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In 125 years, millions of people have looked at this painting. No one really saw it until recently.

Van Gogh saw something it took scientists another 100 years to see.

art, history, famous, painter, impressionism
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

This article originally appeared on November 14, 2014


Van Gough never got to enjoy his own historic success as an artist (even though we've been able to imagine what that moment might have looked like). But it turns out that those of us who have appreciated his work have been missing out on some critical details for more than 100 years.

I'm not easily impressed, OK?

I know Van Gogh was a genius. If the point of this were "Van Gogh was a mad genius," I would not be sharing this with you.

But I found this and I thought, "Oh, what a vaguely interesting thing." And then I got to the part about the Hubble Space Telescope, and, let me tell you: Mind. Blown.

We've got the set up here, but you have to watch the video for the full effect. It's all the way at the bottom.

Get this: Van Gogh was a pretty cool artist (duh), but as it turns out...

painting, science, psychotic

What’s the truth behind when you take off an ear?

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...he was also A SCIENTIST!*

*Pretty much.

Here's the story.

While Van Gogh was in an asylum in France, after he mutilated his ear during a psychotic episode*...

(*Or, and I'd like to thank the entire Internet for pointing this out, there's a theory that his friend Paul Gauguin actually cut off his ear, in a drunken sword fight, in the dark. The more you know!)

science, premonition, predictions

Animated a thinking one-eared Van Gogh.

All Van Gogh GIFs via TED-Ed.

...he was able to capture one of science's most elusive concepts:

~~~TURBULENCE~~~

research, studied, proof, genius

Animated "Starry Night."

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turbulence, fluid dynamics, energy cascade

Turbulence expressed through art.

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Although it's hard to understand with math (like, REALLY HARD), it turns out that art makes it easy to depict how it LOOKS.

So what is turbulence?

Turbulence, or turbulent flow, is a concept of fluid dynamics where fluid movements are "self-similar" when there's an energy cascade — so basically, big eddies make smaller eddies, and those make even smaller ones ... and so on and so forth.

It looks like this:

figures, explanation, education, community

Pictures explain science.

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See? It's easier to look at pictures to understand it.

Thing is, scientists are pretty much *just* starting to figure this stuff out.

reference, research, wisdom

Animation of referencing art to science.

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Then you've got Van Gogh, 100 years earlier, in his asylum, with a mutilated ear, who totally nailed it!

illumination, luminance, pulsing

Science studying Van Gogh.

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The folks who noticed Van Gogh's ability to capture turbulence checked to see whether other artists did the same. Most impressionists achieved " luminance" with their art (which is the sort-of *pulsing* you see when you look at their paintings that really shows what light looks like).

But did other artists depict turbulence the way Van Gogh did?

NOPE.

The Scream, historical, popular, famous

Animated “The Scream."

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Not even "The Scream" could hold a candle to Van Gogh!

technology, star turbulence, sky, astronomy

Capturing concepts of nature.

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Even in his darkest time, Van Gogh was able to capture — eerily accurately — one of nature's most complex and confusing concepts ... 100 years before scientists had the technology to observe actual star turbulence and realize its similarity to fluid turbulence mathematics as well as Van Gogh's swirling sky. Cool, huh?

Watch the video below to learn even more:

Our home, from space.

Sixty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to make it into space and probably the first to experience what scientists now call the "overview effect." This change occurs when people see the world from far above and notice that it’s a place where “borders are invisible, where racial, religious and economic strife are nowhere to be seen.”

The overview effect makes man’s squabbles with one another seem incredibly petty and presents the planet as it truly is, one interconnected organism.

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People share the quirkiest things their pets do and it's both hilarious and heartwarming

We asked our people to share their pet's weirdest antics and our audience delivered.

Silly doggo.

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One saving grace during the pandemic was getting to spend lots of time with our pets and witnessing all of their silly, quirky antics all day long. How many times have you wished you could hear what was going through your cat or dog's brain as they do things that defy logic. The cat who likes to chew on people's hair while they sleep—why? The dog who spins around in a circle ten times before relieving themselves—why?

The reason animals do what they do may be a mystery, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable to hear about their silly habits. We asked our Upworthy audience to share the quirkiest things their pets do, and people delivered big time.

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Health

Psychologist explains why everyone feels exhausted right now and it makes so much sense

Psychologist Naomi Holdt beautifully explained what's behind the overarching exhaustion people are feeling and it makes perfect sense.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

It seems like most people are feeling wiped out these days. There's a reason for that.

We're about to wrap up year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's been a weird ride, to say the least. These years have been hard, frustrating, confusing and tragic, and yet we keep on keeping on.

Except the keeping on part isn't quite as simple as it sounds. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc, we've sort of collectively decided to move on, come what may. This year has been an experiment in normalcy, but one without a testable hypothesis or clear design. And it's taken a toll. So many people are feeling tired, exhausted, worn thin ("like butter scraped over too much bread," as Bilbo Baggins put it) these days.

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Internet

The interesting reason British and Australian people sing in North American accents

It happens to other English speaking people from other countries too.

The reason British and Australian people sing in American accents

Music is something that crosses all barriers, including the language barrier. It's so much easier to learn songs in a foreign language than it is to actually learn the language itself. But there's something interesting that happens for people who normally speak with an accent when singing. Suddenly their accents are gone.

Some of the biggest singers in America didn't grow up in the United States and yet when they sing, they do so with an American accent. Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran, Adele and Harry Styles to name a few, are all from England with the exception of Capaldi, who hails from Scotland. They're some of the most popular singers in the world but their speaking accents are drastically different than their singing accents. But why is that?

Dave Huxtable, a language coach explores why singers who aren't from North America, sing as if they are in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel.

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Woman fed up with wasteful holiday 'giving' proposes a new way to celebrate the season

"Gifting in America has become insane. So I’m changing my ways."

A woman buying gifts for her nephews.

After becoming fed up with the material nature of the holiday season, a Redditor who goes by Somanycatsinhere, shared how she is putting her money towards things that matter rather than mindlessly buying gifts. Even though everyone's situation differs, the post is an excellent reminder that we don’t have to give someone a store-bought gift reflexively. Instead, we can focus on getting something they actually need.

“I’m over buying gifts to be thrown away or donated,” she started her post. “I decided I’m done.”

The Redditor explained she usually visits her family a few weeks before the holidays for a joint Thanksgiving and “Early Christmas” celebration, and this year, she took a different approach to gift-giving.

“I made a visit to my sister with my 3 amazing nieces. … The kids have everything they can need or want: toys and clothing-wise—and it’s all so overwhelming. The kids don’t even play with most of it. It’s just piled up everywhere,” she wrote.

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Democracy

The night before his murder, JFK became the first president to meet with Latino leaders

The historic meeting was overshadowed by the horrors of November 22, 1963.

via Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy greet attendees of a dinner held by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas. Master of Ceremonies, John J. Herrera, stands at far right; Mariachi musicians play at left.

November 22, 2023, will mark the 60th anniversary of one of the most horrific moments in American history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The anniversary has been greeted by a host of new documentaries and renewed interest in the conspiracies surrounding the assassination.

One historic moment from Kennedy’s short but consequential presidency occurred on the last night of his life, Thursday, November 21, 1963. That night, Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and his wife, Lady Bird, visited a formal dinner in Houston, Texas, held by LULAC — the League of United Latin American Citizens. The event featured a welcoming party of Mexican-American World War II veterans, including Medal of Honor recipient Macario García.

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