December 6th, 2013
Photo: NASA and NOAA. Click to enlarge.
The natural night skies as seen from Earth are awe inspiring. But ever since the invention of electric lighting, unobstructed dark skies have been disappearing from industrialized, populated areas. Sadly, most people living in the white areas of the picture above have never had a chance to experience the firmament’s full glory.
More information about light pollution and the importance of fighting it:
November 18th, 2013
Four billion years ago, Earth was a rather hellish place. Its crust was still very thin and unstable. There was heavy and violent volcanic activity. Earthquakes were shaking the ground, liquid lava flowed in many places, and poisonous gases were everywhere. On top of that, our poor little planet was bombarded by a constant barrage of large meteorites. Despite all of that, the first primitive life forms are thought to have appeared during this period.
By contrast, at the same time, Mars was a very tranquil place. Here is a NASA animation, based on the latest data we have, showing what the surface of Mars would likely have looked like at the same time. Blue skies, clouds, oceans, lakes, rivers, mountains and all. Almost like a place for a vacation resort!
November 7th, 2013
The Vespa Primavera is one of the world’s most iconic motor scooter models. It originally appeared in 1968 with a 125 cm³ 2-stroke engine. It derived from the “new” 125 of 1966, but with considerable differences in the engine, which raised the top speed by 10 km/h to over 100 km/h. Great attention was paid to details, which included the classic, practical bag hook.
Piaggio, the maker of Vespa scooters, has decided to revive the Primavera name for one of its latest models, taking design cues from the original. Here is how the new models are made. This is not your grandfather’s assembly line!
October 31st, 2013
I love Halloween! By that I mean the dark and traditional kind, not the recent intermingling with Carnival (or Mardi Gras, in North America). The two are entirely different occasions. I believe that the mystic aspects and deeper philosophical meanings of Halloween should be retained.
In this spirit, here’s my annual Halloween picture. Click to enlarge, and as always: remember death.
Halloween on Wikipedia
October 21st, 2013
I love this picture! Here, a B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base Mo., detaches from the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing McConnell Air Force Base Kan., after being refueled. The photo was taken by Airman First Class John Linzmeier, USAF.
August 27th, 2013
This video shows a California Air National Guard C130J of the 146th Airlift Wing performing an approach and airdrop of fire retardant on the Rim Fire in the Yosemite area. Such maneuvers are very risky, and the professional skill these aircrews are displaying are immense. Here is what it looks like from the cockpit:
The aircraft is coming is so low that the automatic landing gear warning is going off repeatedly. (Normally, this warning is supposed to alert the pilot that the wheels are not deployed during a landing approach). In this instance, the warning is probably annoying, but it cannot be disabled easily.
August 23rd, 2013
Is it just my imagination, or do some of the students look like they are nauseous?
John Bannister, Lecture with Dissection , England, 16th century. Click to enlarge.
July 22nd, 2013
This picture shows us. All of us on planet Earth. All 7 billion human beings contained one tiny dot of light.
(Click to enlarge)
In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it.
The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The “breaks” in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.
Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. An arrow indicates their location in the annotated version. (The two are clearly seen as separate objects in the accompanying narrow angle frame: PIA14949.) The other bright dots nearby are stars.
This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer solar system. Read the rest of this entry »
June 11th, 2013
Fascinating. George Orwell‘s novel, “Nineteen eighty-four” (sometimes spelled as “1984″) has been catapulted back into the US bestseller lists!
Practically overnight, sales have risen almost 5800%.
There are several editions of the original works published in 1949, so it is not quite clear how the numbers are compiled. I wonder what Mr. Orwell would have to say. (Unfortunately he died in 1950).
Don’t forget, Prols:
WAR IS PEACE!
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY!
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH!