A list of intriguing things
One: ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ is the oldest surviving animated feature film—made in 1926 by 27-year-old Lotte Reiniger. She was a self-taught artist trained in the ancient folk art of shadow plays—and started her career making titles for silent films. Inspired by ‘1001 Arabian Nights’, the film employed “the technique of silhouette animation—using intricate cut-out shadow puppets shot frame-by-frame against thin sheets of lead.” The plot is just as delightful:
Over five acts it tells a story of good versus evil played out between Prince Achmed and the ugly African magician, involving a magical flying horse, Princess Dinarsade, the demons of Wak Wak and the Princess Pari Banu, Aladdin, and a witch.
Two: Scientists have invented a robot that will put any Marvel creation to shame—a shape-shifting machine that can switch between liquid and metal states. It can literally melt to get the hell out of a cage—and then re-form into its original shape! Inspired by sea cucumbers, this robot is made of gallium—which you can melt by just holding it in your hand because it has a melting point that’s close to our body temperature. Science Alert has all the nerdy details. But we’re just happy watching this amazing jailbreak.
Three: Finally, here’s something pretty and pretty rare: a pair of Mughal-era spectacles that were put up for auction by Sotheby's in 2021 for a whopping $2 million to $3.4 million. They were, however, left unsold when no one bid the going price. The provenance of these glasses is a mystery—having been commissioned for an unknown Indian prince in the 17th century. Most strikingly this: crafting the spectacles required a level of technical skill that has remained unmatched to this day. Architectural Digest has more details. The diamond pair below is named the ‘Halo of Light’ and is supposed to offer enlightenment:
The emerald version is called the ‘Gate of Paradise’—and holds miraculous powers to heal and to ward off evil: