Surface tension holds small droplets in a partial sphere known as a spherical cap. But when droplets become larger, they flatten…


Surface tension holds small droplets in a partial sphere known as a spherical cap. But when droplets become larger, they flatten out into puddles due to the influence of gravity. In contrast, soap bubbles remain spherical to much larger sizes. The bubble pictured above, for example, is more than 1 meter in radius and nearly 1 meter in height.

There is a maximum height for a soap bubble, though, and it’s set by the physical chemistry of the surfactants used in the soap. To support itself, the bubble requires a difference in surface tension between the top and bottom of the bubble. A higher surface tension is necessary at the top of the bubble to help prevent fluid from draining away. The difference in surface tension between the top and bottom of the bubble can never be greater than the difference in surface tension between pure water and the soap mixture - thus those values set a maximum height for a bubble. The researchers found their bubbles maxed out at a height of about 2 meters, consistent with their theoretical predictions. (Image credit: C. Cohen et al.; via freshphotons)

Ethical Autonomous Algorithms

Medium, Matthieu Cherubini, ethics, automation, autonomy, algorithms, AI

Today, with the rapid development of digital technology, we can increasingly attempt to follow Leibniz’s logic. An increasing level of sophistication, to the point of some products becoming highly or fully autonomous, leads to complex situations requiring some form of ethical reasoning — autonomous vehicles and lethal battlefield robots are good examples of such products due to the tremendous complexity of tasks they have to carry out, as well as their high degree of autonomy. How can such systems be designed to accommodate the complexity of ethical and moral reasoning? At present there exists no universal standard dealing with the ethics of automated systems — will they become a commodity that one can buy, change and resell depending on personal taste? Or will the ethical frameworks embedded into automated products be those chosen by the manufacturer? More importantly, as ethics has been a field under study for millennia, can we ever suppose that our current subjective ethical notions be taken for granted, and used for products that will make decisions on our behalf in real-world situations?


A Fragment of Time’s Up

Medium, Alkan Chipperfield, Time’s Up, timesup

At Time’s Up the real, probable, improbable and fantastic blurred. We would probe the interstices of speculation and physical narrative, collectively dreaming and dredging up the fragile, elaborate gossamer webs of a lucid peninsula — a gleaming, satin-dark alternate reality. At the same time, we would celebrate. It seemed that a celebration was always imminent: the launch or conclusion of a project; the completion of a pressure-cooker booksprint; birthday parties, surprise or not; arrivals, departures, beginnings and ends. Here, the blurring of realities was mostly, and most pleasantly, a factor of social euphoria and endless bottles of wine, and it sometimes felt that I had stumbled into an enchanted realm where non-stop parties were the norm. But whether parties or physical narratives, everything we did at Time’s Up was infused with the carnivalesque.


Attersee Booksprint

Medium, Alkan Chipperfield, booksprint, FoAM, timesup, futures

If the creative process were to be seen as a syncopated beat in alternating Dionysian and Apollonian modes, we’d definitely reached a Bacchic ad libitum on Wednesday night. Fuelled in part by the cumulative effects of nearly three days’ commensality and countless glasses of wine, participants were in a riotous mood. Distinctions between work and play grew fine indeed. The mounting insanity, the atrocious DJ’ing, cabin fever induced by the overcast weather — I had to escape. I fled the loft to walk in the twilight and talk to yaks and, returning to an eerily silent downstairs by the fire, became absorbed in black elephant selfies. By the end of this evening (and I don’t exactly know when it ended) we had 34,111 words. Tomorrow, it seemed, the sober process of redaction would have to start all over again.


If We Can Get Past the Ickiness, Hagfish Slime May Actually Be Useful to Us

hagfish, hagfish slime



Hagfish are far from cuddly. The pinkish eel-like creatures sport rows of toothy spikes around their mouth, allowing them to burrow into decaying animals like worms in dirt. But these oddballs are amazingly successful, able to inhabit a range of environments and have done so relatively unchanged for more than 300 million years. One of the keys to their success is an ingenious defense mechanism: slime.

When attacked by predators, these wriggly critters activate their slime glands, clogging their enemies’ gills with gelatinous glop—a gooey pepper spray of sorts that lets them escape unscathed. Few marine creatures are equipped to challenge this slimy defense system. Now, the U.S. Navy hopes to tap into the power of the slime, synthesizing an artificial version to keep their divers safe in the deep.

If you can get over the “ick” factor of the hagfish slime, the marine gelatin has many desirable properties. The goo is made of microscopic filaments, and though the skinny threads are thinner than a blood cell is wide, they are surprisingly strong. They’re also extremely long, extending nearly six inches. But the property that has intrigued many researchers—and caught the eye of Navy scientists—is the slime’s capacity for expansion. Once the slime mixes with water, it can grow to nearly 10,000 times its initial volume, according to Ryan Kincer, a materials engineer with the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City.

If We Can Get Past the Ickiness, Hagfish Slime May Actually Be Useful to Us

quantification culture vs figuration culture


the problem with mapping reality is that reality is infinite, so any given map is going to be incomplete. but if you don’t make any maps then you have no way of negotiating reality at all. the history of intellectual culture, then, or more broadly, the history of people trying to understand reality, is the history of the tension between believing that it is possible to make models, and knowing that any model will be incomplete. it is essentially a history of call and response between the protectors of these two equally true beliefs.

rational, scientific intellectual cultures are the ones that attempt to rigorously model in an increasingly fractal way. they quantify patterns. when they encounter unquantifiable phenomena, they tend to assign temporary values. a symbol for pi, or infinity, or irrationality. but sometimes also phlogiston, or a word for a set of misunderstood symptoms.

but when people need to address the (in)completeness of models, or model in a way that suggests the incomplete space without being beholden to impossible quantification, they tend to get figurative and ironic and things like that. when art uses metaphor, for example, it causes one to quickly intuit associations between things that would be too difficult to model otherwise. a picture is worth a thousand words, and all of that. cultures of figuration tend to be either mystical or irreverent. or both.

the revulsion quantification people feel towards figuration people is the revulsion of ‘you are giving up way way too quickly, and it will have bad consequences.’ the revulsion figuration people feel towards quantification people is the revulsion of ‘you are leaving out something incredibly important, and it will have bad consequences.’ either group can produce lazy, shoddy models that aren’t even good quantification or figuration in the first place. though the question of whether that shoddy model would be improved by better quantification or better figuration is something else.

most people tend to have both of these cultures contained within themselves at any given moment.


Medium, solarpunk, speculative fiction, art, fashion, design, environment, civilisation, bright green

“#SOLARPUNK is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share.


Jorge Luis Borges’ well-known quip on metaphysics being a branch of fantastic literature… requires that the converse be true –…

literature, metaphyics, mythophysics, Borges, THE ENDS OF THE WORLD, Anthropocene

“Jorge Luis Borges’ well-known quip on metaphysics being a branch of fantastic literature… requires that the converse be true – fantastic literature and science fiction are the pop metaphysics (or the “mythophysics”) of our time.”

in THE ENDS OF THE WORLD, by Déborah Danowski& Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, translated by Rodrigo Guimaraes Nunes.

Mexico’s misinformation wars

Medium, Amnesty, Mexico, disinfo, misinformation, infowar, trolls, himan rights, war on some drugs

What is happening online is nothing more than a reflection of what is happening offline in Mexico. “Since the war on drugs began in 2006, we´ve lived through the worst period for freedom of expression”, says Alberto. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries on earth to be a journalist, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It is also in the middle of a human rights crisis, stained by the disappearance of almost 30,000 men, women and children over the last decade — most since the current President, Peña Nieto took office in 2012. The violence — and the impunity shrouding it — has energized a new generation of digitally-savvy Mexican activists who want to see accountability for the human rights abuses committed.


A New Cryptocurrency For Coordinating Artificial Intelligence on Numerai

Medium, Numerai, cryptocurrency, finance, economics, network effects, AI, capital allocation

Nearly all of the most valuable companies throughout history were valuable through their strong network effects. If there is one motif in American economic history it is network effects. Every railroad made the railroad network more valuable, every telephone made the telephone network more valuable, and every Internet user made the Internet network more valuable. But no hedge fund has ever harnessed network effects. Negative network effects are too pervasive in finance, and they are the reason that there is no one hedge fund monopoly managing all the money in the world. For perspective, Bridgewater, the biggest hedge fund in the world, manages less than 1% of the total actively managed money. Facebook, on the other hand, with its powerful network effects, has a 70% market share in social networking. The most valuable hedge fund in the 21st century will be the first hedge fund to bring network effects to capital allocation.


In Conversation with Ren Hang

Medium, interview, photography, china, Ren Hang, 2012

Hang’s photographs carried the tags of nude, youth, sexuality, social norms, gay?, even in China!, and seemed enough for a story. That’s what I went with; the significance of Ren Hang would not become clear to me until a few years later. This interview was originally conducted in Mandarin. It has been translated and edited for length and clarity. Interview by Erik Bernhardsson. Translation by Dier Zhang.


On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right

Medium, Laurie Penny, alt-right, Milo Yiannopoulos, USA, nationalism, fear, fragile masculinity, trolls, rascism

This is a story about truth and consequences. It’s a story about who gets to be young and dumb, and who gets held accountable. It’s also a story about how the new right exploits young men — how it preys not on their bodies, but on their emotions, on their hurts and hopes and anger and anxiety, their desperate need to be part of a big ugly boys’ own adventure. It’s a story about how so many of us have suffered the consequences of that exploitation. And it’s a story about how consequences finally came for Milo Yiannopoulos too — the worst kind of consequences for a professional troll. Consequences that nobody finds funny. Consequences that cannot be mined for fame and profit.


remember when lol meant “laughing out loud” instead of “this is to indicate that this brief text isn’t hostile”




remember when lol meant “laughing out loud” instead of “this is to indicate that this brief text isn’t hostile”

remember when lol meant “this brief text isn’t hostile” instead of “this brief text is in fact horrendously hostile and very passive aggressive”

There’s a linguistics paper about lol that explains both of these meanings!

Armin Medosch (1962–2017)

armin-medosch, RIP, nettime, 2017

Armin Medosch died yesterday, on the day two months after being diagnosed with cancer. I’m sure many people on nettime knew him very well. He was a long-time mover and shaker in the media arts and network culture scene in Europe. Indeed for much longer than even nettime exists.

I first learned of Armin not as a person, but a legend. In the early 1990s, he was one of a band of artists of an unqualifiable streak who roamed the Baltic sea on the Kunst-Raum-Schiff, MS Stubnitz. An 80m former freeze & transport vessel of the GDR high seas fishing fleet, they had re-purposed as a moving center for experimental electronic culture. He curated and organised exhibitions and symposia in Rostock, Hamburg, Malmö and St.Petersburg. The project was incredibly evocative, even for someone like me who had never seen the ship, because it fused many of the ideas that would come to define network culture, namely nomadism, a total disregard for established culture institutions, DIY and an exploration of the wild wastelands opened by the breakdown of the Soviet system, after 1989.

A few years later, when he was the co-founder and editor (1996 to 2002) of the groundbreaking online magazine Telepolis, he gave me the first change to publish regularly on network culture. Telepolis, which came out of exhibition on what was then called “interactive cities”, was the first European (or at least German) online publication that followed and understood the newly emerging phenomenon of the network culture. Together with Mute in London and nettime as list, Telepolis was a key node in establishing something like a European perspective on Internet culture, in clear opposition to WIRED and the Californian ideology.

In the early 2000s, Armin and I found ourselves living in Vienna. A collaborative working relationship turned into friendship. We still collaborated on a lot of projects, such as a Kingdom of Piracy, an exhibition project he initiated with Yukiko Shikata and Shu Lea Cheang, one of the first art projects that focused on the legal and illegal cultural practices of sharing digital materials. Over the last few years, we worked together in the framework of technopolitics, an independent research platform, he founded initially with Brian Holmes, aiming at developing a more martially grounded cultural critique, one which could relate cultural practices within deeper, more structure social transformation. A task we considered urgent after breakdown of the neo-liberal paradigm following the crisis that started 2008. All of these projects, and many more that I cannot account for personally – and need your help to fill in – where transdisciplinary, collaborative and exploratory, often ahead of their times. This is, however, something that the art and the academic system rarely appreciates.

Technopolitics continued this cross-disciplinary and collaborate work, but also reflected his new focus of work on developing a deep and sustained cultural theory and art history. His most recent publication, “New Tendencies: Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution (1961-1978)” (MIT Press, 2016) was a first major achievement of this new direction. So was Technopolitics which we were able to present to overflow crowds at the transmediale late last month, an event which he could only witness via stream from his hospital bed. Quite recently, we even became neighbours and we would walk over to each other’s house for discussions, food a drinks. No more.

–Felix Stalder


actually i avoid obituaries and funerals. they are more about the people who stay than the people who go.and they are about status and memory. how many people will show up, how many people will give a speech. damn it. in this case, i have to write, expecting that Armin Medosch would have done the same. get his grips together and go back in time. traverse the network of people, places, events. help to edit the pages on monoskop and maybe wikipedia. we never have been friends on facebook. i know that for the ones beeing very near it will be almost impossible to write more. recently i read the obituary of a comrade by another comrade and actually it was all about comradery as a self reflection of purpose, which can quite easily become a monologue in front of a mirror. when looking back and forth again, you acknowledge that time is linear, so i think what Armin did was looking around, quite early, have a lookout, and be there eagerly waiting, grudgingly dismissing those who were not ready yet. luckily we shared this perspective. it is a rather circular view in all directions, and a combination of all senses, which is needed, which opens up a plane of intrinsic qualities, which can only be experienced, and are therefore a product of social labor, as something which has to be realized together. with such opportunities, other forces and explorers are working hard to gain and claim ground. other seasons begin and other qualities are needed. remember the smile. you need a big heart, some humour, and a lot of anger to keep going. as travelling warriors it is not so much about the fight, or even the enemy, than the territory itself which determines the struggle. the potential is not the one of a native who claims spiritual ownership, but of a futurity as a multidimensional topology which must remain open in a good way, which keeps a flow going, and keeps coming back to pose new opportunities of struggle. retiring from resistance is impossible. the moment you ask what was in it for you, you’re just hurting yourself. in so far it is like a song, which you and anyone can sing again, a pattern of a track which repeats itself, a faint radio frequency to tune into. have a good flight.

–Pit Schultz


Chatting by the fireside


In Don Delillo’s novel White Noise (1984) - which by the way is both hilarious and more relevant than ever with its themes of media saturation, environmental catastrophe, consumerism as religion, and fascism (the main character is a university chair of Hitler Studies) - there is a philosophical exchange on the subject of everything we don’t know about the technologically advanced society we live in. Framed as a kind of Socratic dialogue between father and son (with the son always playing Socrates), the 14-year-old Heinrich describes our diminished agency in a system that casts us only as passive consumers. ‘What good is knowledge’, he asks, ‘if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything.’

To illustrate this point he gives a lengthy diatribe on everything we don’t know about the society we live in. The ignorance he describes is highlighted by the community’s helplessness in the face of a catastrophe (an ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ set off by a chemical spill):

‘It’s like we’ve been flung back in time,’ he said. ‘Here we are in the Stone Age, knowing all these great things after centuries of progress but what can we do to make life easier for the Stone Agers? Can we make a refrigerator? Can we even explain how it works? What is electricity? What is light? We experience these things every day of our lives but what good does it do if we find ourselves hurled back in time and we can’t even tell people the basic principles much less actually make something that would improve conditions. Name one thing you could make. Could you make a simple wooden match that you could strike on a rock to make a flame? We think we’re so great and modern. Moon landings, artificial hearts. But what if you were hurled into a time warp and came face to face with the ancient Greeks. The Greeks invented trigonometry. They did autopsies and dissections. What could you tell an ancient Greek that he couldn’t say, “Big Deal.” Could you tell him about the atom? Atom is a Greek word. The Greeks knew that the major events in the universe can’t be seen by the eye of man. It’s waves, it’s rays, it’s particles.’

‘We’re doing all right.’

‘We’re sitting in this huge moldy room. It’s like we’re flung back.’

‘We have heat, we have light.’

‘These are Stone Age things. They had heat and light. They had fire. They rubbed flints together and made sparks. Could you rub flints together? Would you know a flint if you saw one? If a Stone Ager asked you what a nucleotide is, could you tell him? How do we make carbon paper? What is glass? If you came awake tomorrow in the Middle Ages and there was an epidemic raging, what could you do to stop it, knowing what you know about the progress of medicines and diseases? Here it is practically the twenty-first century and you’ve read hundreds of books and magazines and seen a hundred TV shows about science and medicine. Could you tell those people one little crucial thing that might save a million and a half lives?’

‘“Boil your water,” I’d tell them.’

‘Sure. What about “Wash behind your ears.” That’s about as good.’

‘I still think we’re doing fairly well. There was no warning. We have food, we have radios.’

‘What is a radio? What is the principle of a radio? Go ahead, explain. You’re sitting in the middle of this circle of people. They use pebble tools. They eat grubs. Explain a radio.’

It’s an unsettling speech. Sure, some of us know how a radio works, or how to light a fire without a match, but not many; certainly it’s a shrinking minority. Learning how things work is one small step we can take, especially now that all the information we need is literally at our fingertips.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about Albert Borgmann’s device paradigm, about ‘thingness’ and being connected to a larger ecosystem. Borgmann illustrates his concept with the image of the traditional hearth, ‘a place that gathered the work and leisure of a family and gave the house a centre’. Our latest projects explore in part the ways we might make devices back into things.

On a less pedantic note, we had a clear night this week and we got a fire going. We wanted to meet for a couple of hours, the two of us and our PhD student Enrique, to develop some fresh ideas for future projects. Why go to a meeting room when you can sit by the fire with a sketchbook and pencil and a bottle (or two) of good red wine? So that’s what we did. The fireside is now our preferred meeting place, especially for the big ideas that can be filled in with details later. It’s a good way to escape the noise and rediscover the signal.


explicit insecurity

laing, social media, self, continuity, consistency, R.D. Laing


In The Divided Self, R.D. Laing offers this description of “ontological insecurity.”

The individual in the ordinary circumstances of living may feel more unreal than real; in a literal sense, more dead than alive; precariously differentiated from the rest of the world, so that his identity and autonomy are always question. He may lack the experience of his own temporal continuity. He may not possess an overriding sense of personal consistency or cohesiveness. He may feel more insubstantial than substantial, and unable to assume that the stuff he is made of is genuine, good, valuable. And he may feel his self as partially forced from his body. 

This sort of interpretation of the self used to be my basic starting point in approaching social media. As Laing argues, a stable sense of self is required for one to have “sane” interactions with other people, otherwise every interaction threatens to overwhelm the individual with insecurity, with fears of losing oneself in the other or of being ignored and obliterated by their indifference. Monitoring these interactions and scoring them increases the chances that we will experience them this way; it both destabilizes the sense of identity security we have going in to an encounter, and it provides a quasi-objective way of confirming the degree to which one is winning or losing “identity” in terms of making others recognize the primacy of your point of view on the world.   

Social media is a cause of ontological insecurity that masquerades as its cure. Social media networks literalize and make explicit the ways in which we are “precariously differentiated,” and the asynchronous nature of sociality online disrupts an individual’s sense of “temporal continuity.”  The creation of an identity archive would seem to ground the self, but it merely creates an incomplete and inadequate double — a “self partially forced from the body” — over which one has even less control over the uses to which it is put. An online identity in a social media platform is not a medium for our autonomous expression; it is a means by which our identity is warped, exploited, misused, posited, manipulated, and articulated by outside forces. Other people and corporations and advertisers and so on can put “you” to use without your presence or knowledge. The contexts in which “you” appear cede even further from your control, and one is continually confronted with one’s incohesiveness, one’s lack of consistency. 

If Laing is right, then social media systematically impose a sense of insubstantiality on users, which opens up the serial pleasure of reaching for small reassurances: likes, and other forms of micro-recognition made suddenly meaningful by the acute insecurity.

For the ontological insecure man, according to Laing, “the world of his experience comes to be one he can no longer share with other people.” In social media terms, this means that “sharing” on platforms increases to the extent that one feels no one shares their world, and it has the ironic consequence of increasing the sense of isolation. The more I mediate my experience to offer it you, the more I make concrete my feeling that you don’t know or share what I experience, or even see  thatI experience, and that I have to keep shoving examples of it at you. 

The point, again, is that social media inverts what it makes explicit. It turns identity into incoherence by archiving what we do and imposing on it a formal, data-based unity. It turns sharing into isolation, by often insisting on the lack of synchronous reciprocity and co-presence in communication there. It makes the attention of others measurable, storable, transferable, making it something that can only come at someone else’s expense, obscuring the idea that attention can vary in form and intensity, that it can be given without being surrendered, and can harmonize with the attention of others into something immeasurably greater.  

Social Media Needs A Travel Mode

politics, privacy, security, Maciej-Cegłowski, social-media, six-degrees, surveillance

We don’t take our other valuables with us when we travel—we leave the important stuff at home, or in a safe place. But Facebook and Google don’t give us similar control over our valuable data. With these online services, it’s all or nothing. We need a ‘trip mode’ for social media sites that reduces our contact list and history to a minimal subset of what the site normally offers. Not only would such a feature protect people forced to give their passwords at the border, but it would mitigate the many additional threats to privacy they face when they use their social media accounts away from home. Both Facebook and Google make lofty claims about user safety, but they’ve done little to show they take the darkening political climate around the world seriously. A ‘trip mode’ would be a chance for them to demonstrate their commitment to user safety beyond press releases and anodyne letters of support. The only people who can offer reliable protection against invasive data searches at national borders are the billion-dollar companies who control the servers. They have the technology, the expertise, and the legal muscle to protect their users. All that’s missing is the will.


Seven Worlds for TRAPPIST–1 Seven worlds orbit the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST–1, a mere 40 light-years away. In May…

NASA, TRAPPIST-1, exoplanets, Plan-B, ESO

Seven Worlds for TRAPPIST-1

Seven worlds orbit the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, a mere 40 light-years away. In May 2016 astronomers using the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) announced the discovery of three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Just announced, additional confirmations and discoveries by the Spitzer Space Telescope and supporting ESO ground-based telescopes have increased the number of known planets to seven. The TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely all rocky and similar in size to Earth, the largest treasure trove of terrestrial planets ever detected around a single star. Because they orbit very close to their faint, tiny star they could also have regions where surface temperatures allow for the presence of liquid water, a key ingredient for life. Their tantalizing proximity to Earth makes them prime candidates for future telescopic explorations of the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets. All seven worlds appear in this artist’s illustration, an imagined view from a fictionally powerful telescope near planet Earth. Planet sizes and relative positions are drawn to scale for the Spitzer observations. The system’s inner planets are transiting their dim, red, nearly Jupiter-sized parent star.


The Indoor Garden That Can Feed an Entire Neighborhood



IKEA has released open source plans for The Growroom, which is a large, multi-tiered spherical garden that was designed to sustainably grow enough food to feed a neighborhood. The plans were made free on Thursday with the hope that members of the public will invest their time and resources to create one in each neighborhood, if not in every person’s backyard.

The tools required to create the spherical garden include plywood, rubber hammers, metal screws and diligence to follow the instructions comprised of 17 steps. The Huffington Post reports that The Growroom isn’t shipped in a flat pack like most IKEA products. Instead, users are required to download the files needed to cut the plywood pieces to size and are encouraged to visit a local workshop where the wood can be professionally cut. The free instructions online walk the builder through the remaining steps.

The Indoor Garden That Can Feed an Entire Neighborhood

Largest Batch of Earth-size, Habitable Zone Planets


Our Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in an area called the habitable zone, where liquid water is most likely to exist on a rocky planet.


This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.


Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.


This is the FIRST time three terrestrial planets have been found in the habitable zone of a star, and this is the FIRST time we have been able to measure both the masses and the radius for habitable zone Earth-sized planets.

All of these seven planets could have liquid water, key to life as we know it, under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.


At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets. To clarify, exoplanets are planets outside our solar system that orbit a sun-like star.


In this animation, you can see the planets orbiting the star, with the green area representing the famous habitable zone, defined as the range of distance to the star for which an Earth-like planet is the most likely to harbor abundant liquid water on its surface. Planets e, f and g fall in the habitable zone of the star.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated.


For comparison…if our sun was the size of a basketball, the TRAPPIST-1 star would be the size of a golf ball.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces.

The sun at the center of this system is classified as an ultra-cool dwarf and is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.


 The planets also are very close to each other. How close? Well, if a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.


The planets may also be tidally-locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong wind blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.


Because most TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky, and they are very close to one another, scientists view the Galilean moons of Jupiter – lo, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede – as good comparisons in our solar system. All of these moons are also tidally locked to Jupiter. The TRAPPIST-1 star is only slightly wider than Jupiter, yet much warmer. 

How Did the Spitzer Space Telescope Detect this System?

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing (aka transits) of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. 


Every time a planet passes by, or transits, a star, it blocks out some light. Spitzer measured the dips in light and based on how big the dip, you can determine the size of the planet. The timing of the transits tells you how long it takes for the planet to orbit the star.


The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets. Spitzer, Hubble and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using our upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone and other components of a planet’s atmosphere.

At 40 light-years away, humans won’t be visiting this system in person anytime soon…that said…this poster can help us imagine what it would be like: 


Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

As a designer, I always felt that objects could not properly respond to the emergencies of our world. Objects and products are…

“As a designer, I always felt that objects could not properly respond to the emergencies of our world. Objects and products are essential to any social actions — banners and musical instruments often used in protests are a part of that category. However, design as a discipline did not render visible what I was most passionate about: revealing power structures and supporting the performance of politics and power shifts in institutions.”

Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios launches University of the Underground – a radical rethink of design education (viaiamdanw)

It is odd how the tree has dominated Western reality and all of Western thought, from botany to biology and anatomy, but also…

“It is odd how the tree has dominated Western reality and all of Western thought, from botany to biology and anatomy, but also gnosiology, theology, ontology, all of philosophy …: the root-foundation, Grund, racine, fondement. The west has a special relation to the forest, and deforestation; the fields carved from the forest are populated with seed plants produced by cultivation based on species lineages of the arborescent type; animal raising, carried out on fallow fields, selects lineages forming an entire animal arborescence. The East presents a different figure: a relation to the steppe and the garden (or in some cases, the desert and the oasis), rather than forest and field; cultivation of tubers by fragmentation of the individual; a casting aside or bracketing of animal raising, which is confined to closed spaces or pushed out onto the steppes of the nomads. The West: agriculture based on a chosen lineage containing a large number of variable individuals. The East: horticulture based on a small number of individuals derived from a wide range of “clones.” Does not the East, Oceania in particular, offer something like a rhizomatic model opposed in every respect to the Western model of the tree? André Haudricourt even sees this as the basis for the opposition between the moralities or philosophies of transcendence dear to the West and the immanent ones of the East: the God who sows and reaps, as opposed to the God who replants and unearths (replanting of offshoots versus sowing of seeds). Transcendence: a specifically European disease.”

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (viabelacqui-pro-quo)

Minnelli’s big idea about dreams is that they most of all concern those who are not dreaming. The dream of those who are…

“Minnelli’s big idea about dreams is that they most of all concern those who are not dreaming. The dream of those who are dreaming concerns those who are not dreaming. Why does it concern them? Because as soon as someone else dreams, there is danger. People’s dreams are always all-consuming and threaten to devour us. What other people dream is very dangerous. Dreams are a terrifying will to power. Each of us is more or less a victim of other people’s dreams. Even the most graceful young woman is a horrific ravager, not because of her soul, but because of her dreams. Beware of the dreams of others, because if you are caught in their dream, you are done for.”

Gilles Deleuze,What is the Creative Act? (viabelacqui-pro-quo)

Talking in Circles: Creating the Alien Language of ‘Arrival’


“In the film, the scientists discover that the circles typically represent a full statement, but the statement can be broken up into words. The protagonists eventually create an index of these inky words, so they can write messages to the aliens. In reality, Vermette said he and Villeneuve had their own index of about 100 alien words made in the style that Bertrand designed. As the project moved forward, the pair consulted with real-world linguists and archaeologists to help refine the design. 

Seth Shostak, a scientist at the SETI Institute (SETI stands for search for extraterrestrial intelligence), said some scientists have thought about how humans might translate alien languages. Linguists have shown that there are many redundancies in human languages, which is part of how we are able to comprehend spoken languages at all, Shostak said. For example, studies have shown that if all the vowels are removed from a written document, a person (who has never seen the document in its complete form) can still read most of the words. 

“It turns out there’s a mathematical law for the redundancy of any language,” Shostak said. “And you can apply that to the sounds made by dolphins or even other critters, like ants. And they follow this same mathematical law. So that suggests that it’s not just noise [the animals are making], there’s actually a language there. So I think that if you picked up a signal coming from aliens, you’d do the same thing.“”

Talking in Circles: Creating the Alien Language of ‘Arrival’

We’re trashing the Arctic. Literally.



Even the places one might assume are pristine, such as the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, are littered with the detritus of human activity, as proven by the growth of a sixth garbage patch in the freezing Barents Sea. The latest evidence of worldwide junk infiltration comes from an observatory west of the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard, called HAUSGARTEN, where scientists have constructed a multiyear log of marine debris. In this remote location, more and more litter is appearing on the seabed—almost double the amount was found at one monitoring station in 2011 compared to 2002, they write in Deep Sea Research Part 1. Not only that, but it’s appearing in greater concentrations to the north, possibly due to climate change.

The scientists used a towed camera rig to establish that the density of trash in these Arctic waters is equivalent to that off of Lisbon, Portugal, whose metropolitan area holds 2.8 million people. It’s hard to tell exactly where seaborne waste comes from. Garbage enters the ocean from rivers, polluted coastlines, ships that have accidents or are illegally dumping, and other sources. Once it’s there it can travel vast distances. But after doing some detective work, the scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute ascribe guilt to local activities.

We’re trashing the Arctic. Literally.

“Romans may have used 20-Sided die almost two millennia before D&D, but people in ancient Egypt were casting icosahedra even…

polyhedra, icosahedron, d20, 304BCE

“Romans may have used 20-Sided die almost two millennia before D&D, but people in ancient Egypt were casting icosahedra even earlier. Pictured above is a twenty-faced die dating from somewhere between 304 and 30 B.C., a timespan also known as Egypt’s Ptolemaic Period.”

(via )

That mystery Go player crushing the world’s best online? It was AlphaGo again

go, DeepMind, AlphaGo, machine-learning, Master, Magister

Over the last week, a number of forum threads have popped up to discuss this mystery debutante who has been thrashing the world’s best players. Given its unbeaten record and some very “non-human” moves, most onlookers were certain that Master and Magister were being played by an AI—they just weren’t certain if it was AlphaGo, or perhaps another AI out of China or Japan. It is somewhat unclear, but it seems that DeepMind didn’t warn the opponents that they were playing against AlphaGo. Perhaps they were told after their games had concluded, though. Ali Jabarin, a professional Go player, apparently bumped into Ke Jie after he’d been beaten by the AI: “He [was] a bit shocked… just repeating ‘it’s too strong.’” Gu Li, as quoted by Hassabis, was a lot more philosophical about his loss to the new version of AlphaGo: “Together, humans and AI will soon uncover the deeper mysteries of Go.” Gu Li is referring to the fact that AlphaGo plays Go quite differently from humans, placing stones that completely confound human players at first—but upon further analysis these strategies become a “divine move.” While there’s almost no chance that a human will ever beat AlphaGo again, human players can still learn a lot about the game itself by watching the AI play. If you want to watch the new AlphaGo in action, a German website has the first 41 games from the 51-game streak, including victories against many of the world’s best human players. At this point it isn’t clear how this new version of AlphaGo differs from the one we saw last year, though some Go observers suggest that this version is making more “non-human” moves than before, indicating that the deep neural network might’ve been trained in a different way.


Master(P) schlägt die Go-Profis 41:0

go, DeepMind, AlphaGo, machine-learning, sgf

Natürlich gibt es Gerüchte, dass es hinter Master(P) niemand anderes als das noch stärker gewordene AlphaGo stecken muss, dass vor einem Wettkampf im ersten Quartal 2017 mal eben noch zeigen wollte, wie hoch der Hammer mittlerweile hängt. Andere Kandidaten wären das koreanische DolBaram-Projekt, das von der Korean Amateur Baduk Association (KABA) und der koreanischen Regierung unterstützt wird, und ein chinesisches Projekt, das Gerüchten zufolge bereits längere Zeit auf AlphaGo-Niveau spielen können soll. DeepZen, das unlängst gegen Cho Chikun 9p angetreten war, scheint es zumindest nicht zu sein, denn das spielte parallel auch recht erfolgreich auf Tygem – aktuell mit einem Score von 159:18, zumeist gegen spielstarke 9d-Spieler mit oder ohne (P)-Zusatz. Aja Huang vom AlphaGo-Projekt kommentierte Spekulationen um die Identität von Mater(P) und AlphaGo auf jeden Fall nur mit einem vielsagenden “interesting”.


Both photographs by Regis Duvignau/REUTERS, A golden eagle grabs a flying drone during a military training exercise at…


Both photographs by Regis Duvignau/REUTERS, A golden eagle grabs a flying drone during a military training exercise at Mont-de-Marsan French Air Force base, Southwestern France, February 10, 2017. Top, Via. Bottom, Via.

This difference between the body, which gets you in the end, and the spirit, which is actually immortal – that’s really a terrible discrepancy.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder interviewed by Hella Schlumberger for Playboy Germany, April 1978. Via. Via.

The camera basically dehumanizes its subjects and makes them look like zombies by reducing them to their basic biological essence, their heat signature. Among other things, it reads people’s eyes as orbs of viscous black jelly, which makes a mockery of the idea of the eyes being a window to the soul. It really is a deeply sinister technology.

Richard Mosse interviewed by Christian Viveros-Fauné Richard Mosse’s New Film Portrays the Refugee Crisis in Thermal Detail It is set to premiere at London’s Barbican Centre for artnet, February 13, 2017.

Italy creates a UNESCO emergency task force for culture

UNESCO, culture, heritage, looting, art-crime, 2017, italy

The task force #UNITE4HERITAGE will be used where the United Nations organization considers it appropriate to act. “Blue helmets” will assess the risks and quantify the damage to the cultural heritage, devise action plans and urgent measures, perform technical supervision, provide training courses for local staff, assist with the transport of movable objects to safe shelters and strengthen the fight against looting and the illegal traffic in cultural assets. Presently, the project is still at a political stage. To gain a more practical value, some operational issues will have to be resolved.


“The best form of compression for voice data makes use of the structure of speech - the Linear Predictive Filter. The basic…


“The best form of compression for voice data makes use of the structure of speech - the Linear Predictive Filter. The basic idea is that the data is compressed by using an input code word that represents the sound made in the throat by the vocal chords. Then a set of parameters are set in a filter which represents the shape of the mouth and resonant cavities. The parameters are set so that the output matches the sound as well as it can - this is an example of analysis by synthesis, i.e. you analyze a signal by setting up a system that creates it accurately.”

They are learning to speak, and to hear.

Cracking a Skype call using phonemes, via Alfie.

Déphasage #134 – 18.01.17

farmersmanual, music




1/ Olivia Block ‎- Dissolution A (Dissolution/Glistening Examples/Nov 2016)
2/ Mica Levi & Oliver Coates - Bless Our Toes (Remain Calm/Slip/Nov 2016)
3/ Mica Levi & Oliver Coates - Dolphins Climb Onto Shore For The First Time (Remain Calm/Slip/Nov 2016)
4/ farmersmanual - loop der.ii (fsck/Tray/1997)
5/ farmersmanual - klopp01.proc (fsck/Tray/1997)
6/ farmersmanual - frog dies in sunlight (fsck/Tray/1997)
7/ farmersmanual - 364 (fsck/Tray/1997)
7/ farmersmanual - 368 (fsck/Tray/1997)
8/ Spring Heel Jack - Chorale (Masses/Thirsty Ear/2001)
9/ Spring Heel Jack - Salt (Masses/Thirsty Ear/2001)


Olivia Block vit et travaille principalement à Chicago avec 16 oeuvres à son actif, dont les premières remontent à 1998. Chacun de ses travaux propres à ses éléments d’expression, elle dirige ses intérêts sur des spécificités locales ou ethnographiques.

Également familière des eaux académiques, elle est cité dans de nombreuses grandes écoles de musique à Chicago et anime par intermittence quelques conférences en université. Lors de concerts elle installe le principe de «cinéma sans visuels», place des auditeurs assis dans une pièce sombre, devant un écran noir, avec seul l’ouïe comme sens stimulé.

L’observation de la communication humaine face à l’essor des technologies passées ou présentes semblent constituer les motivations de Olivia Block pour le projet. Radio à ondes courtes, communications captées par ondes, bulletins municipaux et fragments de cassettes, sont touchés du doigt pour traiter l’échange humain dans sa chronologie.

Plus la désintégration de ces matériaux opère, plus les voix et les environnements se ressemblent. Des voix hésitantes, effrayées, pressées, frustrées, politiques ou professionnelles finissent par précéder ronflements, sifflements, clic et échos. Ceux-ci sont prix en mouvement dans un flux oscillant entre simple matières sonore et éléments anecdotiques.

Essayer de répertorier les éléments de «Dissolution», c'est comme essayer de reconstituer une image d'une civilisation contemporaine à partir de ses traces déjà ruinées; Il semble que tous ces miettes brisées de ces communication devraient se rassembler pour former une image cohérente. La couverture d’album est une maison partiellement éffrondrée; à prendre comme métaphore apte à décrire cette musique sur plus d’un aspect : le sentiment de familiarité au milieu des ruines; le remodelage de la mémoire déclenchée par le quotidien ordinaire souvent ennemi de la création.


Utiliser un instruments comme le violoncelle aujourd’hui dans une composition relève d’un sacré défi pour arriver à extirper un tant soit peu d’intérêt sonore et musicale, sans tomber dans le pathos gratuit. Pourtant les deux artistes de ce soir ont à eux deux en solo et en duo réussi la prouesse d’attirer les oreilles en quête de nouveautés. Mica Levi et Oliver Coates, tout deux britanniques issues d’une formation classique, mais comme à l’accoutumée, les sujets de sa majesté aiment sortir des sentiers battus (et là je fais un clin d’oeil à l’académisme mortifère français).
La première évolue aussi bien dans la sphère pop de traverse avec son groupe Micachu & The Shapes que dans la composition de bande-originale, du film Under The Skin par exemple où elle utilise justement les cordes d’une manière inouïe dans un contexte pseudo électronique. C’est d’ailleurs là qu’elle rencontra Oliver Coates, violoncelliste et compositeur de BO également, faisant partie du London Contemporary Orchestra qui a travaillé avec Radiohead pour leur dernier album.

Autant dire que les deux ensemble donnent un résultat qui transcende toutes les étiquettes, mais qui crée pourtant son identité. On est enfin sorti du Modern Classical, on ne veut plus de Noise ni de Drone, encore moins de Techno et de House démodées, du Minimalisme peut être mais pas trop. Ce que l’on veut c’est déconstruire tout cela, ce que l’on veut c’est un son d’aujourd’hui, un son de 2017, et « Remain Calm » peut très bien en être un bel exemple.


Collectif audiovisuel Viennois formé au début des années 90, farmersmanual, sans espaces ni majuscule (pour une meilleure intégration internet), cultive le mystère, même dans le contexte d’anonymat général qui règne alors sur la musique électronique.

Touché par la fascination collective de cette période pour l’informatique à l’aube de son explosion, le collectif multimédia propose une musique énigmatique, tout en fragmentation, au caractère accidentel, voir incontrôlé, que l’on devine issue de complexes processus aléatoires.

L’utopie internet, ce nouveau territoire vaste et virtuel qui excite alors, inspire et fait rêver, intangible jungle chiffrée où tout semble permis, est encore vierge des gros propriétaires, qui finissent aujourd’hui sa déforestation brutale et sa privatisation.

Maintenant le flou artistique sur leurs méthodes de travail, les membres du collectif insistent sur la partie informatique de leur production, considérant par exemple leur site comme une émanation aussi importante de leurs efforts que la musique elle-même. La musique de fsck est faite par les machines, autant qu’avec elle. Elle n’a pas de forme prédéterminée, pas de durée précise, pas de début ni de fin logique, il s’agit d’un flux intarissable dont ils présentent quelques courts extraits au public, sous la forme de disques ou de concerts, quelques moments capturés et rendus audibles, tandis que se poursuit en interne son déroulement sans sommeil.

Explorant les possibilités du format CD-rom, nouveauté élue, promis à un brillant avenir, ils ajoutent à leurs albums des contenus multimédia, et jouent des possibilités de l’index numérique comme sur Explorer’s we, indexé arbitrairement toutes les soixantes secondes, qui encourage à la lecture aléatoire. Leur site internet bénéficie également d’un soin particulier, avec de nombreuses possibilités d’interaction et une attention donnée au graphisme.

La musique de fsck, faite de glitch et de bruits, de breaks squelettiques déconstruits au delà du rythme, a su résister à l’épreuve du temps, du fait de son étrangeté singulière et de la capacité qu’elle a eu à s’infuser dans la suite de l’histoire de la musique électronique.

En revanche, le reste du discours artistique de farmersmanual fait rétrospectivement penser au park d’attraction de Prypiat, ou aux innombrables mondes virtuels des jeux massivement multijoueurs qui tombent désormais à l’abandon. Incroyablement vide et statique, et d’une tristesse ahurissante, qu’il s’agisse du gris du béton irradié, de la peinture écaillée d’une grande roue qui ne tournera plus, ou d’un programme sénile qui se répète en boucle encore et encore, animant un dernier personnage de pixel mal défini jusqu'à ce que son support physique finisse enfin par mourir.

Le site de farmersmanual, dont la dernière mise à jour date de 2007, est un témoin nostalgique et figé d’une antiquité numérique dorée, victime d’une obsolescence ultrarapide. Pendant ce temps, toujours, partout, continuent de naître et de mourir les illusions, les utopies et l'innocence dans les yeux des enfants.


Spring heel jack est un duo anglais qui a vu le jour dans les années 90 et qui fit ses balbutiements dans la sphère drum'n'bass et jungle de l'époque. Après plusieurs albums le duo change radicalement de direction avec Masses, sorti en 2001 sur le label Thirsty ear.

Les rythmes foisonnants et les lignes de basses épaisses sont mis de cotés, on quitte alors les quatre murs délimitant une surface destinée à laisser s'exprimer la fougue de nos membres pour un espace beaucoup plus vaste. La création de cet album s'est déroulé suivant deux étapes. D'abord Ashley Wales et John Coxon ont concocté de longues plages sonore volontairement épurées, où évoluent des textures granuleuses, parsemées de sons concrets plus ou moins dégradés, nous donnant à entendre une matière en proie à une lente décomposition. Ils ont ensuite invité quelques grandes figures du Jazz contemporain a venir improviser sur ces morceaux s'apparentant à des pages partiellement vierges. On retrouvera entre autres : Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Tim berne, ainsi qu'Evan Parker, fervent défenseur de la musique improvisée et fondateur de l'ElectroAcoustic Ensemble. Se dessine alors un free jazz mutant, où l'immédiateté du discours improvisé et le développement plus réfléchi des manipulations électroniques forment un équilibre périlleux. Chacune des pistes nous dévoile une ambiance propre, tantôt intimiste, tantôt électrique, proposant à l'auditeur une palette de couleurs riche et varié. Libéré des contraintes imposé par le dance-floor, Spring Heel Jack & Cie court-circuitent le temps en injectant la chaleur primitive du free jazz à l'implacable précision de la musique électronique, donnant à chacune un nouvel angle d'admiration, pour le plaisir de nos gourmands tympans.

Postmodernism and “post-truth”

Postmodernism, post-truth, facts, reality, psychology, Philosophy, Raven

The point of postmodernism is not and was never “there are no facts”, the denial of an objective reality. The point is that facts are unevenly distributed across a metamedium which distributes half-facts and falsehoods with equal facility. The point is that the whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth objective reality is by definition inaccessible to the subjective experience of individuals; there is far too much to know for any one individual to know it all. The point is that he who controls the distribution of stories controls the stories themselves.


We must make our freedom by cutting holes in the fabric of this reality, by forging new realities which will, in turn, fashion…

Graeber, freedom, change, reality, revolution

“We must make our freedom by cutting holes in the fabric of this reality, by forging new realities which will, in turn, fashion us. Putting yourself in new situations constantly is the only way to ensure that you make your decisions unencumbered by the inertia of habit, custom, law, or prejudice—and it is up to you to create these situations Freedom only exists in the moment of revolution. And those moments are not as rare as you think. Change, revolutionary change, is going on constantly and everywhere—and everyone plays a part in it, consciously or not”

David Graeber

Facebook Plans to Rewire Your Life.

dystopia, socialmedia, facebook, 2017, power, control, culture

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s manifesto, penned clearly in response to accusations leveled at the social network in the wake of the bitter U.S. election campaign, is a scary, dystopian document. It shows that Facebook – launched, in Zuckerberg’s own words five years ago, to “extend people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships” – is turning into something of an extraterritorial state run by a small, unelected government that relies extensively on privately held algorithms for social engineering.


“Over time, even the repairs will be destroyed,” Sussman stated. “They will be walked on and scuffed, and eventually…

Rachel Sussman, Sidewalk Kintsukuroi, art, alchemy, Kintsugi

“Over time, even the repairs will be destroyed,” Sussman stated. “They will be walked on and scuffed, and eventually overwritten with something else. Such is the transient nature of everything in the universe. All the more reason to value the time we have.”

(via )

On Firing Myself

Medium, transition, work, purpose, collaboration, organisation, Alanna (Krause) Irving

Death and change are essential to growth and evolution. The bird has to leave the nest. New trees spring up in the forest where old trees decay. A species only acquires adaptive traits with new generations. The old must make space for the new; anything else is stagnation. This is especially true of purposeful work. Because you’re there for more than just a job, achieving the larger mission in the future can require the end of something in the present.


Scientists make huge dataset of nearby stars available to public

astronomy, space, MIT, data

Today, a team that includes MIT and is led by the Carnegie Institution for Science has released the largest collection of observations made with a technique called radial velocity, to be used for hunting exoplanets. The huge dataset, taken over two decades by the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, is now available to the public, along with an open-source software package to process the data and an online tutorial. By making the data public and user-friendly, the scientists hope to draw fresh eyes to the observations, which encompass almost 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 nearby stars.





Atmosphere | Earthdata

Land | Earthdata

Earthdata Search

World Petroleum Assessment - World Geologic Maps: USGS, Energy Resources Program

Geologic Downloads

Geologic maps of US states

OneGeology Portal

Rocks From Above: Google Earth Files

GIS planet: Mineral Resources. World

Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS)

National Weather Service GIS Data Links

NSIDC Data on Google Earth




Exploring the UVG Grid with Google Earth

Earth Grid Research - Fringe Science

Ancient Monument Placemarks

Global Sacred Sites

Google Earth Hacks - Religious buildings, locations,-locations.htm

Biblical Studies and Technological Tools: Google Earth Exercise for Biblical Geography

Earth Chakras And Vortices - The Earth Energy Grid · The Mind Unleashed

Sacred Sites.kmz

Sacred Destinations - Google Product Forums!topic/gec-earth-browsing-moderated/d5KLFckoqWc

Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping

Browse by Country or Site Type : The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map:

Explore 25,000 ancient sites in Google Earth with the Megalithic Portal - Google Earth Blog

Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace

weaponized-narrative, narrative, military, politics, tactics, culture, 2017

Weaponized narrative seeks to undermine an opponent’s civilization, identity, and will by generating complexity, confusion, and political and social schisms. It can be used tactically, as part of explicit military or geopolitical conflict; or strategically, as a way to reduce, neutralize, and defeat a civilization, state, or organization. Done well, it limits or even eliminates the need for armed force to achieve political and military aims. The efforts to muscle into the affairs of the American presidency, Brexit, the Ukraine, the Baltics, and NATO reflect a shift to a “post-factual” political and cultural environment that is vulnerable to weaponized narrative.


To Flavour Our Tears – The Center for Genomic Gastronomy

Genomic-Gastronomy, food, art, tears, moths, domestication, 2016

Some species of moths and bees have evolved to land on mammalian eyelids (including humans) and drink our tears. In times of relentless human tragedy and environmental catastrophe, are we creating the perfect conditions for these tear-drinking insects to flourish? What do these insects want from our tears anyways?


My new article on Middle-Aged skateboarders has just been published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. The…

skating, subculture, sport, temporal capital, social capital


My new article on Middle-Aged skateboarders has just been published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. The research explores the meaning of skateboarding beyond its common reproduction as a youth culture.

I was fortunate to have the participation of a diverse selection of middle aged skateboarders across the world who gave their time to explain what skateboarding meant to them and what it is like being a skateboarder later in life. Throughout the research I was struck by how generous and enthusiastic my informants were, frequently directing me towards videos of blogs that echoed their passions and interests. I was similarly fortunate to have J. Grant Brittain provide permission for the reproduction of his legendary Animal Chin ramp photos. Thanks to all those who have helped.

In addition I develop some theoretical perspective on the value of age as a form of social capital, or ‘temporal capital.’ This suggests that subculturally older skateboarders can be valued, and can find value because of the time invested in skateboarding. Thus, in the face of ageing and injured bodies, older skateboarder are still able to carve out legitimacy and forms of authenticity.

To provide a little taste of the content of the article I include a few quotes to provide some context.

On what skateboarding teaches…

I made friends with people that I would possibly not have otherwise made friends with, so there’s a social mobility there that I’m getting to know people that we have something in common, and it’s a passion, and then finding out something else about some people, that’s growing up, that’s empathising I guess. It’s trying to figure out who you are and who is everybody else… We met people from other towns. This is not something you do as a working class person, you don’t really even meet people from the next school unless it’s for the purposes of combat… I’ve always said that skateboarding was a fabulously democratic activity because of these reasons. It’s not an expensive, but very sophisticated activity.

On the meaning of skateboarding…

I’ve got 31 years of experience behind me at this point, so it’s obviously not the same. But it feels a lot more like it did when I first started. It feels a lot more pure. It feels a lot more, almost integrated into me as a person… when I talk about skateboarding in this sense and what it means to me as a person in 2016 as a 42-year-old, it’s when language really starts to break down… It’s something that’s beyond language and words.

On the community…

Skateboarding seems to be able to hold that complexity you know, like people are allowed to be dysfunctional in skateboarding in a way that they’re not in other activities. I mean it’s like a fucking community centre sometimes when you’re at the skate park…like a social security office.

I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you.

Medium, privacy, security, state surveillance, USA, authoritarianism, search and destroy, borders, border security, law, lawnessness

How many potentially incriminating things do you have lying around your home? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably zero. And yet police would need to go before a judge and establish probable cause before they could get a warrant to search your home. What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life.


When Good Intentions Backfire

Medium, danah boyd, intent, purpose, good vs evil, malice, hacker mindset

I find it frustrating to bear witness to good intentions getting manipulated, but it’s even harder to watch how those who are wedded to good intentions are often unwilling to acknowledge this, let alone start imagining how to develop the appropriate antibodies.[…] I have learned that people who view themselves through the lens of good intentions cannot imagine that they could be a pawn in someone else’s game. They cannot imagine that the values and frames that they’ve dedicated their lives towards — free speech, media literacy, truth — could be manipulated or repurposed by others in ways that undermine their good intentions.