Sunday, November 18, 2018

NYC/LWS II



Trip 2 starts from Grand Central and goes to NAB East @ the Jacob Javits Center before walking on the High Line - Elevated NYC Park-Rail Trail, an architectural feast of buildings illuminated to the max as day turns into night in the city that never sleeps. Enjoy.

NYC/LWS I


Starting from Grand Central, this walk goes to the Jacob Javits Center and down toward the West Village before returning to GC. Needless to say, NYC's architecture, noise and all things related to the comings and goings of the city that never sleeps, is most interesting to see without question. Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Pangea finally realized



Pangea, the long lost supercontinent, is now nearly complete, thanks to GOCE's innovative research showing this to be true.

These features include dense rocky zones called cratons – remnants of ancient continents found at the heart of modern continental plates – highly folded ‘orogen’ regions associated with mountain ranges and the thinner crust of ocean beds.

The new window into the deep subsurface offered by this data offers novel insights into the structure of all Earth’s continents, but especially Antarctica. With more than 98% of its surface covered by ice with an average thickness of 2 km, the southern continent largely remains a blank spot on current geological maps.

It gets better

“These gravity images are revolutionising our ability to study the least understood continent on Earth, Antarctica,” says co-author Fausto Ferraccioli, Science Leader of Geology and Geophysics at BAS.

“In East Antarctica we see an exciting mosaic of geological features that reveal fundamental similarities and differences between the crust beneath Antarctica and other continents it was joined to until 160 million years ago.”

The gravity gradient findings show West Antarctica has a thinner crust and lithosphere compared to that of East Antarctica, which is made up of a mosaic of old cratons separated by younger orogens, revealing a family likeness to Australia and India.

These findings are of more than purely historic geological interest. They give clues to how Antarctica’s continental structure is influencing the behavior of ice sheets and how rapidly Antarctica regions will rebound in response to melting ice.




Pangea breaking apart

"Ain't science grand? :)

Friday, November 09, 2018

Insanity is ...



For What's it's Worth comes to mind here in a powerful film with Chris Hedges as commentator and critic of unbridled capitalism and what it means to America and to the world. Take the time to watch this to become aware and learn why George Carlin was right. The real owners of the country don't want people capable of critical thinking because if we were, this kind of inequality and slow motion move toward totalitarianism would not happen.






Zackem: Chris’s closing line, “You can’t talk about hope until you can see reality and reality is pretty bleak, but that’s the starting point.”  That line has really stayed with me. We need to bring truth, honesty and compassion back into our national dialogue, and move past the attacks and distortion of the truth, to reach a place where hard concepts and real truth exists so we can actually accomplish positive change.


The Thinker - August Rodin

8K ... in space :)



Pretty cool without question. Seeing the goings on in the ISS depicts routines both complex and simple, something all together different from the sci fi movie of yesterday and today. :)

Astronauts aboard the ISS have had access to all manner of cameras as technology has advanced over the years. They’ve gone from 1080p HD, to 360-degree cameras, to 4K. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have shipped a new Helium 8K camera by RED to the ISS. 8K video has about eight times as many pixels as full HD with a resolution of 8,192 x 4,320. The camera actually arrived in April aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, but the agency only now got around to producing a video with it.

The video follows astronauts going about their daily grind, floating around and doing science. There are also some awesome shots of Earth from the station, as well as the station’s exterior. NASA was so kind as to provide a description on YouTube of what we’re seeing in the footage, too. Early on, we see the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), which maintains extremely low temperatures for experiments. The frosty air rolling off the surface looks almost surreal in 8K. There’s also some footage (around 21 and 57 seconds) of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Plant Habitat-1, which help scientists understand how plants grow in space.

Not bad, not bad at all. :)

Monday, November 05, 2018

Fragility


When looking at  the M1 Abrams Tank, one thinks all is well with the US Military but in looking at the real picture, a disquieting picture emerges, thanks to disastrous economic policies that has compromised to the max, the manufacturing base of a once great nation called America.





As per the report, fragility is part of the problem, caused by the economic policy that encouraged companies to offshore manufacturing in order to maximize profit has gutted GE and significant others in ways that stagger the imagination. 




Click here for the report. Disquieting indeed.


Thursday, November 01, 2018

Sol, the heat engine


Sol, the heat engine that powers life, has been an obsession of man since the beginning of time as seen by an exhibit in London titled, Living with our star.

To whit.

As winter approaches here in the UK, the dark and dreary days are a reminder of how important the Sun is to our daily lives. Fortunately, there is a bright spot at the Science Museum in London, which has just launched an exhibition called The Sun: Living With Our Star. The exhibition runs until 6 May 2019 and is a treasure trove of objects that document humanity’s fascination with the Sun through the ages.

The oldest object I spotted in the exhibition was a Babylonian cuneiform from about 750 BC that refers to sunspots – possibly observed by looking at the Sun through fog or clouds. Sunspots were not a good omen to Babylonian astronomers, who interpreted them as a sign of famine. What is clear from the exhibition is that people have obsessed over sunspots for millennia. 


Physical history: The history of solar science includes a 750 BC Babylonian record of sunspots (above) (Courtesy: Jody Kingzett, courtesy of the Science Museum Group), as well as Norman Lockyer’s helium-discovering set of prisms (below). (Courtesy: Science Museum Group Collection)

Hommage to Kepler



Kepler changed how we view the universe as there are exoplanets, lots and lots of them thanks to Kepler, the space telescope that made it happen.

After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets – more planets even than stars – NASA’s Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.

"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars.” 


Like Cassini, Kepler will be missed big time. RIP.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Where the buffalo roam


Prior to the white man, the great prairies of North America supported 30+ million bison along with a  myriad of plant and animal species that truly boggled the mind. After the white man arrived, with cattle, corn fields and systematic slaughter of the bison in hand, the grasslands of America were reduced to just a faded memory, something thought to be lost forever, until now.

When white settlers first arrived, a large swath of the U.S. was blanketed in tallgrass prairie. But turmoil came to the landscape shortly thereafter, as those settlers mowed down the bountiful biodiversity to get at the fertile soil beneath. Of the 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie that existed, only four percent of it remains today, ghosts among the cornfields.

It wasn’t just delicate grasses and wildflowers that were wiped out. An estimated 30 million bison roamed the Lower 48 before an extermination campaign brought that number down to around 300 by 1884. The animals have since rebounded somewhat in the the forests of the West and plains of the South, but the remaining tallgrass prairies in more northerly latitudes like Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana are largely devoid of the grass-munching, mud-wallowing ungulates.

Enter the bison ...

The reason it isn’t a forest, though, is because disturbances beat back the trees. Those disturbances include fire, which Nachusa managers have used for years to slow woodland growth and provide crucial soil nutrients. Now, they have a partner in disturbance crime in the bison, who chow down on grass and spread fertilizing poop and pee all over the prairie.

Not surprisingly, plant communities with bison are becoming more diverse because the animals act as natural lawn mowers, opening up space for non-grass plants and flowers to grow. On the weird side of the ledger, Jones has found small animals in areas that bison frequent are heavier. It’s not wholly clear why, though she hypothesized that “maybe it’s because bison are lumbering nutrient providers and urine might increase invertebrates for mice to chow down on.” After all, we know animals love pee.


Hopefully this is just a start point to restoring the prairie to it's rightful place in North America because it's the right thing to do, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hey America - WTF


Hey America - WTF, pot is legal in CA, a really smart move by a sensible country, unlike the good ole USA mired in jesus, guns and tax cuts.







Stop making sense - Talking Heads

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Checking out Luna yet again :)



The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shoots the moon, this time, in 4K. Awesome without a doubt.

In the fall of 2011, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission released its original Tour of the Moon, a five-minute animation that takes the viewer on a virtual tour of our nearest neighbor in space. Six years later, the tour has been recreated in eye-popping 4K resolution, using the same camera path and drawing from the vastly expanded data trove collected by LRO in the intervening years.

The tour visits a number of interesting sites chosen to illustrate a variety of lunar terrain features. Some are on the near side and are familiar to both professional and amateur observers on Earth, while others can only be seen clearly from space. Some are large and old (Orientale, South Pole-Aitken), others are smaller and younger (Tycho, Aristarchus). Constantly shadowed areas near the poles are hard to photograph but easier to measure with altimetry, while several of the Apollo landing sites, all relatively near the equator, have been imaged at resolutions as high as 25 centimeters (10 inches) per pixel.

The new tour highlights the mineral composition of the Aristarchus plateau, evidence for surface water ice in certain spots near the south pole, and the mapping of gravity in and around the Orientale basin.


Have to show another. :)




Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases. But the terrain of the far side is quite different. It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side. Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side. The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk.

Science never disappoints. :)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Passing Thru



Checking out NYC's upper west side, with side trips to Grand Central Park and Times Square, is the focus of this clip showing yet another view of people passing thru a city that never sleeps. Enjoy

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Speaking truth to power



Speaking truth to power, something us rubes are not doing in these dark times.

There be dragons


There be dragons, not only in myth and legend but also in galaxies, entities known as black holes,  the most mysterious object known to science. 


The distance hasn’t stopped astronomers from drawing a fairly accurate map of the heart of the galaxy. We know that if you travel inbound from Earth at the speed of light for about 20,000 years, you’ll encounter the galactic bulge, a peanut-shaped structure thick with stars, some nearly as old as the universe. Several thousand light-years farther in, there’s Sagittarius B2, a cloud a thousand times the size of our solar system containing silicon, ammonia, doses of hydrogen cyanide, at least ten billion billion billion liters of alcohol and dashes of ethyl formate, which tastes like raspberries. Continue inward for another 390 light-years or so and you reach the inner parsec, the bizarro zone within about three light-years of the galactic center. Tubes of frozen lightning called cosmic filaments streak the sky. Bubbles of gas memorialize ancient star explosions. Gravity becomes a foaming sea of riptides. Blue stars that make our sun look like a marble go slingshotting past at millions of miles per hour. Space becomes a bath of radiation; atoms dissolve into a fog of subatomic particles. And near the core, that fog forms a great glowing Frisbee that rotates around a vast dark sphere. This is the supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way, the still point of our slowly rotating galaxy. We call it Sagittarius A*, that last bit pronounced “A-star.” The black hole itself is invisible, but it leaves a violent imprint on its environment, pulling surrounding objects into unlikely orbits and annihilating stars and clouds of gas that stray too close. Scientists have long wondered what they would see if they could peer all the way to its edge. They may soon find out.


The incredibly complex quest to see ours requires creativity at the level of an 
Einstein, a Newton or a Hawking, take your pick.





If this works ...


Read this extraordinary NY Times' piece to learn why trying to see our dragon is truly worth the effort.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A Serious Hack of a different kind


Hacking via software is bad, hacking via hardware is something else all together different in terms of unfettered access into every nook and cranny of the system being hacked ... for years on end.

To whit.

Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

“Having a well-done, nation-state-level hardware implant surface would be like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow”

How best to do it.

There are two ways for spies to alter the guts of computer equipment. One, known as interdiction, consists of manipulating devices as they’re in transit from manufacturer to customer. This approach is favored by U.S. spy agencies, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The other method involves seeding changes from the very beginning.


Perot is famous (among other things) for his statement during the 1992 presidential campaign that if NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was not a two way street (, it ed) would create a "giant sucking sound" of jobs going south to the cheap labor markets of Mexico.

Think China in 2018 as the US cannot make computers anymore, tech America invented but gave away for a song. Makes one weep doesn't it?

Nihillism 101



Ok, I actually accept the fact climate change is real. In fact, best guess estimates coming from "my" researchers, god forbid, are predicting a 7 degree F rise by 2100, something rather bigly but I'll be dead so screw it. Let the world burn while I make money, right?

To whit.

The study predicts a rise in global temperatures of about four degrees Celsius, or seven degrees Fahrenheit, by the year 2100. Worse, it asserts global warming is such an inevitable reality, there’s no point in reducing auto emissions, as we’re screwed anyway.

“The emissions reductions necessary to keep global emissions within this carbon budget could not be achieved solely with drastic reductions in emissions from the U.S. passenger car and light truck vehicle fleet,” is how the report put it.

To make a real difference, it adds we’d have to “move away from the use of fossil fuels,” which is “not currently technologically feasible or economically practicable.”

In other words, don't move toward profitable and sustainable tech, just let the planet cook and lose money for the US because I won't be around to suffer the consequences, right?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

There is a better way


Tim Berners Lee, the guy who actually invented the web, wants to do a redo, something that's truly needed if we want the net to remain open and available to all regardless of how rich or powerful a given entity may happen to be. 




Sounds like a plan without question.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Disheartening says it all.



Of course the machines were prime polluters as well but one gets the point, especially when seeing what is happening to Orcas, the prime predator on planet earth. 





Disheartening says it all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

NYC | un petite voyage avec mes amis



Checking out the city with friends is very cool, especially when said friends, and us, have never seen the 9/11 Memorial until now. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The definition of "is" ...


Just a matter of time


Eyes wide shut


Same as it ever was


Mia not culpa


Arthur's Murry's School of Dance

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Open Ended ...


BRT has written copiously about AI as my loyal readers know as this is open ended tech with ramifications far too important to ignore. In many instances, people think of AI as a thing, not as a set of millions of interconnected things, something that will happen without question as digital is a replicable environment where duplication, modification and networking constructs work at levels far beyond the kin of man. With this in mind, an excellent article by Henry Kissenger, How the Enlightenment Ends in The Atlantic, connects AI to the Enlightenment at deep level, a piece that should be read by everyone concerned about how this technology will impact society as we move further into the 21st century.

Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.

But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.

We are not ready for this ...

Third, that AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. In certain fields — pattern recognition, big-data analysis, gaming — AI’s capacities already may exceed those of humans. If its computational power continues to compound rapidly, AI may soon be able to optimize situations in ways that are at least marginally different, and probably significantly different, from how humans would optimize them. But at that point, will AI be able to explain, in a way that humans can understand, why its actions are optimal? Or will AI’s decision making surpass the explanatory powers of human language and reason? Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them — in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?

Questions to consider without question.


And so it goes. K. Vonnegut

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fragile indeed


An excellent piece in The Atlantic succinctly explains why the Constitution is so fragile.



To whit ...



To add fuel to the fire. The Atlantic strikes yet again.



James Madison traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 with Athens on his mind. He had spent the year before the Constitutional Convention reading two trunkfuls of books on the history of failed democracies, sent to him from Paris by Thomas Jefferson. Madison was determined, in drafting the Constitution, to avoid the fate of those “ancient and modern confederacies,” which he believed had succumbed to rule by demagogues and mobs.

James madison died at Montpelier, his Virginia estate, in 1836, one of the few Founding Fathers to survive into the democratic age of Andrew Jackson. Madison supported Jackson’s efforts to preserve the Union against nullification efforts in the South but was alarmed by his populist appeal in the West. What would Madison make of American democracy today, an era in which Jacksonian populism looks restrained by comparison? Madison’s worst fears of mob rule have been realized—and the cooling mechanisms he designed to slow down the formation of impetuous majorities have broken.

Fragile indeed | twice two.

Late Summer


Working Hard


A quiet conversation


Blood Moon


Grasses


Seeds