Archive for the ‘Earthly/Geo/Astro’ Category

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The Hottests Volcanologists

July 14, 2014

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.

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The Satellite – Visualization Development

July 14, 2014

A detailed account of where we’re at with visualization software for The Satellite including the new generative clouds.

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Sounds From Dangerous Places: Sonic Journalism | Peter Cusack

July 13, 2014

‘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

Hear some samples from Chernobyl HERE

All text and Images via Sounds From Dangerous Places

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Avoiding “Sagan Syndrome.” Why Astronomers and Journalists should pay heed to Biologists about ET.

June 27, 2014

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?

Read full article by Nathan Taylor at Praxtime.

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The Strange and Surreal Beauty of Show Caves Around the World

June 21, 2014

austinirving

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.”

Text and Images via My Modern Met

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Daily Overwiew

June 21, 2014

Daily Overview is 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.

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How Much is the Earth Worth? Putting a Price Tag on Nature’s Defenses

June 15, 2014

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.

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Read Full Article at the NYTimes