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gifs that can educate and fascinate
May 9, 2014 8:57 PM   Subscribe

The internet is flooded with hilarious animated gifs of jumping cats, running babies and hilarious fails. But there’s a whole different class of gifs out there – gifs that can educate and fascinate. These 20 awesome gifs will do exactly that – show you how the world works.
posted by JujuB (61 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
Most people freak out when a cockroach flies near them, can you imagine the snake coming towards you?
posted by JujuB at 9:00 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


These are awesome!!
posted by JHarris at 9:09 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Whoa that Pythagoras one was fucking sweet.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:10 PM on May 9 [10 favorites]


can you imagine the snake coming towards you?

Nope, nope; nope. No thanks.

Their ability to glide has been an object of interest for physicists and the United States Department of Defense in recent years, and studies continue to be made on what other, more subtle, factors contribute to their flight...Scientists are hopeful that this research will lead to design robots which can glide in the air from one place to another.

I SAID NO THANK YOU
posted by Iridic at 9:11 PM on May 9 [31 favorites]


In case you're wondering how the hell that camouflage dip works: water transfer printing.
posted by Iridic at 9:16 PM on May 9 [15 favorites]


Mods, if there's not fifteen minutes talking about these in the next podcast I will be disappointed.
posted by JHarris at 9:17 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the helmet camo paint is a new thing or what. When I was in, we had cloth covers that we put on our helmets, and those covers also had spaces for little IR reflective things.
posted by kavasa at 9:19 PM on May 9


I'm not exactly following the snake venom one, is it supposed to be liquifying the meat or muscle there?
posted by efalk at 9:21 PM on May 9


That's blood.
posted by JHarris at 9:22 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


This gif finally explained trigonmetry better than any textbook.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:22 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


I think the opposite, with blood, efalk. It's probably bad if the blood in your arteries turns into a squishy blob instead of a liquid that supplies oxygen to your body.
posted by kavasa at 9:23 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


kavasa today's helmets still use fabric helmet covers.
posted by Hiding From Goro at 9:26 PM on May 9


That last one (of the octopus) is backward. Here's a version of the original. The thing I don't understand is: the original is sufficiently mindblowing - why would you need to try to top the show that nature has already given us?
posted by komara at 9:29 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


ahh that makes more sense. I just felt like there was a portion of the gif that was edited or chopped off. Either way my hatred of snakes continues.
posted by efalk at 9:34 PM on May 9


Can someone comment on how credible the Moai one is? I thought the prevailing idea was that the statues were rolled into place on logs, which contributed to the deforestation of the island. If they used ropes like this, is there an alternative explanation for why they cut down all the trees?
posted by my favorite orange at 9:38 PM on May 9


Wikimedia collection of Engines.
posted by carsonb at 10:13 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


my favorite orange: "Can someone comment on how credible the Moai one is? I thought the prevailing idea was that the statues were rolled into place on logs, which contributed to the deforestation of the island. If they used ropes like this, is there an alternative explanation for why they cut down all the trees?"

Increasingly, the preponderance of evidence (archaeological, palynological, faunal, palaeoenvironmental) is pointing towards the idea that the folks on Rapa Nui didn't cut down all the trees. Keep in mind here, when we're talking about trees we're talking about a very specific form of palm, with a rather slow development. Easter Island's ecosystem had been evolving for millennia and millennia with little outside effects of any kind.

So the humans get there and, as always happened when traveling on ship, they brought some stowaways: Rattus exulans, the adorably cute Pacific rat. Well, cute compared to the Norwegian rat. The rats figure out quite quickly that the seeds of the local trees were delicious and munch 'em up. Munch 'em up so quickly, in fact, that the forests don't have time to regenerate.

And, sure, humans would have been chopping down trees for various reasons, but they would have been a drop in the bucket compared to rats, breeding and eating and breeding and eating. The trees never stood a chance! Archaeologists have found enough of the chewed tree seeds ("endocarps", actually) that they're normal data for early investigations of the island. "Whatcha got there, Jane? Ahh, more rat-chewed endocarps from immediately post-colonization? Yup."

So the Easter Island story doesn't have the morality play ending of "What did the person on Easter Island think when they cut down the last tree?". Oh, well, this is a better story, I think. Small, seemingly innocuous things can turn out to have absolutely devastating ecological consequences. "Lookee there, Sina! The rats think the trees are good to eat! Ha! How weird. Different strokes for different folks."
posted by barnacles at 10:14 PM on May 9 [26 favorites]


I'm really glad I didn't know about the fetus face when I was pregnant. There was enough body horror going on already; I couldn't have handled envisioning the shapeless blob/Admiral Ackbar/complacent lizard-man transformation happening in my innards.

I love my children very much, but the physical aspect of pregnancy freaked me way the hell out if I thought about it too much.
posted by bibliowench at 10:19 PM on May 9 [21 favorites]


I do not understand the slinky falling one. Why isn't the bottom of the slinky falling?
posted by Joh at 10:20 PM on May 9


The center of mass is falling because of gravity. The bottom and top of the slinky are both contracting towards the center of mass. So the bottom moving up cancels the center of mass moving down, and the top moving down adds to the center of mass moving down. so speed of top = 2, speed of bottom = 0, and speed of center of mass = 1.
posted by TheJoven at 10:27 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


I feel like I could watch that chain one all day. It's so soothing.

Poke...bend...turn...poke...bend...turn...

When I'm stressed, I'll just picture that chain stretching out to eternity.
posted by Salieri at 10:30 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


These were awesome! And, now I know how to totally mess with someone drinking a Bloody Mary out of a wine glass. I'd been wondering what to do with this vial of snake venom I have.
posted by not_on_display at 10:36 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Well, they're fun, but the claim that they teach more than a textbook can is preposterous hyperbole. Also, a couple of them claim to explain "why" something happens when in fact they do no such thing, for example, "These boxes demonstrate why the Pythagorean Theorem is true". Err, no. They demonstrate that it is true in the case of one example of a right-angled triangle, yes. They do not demonstrate why it is generally true.
posted by Decani at 10:59 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


Then there are GIFs that show us the inner workings of the mind... previously here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:39 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Thank you for subscribing to STAR FACTS. Did you know that if NML Cygni were located where our sun is, it's surface would be midway between the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter? Thank you for subscribing to STAR FACTS.
posted by Justinian at 11:40 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


I'm pretty sure there isn't actual blood in a Bloody Mary.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:03 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


*spits out mouthful of bloody mary*

Wait WHAT
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:14 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


"I do not understand the slinky falling one. Why isn't the bottom of the slinky falling?"

Because it hasn't looked down yet.
posted by dgaicun at 1:00 AM on May 10 [17 favorites]


Some links back to sources would have been good.
posted by Segundus at 1:52 AM on May 10


The Human fetus face forming


::OH DEAR GAWD MAKE IT STOP! RUN AWWWWWWWWAY!!::

Further cementing my desire to never, ever, be a human incubator. Urgh!
posted by Faintdreams at 1:57 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


In all it's gritty mechanical wonderfulness, the chain gif was, as mentioned above, soothing in it's repetitive, silent, endless creation. Running a close second was the lock....

Which led me to seriously consider that I may be about one small step away from having an obsessive compulsive disorder (which would explain a few other subtle behavioral quirks).
posted by HuronBob at 2:25 AM on May 10


The chain one looked really cool, but all I could think as I watched it was 'that must be noisy as hell in real life'.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:33 AM on May 10


That last one (of the octopus) is backward. Here's a version of the original.

The moment when it changes from appearing to have the same texture as the plant to being an alien blob from the planet Xenogargh looks like a bad CGI morph from 15 years ago.

In other words, my brain sees what the octopus is doing and makes an automatic, unconscious judgment: That is an impossible thing that could never happen in the real world.
posted by straight at 2:45 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Mods, if there's not fifteen minutes talking about these in the next podcast I will be disappointed.

That may be a while. One mod appears to be doing a cycling tour of Europe, while another has been off to keynote at a conference on the planet Hoth (this is only a slight exaggeration), probably hence no podcast.
posted by Wordshore at 2:53 AM on May 10


Achtung... Büroklammer!
From this long running children's educational short film series for children in Germany which would be a motherlode for making these GIFs.
posted by yoHighness at 3:10 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


That gliding snake is both amazing and nightmare inducing.
posted by Iosephus at 3:14 AM on May 10


Also, a couple of them claim to explain "why" something happens when in fact they do no such thing...
...such as the Slinky. Thanks to TheJoven for teaching me more than a gif can.
posted by MtDewd at 5:33 AM on May 10




they brought some stowaways: Rattus exulans, the adorably cute Pacific rat. Well, cute compared to the Norwegian rat.

Speaking of entertaining and educational shorts...
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:54 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I find the derez to be mostly disappointing. I guess these originate in the ancient history of the web? (although the trig diagram doesn't seem to loose anything)
posted by xtian at 6:35 AM on May 10


I'm really glad I didn't know about the fetus face when I was pregnant.

I am so grateful to science for the invention of ultrasound. It's an immense relief to know that I'm gestating something with a human face and limbs and internal organs and not a prehistoric dough-fish.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:39 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Several of those are from the show How It's Made, which is fabulous.
posted by harrietthespy at 7:02 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Well, they're fun, but the claim that they teach more than a textbook can is preposterous hyperbole.

I'm not quite following you here, is there any chance you could make this argument in GIF form?

On a more serious note, if you search YouTube for "hydro dipping" or "water transfer printing" you will find hours and hours of technicians meticulously applying cheesy fake woodgrain, cheesy fake carbon fiber, and hideous camoflauge patterns to firearms, automobile parts, etc. Which can be oddly satisfying to watch, if you can get over the clients' taste in decorating.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:56 AM on May 10


My favorite one of these is how a sewing machine works. I sewed for years without really thinking or understanding how it works!
posted by apricot at 8:04 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah I don't get the venom one either.
posted by shivohum at 8:34 AM on May 10


I'm pretty sure the "octopus" is actually a cuttlefish (previously, documentary on youtube).

Some more mindblowing facts in image form.
posted by yaymukund at 8:47 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


The venom causes the blood to coagulate.
posted by h00py at 9:04 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


"I feel like I could watch that chain one all day. It's so soothing."

Here's a similar one with crayons.
posted by dgaicun at 9:24 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Several of those are from the show How It's Made, which is fabulous.

Nothing in this world is quite as capable of eating my life as a weekend marathon of How It's Made.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:53 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]




I'm pretty sure that's what the cuttlefish want us to think!!1!

(ps. It's an octopus.)
posted by sneebler at 11:35 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


In chavenet's link, scroll down in the comments to Sportmanteau's explanation of "GIF Explainers Explained, In Thomas Pynchon Explained In GIFs Form"
posted by drlith at 11:42 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


One where the liquid crayons were being filled into a mold would probably hypnotize me.
posted by double bubble at 1:55 PM on May 10


So many of those gifs were nightmare inducing.
posted by Catch at 2:28 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Can someone comment on how credible the Moai one is?

Very. They demonstrate that when a moai is built properly, not even a blindfold and ropes can slow it down.
posted by anazgnos at 4:18 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


Joh: “I do not understand the slinky falling one. Why isn't the bottom of the slinky falling?”
The gif comes from a video by Veritasium which gives a great explanation of the physics behind the effect. The effect is even more obvious when they tie a tennis ball to the bottom of the Slinky. Cf. “Modeling a Falling Slinky”, Rhett Allain, Wired, 29 September 2011
posted by ob1quixote at 2:18 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Can someone comment on how credible the Moai one is?

It's sufficiently plausible to be interesting. May have happened some of the time, over suitable terrain, or not at all. Using it as evidence that the islanders "didn't cut down all the trees" looks a bit less credible to me. Certain people seem way too eager to find some way to believe that.
posted by sfenders at 4:19 AM on May 11


Man, that slinky one messes with my brain.
posted by 4ster at 7:45 AM on May 11


sneebler: "I'm pretty sure that's what the cuttlefish want us to think!!1!

(ps. It's an octopus.)
"

Ack, egg on my face!
posted by yaymukund at 11:46 AM on May 11


I wrote up an explanation for that falling slinky one last night, but I decided not to post it because the argument it required was tortuous if not tortured, and seemed excessive for the thread:

That Slinky drop is a very pretty trick-- and pretty tricky to explain.

Let's consider the final turn of the coil in isolation, because its failure to move as we expect is the paradox.

Before the holder lets go, it's not moving at all, so it can't be experiencing any net force, and there are only two things that could exert any force on it: the force of gravity on the very small mass of a single turn of the coil, which points down; and the net force exerted by the rest of the slinky, which has to point up and must be equal in magnitude to the gravitational force since the two forces cancel. From this we can see that the tension in the slinky is very low at the beginning of the last turn, in contrast to the first turn at the top of the slinky, where the tension is equal to the entire weight of the slinky.

At the moment the slinky is released, the forces are still balanced because the gravitational force remains the same and the slinky is still stretched; the upward force from the rest of the slinky will decline relatively slowly as the slinky contracts all along its length, so the last coil will start moving immediately, but only very slowly.

When the slinky contracts fully, the tension will disappear, and the end then will receive a sharp kick soon after as it catches up abruptly to the speed of the rest of the slinky.


I said that the bottom of the slinky would start moving down immediately, but slowly, in contrast to the veritasum videos (thank you ob1quixote!) which say it doesn't move at all until the wave of collapse gets there.

But if you look at the veritasum video of the slinky with the tennis ball attached (ob1quixote's penultimate link) I think you can see that the tennis ball is going down before the wave of collapse gets there (clearest if you use your cursor to move the video from 0:40 to 41, 42, 43, and 44).

What veritasum got wrong, in my opinion, is failing to recognize that the slinky would contract all along its length-- thereby reducing the tension-- even as the wave of collapse traveled down it.

What I got wrong was not realizing that the fully contracted state of the slinky would develop as the final state of a wave of collapse that traveled down it, and that made it hard for me to see how the sharp kick which brought the end up to speed would take place, even though I knew it must.

Rhett Allain (ob1quixote's final link) also seems to think the bottom of the slinky would start moving immediately upon release at the top.
posted by jamjam at 4:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


OMGOMGOMGOMG -that's- how locks work?!?!? WOW!
posted by eggkeeper at 10:30 AM on May 12


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