You may have seen the fantastical Glowworms in an episode of Planet Earth, and now you can visit them in real life, with a New Zealand Glowworm Tour. Climb into a boat and prepare to blow your mind while floating through dark caves, illuminated by otherworldly bioluminescence. Nature is pretty damn amazing.
In a phenomenon that scientists still don’t quite understand, lightning is sometimes borne out of an active volcano when it erupts, with dramatic effect. On an island in southern Japan, one of Asia’s most active volcanos is providing an amazing show. Via FastCo Design:
In honor of today’s meteor landing and whiz-by of an olympic-swimming-pool-sized asteroid, here’s a video about us, Earth. Carl Sagan so poignantly spoke of the “pale blue dot”, seen in the grainy photo above, which is actually Earth, seen from Voyager 1′s camera as it left our solar system. A group called Order has a beautifully animated piece using Carl Sagan’s words, and poetically shows the significance of our pale blue dot.
I’m a space enthusiast, but I didn’t know it was even possible to take photographs of the sun like this in your own backyard. Yet, that is exactly what Alan Friedman has done, using special filters on his camera. It’s an amazing peek at the bright star in our own sky. Thanks to Colossal for the tip.
My photographs comprise a solar diary, portraits of a moment in the life of our local star. Most are captured from my backyard in Buffalo, NY. Using a small telescope and narrow band filters I can capture details in high resolution and record movements in the solar atmosphere that change over hours and sometimes minutes. The raw material for my work is black and white and often blurry. As I prepare the pictures, color is applied and tonality is adjusted to better render the features. It is photojournalism of a sort. The portraits are real, not painted. Aesthetic decisions are made with respect for accuracy as well as for the power of the image.
A new method for building a future moonbase gives hope to the idea that we could build a permanent base in the next several decades. 3D Printing to the rescue. The ESA has plans to actually build a moonbase out of the moon itself!
Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.
“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA.
“Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”
Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts.
A hollow closed-cell structure – reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight.
The base’s design was guided in turn by the properties of 3D-printed lunar soil, with a 1.5 tonne building block produced as a demonstration.
“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” added Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team.
“The new possibilities this work opens up can then be considered by international space agencies as part of the current development of a common exploration strategy.”
“Our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 m per hour, while our next-generation design should attain 3.5 m per hour, completing an entire building in a week.”
3D printing works best at room temperature but over much of the Moon temperatures vary enormously across days and nights lasting two weeks each. For potential settlement, the lunar poles offer the most moderate temperature range.
An amazing photo project that shows cities if they didn’t have light pollution. Quite a beautiful piece of work. Via Its Okay to be Smart:
Before these pictures can exist, the sky from one place has to be superimposed upon cityscape from another. It is impossible to see this detail in the night sky above a city. Atmospheric and light pollution combine to make looking into the urban sky like looking past bright headlights while driving.
By travelling to places free from light pollution but situated on precisely the same latitude as his cities, Cohen obtains skies which, as the world rotates about its axis, are the very ones visible above the cities a few hours earlier or later. To find the right level of atmospheric clarity, Cohen has to go into the wild places of the earth, the Atacama, the Mojave, the western Sahara.
As more and more of the world’s population becomes urban, and as we lose our connection with the natural world, so it becomes plain that damage is caused by light pollution. There may be connections to certain cancers, and there are psychological burdens of permanent day. The ‘city that never sleeps’ is made up of millions of individuals breaking natural cycles of work and repose. Lose sight of the sky, and you become a rat in a lab.
Cohen hasn’t simply shown us the skies that we’re missing. His cities look dead under the fireworks display above No lights in the windows, no tracers of traffic. They are (in fact) photographed in daylight, when lights shine out less brightly. In urban mythology the city teems with energy and illumines everything around it. Cohen’s pictures are crafted to say the opposite. These are cold cities, cut off from the seemingly infinite energies above.
NASA has a new free iPad app out called Earth as Art, and it compiles over 70 of their most amazing satellite images.
[The App's images] cover all corners of the globe, from the craggy outlines of the Susitna Glacier in Alaska to the Bogda Mountains in China, the latter of which showcase “purple mountain majesty” in a very literal sense. Alas, in the introduction to the collection, NASA notes that the image sensors on these satellite cams can “measure light outside the visible range, so the images show more than what is visible to the naked eye.” The images, we are reminded, “are intended for viewing enjoyment rather than scientific interpretation.”
Ferrofluid is a magnetic solution with a viscosity similar to motor oil. When put under a magnetic field, the iron particles in the solution start to rearrange, forming the black channels and separating the water colors from the ferrofluid. The result are these peculiar looking structures.
Over the past two months NASA has been releasing a number of wonderful long exposure photographs taken by astronaut Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station. While there are many photos like these taken from the perspective of the Earth’s surface, Pettit’s images are unique in that they incorporate the passing blur of entire illuminated cities, aurora, and the sporadic flashes of lightening from thunderstorms. Check out many more photos from the series here. (via petapixel)