Tuesday, 26 September 2023

einsteinturm (11. 027)

Closed for renovations for over a year, the solar observatory on Potsdam’s Telegraphenberg in the science park also named for the renowned physicist, the solar observatory with a range of experiments designed to validate—or disprove—the theory of relativity has now been reopened to the public. Designed by industrial, Streamline Moderne architect Erich Mendelsohn and Richard Neutra in consultation with astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich 1920 and operational by 1924, the accessible laboratory could demonstrate the gravitational red-shift (detectable in slight variations in the Sun’s spectral signature) by Einstein and introduce visitors, not just scientists and educators, to the new cosmological model and introduce basic research principles to general audiences. An active scientific facility run by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics to the present day, the Einstein Tower focuses on studies of the solar magnetic field and Sun spot activity. During the Nazi regime, the observatory was stripped of its name and independence and a bronze bust of Albert Einstein was removed from the premises. Employees and associates have maintained a tradition of placing a single, substitute stone (ein stein) in its place since.

all objects and some questions (11. 026)

Via Kottke, we are referred to this rather elegant two-dimensional plot that at the core of a presentation that surveys the thermodynamic history of the Cosmos, for the dense and energetic Big Bang to the cold, lonely Heat Death of the Universe, with time as a function of density and gravity as a governing factor. Some assumptions are made and I can’t pretend to comprehend it all but one can view the entire slide deck with notes and see if you reach the same conclusion posited the the Universe is a black hole.

Sunday, 24 September 2023

10x10 (11. 020)

osiris-rex: fulfilling a seven-year mission (previously) a space probe to collect samples from an asteroid—with further adventures planned 

succession: Rupert Murdoch’s departure from News Corp is a cold-comfort for the millions brainwashed by Fox and Friends 

be the first to like this post: more on the meaning and origins of the chain of riders and horses dispatched to send missives—see previously  

project cybersyn: more on Salvadore Allende’s plans to build a socialist internet 

fanfare: the history and physics of the trumpet  

shear madness: 1980 reportage on a cutting-edge hair salon in Kensington  

the joke and dagger department: an appreciation of the genius of Spy vs Spy, a political cartoon that wasn’t a political cartoon 

3r’s: the Swedish educational system has a renewed emphasis on handwriting, quiet reading time  

omni consumer products: New York City police lease a robocop to patrol Times Square subway station as a trial run  

all these worlds are yours—except europa, attempt no landing there: the JWST detects carbon on the surface of the Jovian moon

Friday, 22 September 2023

stephan’s quintet (11. 014)

Discovered on this day in 1877 from an observatory in Marseille the eponymous compact galactic grouping documented by astronomer ร‰douard Jean-Marie Stephan, under the directorship of Urbain le Verrier, was the first of kind described. Among the most studied formations in the Cosmos and revealing the large-scale filament structure thought to underlie the Universe, the small cluster was one of the first nominated objects for the JWST to image and is famously celebrated in cameo as the angelic host in the beginning of It’s A Wonderful Life. “Oh, Clarence—hasn’t he got his wings yet?”  When summoned, the guardian angel-second class appears as NGC 7317 of the constellation Pegasus at the bottom of the frame.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

noctalgia (11. 012)

Whilst we are fortunate to live in a Dark Sky reserve, we see light pollution seeping in at the edges and with the new street lamps installed a couple of years ago—more energy efficient but on all night and can intuit the feeling above, a new coinage from the astronomy community lamenting, grieving over the loss of star-gazing. Not only are urban illuminations obscuring over view but also the proliferation of miniature satellites which while facilitating communication confound observation of deep space. Light pollution is also affecting nocturnal animals and insects, much to their detriment. On a clear, moonless night, the experience is always transfixing and is a bonus to walking the dog, meaning I have more excuses to partake of the wonder, but it should be availed to everyone. It makes me think of the far-future fable (see previously here and here) billions of years hence when the purchase and purview of any star-watching civilisation will be much diminished and the Cosmos beyond one’s local group has receded and dipped below the horizon and space seems far from infinite.


one year agoBa-Dee-Ya, Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible, more on the US Space Force plus a collection of manhole covers

two years ago: an advertisement for Ivermectin 

three years ago:  the Order of the Smile, The Hobbit (1937), the legacy of colonial goods stores, alternative chess plus wide-scale money laundering

four years ago: The Far Side returns plus more Earth, Wind and Fire

five years ago: assorted links to revisit, a sexy Handmaiden costume for Halloween plus Dial-a-Song

Saturday, 9 September 2023

7x7 (10. 991)

trochilinae: a look at the evolution of evolution of hummingbirds—see previously  

uranometria: a comparative study of constellations across cultures—via Web Curios  

portfolio: photographer James Mollison documents children’s rooms, collectors and their collections around the world plus other projects—via Things Magazine  

lightning 4-2: a record-setting speedrun of Super Mario Bros  

zero width non-joiner: let AI generate a custom emoji—note the cursed thumbs up/down icons—via Waxy

extended-stay: Plato’s Cave (previously) will be raising its rent—via JWZ  

halcyon days: a slow-motion look at the kingfisher’s dive 


one year ago: Stone Temple Pilots plus the proclamation of King Charles III

two years ago: more on DC statehood, the Battle of Teutoberg Forest (9 AD), rewilding begins at home plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: the establishment of Washington, DC (1791), the disputed Hans Island, a lighthouse transformed plus AI supervillains

four years ago: more on the moons of Jupiter 

five years ago: Trump threatens to remove US troops from Germany plus an expansive pattern library


Friday, 25 August 2023

the secret of the selenites (10. 964)

The first of a series of six articles published on this day in 1835 by the New York newspaper The Sun, blatantly plagiarised from a short story from Edgar Allen Poe began just a month prior in a literary journal though further instalments were pre-empted by the appearance of this series about a voyage to the lunar surface in a balloon, The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall (lifting some of the tropes in turn from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), what became subsequently known as “The Great Moon Hoax,” rather libellously attributed to Sir Jon Herschel, one the great astronomers of the day, caused a not insignificant bump in circulation with its account on observations that revealed various selenographic features with terrestrial analogues and the existence of flora and fauna and lunarians—bat-winged humanoids described as “Vespertilio-homo.” Further studies were called off when the magnifying power of the telescope caught a glimpse of the sun’s rays and burned down the observatory. Herschel found the stories exciting and aspiration at first but became annoyed with the press coverage once people started to take it seriously.

Thursday, 17 August 2023

9x9 (10. 948)

?: JWST captures an image of a distinct punctuation mark from the emerging Cosmos  

a/v: a history of corporate presentations from slide-shows to Power Point—via Things Magazine  

index librorum prohibitorum: an American school district is using ChapGTP to help it decide which books to ban  

an unacceptable grindset: driven to produce quantity over quality has yielded some high-profile errors in popular YouTube channels  

one on one: legendary interviewer and television presenter Michael Parkinson passes away, aged 88  

emerald and stone: an ethereal track by Brian Eno (previously) visualised with water, soap and paint  

bart: a trove of Kodachrome slides found discarded in San Francisco reveal the construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit—see also 

einstein’s crosses: astronomers probe the effects of gravitational lensing


one year ago: ABBA’s last collaboration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the first animated film (1908), the constant ฯ€ plus terra incognito

three years ago: a tragedy in Australia in 1980, Operation Warp Speed plus the Turkic dotted-i

four years ago: some links worth the revisit plus the Cosmos prior to the Big Bang

five years ago: Animal Farm (1945) plus the complex genes of food crops

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

7x7 (10. 877)

stand and deliver: the internecine factions of the US Democratic Party and the legacy of political triangulation  

divide-and-conquer: Hollywood studios plan to drag out the Writers’ Strike until they’re destitute ground into submission—via Kottke 

rho ophiuchi: for its first year of observations, the JWST team releases an incredible image of the nearest stellar nursery—check out the comments section for an explanation about the telescope’s signature diffraction spikes  

ma’am, this is a wendy’s: chatbots—rather than outsourcing to call-centres—being trialled in fast food drive-thrus and are skilled in the upsell  

xai: Elon Musk launches artificial intelligence platform with aims to understand the true nature of the Universe 

pay-for-play: Albrecht Dรผrer inserted himself at the centre of a commissioned altarpiece in a dispute over his fee—via Damn Interesting  

by the dawn’s early light: plans to build a billion dollar, half-a-kilometre high flagpole in Western Maine—where the Sun’s first light hits the country—has its detractors

Saturday, 8 July 2023

jupiter xv (10. 866)

Imaged for the first time on this day in 1979 by the Voyager 2 probe, the smallest inner moon of Jupiter responsible for maintaining the integrity of its rings, composed primarily scientists believe of ejecta from meteorite impacts on the satellite, Adrastea was the first object discovered by a spacecraft rather than observations from a terrestrial telescope. In response to this discovery, researchers reviewed footage from months earlier taken by companion probe Voyager I and found two additional moons, Thebe and Metis. The object, which little is known about other than its lumpy shape and small size (around fourteen meters in circumference), is named, like others in this planetary constellation, after Zeus’ mythological foster family, charged with protecting him from Cronus, after a Cretan nymph of Mount Ida whose name means ‘inevitable fate’ later identified with the epithet Nemesis.

๐Ÿ˜Ž (10. 865)

Owing to the population distribution of the Earth (fewer people live at the North Pole so after the June solstice once the Sun has slipped a bit further south toward the more populous equator), the different definitions of sunrise, sunset and twilight—civilian, nautical and astronomical and the underestimated size (half the globe) of the Pacific Ocean, on 8 July annually about ninety-nine percent of the people of Earth will be under the sun, experiencing daylight after a fashion at the same time. Despite the two hemisphere and the progression of the seasons, during the northern summer, this sunny side phenomenon can occur for a couple of minutes each day from mid-May through mid-July—charted out after some fact-checking on what seemed like an outrageous but somewhat true internet claim, and while it might be a bit more intriguing to have found it a singular instance on the calendar when only one percent of the world’s population was (temporary—Oceana and Baja California still get their daylight hours, just after the rest of the world’s dusk and dawn), it’s even more remarkable that it happens over a span of sixty days.


one year ago: the Roswell Incident (1947), more on the Trolley Problem plus the animations of Sam Lyon

two years ago: your daily demon: Ipos, a hierarchy of merfolk, uncombable hair syndrome, top-selling albums (1958) plus the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1822)

three years ago: St Kilian and companions, more adventures in Moselle wine country plus the fortifications of the upper Moselle valley

five years ago: a treasury of southwest Native American folktales, the colossal art of Thrashbird plus the street photography collection of Barry L Gfeller

six years ago: a trove of historical data uncovered in teletext pages, the Hamburg G20 plus taking action against contrived obsolescence

Sunday, 2 July 2023

8x8 (10. 849)

: JWST captures outstanding images of the ringed planet, completing a family portrait of the gas giants  

dining al fresco: excavations in Pompeii uncover a a still life featuring a proto-pizza—see also  

ษš: rare phonemes and how to pronounce them  

gas, food, lodging: one hundred twenty pump filling station, the world’s largest, opens in Tennessee as a tourist attraction—via Marginal Revolution 

ripples in a pond: astrophysicists detect new class of gravitational waves rolling through the Cosmos

abacusynth: a unique electronic musical instrument from Elias Jarzobek 

liquid television: MTV’s first animated series, Stevie and Zoya—see previously  

euclid and roman: a joint NASA, ESA mission to survey the skies for signs of dark matter and dark energy


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: your daily demon: Morax, the influence of 70s Japanese soft rock on Nintendo music, mid-point of the year, Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, a trip to Oberwaldbehrungen plus the punishments of Pompeii

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Airplane (1980) plus the Civil Rights Act (1964)

four years ago: disruptive cake icing to evade IP infringement plus the time that Pepsi (sort of) had the second largest naval fleet in the world

five years ago: holidaying on Lake Garda

six years ago: playable Wikipedia,  a preview of the G20 in Hamburg plus words only said once

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

8x8 (10. 825)

the restaurant of mistaken orders: a pop-up establishment in Japan serves a lesson in compassion along with its dishes  

specimens of fancy turning: these late nineteenth century lathe patterns look like spirographs 

dwarf fortress: an interview with the author of 50 Years of Text Gamessee previously 

mercurial: more on the found and lost planet Vulcan  

monk parakeets: over a decade living in Wiesbaden, these invasive birds went from rare, doubtful sightings to absolute flocks  

area sacra: assassination site of Caesar and since taken over by semi-feral cats opening to the public 

รฑ: the origins of the letter with a diacritical tilde  

evergreen appeal: once considered dire sustenance only, pine-based cuisine in Nordic countries is becoming fine-dining

Saturday, 10 June 2023

8x8 (10. 799)

within the wok’s embrace, the dance begins, as secrets blend with savoury sins: Scott D Seligman asked ChatGPT for a pad thai recipe in the style of Emily Dickinson and got an epic 

dockhands: the latest line from Faith O’Hare is inspired by the workwear of the shipyards of the Cylde

hongmeng project: China’s space agency is placing a ring of telescopes in orbit around the Moon to explore the cosmic Dark Age just after the Big Bang  

take care now: inclusive Pride post by Cracker Barrel provokes conservative fury over the loss of this family-friendly bastion—see previously 

reference material: Ars Technica contributor Benj Edwards purchased a copy of the only encyclopaedia still in print  

supergranulation: Parker probe exploring the Sun offers science clues on the origin of solar wind 

blitz kids: a celebration of the fashion of Gary Kemp and Spandau Ballet—previously here and here

 expandart: B3ta community teaching AI how to think beyond the frame—see previously—via Waxy

Sunday, 28 May 2023

path of totality (10. 774)

Hailed by Isaac Asimov and others as the singular advent of science though some doubts persist to the accuracy of the claims of having forecasted the event in advance and what method was used, the 585 BC solar eclipse over Anatolia predicted by Thales of Miletus (the first philosopher to have broke with the tradition of mythology as a explanation for the state of the Cosmos, used deductive reasoning, proposed navigating by the stars and credited with the maxim “Know Thyself” as well as being a shrewd entrepreneur, having bought up all the olive presses in his archontes ahead of what was a very good harvest) that occurred on this day is a cardinal date used for triangulating other historical events, and, if true, is the earliest instance known of such an advanced vaticination. The announced event happened during a skirmish in the protracted war between the Medes and the Lydians, under the leadership of Cyaxares and Alyattes respectively, at Halys—the river bordering the two kingdoms, with the belligerents taking it as an omen to call a truce, though Miletus had no dog in this fight. Though astronomical knowledge at this point in history was not sufficiently advanced to know that the shadow of the Moon caused eclipses (not an avowed flat-earther, he provisionally believed that the continents floated on an infinite ocean under the dome of the firmament until a better idea came along)—that would come a century later—it is speculated that Miletus had noticed patterns in the periodicity, known to the Babylonians and programmed into the Antikythera Mechanism.

Friday, 26 May 2023

8x8 (10. 766)

to scale: time: a model in the Mojave Desert that makes commensurate the span of a human life and the age of the Universe—see previously  

montreal protocol: humanity’s affirming effort to plug a hole in the ozone layer—previously—was an inadvertent salvation that is still paying off—see previously  

qartcode: generate custom scannable re-directs with the little pixelated image of ones choice—via Pasa Bon!  

talking steel guitar: the musical stylings of Pete Drake and his innovative talk box—see previously  

fourteenth amendment: US President Joe Biden’s options to stop the standoff over the debt ceiling  

i’m fantastic, made of plastic: the trailer to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie  

flow-chart: your guide for turning on the air-conditioning in New England—works a lot of places—see also  

time out of mind: a 1979 BBC documentary series on science fiction featuring interviews with iconic authors

Saturday, 20 May 2023

mustafar (10. 756)

Discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) orbiting a red dwarf with the same stellar designation in the southern hemisphere constellation Crater (from the Greek for mixing vessel or a type of cup used to water down wine), the middle world LP 791-18 ฮด, the Earth-sized planet ninety light years away albeit covered with volcanos and seismic activity and despite hostile appearance may be ideal for hosting biological life as we understand it. Tidally-locked with one side always facing its sun and the other hemisphere veiled in darkness, the extreme conditions could theoretically prove idea for the formation of an atmosphere conducive to the development of life.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

ascraeus chasmata (10. 740)

Although less well known than Olympus Mons, the largest known volcano in the Solar System (at least by some measures), there are other enormous shield formations on the Red Planet, including the 18 kilometre high Ascraeus Mons—named in 1973 for the rustic birthplace of Greek poet Hesiod, which has yielded recently some rather amazing imagery of its terrain to Mars Express of “sinuous rilles,” features thought to be collapsed lava tubes. Not only towering by terrestrial standards, the gently sloping flanks cover a huge area, a footprint roughly the size of Romania or the state of Arizona. More from Universe Today at the link above.

Wednesday, 3 May 2023

but that that learn these letters fair, shall have a coach to take the air (10. 715)

Written by Irene Zacks and illustrated by Peter P Plasencia (previously and with another mission out of this world), we thought that this 1964 “Space Alphabet” was pretty keen and inspiring although we wonder why the authors went a bit dark with “M is for the Moon—a dead, dead world” and took exception with “U”—our United States as seen from outer space—instead of going for something existential like Universe. This abecedarium otherwise still holds up.  What topics would you include on your adventure?

Saturday, 22 April 2023

gin and juice (10. 691)

Last week after the culmination of more than a decade’s development and waiting for the right launch window to achieve the needed gravitational sling-shots to bring the space probe to its destination amongst the orbital pathways of Jupiter’s icy moons, the JUICE mission (see previously here and here) off from French Guiana in search of signs of life. The European Space Agency is celebrating its achievement and start of the exploration with a collection of mocktails inspired by the astro-geological discoveries that the mission might uncover. We especially liked the pictured agency faavourite and some rather beautifully composed concoctions inspired by Ganymede and Callisto—all the recipes (which could be modified to taste) can be found here plus more at the links above.