
And he left, screaming his way through the streets.

“What the hell? There really must be something going on outside. That guy was completely panicking!” said Duncan.
“Hey Duncan, would you really have faith in a man half naked, shouting and running all over the place, with a fur hat and a wooden ladle in his hands? You’re the odd one here!”
“Well, if you put it this way… I mean… Okay, fine, he’s weird, but I heard a noise and whatever happened, it could be… Well, you know… An opportunity!”
“An opportunity?” said the barbarian.
“Yes Shayitah. Think about it. How long has it been since we last went exploring a dungeon? Five, six months? This may be our chance, right here, we have to seize it!”

“Oh no!” said a high pitched voice.

The voice came from a tall elven woman, who had remained silent during the drinking contest, and had just enjoyed her hyacinth cocktail. Near her, a halfling was sleeping, his head laying on his crossed arms. His leather outfit was clearly not suited for combat but he somewhat managed to make it this far.

“What do you mean ‘Oh no?’” asked Duncan.
“Sorry, I was just thinking.”
“Hahahaha! You were what?!” replied Thaufar.
“I was thinking, you stinky barrel.”
“What’s the problem Círeth?” enquired Duncan, while Thaufar continued laughing.

“Well, here’s the thing: all the priests of the city have been talking about the upcoming fulfillment of an ancient prophecy for months. It sounded like ‘And the stars shall fall upon thee’ or something… But the real problem is that they actually noticed a brilliant star shining in the sky yesterday, that could be seen even during daylight. And today’s the day the prophecy should realize…”
“So that’s why that man was all shaken up. I guess every single sect and cult of the city must be willing to relate this event to their own beliefs…”
“I don’t believe in prophecies!” intervened Shayitah.
“Well neither do I, but if the farmers do, we can take advantage of it. Let’s head out and see what’s what!” said Duncan.
“What do we do about Bowdoc? He’s still asleep.” asked Círeth.
“Just slap his face! Shayitah, would you…?” exclaimed Thaufar.

As she approached the halfling, he suddenly chocked upon seeing the fists of Shayitah, and quickly stood up.
“What’s going on? Can’t we just sleep in peace here?!”
“Not anymore, Bowdoc.” replied Duncan, “Adventure awaits, and I can smell fame and glory from here! Let’s go!”

The small group left the Green Eel’s inn, and was immediately caught in a human stream, leading them towards what seemed to be the center of interest.

“What’s happening?” shouted Duncan to a nearby fisherman, trying to overcome the ambient noise.
“Don’t you know? A star has fallen into the western fields! Hurry up if you don’t want to miss anything!”
“A star you said?!” but the man was already out of sight.

The group kept pushing forward with the crowd, and eventually made it to the western fields. Once peaceful, those were now partially ablaze, the earth had been pushed around here and there, and a small hill seemed to have appeared. Carefully bypassing the burning wheat, they reached the other side of the hill.

Here they could see the star, which had destroyed a major part of the village’s arable lands, scaring the cattle away. Now all that was left was that… thing, which had crashed so violently onto the earth that it had created the small hill.

It didn’t really look like a star, or at least, what they thought a star would look like. It was big of course, but it was made of some sort of metal. It was round shaped but plane at the same time, like a plate, and it had windows circling a bump at its top. On its side, they could see a door, an opening into the star. What could be hiding in here? Nobody knew, and nobody ever had the chance to know.

“Oh shit!”, “Jeez!”, “I don’t believe it!”, was all they could hear. All around them, the farmers were astonished by what they were seeing. Duncan finally spoke out loud:

“Guys, this is it! I told you, this is our chance! No one have ever had the chance to see the insides of a star. This is a one in a lifetime chance that is given to us, we must seize it!”
“Are you crazy Duncan?” shouted Bowdoc, “We don’t know anything about that thing! It could be dangerous, it could even be deadly! There’s no way I’m getting inside!”
“You’re just a coward, that’s all! All rogues are! We’re lucky no one has entered it yet, now quit talking, and go!” pressed Thaufar.
“Eh guys, I don’t want to interrupt you but Shayitah is already gone!” said the elf.
Indeed, the half-orc barbarian had had enough of all this talking, and decided to go on her own. If the others were not able to see how unique this adventure was, then to Hell with them!

“Everyone, run!” shouted Duncan.

And they all started to run towards the gaping side of the metal star, trying to catch up with Shayitah, as the crowd cheered them on, happy to see that the problem was finally being dealt with. The group arrived at the door, and hesitated for a second.

“Are we sure we want to do this…?”
“Yes we are. Now let’s go, Adventure awaits us!” concluded Duncan.

They entered the star, leaving the crowd behind them and diving into the darkness.

And as they did so, the door shut tight behind them with a smothered sound, only leaving a dim, eerie light, and a deep silence, contrasting with the cheers of the crowd that was now out of sight.

“Great! Now we’re trapped!” sighed Bowdoc.

The group slowly started to realize that this adventure would not be an easy one…

To be continued…

By Axel Caro and Quentin Dauchy

When programmers have fun

Contrary to popular belief, programmers and geeks alike have a great sense of humor. As you will see in this short article, when a programmer is fed up with coding and gets loose, the results can be quite spectacular. Such programmer jokes inserted into software are often referred to as “Easter eggs”. If you’re a regular Linux user, you might already know a few Easter eggs from the apt-get or the cowsay commands, but some Easter eggs are much more imaginative.

Behold the sl (Steam Locomotive) command which, when typed in a terminal, shows an animated ASCII train crossing the console window. This could be a nice trick to confuse people who mistype the ls command intending to list the contents of the working directory (students from the INFO department for example).

Nice train isn’t it?

sl is available on GitHub and was last updated in July 2014. Its author says it is both a way to “cure your bad habit of mistyping” and ‘a joke command, not useful at all”. I’m not really sure it makes you type better, but it sure makes you laugh though.

Next up in the half-useless Linux tools category is WeatherSpect, a weather application that pulls its data from the Weather Underground API and displays it as an ASCII animation (sun, snow, rain…), with the addition of random objects such as an elephant, a bunny or a horse. As if it weren’t enough already, WeatherSpect author Kirk Baucom also wrote ASCIIQuarium, a perl script simulating an aquarium in ASCII art. And as always with opensource software, ASCIIQuarium was forked into several projects, such as a live android wallpaper or a screen saver for the Windows operating system… Here’s what the original ASCIIQuarium output looks like:

Underwater ASCII mess

Every bit of the animated “image” being a colored ASCII character, we see rather easily what the author had to go though in order to create this little piece of software. Some people obviously don’t have anything else to do…

Does Higgs boson mean destruction ?

October is usually the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony month. This year’s Physics Prize has been awarded to 3 Japanese and American researchers for their work on blue light-emitting diodes.
But a year ago, the Physics Prize was awarded to François Englert and Peter Higgs, for their work on the so called « God’s particle » : the Higgs boson. You probably know that already, as its discovery shook the whole world. And recently, medias have started again talking about it, so let’s take a look at what happened.

Nobel Physics

Higgs boson, was discovered very recently, in 2012. But that particle was nothing new, as Peter Higgs, François Englert, and four of their colleagues, have been working on it since 1964… The Higgs boson couldn’t be observed earlier due to inappropriate technology – until… now. It is the vault key of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, its discovery strengthens a lot the theory. This particle is the “glue” of our world. It gives other sub-atomic particles their mass, and thus the objects their shape and size.
With this « new » particle, this is a new field of research that just opened.

But, as Stephen Hawking said :

The Higgs boson has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable. …This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming.

Let’s put it in more simple terms. According to the quantum theory, the universe would currently be in a state of “fake vacuum”. It means the Universe is stable for a certain amount of time, but it can get to a lower energy state. And all the matter that is in the fake vacuum could get to a state of true vacuum.

If we do not interfere, the Universe would get to the true vacuum state in approximately 10^100 years. But theoretically, a tunnel linking those two states might exist. If an unstable Higgs boson was to be generated, it would create this tunnel. As a result, the whole universe would pass at the speed of light into an other physic state.
Just like the bubble described by Hawking.

But the energy required to achieve this transition is about 100 billion of GigaelectronVolts, while the largest particle collider puts out less than 100 TeraelectronVolts, a million times lower than what is required. Basically, with our current knowledge, such a powerful accelerator would be tens of thousands of kilometers large. As a comparison, Earth is only 12,600km large.
Not for today then.


But this might be possible in the future. If humanity keeps growing exponentially, this day might come sooner than expected. However, this is not a reason to stay awake all night : the true vacuum bubble would instantaneously get to you. There wouldn’t be any warning, you wouldn’t have the time to be scared. You can rest in peace.

More seriously, we know very little about the Universe. In fact, we can barely explain a fraction of the observed phenomena. For example, we can currently explain less than 20% of the matter which constitutes the Universe. All these theories are working for a certain set of phenomena, but they are far from being complete.
There are probably plenty of phenomena we don’t even know they exist.

You want some practical experiment ? Try putting a chewing-gum at the end of the trunk of an elephant. Not very scientific, but the result should be just as destructive – and way more fun.

Gone Girl

Last week, David Fincher released his latest movie, Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn. The book was a huge success in 2012 and became a bestseller after 8.8 million copies were sold worldwide in 40 different languages. It’s a thriller, but also a reflection on what  modern marriage can be.




The movie begins with a man voice-off :

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. […] What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

Gone girl could have been a simple love story. Nick (Ben Affleck) meets Amy (Rosamund Pike) during a party. They are young, they are gorgeous, they both have a strong personality and of course…they fall in love. Finally after several years they will get married. But one day Amy disappears.

That’s precisely when you understand you’re watching a thriller that director David Fincher has meticulously structured. Suspicions turn to the husband. Neighborhood, media and police accuse him of murder. Doubts, lies, violence, infidelity … When the police find Amy’s diary, that apparently so perfect marriage reveals what it really is: hell. And obviously, her disappearance is a put-on act.

After a twist in the story, you understand that, if you thought the movie was about finding about “ Did Nick kill his wife ? ”, the real question David Fincher wants to ask us is :“ Do you really know who you’re living with ? ”. The characters reveal all their fragile psychology under the pressure of family, media and police. This definitely makes us wonder about how resentments can progressively invade a couple’s  life . How long will it take before love turns into hatred and violence?

Gone girl is a real success. The story is truly captivating and what’s more, David Fincher has perfectly adapted it to the big screen. It’s been top of the US box office since its opening week and has made more than $78 million so far.


NetHack, the amazing opensource Role-Playing Game from 1987

It is undeniable that video games have become immensely popular in the last decade. Be it an FPS, an MMORPG or a more casual smartphone app, lots of people play games to escape their daily routine and just have fun for a little while. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on roguelikes, a very special kind of opensource game you’ve probably never heard about.

To introduce the topic, I shall begin with a brief recap of what opensource means, and how it can benefit software development and games in particular. We’ll then look into the well-known and iconic roguelike called NetHack (which has absolutely nothing do to with hacking computers). If any of the above is relevant to you, then read on!

To begin with, what exactly is opensource? To cut a long story short, opensource (in a computer context) is a software movement born in the early eighties and whose intent is to encourage developers to share the source code of their software. By doing that, they are essentially prompting other developers to reuse and make changes to their code in order to improve it. Not only does this accelerates software development, but it also yields much better project longevity through forks. Forking allows developers to build upon existing projects with virtually no restriction, whereas commercial software is “locked” and the source code dies with the software or the platform it runs on. This obviously applies to video games too: some can’t be played today because they simply won’t run at all on modern operating systems or hardware. For these reasons, opensource appears really attractive as a lasting software development model. With this rather simplistic definition in mind, let’s move on to the flagship game of opensource UNIX RPGs:


NetHack has been around since 1987 and has been continuously updated by various contributors since its debut. Its text-only ASCII “graphics” might shock the uninitiated, but the game’s complexity is simply unmatched. Indeed, do you know of any other game where opening a tin can has a probability of greasing your hands and making you drop your weapon on the ground? I simply don’t. NetHack and similar games are called “roguelikes” because they are based on an even earlier and influential game from 1980 called Rogue. Rogue was the first computer game to feature a randomized, Fantasy-themed dungeon where death is permanent. Its turn-based and unpredictable nature allows for endless variations of strategies and experiences. Furthermore, roguelikes and NetHack in particular, are extremely hard to complete. The game has you venture through about fifty primary dungeon levels filled with monsters, traps and treasures. A player wins when he manages to get to the deepest level to fetch a special amulet, and climbs back alive to the first level. It may seem simple, yet be assured that NetHack is hardly forgiving: food is rare and you will die if you don’t eat, act against your god and you’ll be struck by thunder, or drink a city fountain dry and the guards will tear you apart… Ghosts of your dead characters from previous games can even spawn and attack you! I’ve been playing this game scarcely for more than two years now and I’ve yet to go below level fifteen. In this game you will simply die hundreds of times before ascending successfully and that’s if you don’t give up first.

The origin of 2014 Hong Kong protests

The recent protests in Honk Hong have been creating turmoil for the past few weeks. While its potential impact on Chinese society is yet to be seen, this movement of passive resistance, also called the “Umbrella revolution”, has caught the attention of the international stage. The government of Honk Kong is, of course, especially concerned with this matter. But what exactly triggered this chain of events, and why Honk Kong in particular, and not any other region of China?

Continue reading The origin of 2014 Hong Kong protests