Contributing writer

Tarpley Hitt

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The Fake Outdoors

It struck me that the Ridge Top Camp Out lacked something. That it was too planned. Too tame. The Camp Out wasn’t real camping at all (which would be raw and wild), but a simulation of it. It was fake. If real camping prompted a return to nature, the Camp Out boiled down to a staged encounter, a well-choreographed rendezvous.

Digitizing the Sky

In the 1880s, Edward Charles Pickering, a stout Harvard astronomer whose deeply angled eyebrows recall an angry cartoon character, took on a new project: photographing the entire sky.

Moderating Harvard Memes

Most meme groups are anonymous—save for a few friends in any given group, they’re populated by strangers who don’t know each other beyond a profile picture or an “about” page. With the Tweens group, the rule is reversed: Most members go to the same school, live on the same campus, and know each other, or at least know of each other, in real life.

Across the Uncanny Valley: Boston's Reborn Babies

The “Uncanny Valley,” a term first coined by robotics professor Masahiro Mori in 1970, refers to the discomfort experienced when encountering human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings. Reborn dolls can veer into that territory if they’re made poorly, but more often than not, what is peculiar about them is that they do cross the valley.

Dressing the Dead

Esmerelda Kent, a San Francisco designer who bears an uncanny likeness to “The Incredibles” character Edna Mode, sells biodegradable burial shrouds in a range of styles.

The House Where Muses Live

Tucked between an art deco dental clinic and a Jewish community center, 115 College Ave. strikes that same balance between eye-catching and unassuming. It’s hidden, but it shouldn’t be—the house looks like Gaudí remodeled Candyland.