don’t think I’m a gloomy person,” Katie Mack said. She just likes thinking about the end — the annihilation of Earth, the solar system, our galaxy and especially the universe. Apocalyptic topics that can put even these uncertain times into perspective. “The destruction of the whole universe: There’s nothing bigger and more dramatic than that,” she said.
Change is in the nature of her career. As she began her undergraduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, cosmologists were processing the 1998 discovery that some mysterious entity called “dark energy” was pushing galaxies apart from one another. While working toward her Ph.D. at Princeton University, the first results from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) came out, providing “our first really detailed accounting of the contents of the universe,” she said. “Since WMAP was partly led by people at Princeton, it was a big part of life there, and hugely exciting; I felt like I was right at the ground floor on some of the most exciting discoveries in cosmology.”
After an epic struggle with the weather for 35 days, Geoff Mackley, Bradley Ambrose, Nathan Berg, became the first people ever to get this close to Marum Volcano’s famed lava lake on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu. Coming within 30 metres of the lava lake down a watercourse, it was possible to stand the heat for only 6 seconds. With Fire Brigade breathing apparatus and heat proof proximity suit it was possible to stand on the very edge and view the incredible show for over 40 minutes.
‘What can we learn of dangerous places by listening to their sounds?’
‘Sonic Journalism’ is the aural equivalent of photojournalism. It describes the practice where field recordings play a major role in the discussion and documentation of places, issues and events and where listening to sounds of all kinds strongly informs the approach to research and following narratives whilst on location.
Peter Cusack: Recent travels have brought me into contact with some difficult and potentially dangerous places. Most are areas of major environmental/ecological damage, but others are nuclear sites or the edges of military zones. The danger is not necessarily to a short-term visitor, but to the people of the area who have no option to leave or through the location’s role in geopolitical power structures. Dangerous places can be both sonically and visually compelling, even beautiful and atmospheric. There is, often, an extreme dichotomy between an aesthetic response and knowledge of the ‘danger’, whether it is pollution, social injustice, military or geopolitical.
Places visited include:
Chernobyl exclusion zone, Ukraine;
Caspian oil fields, Azerbaijan;
Tigris and Euphrates rivers valleys in South Eastern Turkey threatened by massive dam building projects;
North Wales, UK, where Chernobyl fallout still affects sheep farming practice; nuclear, military and greenhouse gas sites in the UK, including Sellafield, Dungeness, Bradwell, Sizewell, Thetford Forest, Rainham and Uttlesford
A new paper using data from NASA’s Kepler telescope came out recently, estimating that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-sized planets. This is a big increase over previous estimates. It’s very cool work. Love it. But the news spin was predictable:
New York Times: The known odds of something — or someone — living far, far away from Earth improved beyond astronomers’ boldest dreams on Monday.
USA Today: We are not alone.
You get the idea. Aliens under every rock. The existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (henceforth ETIs, or just ETs) is normally discussed in the context of the Fermi Paradox, which Wikipedia describes as “the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity’s lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.” Now I’m a strong advocate for there being no ETs in our galaxy, as explained in this recent post. In fact I’ve gotten so tired of hearing about ETs I’ve started thinking of it as “Carl Sagan Syndrome.” Name checking the deservedly well regarded astronomer and advocate for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). With this latest news cycle I got to wondering. Why so much Sagan Syndrome? What am I missing?
Human beings have been drawn to caves for hundreds of thousands of years, using them as shelters, burial sites, and places of worship since the beginning of mankind. Nowadays, many of these geological formations have been turned into “show caves”—natural caves managed by government or commercial organizations that have been modified to accommodate tourism. Los Angeles-based photographer Austin Irving has been documenting such caverns for years in her series Show Caves, traveling all over the United States and Southeast Asia to photograph these natural wonders turned into tourist attractions.
Irving’s images show the obvious evidence of human intervention in these underground spaces. Using a large-format camera, the photographer captures the grotesque beauty of show caves, depicting manmade additions like artificial lighting, gift stands, concrete paths, and steel doors standing in stark contrast with the natural rocks, craggy overhangs, and darkness of the caverns.
“What excites me about this subject matter is the fact that these natural spaces have been curated to cater to the physical needs of sightseers as well as our collective idea of what a cave should look like,” Irving says. Commenting on the tension between nature and clearly manmade utilitarian modifications like elevators and doors, she adds, “I’m just really drawn to this contrast between nature and what we have done to make it accessible for a money giving public.”
Daily Overviewis a project that shares one satellite photo from Digital Globes a day in an attempt to change the way we see our planet Earth.
The project was inspired by the Overview Effect, which first described by author Frank White in 1987 as an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of Earth and mankind’s place upon it. They’re having a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.
A group led by Dr. Robert Costanza has calculated the value of the world’s ecosystems…the group’s most recent estimate puts the yearly value at $142.7 trillion.
“I think this is a very important piece of science,” said Douglas J. McCauley of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That’s particularly high praise coming from Dr. McCauley, who has been a scathing critic of Dr. Costanza’s attempt to put price tags on ecosystem services.
“This paper reads to me like an annual financial report for Planet Earth,” Dr. McCauley said. “We learn whether the dollar value of Earth’s major assets have gone up or down.”
The group last calculated this value back in 1997 and it rose sharply over the past 17 years, even as those natural habitats are disappearing. Dr. Costanza and his colleagues estimate that the world’s reefs shrank from 240,000 square miles in 1997 to 108,000 in 2011.
The Mirny diamond mine (aka Mirna, Mir, or “Peace”) is one of the oldest diamond mine in Russia, located in Mirna City, just below the Arctic circle in the Sakha Republic of Eastern Siberia in northeastern Russia. The Mirna mine is built over the Malaya Botuobiya kimberlite field. The mine is located in permafrost which extends to a depth of 1600 feet, and temperatures inside the Mirna mine range from -50F to -70F.
The Mirna Diamond Mine is the deepest open pit diamond mine in the world, and one of the deepest open pit ore mines in the world, at nearly 2,000 feet. At that depth, it takes approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours for an ore truck to drive from the bottom of the mine to the upper rim. The first discovery of kimberlite in the Sakha region occurred in 1954, and the Mir kimberlite field was discovered in 1955. Opened in 1957, the Mirna mine has ceased operation since its exhaustion. While in operation the mine had an averaged yield of 2 million carats annually.
Deep within the Earth’s rocky mantle lies oceans’ worth of water locked up in a type of mineral called ringwoodite, new research shows.
The results of the study will help scientists understand Earth’s water cycle, and how plate tectonics moves water between the surface of the planet and interior reservoirs, researchers say.
The Earth’s mantle is the hot, rocky layer between the planet’s core and crust. Scientists have long suspected that the mantle’s so-called transition zone, which sits between the upper and lower mantle layers 255 to 410 miles (410 to 660 kilometers) below Earth’s surface, could contain water trapped in rare minerals. However, direct evidence for this water has been lacking, until now.
To see if the transition zone really is a deep reservoir for water, researchers conducted experiments on water-rich ringwoodite, analyzed seismic waves travelling through the mantle beneath the United States, and studied numerical models. They discovered that downward-flowing mantle material is melting as it crosses the boundary between the transition zone and the lower mantle layer.
“If we are seeing this melting, then there has to be this water in the transition zone,” said Brandon Schmandt, a seismologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the new study published today (June 12) in the journal Science. “The transition zone can hold a lot of water, and could potentially have the same amount of H2O [water] as all the world’s oceans.” (Melting is a way of getting rid of water, which is unstable under conditions in Earth’s lower mantle, the researchers said.)
“Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence. These scholars are grappling with some of the enormous challenges that will face humanity if an information-rich signal emanating from another world is detected.”
Right now, there about 1,100 satellites whizzing above our heads performing various functions like observation, communication, and spying. There are roughly another 2,600 doing nothing, as they died or were turned off a long time ago.
How did each of these satellites get up there? And what nations are responsible for sending up the bulk of them?
The answers come in the form of this bewitching visualization of satellite launches from 1957 – the year Russia debuted Sputnik 1 – to the present day. (The animation starts at 2:10; be sure to watch in HD.) Launch sites pop up as yellow circles as the years roll by, sending rockets, represented as individual lines, flying into space with one or more satellites aboard.
The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, directly and indirectly producing about 14.5 percent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and global meat consumption is on the rise. People generally like eating meat—when poor people start making more money, they almost invariably start buying more meat. As the population grows and eats more animal products, the consequences for climate change, pollution, and land use could be catastrophic.
Attempts to reduce meat consumption usually focus on baby steps—Meatless Monday and “vegan before 6,”passable fake chicken, andin vitro burgers. If the world is going to eat less meat, it’s going to have to be coaxed and cajoled into doing it, according to conventional wisdom.But what if the convincing were the easy part? Suppose everyone in the world voluntarily stopped eating meat, en masse. I know it’s not actually going to happen. But the best-case scenario from a climate perspective would be if all 7 billion of us woke up one day and realized that PETA was right all along. If this collective change of spirit came to pass, like Peter Singer’s dearest fantasy come true, what would the ramifications be?
Surrealist and Sociologist Roger Caillois was known for his writings on biomimicry, especially within the insect world, pareidolia and lithic scrying. His latter interest provided us with The Writing of Stones, a book in which he unravels the ‘unfathomable graphic madness’ etched onto the rocks contained within the ‘archives of geology’. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a species of rock – in each he channels ever increasingly dense, extravagant, and at times morbid tales from the authorless inscriptions each stone contains.
“Life appears: a complex dampness, destined to an intricate future and charged with secret virtues, capable of challenge and creation. A kind of precarious slime, of surface mildew, in which a ferment is already working. A turbulent, spasmodic sap, a presage and expectation of a new way of being, breaking with mineral perpetuity and boldly exchanging it for the doubtful privilege of being able to tremble, decay, and multiply.”
About the book, from the flaps:
The Writing of Stones is a fascinating meditation on the human imagination contemplating the interior of stones. Caillois examines patterns that are revealed by polishing sections of minerals such as agate, jasper, and onyx. He considers the impact these configurations have had upon the human imagination throughout history and he reviews man’s attempt to categorize and explain them.
Marguerite Yourcenar [in her introduction] points out that “there had taken place in [his] intellect the equivalent of the Copernican revolution: man was no longer the center of the universe, except in the sense that the center is everywhere; man, like all the rest, was a cog in the whole system of turning wheels. Quite early on, having entered ‘the forbidden laboratories,’ Caillois applied himself to the study of diagonals which link the species, of the recurrent phenomena that act, so to speak as a matrix of forms.” Caillois found the presence throughout the universe of a sensibility and a consciousness analogous to our own. One way which this consciousness expresses itself is in a “natural fantasy” that is evident in the pictures found in stones. Man’s own aesthetic may then be no more than one of many manifestations of an all-pervasive aesthetic that reveals itself in the natural world.
Found among the notes of the poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe is a stupendous claim: Everything is leaf. This is a statement that seems too beautiful to be science. Goethe came to this idea on a trip to Italy in the late 1700s. The more Goethe looked at plants, and lived and breathed with plants, the more profoundly he felt poetry’s limits. He turned to botany and began publishing scientific works. He created his own study of seeing, which he called “morphology.” In this, Goethe’s love of plants followed the same path that all lasting love must take. Goethe wanted to know plants from their most essential beginnings, wanted to touch their seeds, follow their cycles. He couldn’t be satisfied just wandering around parks, glancing at the flowers and pronouncing metaphors upon them — Goethe had to understand what a plant truly is. Everything is leaf, he discovered at last, every part of a plant is leaf. The cotyledon, the foliage, the cataphylls, the petals — a plant is fundamentally leaf. Goethe published this intimate memoir of his relationship with leaves and named it The Metamorphosis of Plants.
It’s unsurprising that Goethe came to his idea about the everythingness of leaf while wandering the lush countryside of Naples. I wonder if he could have had his realization trudging through the barren early spring gardens of Weimar. “The Neapolitan firmly believes that he lives in Paradise and takes a very dismal view of northern countries,” Goethe wrote in his notebook. “Sempre neve, case di legno, gran ignoranza, ma denari assai — that is how he pictures our lives. For the edification of all northerners, this means: ‘Snow all the year round, wooden houses, great ignorance, but lots of money.’” That is to say, a leaf in Germany is a mostly invisible thing. It is an entr’acte, a promise. In the northern parts of the world, the leaves hide inside the sticks; the sticks, for most of the year, look dead. And only a poet or a flimflammer could come up with the notion that something hardly visible is everything.
Imagine looking out over Tokyo Bay from high above and seeing a man-made island in the harbor, 3 kilometers long. A massive net is stretched over the island and studded with 5 billion tiny rectifying antennas, which convert microwave energy into DC electricity. Also on the island is a substation that sends that electricity coursing through a submarine cable to Tokyo, to help keep the factories of the Keihin industrial zone humming and the neon lights of Shibuya shining bright.
But you can’t even see the most interesting part. Several giant solar collectors in geosynchronous orbit are beaming microwaves down to the island from 36 000 km above Earth.
It’s been the subject of many previous studies and the stuff of sci-fi for decades, but space-based solar power could at last become a reality—and within 25 years, according to a proposal from researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The agency, which leads the world in research on space-based solar power systems, now has a technology road map that suggests a series of ground and orbital demonstrations leading to the development in the 2030s of a 1-gigawatt commercial system—about the same output as a typical nuclear power plant.”
A small consumer-level molecular scanner lets you analyze the objects around you for relevant information, from food calories or quality, medicine, nature, etc.
When you get your SCiO, you’ll be able to:
Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: salad dressings, sauces, fruits, cheeses, and much more.
See how ripe an Avocado is, through the peel!
Find out the quality of your cooking oil.
Know the well being of your plants.
Analyze soil or hydroponic solutions.
Authenticate medications or supplements.
Upload and tag the spectrum of any material on Earth to our database. Even yourself.
The Kickstarter was launched a few day ago and made it’s $200,000 goal within 24 hours – the potential for this tech is huge. Watch the video embedded below to see the potential:
Proximity Designs is a Myanmar-based social enterprise that designs products to improve poor people’s lives. Some of the affordable creations they’ve made include foot-powered water pumps, drip irrigation systems, solar lanterns and even infrastructure projects like bridges.
An integral part of their design and manufacturing process involves putting prototypes through trials with robots that use them until they break. The group says their line of farming aids all get pushed to failure by their lab’s robot farmers, which helps improve how they’re made.
Building a reliable product is important if it is to be used under the strain of daily life in rural Myanmar. A product like a manual water pump relieves farmers of the backbreaking work of carrying up to 10 tons of water a day on their backs from distant wells.
The country’s farmers are showing their approval by opening up their wallets—Proximity Designs reports that they will sell 31,000 irrigation products in fiscal year 2013. They say their work has also resulted in a 10 to 15 percent increase in rice yield.
“Including the newest one I bought, I have three treadle pumps,” said farmer Aung San. “I made about $1,200 last year, so I bought more land to expand my plot. That’s why I bought another pump.”
It can be unsettling to contemplate the unlikely nature of your own existence, to work backward causally and discover the chain of blind luck that landed you in front of your computer screen, or your mobile, or wherever it is that you are reading these words. For you to exist at all, your parents had to meet, and that alone involved quite a lot of chance and coincidence. If your mother hadn’t decided to take that calculus class, or if her parents had decided to live in another town, then perhaps your parents never would have encountered one another. But that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Even if your parents made a deliberate decision to have a child, the odds of your particular sperm finding your particular egg are one in several billion. The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 1027. Carrying on in this way, your chance of existing, given the general state of the universe even a few centuries ago, was almost infinitesimally small. You and I and every other human being are the products of chance, and came into existence against very long odds.
Excerpt from an article writen by Tim Maudlin at Aeon. Continue THERE
On september 19th, 1989 UTA flight 772, scheduled to operate from the republic of congo to paris, was attacked and exploded over the Sahara desert, an international tragedy which resulted in the fatalities of all 170 people from 18 different nationalities on board. Eighteen years later, Les Familles de L’attentat du Dc-10 D’uta — an association of the victims’ families — resolved to collaborate in a monumental, on-site memorial for those deceased. A team of both relatives and local inhabitants journeyed to the remote crash site, settled along a barren stretch of the desert.
For its construction and realization, a significant circumstance was location. Wanting a memorial that could be visited and viewed forever, but limited by its inaccessible locale, the association set out to build a massive monument on the surface of the sand that could seen and accessed thorough the satellite view of google maps. 16°51′53″N 11°57′13″E are the coordinates of the commemoration, whose 200-foot diameter laid upon the expanse of the earth is clearly and fully visible from the sky. It is made up of large dark stones positioned in the outline of an airplane, fitted inside a massive compass. 170 broken mirrors are laid around the circumference, each representing one victim, while a plane wing stands upright, emerging from the sand and bearing a plaque with the names, ages, and country of origin of each person lost.
The study of the senses has become a rich topic in recent years. Senses of Vibration explores a wide range of sensory experience and makes a decisive new contribution to this growing field by focussing not simply on the senses as such, but on the material experience – vibration – that underpins them.
This is the first book to take the theme of vibration as central, offering an interdisciplinary history of the phenomenon and its reverberations in the cultural imaginary. It tracks vibration through the work of a wide range of writers, including physiologists (who thought vibrations in the nerves delivered sensations to the brain), physicists (who claimed that light, heat, electricity and other forms of energy were vibratory), spiritualists (who figured that spiritual energies also existed in vibratory form), and poets and novelists from Coleridge to Dickens and Wells. Senses of Vibration is a work of scholarship that cuts through a range of disciplines and will reverberate for many years to come.
Senses of Vibration
A History of the Pleasure and Pain of Sound
By: Shelley Trower
Last week, Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant, which supplies 10% of the country’s energy, had to shut down one of its three reactors after a jellyfish invasion clogged the piping of its cooling system. The invader, a creature called a moon jellyfish, is 95% water and has no brain. Not what you might call menacing if you only had to deal with one or two.
En masse, jellyfish are a bigger problem. “The [moon jellyfish swarm] phenomenon…occurs at regular intervals on Sweden’s three nuclear power plants,” says Torbjörn Larsson, a spokesperson for E.ON, which owns Oskarshamn. Larsson wouldn’t say how much revenue the shutdown cost his company, but noted that jellyfish also caused a shutdown in 2005.
Coastal areas around the world have struggled with similar jellyfish blooms, as these population explosions are known. These blooms are increasing in intensity, frequency, or duration, says Lucas Brotz, a jellyfish expert at the University of British Columbia.
Brotz’s research of 45 major marine ecosystems shows that 62% saw an uptick in blooms since 1950. In those areas, surging jellyfish numbers have caused power plant outages, destroyed fisheries and cluttered the beaches of holiday destinations. (Scientists can’t be certain that blooms are rising because historical data are too few.)
The proliferation of jellyfish appears in large part to be related to humans’ impact on the oceans. The toll we take on the seas may augur a new world order of jellyfish disasters, which, in turn, could devastate the global economy.
The World Islands is an artificial archipelago consisting of about 300 small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located 4.0 kilometers off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters. 321 million cubic meters of sand and 31 million tons of rock were used to build the islands that cover an area roughly 6 by 9 kilometers, and is surrounded by an oval-shaped breakwater island. The islands, which are named after countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, etc., themselves range from 14,000 to 42,000 square meters in area and located roughly 100 meters from each other.
The project debuted nearly 10 years ago, but work has been stalled periodically ever since due to the global recession. Two years ago, the entire project came very near to derailment when Penguine Marine, the company contracted to provide ferrying services to and from the shore, alleged that the islands were sinking into the shallow sea. Nakheel Properties Group, the property’s developer, denied these reports.
Our friends up the road at ILC Dover, a company that creates space suits for NASA, helped us get this unique and incredibly rare ingredient. We also used German malts and hops, and fermented this beer with our house Doggie yeast, giving Celest-jewel-ale notes of doughy malt, toasted bread, subtle caramel and a light herbal bitterness.
Exclusively served at Dogfish Head’s Rehoboth Beach brewpub, Celest-jewel-ale marks the September night of the harvest moon – the full moon closest to the fall equinox – whose brightness has traditionally helped farmers work into the evening. –
On top of the lunar meteorites, ILC is making sure this is the best-protected beer on the planet with koozies made from the same material as their space suits. The outer layer is Orthofabric, which is specially woven to have white Gore-Tex® PTFE on the exterior and Nomex® with a Kevlar® ripstop on the interior. The Gore-Tex is slippery to prevent friction between parts of the suit during movement and facilitate mobility. Its color also limits the absorption of solar energy.
This house is located in the mountains of Almaty, among the forest of fir trees. He created for that would feel more fusion with nature and give up some unnecessary conditions and things. The house has to be something that can only develop your spiritual and creative development.
Text and Images via A. Masow. A project by A. Masow.
A team of expert cavers and photographers had been exploring caves in the Chongquing province of China – when they were amazed to discover the entrance to a hidden cave that was previously undiscovered. When they entered the cave, they found it was so large there was even a cloud inside it. Photographer and caver Robbie Shone, from Manchester, was part of a team of 15 explorers on a month-long expedition who stumbled across the natural wonder.
A number of recent map publications have incorporated terms like Radical, Counter, and Alternative in their titles, but it is unclear exactly what a radical (or counter, or alternative) cartography would be. This paper postulates some characteristics such a cartography (termed radical for convenience) might possess, and explores analogous phenomena in other fields, in search of a paradigm or model for recognizing cartographic radicality.
The term mapicity is proposed to instantiate that quality which all maps must possess in order to be recognized and employed as maps, and the term radicality is introduced to identify a quality that would set a radical cartography apart from one that was not radical.
Three collections of maps that are identified by their authors or publishers as radical are examined for traces of radicality as defined in this paper. In addition, the early Twentieth Century painting movement Analytic Cubism (approximately 1907–1914) is forwarded as a model or paradigm for radicality.