Sunday, 18 September 2022

earth below us (10. 144)

Launched just two weeks prior—and two weeks after its twin probe Voyager 2—Voyager I was able to look back and capture a composite image of the Earth and the Moon in the same frame on this day in 1977—see also here and here. The craft, though carrying payloads for the ages for some far flung intelligence to discover, were expected to only have active missions for a period of five years yet are still transmitting and even dispatching the occasional tweet over four decades later. 

 

Thursday, 8 September 2022

6x6 (10. 117)

command authorisation code: the timing of the Artemis (previously) launch hinges in part due to its self-destruct system  

best in show: an painting generated by an algorithm won first prize in a competition at a state fair, prompting philosophical questions  

greenday moment: instead of tearing down those out of the loop, bring them up to speed  

cauldron computing: researchers propose liquid crystal machine whose calculations move like ripples through water 

$ape: two American states introduce legislation to tax NFTs  

speculoos: researchers at the University of Liรจge discover (see previously) discover two Super-Earths

sternstaub (10. 116)

Having sold over two billion novellas (Heftroman) worldwide since the publication of its first edition (under the title Unternehmen Stardust) on this day in 1961 and issued weekly with new chapters ever since, the Perry Rhodan franchise is patently the most successful one in the arena of science fiction, originally conceived by authors K H Scheer and Walter Ernsting, expanded into radio dramas, video games and comic books—plus a failed cinematic adaptation considered so poorly done that fandom disavows it. Set a decade in the future (1971) during the first lunar mission, US Space Force Major Rhodan and his crew discover an abandoned extraterrestrial vessel and appropriating alien technology, artificial intelligence (positronic brains) and hyper drives, swiftly are able to unite the people of Earth and make humans a galactic presence. With increasingly complex arcs of narrative undertaken by a team of writers, action takes place in a multiverse of exotic aliens, cosmocrats and god-like beings. By coincidence, another beloved science-fiction franchise had its US premiere on the same day in 1966.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

7x7 (10. 098)

nerva i: scrapped space programme with nuclear rockets aimed at a crewed Mars mission  

der anschlag: Anglophone retitling of foreign films—see previously  

xenobots: reframing how we think of epigenetics and gene maps–see also

superposition: a handwashing guide posted in a physics laboratory lavatory–see previously

extended orthography: facilitating digital communication in First Nations’ syllabics—see also  

yฤntรกi delenda est: more Chinglish roundups  

artemis i: the inaugural mission to return the Moon—previously

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

cinematography (10. 048)

Everlasting Blรถrt directs our attention to the portfolio of artist Shahin Sepheri through their homage to the history of movies with forty-five iconic visual references, starting with 1922’s Nosferatu and coming full-circle with the Lumiรจre Brothers and Voyage to the Moon from 1902.

 

 

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

the moonwalk (10. 005)

To commemorate the lunar landing on this day in 1969, head barman at the Hotel Savoy’s American Bar Joe Gilmore created a champagne cocktail that ought to be revived, equal parts Grand Marnier and grapefruit juice with a dash of rosewater and topped with champagne. During Gilmore’s long tenure, spanning from when he came in as a trainee at the swanky London establishment in 1940 until his retirement in 1976, he invented many more cocktails for royalty, politicians and other celebrities—including the My Fair Lady to celebrate Julie Andrews’ opening night in the musical (equal parts gin, lemon juice, orange juice and sirop de fraise with a dash of egg white, shaken and strained) and the Link Up for the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 (Southern Comfort and vodka, tempered with lime juice). More to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

capricorn one

The 1978 conspiracy thriller by Peter Hyams starring Karen Black, Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, OJ Simpson, Hal Holbrook and Telly Savalas, considered the most successful independent production of that year, premiered in cinemas on this day and tells the story of an aborted crewed mission to Mars whose members are kidnapped from the launchpad—the life-support systems deemed unfit for purpose—and transported to a film studio, under duress with their families under threat—to complete their journey of exploration in front of the cameras. Fearing another blow to public interest and confidence in the space programme and attendant loss of billions in contracts, NASA administrators force the astronauts to act out their Martian adventure. Unfortunately this plot strengthened and perpetuated the theory that the Moon landing was faked and directed by Stanley Kubrick with The Shining being a veiled confession for his involvement in the deception.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

a boring project

Granted a patent in the US in September of 1972—with the strong intimation that the Soviets built and tested a prototype well before that, the proposal from a team of scientists at Los Alamos Laboratories that a controlled occurrence of the China Syndrome could be used for drilling tunnels under the Earth’s surface, displacing the molten materials through adjacent cracks and forming a vitreous lining in the process, like an insulating glass coating that would also support structural integrity, with a bit powered by a mobile nuclear reactor. Still on the drawing board, the subterrene, as its sci-fi models were called, was a contender for the Chunnel linking Dover and Calais as well as touted as a more efficient mining scout. For colonisation of the lunar surface, a subselene was suggested. More at Weird Universe at the link above.

Monday, 17 January 2022

die sternjรคgerin

Born this day in the City of Gdaล„sk in 1647 (†1693), Elisabeth Catherina Hevelius (nรฉe Koopmann) is considered to be one of the first women astronomers and significantly contributed to observational knowledge of the skies, publishing Prodromus astronomiรฆ in 1690, a catalogue of over fifteen hundred stars. Sharing the same professional passion as her husband, Johannes Hevelius (Jan Heweliusz), the two—both from a wealthy merchant background, moved around the various cities of the Hanseatic League before returning Danzig and constructing a complex of buildings which was at the time among the best observatories in the world (Stellรฆburgum—Star Castle) and garnered quite an international reputation with extensive joint research on sunspots and selenography (charting the features of the lunar surface) and hosting visiting dignitaries and scientists like Edmond Halley—greatly impressed by the couple’s calculations that articulated how comets orbit the Sun in parabolic paths.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

apollo xvii

On this day, in 1972, the Lunar Excursion Module Challenger touched down in the Taurus-Littrow valley with commander Eugene Cernan (see previously) and pilot Harrison Schmitt and five mice, undertaking three moonwalks, conducting several experiments and taking surface samples. Once the two members of the landing party and the mice rendezvoused with Ronald Evans flying the circling command module two days later, they became the last visitors to the Moon (see above) and marked the last time humans had gone beyond low Earth orbit.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

ะทะพะฝะด 5

Despite being taken previously over a communications test conducted in March 1961 with the mannequin Ivan Ivanovich at the helm and despite gaffes and giveaways included in the tape-recording on board the space craft that featured among other mission protocols a military choir performing and a cosmonaut narrating preparing borscht—activities neither suited for the narrow confines of a capsule nor an environment of microgravity intended to signal to any eavesdropping parties that this wasn’t actually a crewed exercise, the Americans once again on this day in 1968 misinterpreted a practical joke by the USSR’s space programme.

While originally slated to carry human members, the Zond 5 mission, authorities fearful of the bad publicity over another accident, carried aloft various biological samples for a lunar flyby, including wildflowers, fruit fly eggs and a pair of tortoises to see if they could survive circling the Moon. As a consolation for the cosmonauts that weren’t able to accompany this living payload, a simple relay was rigged up by the radio engineers to make it appear that they were transmitting from the probe, reading off telemetry and even proposing landing. US intelligence of course intercepted these shenanigans, which caused considerable international consternation and geopolitical turmoil with the Americans afraid that the Soviets would beat them to this final, arbitrary end-goal of the Space Race, to the discount of Russia’s other technical achievements and important firsts—all except the last Apollo missions. Whether meant for a wider audience or not, cosmonauts throwing their voices was characterised as a hoax and may have informed America’s own conspiracy regarding the authenticity of the Moon landing. Concluding after a single orbit, none of the biological specimens were worse off for the trip.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

space: 1999

Though only running for two seasons, the titular BBC programme (renewed the second year by ITC Entertainment) that premiered on this day in 1975 was quite ahead of its time and established among many other tropes the “cold open” scene that preceded the credit sequence, itself boldly a spin-off of a narrative in the Supermarionation production Thunderbirds by the same creative duo Sylvia and Gerry Anderson in non-puppet form. A radioactive waste dump on the far side of the Moon, detected by the research staff at Lunar Base Alpha, experiences a magnetic anomaly, which causes the material to reach critical mass and triggers a thermonuclear explosion 13 September 1999 and propels the Earth’s satellite into deep space. This spaceship Moon wanders into a black hole and several “space warps” to continue its exploration of the Cosmos.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

astrophilately

From the start of the Space Age and ensuing Space Race, adjacent stamp collecting became a serious pursuit with commemorative cover depicting every mission and milestone (see previously) with the bubble inflated to bursting with the scandal surrounding Apollo 15, returned to Earth on this day in 1971 with a payload of four hundred postage stamps sent to the Moon and back.

The astronauts had been compensated, bribed for sneaking the unauthorised souvenirs on board by West Germany dealer Hermann Sieger. The story broke the following year and though the money was returned and most of the remaining covers (the postal term for decorated, signed pre-stamped and cancelled envelops) were retained by the agency, museums or given as gifts, the astronauts were reprimanded for ethics violations and never flew on a mission again, reassigned to other departments within NASA. Such mementos were considered contraband for future missions.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

7x7

one man’s trash: a preview (plus whole film) of a documentary about spelunking in New York City’s garbage  

dare mighty things: Martian rover Perseverance (previously) conducts first test flight of its airfoil drone

distant drums: the ‘Wilhelm Scream’—the stock effect of a man being eaten by an alligator  

personnage: the almond and pebble that inspired Joan Mirรณ’s sculpture  

palace of culture: a choreographed tour of Lithuania’s Socialist Modernist architecture  

moon unit: Space X awarded NASA contract for lunar lander for the upcoming Artemis mission  

pegged: artist Helga Stentzel (previously) creates a clothes-line polar bear to raise awareness for climate change

Sunday, 10 January 2021

project diana

Namesake of the Roman lunar goddess (twin sister of Apollo, establishing the naming convention for missions eventually taken up by civilian agencies) carried out by the US Army Signal Corps at a specially built laboratory with a power surplus transmitter array at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey achieved on this day in 1946 one of its initial aims, concomitantly establishing the discipline of radio astronomy, by demonstrating that a radar wave could be bounced off the surface of the satellite, sent and received by a terrestrial source. Previously no one knew for certain whether transmissions through the vacuum of space were possible. This monumentally large step not only accurately furnished the distance from the Earth to the Moon and hinted at mapping the terrain of other worlds, Project Diana in a sense began the Space Age.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

7x7

3 a.m. eternal: the musical stylings of the KLF are finally available for streaming services—via Things Magazine  

paleofutures: the lunar Western Moon Zero Two takes place in 2021  

no show: Trump fails to appear at his Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve bash—guests entertained by Rudy Giuliani and Vanilla Ice 

not disappoint: a recommendation for a good polyglotinous language lover to follow, whose byline does rather suggest a crash blossom  

star wars—give me those star wars, nothing but star wars: the saga continues  

alla breve or cut for time: big, brute data analysis may finally resolve the controversy over Beethoven’s metronome and how the composer intended his works to be heard—via Strange Company

klanglandschaft: Swiss artist Zimoun engineers ambient soundscapes with everyday materials

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

6x6

schrรถder staircase: prize-winning optical illusions 

well, the spam, eggs, sausage and spam—that’s not got much spam in it: McDonald’s in China releases a special, limited edition burger  

every day, the same, again: miscellany from the New Shelton wet/dry 

black mirror: a Claude glass was a handheld Instagram filter of artists and sightseers in the late 1700s

back contamination: NASA’s efforts to contain a lunar pandemic (see previously) that never came to pass and what lessons it can teach us in this current situation

frame-included position shift: another impressive optical illusion

Friday, 4 December 2020

8x8

three blind mice: researchers restore sight by reversing the epigenetic clock in laboratory animals, re-endowing youthful characteristics—via Marginal Revolution  

big drunk girl energy: the dumbest coup is still playing out in the courts  

a touch of cabin fever: this is what stir-crazy looks like—the Year on TikTok—via the morning news

manifest destiny: a scrollytelling art histories (previously) that recounts the mythology of North America—via Maps Mania  

alpenhorn: disappearing, defaced and duelling phallic totems in the mountains of Germany and Austria 

for the longest time: dispel the zoom and gloom with this quarantine rendition from the Phoenix Chamber Choir 

 home box office: Warner Brothers is simultaneously releasing its cinematic productions on subscription television for 2021—via Kottke  

oceanus procellarum: Chang’e probe (previously)has lifted off of the lunar surface and will return with the first samples of moon rocks since 1976—via Slashdot

Monday, 30 November 2020

8x8

regolith: British R&D company working on process to extract oxygen from lunar soil and using the by-product to three-dimensionally print a moon base—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

gentle giant: David Prowse, the British weight-lifter and character actor who played Darth Vader, has passed away 

person, woman, man, camera, tv: Sarah Andersen’s funny take on our future senility  

kung-fu grip: new research suggests that Neanderthals did not use their hands and thumbs in the same way as Homo sapiens 

 handkerchief flirting codes for post-humans: Janelle Shane (previously) trains a neural network on late Victorian courtship etiquette 

wilmarsdonk: the remains of a village in the middle of the Port of Antwerp, mostly vacated for the busy shipping hub’s expansion  

social harmony: queuing guests practise distancing on a length of music notation, producing a movement from Gymnopรฉdie  

pareidolia, apophenia: brain neurons juxtaposed with galactic clusters connected by filaments of dark matter

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

8x8

tanssinopettaja: a few dance lessons from the reigning king of disco, ร…ke Blomqvist

haunted bohemian shrine aunt: a truly cursed real estate listing from McMansion Hell (previously)—via Pluralistic  

ascertainment: Trump directs General Services Administration to credential President Elect Joe Biden’s transition team 

philately: United Nations honoured with a beautiful, retro series of postage stamps for its seventy-fifth anniversary 

mons rรผmker: China launches a unscrewed mission to the Moon to retrieve mineral samples from a young crater—all to be accomplished in the span of one lunar day (a terrestrial fortnight)  

after school special: times when television grappled with social issues in affecting ways—via the morning news  

monumenta antiquitatis: a scribe’s quill and quiver 

linus & lucy: tag your Charlie Brown dance—via Swiss Miss