The Madeleine Brand Show for June 8, 2012

Dinner Party Download: Weather art, drive-ins and alien invasions

Drive-in Movie Theater

PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The drive-in movie theater was created by chemical company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. in 1929.

Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam, hosts of The Dinner Party, join Madeleine Brand for their weekly booster shot of cultural news.

First up, artwork that controls the weather. Santa Monica's Santa Monica Commons park will debut a piece of public art called "Weather Field" by artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle. While not finalized it is expected to have "49 poles extending 20 feet into the air, capped with contraptions that under normal circumstances would measure wind direction and speed.

The weather instrumentation will move under the power of the sea breezes, each influencing the direction of the air like the runnels of the park itself to create a small microclimate in the air above the site, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

This week also marks the anniversary of the drive-in. The drive-in theater was the creation of Camden, New Jersey, chemical company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. In 1929, Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue in Riverton.

After nailing a screen to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen, testing different sound levels with his car windows down and up. Following several experiments, he applied for a patent of his invention on August 6, 1929 and was given U.S. Patent 1,909,537 on May 16, 1933.

Finally, guess who is watching alien invasion movies? Turns out, it's the Pentagon! The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, is dreaming up the weapons of the future today.

With the help of everything from lasers on jets to hypersonic planes to invisibility cloaks, we just might be able to make the battle for Earth a fair fight. You may think we're joking, but why else would NASA be uploading The Avengers to the International Space Station if not as a training manual?


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