A mountain range few have seen
This gorgeous shot shows sedimentary layering in one of the most remote mountain ranges on Earth; the Transantarctic Mountains.
The Transantarctic Mountains extend 3500 kilometers across the full continent, dividing East and West Antarctica. The highest peaks are about 4500 meters tall.
This image was taken by a plane flying in NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a program which monitors and researches the status and health of the ice sheets at the north and south poles, including aircraft flights at low enough altitudes to get this photo.
“an animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” - martin buber
"my passion is exploring the depths of possibility in connecting humanity with the greatest minds in the water," says photographer bryant austin. “the whale challenges us to reevaluate our perceptions of intelligent, conscious life on this planet,” he adds. “the world is so much bigger than our imagination and they teach that every time i am with them.”
bryant says he’s following the words of thomas berry, that “teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” to that end, bryant has produced life sized photographs of whales, the largest and most detailed ever taken; each take up to 60GB of space on his computer.
bryant’s journey to photographing whales began when, depressed and suicidal, he decided to quit his job and sell everything he owned in order to fund a four month trip to tonga. “my whole life was built around the need for safety, security, a good paying job, and all the other things in life that you are told are important,” he said.
but then he “remembered the whales and that quiet voice telling me that i had to leave all that is safe and familiar and i just honored it. it was like this weight was coming off my shoulders.” but he adds, “i had this fear that i would be alone during this whole process, and that no one would want to be with me because i had nothing material to offer.” and of course there was the fear of failure.
but the result of the trip would be a single life sized portrait of a twelve foot long calf. his goal was to recreate the feeling he had when he looked into the eye of a mother whale, and share that same experience of wonder and amazement with the millions of people who will never encounter a whale in their lifetime.
“i’m always floating motionless, just watching from a distance and giving them space to explore their own natural curiosity,” he says of his process, which involves waiting hours for the whale to come to him. to create his final image, bryant will need to get within six feet of the animal, and will take up to 300 photographs, twenty of which will be selected and stitched together in a process that can take up to 300 hours.
the photos, weighing up to 600 pounds, have now toured norway, iceland and japan - all countries where whaling still occurs - in the hopes that the detailed life size splendor will give audiences an emotional connection with the whales. as one viewer in japan commented, “i feel like the whales are talking to me with their eyes.”
Angkor is one of the most important and the greatest archaeological sites in the world. This by the way the world’s largest (400 square kilometers) temple complex (almost a 1000 temples) was between IX and XV century the capital of the Khmer Empire. Probably, in the eleventh century, numbering one million inhabitants of Angkor was the largest city in the contemporary world.
This Week In Misinterpreted Scientific Research: Inherited Memories and Brainy Sexism
This week struck me as a particularly exhausting one when it came to that certain brand of provocatively-headlined-but-probably-not-what-you-think-it-is science news that we know and
As usual, it’s the science media click-machine that’s to blame, which is a polite way of saying that there exists a gaping void of careful, cautious, skeptical, dare I say scientific science writing out there amidst the great internet knowledge machine. It’s desperately hard to get people to read your articles or watch your videos, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to disengage the gravity of reason and drift off into the aether of just-so stories.
PHD Comics has summed up this vicious form of the science news cycle very well:
It’s not all bad, of course. There’s some real diamonds that we can regularly depend on to shine through amid the soiled throngs of pseudointellectual beggars out there, and I, along with others, try to highlight their work regularly. I shall do so again here.
Here, I present two cases of “science things that were badly reported” and some links to better explanations. As usual, the defendants come from that tenuous intersection of neuroscience and behavior, because studying the brain is hard stuff, folks.
1) Mice Can Inherit Memories: No they can’t. Well, maybe they can (although I doubt it), but that’s not at all what this widely-reported paper in Nature Neuroscience says. The poor authors of that study are probably at home, drinking, wondering how, after years of hard work, their paper about how mice may pass on sensitivity to smells got so twisted. Headlines ranged from declaring this the source of human phobias to saying that Assassin’s Creed is based in real science.
What the researchers did was to condition some male mice to associate a smell (cherry blossoms) with a mild electric shock, which is mean, because that’s a nice smell! Naturally, the mice began to avoid the odor. The weird part is that their offspring, even two generations down the line, also seemed to avoid that specific cherry blossom odor, without ever encountering it before (and without their dads showing them). The dads’ noses all had more of the cells that smell that odor, as did the noses of their offspring. This did not happen with female mice and their offspring.
These kind of things aren’t supposed to be possible in a single generation. A mouse dad shouldn’t smell something, become afraid of it, and then be able to pass on a change to his kids. That’s precisely the kind of thing that got Lamarck and his giraffe necks laughed at more than a century ago. But it is possible that these mice were transmitting some sort of epigenetic change.
It’s possible that there was an epigenetic change passed down. But it’s not for sure. Beyond that, the way that statistics are applied to mouse behavior studies make it possible that the differences they see are just due to sample sizes, or not including certain controls, or some other random factor like that the humidity on a particular day happened to make the mice very jumpy. There’s also the fact that there is no known way for nerve cell changes or chemical responses within the olfactory bulb to be communicated to the testes, where sperm are made (there’s literally a blood-testis barrier to prevent that kind of thing).
Read this instead: At National Geographic, Virginia Hughes goes through the research in great detail, including comments from several people in the field who remain, shall we say, less than convinced. Extraordinary claims call for extraordinary evidence, and that’s lacking, at least in part. “More work needed” as they say!
2) Men and women’s brains are wired differently, therefore men are better at reading maps. That’s almost a verbatim headline from this news outlet. It speaks of “hardwired differences” (our brains are not hardwired) and is loaded with brainsplaining and neurosexism. This story is frustrating notsomuch because of the science, which is so-so, but because it is being misapplied by the media to reinforce cutsie-pie stories about what men are good at and what women are good at and never the twain shall meet and boy is it funny how men and women argue over getting lost?! GUFFAW!
Read this instead: At Discover, Neuroskeptic explains why the spatial resolution of the techniques used are like making a road atlas, while on the moon, using a pair of binoculars, and how the only real difference here may be that men’s brains are just slightly bigger than women’s (which doesn’t account for any noticeable difference in abilities, but can mess with scans a lot). And if you’d like a nice introduction to the idea of neurosexism and pigeonholing gender-based brain research into outdated social molds, might I suggest you read this article at The Conversation?
The fact is that men and women are mostly the same when it comes to their brains, but “Everyone can probably become pretty good at reading maps whether or not they are male or female, suggests common sense, not needing to be backed up by neuroscience” doesn’t make a very catchy headline.
None of this is to say that any of the results presented in the scientific papers are patently or provably false. But as we communicate the vagaries of Science In Progress, we must include the Don’t Knows and the Possiblys and all the other fine (and frustrating) forms of cautious optimism. It doesn’t kill the excitement. It just comes with the territory. I read it on a map somewhere.
No. One. Ever. Said. It. Was.
So kindly stop lying.
The point is talking about self-harm. 95% ish of that shit is girls and women. Because of male gaze in the P.
Fun fact: girls are more likely to attempt suicide, whereas guys are more likely to succeed.
Actually, that fact’s not so fun. Pretty depressing, actually. Let’s not make this a pissing game about who hates themselves more, yes?
India Shoots for Mars
India’s first Mars orbiter mission is scheduled to arrive in late 2014
The race to Mars is heating up with India’s successful launch Tuesday of its first mission to the red planet. (See also “Video: Mission to Mars.”)
The rocket carrying the robotic orbiter called Mangalayan, which means “Mars craft” in Hindi, thundered into space at 9:08 a.m. GMT from India’s Sriharikota island spaceport. It successfully deployed its solar panels 44 minutes later.
Mangalayan’s 485-million-mile (780-million-kilometer) trip to the red planet will take the better part of ten months and end on September 24, 2014. The spacecraft will then attempt to go into orbit.
The launch underlines the growing prowess of Asia’s space-faring nations, such as China and Japan, that have notable space programs under way.
India’s space agency, the India Space Research Organization (ISRO), hopes the Mars mission uncovers the secrets behind the disappearance of the red planet’s seas several billion years ago, while observing its current-day weather.
Equipped with five scientific instruments, Mangalayan will also attempt to map potential sources of methane gas that have been detected in the past on the red planet.
On Earth, methane is produced both by living creatures and by geological processes.
On to Mars
Coming close on the heels of this week’s Indian mission will be NASA’s own Mars orbiter launch scheduled for later this month. Called MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission), the NASA mission will collaborate with the Indian spacecraft.
NASA has also agreed to provide communications and tracking of India’s Mars spacecraft through its Deep Space Network.
"Mangalayan and MAVEN can make similar observations at different locations at the same time, helping to separate out time-varying from spatially-varying phenomena," said MAVEN team leader Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado in Boulder.
"The most important aspect is that the Mars environmental system is very complex, and Mars science knows no international borders, and so scientists will take the measurements and utilize them in order to paint an integrated picture of how Mars works," he said.
Against the Odds
Martian exploration is a risky business, however, since more than half of all missions sent there—23 of 40 spacecraft—have been lost. And what must be even more daunting for India is that no country has made it on the first attempt, as neighboring Asian nations Japan (1999) and China (2011) can attest.
India faces the same challenges that every country or space agency does, says Jakosky, since the probes have to navigate through an extremely harsh and unforgiving environment.
"Ten thousand things need to work properly in order to succeed, and only one needs to not work properly in order to fail," he added.
"We ask a lot of the spacecraft that we send to Mars, and we are pushing the envelope in terms of what we can expect them to do."
Revealed only 15 months ago, the Mars mission is the most ambitious yet for India, which has been pushing hard to expand its space program over the past decade.
India launched its first Earth satellite back in 1975, and most recently sent a robotic orbiter called Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008. That probe helped discover the finding that water ice can exist on the lunar surface.
ISRO is already working on follow-up missions that will include a new set of lunar robotic landers and rovers and a possible first human spaceflight, all launched before this decade is out.
The mission may be humble compared with those of NASA, but it is of great pride for the East Asian country, says Pallava Bagla, one of India’s leading science analysts.
"While the mission is modest, the spacecraft is made in India by Indians and launched on an Indian rocket from Indian soil," said Bagla in an email. ISRO is looking to now build on the success of its lunar orbiter and showcase its robotic space exploration abilities.
So while neighboring superpower China appears to be focusing its space efforts on human spaceflight, India is emerging as a leader in scientific and robotic space missions.
Amid its battles with widespread hunger, poverty, and an ailing economy, some have criticized India’s expenditure on this audacious planetary mission—which is estimated to be around $73 million.
Whether it’s forecasting storms and mitigating floods or bolstering communications in remote regions of the country, says Bagla, India’s space program from its inception has always been about solving down-to-Earth problems facing the common man.
India vies to be a global power, and its space program is a step in that direction. India’s technology prowess is equivalent to that of developed countries, explained Bagla.
"But India also understands it has to uplift its millions out of poverty, and towards that, India’s [space] program contributes heavily," he said.
So what, are we not counting Russia as part of Asia? Because in most circles, Russia is most certainly considered to be part of Asia.
Black Author wins The Matrix Copyright Infringement Case
This little known story has met a just conclusion, as Sophia Stewart, African American author of The Matrix will finally receive her just due from the copyright infringement of her original work!!!
A six-year dispute has ended involving Sophia Stewart, the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Stewart’s allegations, involving copyright infringement and racketeering, were received and acknowledged by the Central District of California, Judge Margaret Morrow presiding.
Stewart, a New Yorker who has resided in Salt Lake City for the past five years, will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood , as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars.
Stewart filed her case in 1999, after viewing the Matrix, which she felt had been based on her manuscript, ‘The Third Eye,’ copyrighted in 1981. In the mid-eighties Stewart had submitted her manuscript to an ad placed by the Wachowski Brothers, requesting new sci-fi works..
According to court documentation, a FBI investigation discovered that more than thirty minutes had been edited from the original film, in an attempt to avoid penalties for copyright infringement. The investigation also stated that ‘credible witnesses employed at Warner Brothers came forward, claiming that the executives and lawyers had full knowledge that the work in question did not belong to the Wachowski Brothers.’ These witnesses claimed to have seen Stewart’s original work and that it had been ‘often used during preparation of the motion pictures.’ The defendants tried, on several occasions, to have Stewart’s case dismissed, without success.
Stewart has confronted skepticism on all sides, much of which comes from Matrix fans, who are strangely loyal to the Wachowski Brothers. One on-line forum, entitled Matrix Explained has an entire section devoted to Stewart. Some who have researched her history and writings are open to her story.
Others are suspicious and mocking. ‘It doesn’t bother me,’ said Stewart in a phone interview last week, ‘I always knew what was true.’
Some fans, are unaware of the case or they question its legitimacy, due to the fact that it has received little to no media coverage. Though the case was not made public until October of 2003, Stewart has her own explanation, as quoted at aghettotymz.com:
‘The reason you have not seen any of this in the media is because Warner Brothers parent company is AOL-Time Warner…. this GIANT owns 95 percent of the media… let me give you a clue as to what they own in the media business… New York Times papers/magazines, LA Times papers/magazines, People Magazine, CNN news, Extra, Celebrity Justice, Entertainment Tonight, HBO, New Line Cinema, DreamWorks, Newsweek, Village Roadshow and many, many more! They are not going to report on themselves. They have been suppressing my case for years.’
Fans who have taken Stewart’s allegations seriously, have found eerie mythological parallels, which seem significant in a case that revolves around the highly metaphorical and symbolic Matrix series. Sophia, the Greek goddess of wisdom has been referenced many times in speculation about Stewart. In one book about the Goddess Sophia, it reads, ‘The black goddess is the mistress of web creation spun in her divine matrix.’
Although there have been outside implications as to racial injustice (Stewart is African American), she does not feel that this is the case. ‘This is all about the Benjamins,’ said Stewart. ‘It’s not about money with me. It’s about justice.’
Stewart’s future plans involve a record label, entitled Popsilk Records, and a motion picture production company, All Eyez On Me, in reference to God. ‘I wrote The Third Eye to wake people up, to remind them why God put them here. There’s more to life than money,’ said Stewart. ‘My whole to the world is about God and good and about choice, about spirituality over ‘technocracy’.’
If Stewart represents spirituality, then she truly has prevailed over the ‘technocracy’ represented in both the Terminator and the Matrix, and now, ironically, by their supposed creators.
Stewart is having discussions with CBS about a possible exclusive story and has several media engagements in the near future to nationally publicize her victory. June 13th 2004. Sophia Stewart’s press release read: ‘The Matrix & Terminator movie franchises have made world history and have ultimately changed the way people view movies and how Hollywood does business, yet the real truth about the creator and creation of these films continue to elude the masses because the hidden secret of the matter is that these films were created and written by a Black woman…a Black woman named Sophia Stewart. But Hollywood does not want you to know this fact simply because it would change history. Also it would encourage our Black children to realize a dream and that is…nothing is impossible for them to achieve!’
Greg Thomas, Editor
Courtesy of CNN IReport ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-358749
this is so fucking awesome
I had no Idea
THIS IS FALSE. THAT LINK GOES NOWHERE. Have you tried? ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-358749 See? Not found.
Stewart didn’t win that case; she didn’t even show up for a preliminary hearing. Judge Margaret Morrow dismissed the suit altogether, saying that Stewart and her attorneys hadn’t entered any evidence to bolster its claims, nor had they demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the films.
These images were taken over the last three days in Shanghai, China.
The World Health Organization’s safety guideline for airborne particulates is 25 micrograms / m³. Shanghai is currently at 602 micrograms /m³; 24 times the recommended safety limit. If you are not currently in Shanghai, do not go to Shanghai. If you currently live in Shanghai, godspeed.
Solar System Like Ours Discovered
Hidden in the huge amount of data gathered by the Kepler Telescope was the observation of a solar system a bit like our own, it consists of seven exoplanets arranged much like our own - rocky close in to the sun and gas giants further out. The system, KOI-351, was detected in early 2013 with three direct observations of planets with orbital periods of 59, 210 and 331 days. However, their orbital periods can vary by as much as 25.7 hours, which at first glance is a little strange. As all of the planets orbit within 1 astronomical unit (the distance of the Sun from the Earth) this variation was suspected to be due to tugs of as of yet unseen inner planets.
Using computer algorithms a team of scientists was able to detect four new planets in the system, bringing the total to seven. The four planets have orbital periods of 7, 9, 92 and 125 days thus making the system very compact. It is as of yet unknown why the system formed this way, and some scientists hypothesise that the system may be young and the planets may migrate outwards over the millions of years to come. It is hoped that an upcoming mission, PLATO, will receive funding and allow the scientists to have a second more detailed look at the system.