Thursday, December 29, 2016

As glaciers literally crumble around him, a pianist plays an elegy for the Arctic

Vox wrote As glaciers literally crumble around him, a pianist plays an elegy for the Arctic

They claim it’s not CGI, as if pianos float…

“Back in June, as part of an advocacy campaign aimed at protecting the Arctic Ocean from oil and gas extraction, Greenpeace sent its ship Arctic Sunrise northward with some unusual cargo. The ship carried renowned pianist Ludovico Einaudi, a grand piano, and a floating wooden platform made up to look like a glacier. They put the platform in the water next to the Wahlenbergbreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway. They put the piano on the platform. And there, Einaudi played a short original composition: ‘Elegy for the Arctic.’”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 National Film Registry Inductees

The National Film Registry announced their 2016 inductee, With “20,000 Leagues,” the National Film Registry Reaches 700

Films Selected for the 2016 National Film Registry:

  • Atomic Cafe (1982)
  • Ball of Fire (1941)
  • The Beau Brummels (1928)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Blackboard Jungle (1955)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
  • East of Eden (1955)
  • Funny Girl (1968)
  • Life of an American Fireman (1903)
  • The Lion King (1994)
  • Lost Horizon (1937)
  • The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
  • Paris Is Burning (1990)
  • Point Blank (1967)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Putney Swope (1969)
  • Rushmore (1998)
  • Solomon Sir Jones films (1924–28)
  • Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
  • Suzanne, Suzanne (1982)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)
  • A Walk in the Sun (1945)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

I’ve seen the bold ones, links are to the films on YouTube.. I’m thrilled to see The Princess Bride and The Breakfast Club included and it’s always nice to see Hitchcock even if The Birds isn’t my favorite. Film descriptions here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Quarter of Florida’s Black Citizens Can’t Vote. A New Referendum Could Change That.

A Quarter of Florida’s Black Citizens Can’t Vote. A New Referendum Could Change That.

For more than a century, the state of Florida has presided over one of American history’s single most effective and enduring efforts to disenfranchise voters. By far the most populous of the three states that strip lifelong voting rights from people with felony convictions, Florida is home to some 1.5 million residents who can never again cast a ballot unless pardoned by the state’s governor, according to a calculation by The Sentencing Project.

Yet in recent weeks, even without any significant organizational backing, a coalition composed largely of disenfranchised Floridians quietly reached a new landmark in a long and laborious fight to overturn the state’s law. On Monday, after organizers had spent years gathering the requisite 68,314 petition signatures, Florida’s high court announced it had set a March date to consider the proposal to allow a referendum on the 2018 ballot asking voters to roll back the state’s felony voting restriction.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

UI design for Rogue One

Blind did the UI design for Rogue One. It seemed inscrutable to me but did match the Star Wars universe well. I wonder why it took so long to upload the Death Star plans because they’re all just 8-bit graphics.

(via Kottke)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Time

A few weeks ago Time Magazine listed 100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Time. I know many of them, many of them I don’t.

Human Population Through Time

“It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?”

The 12 key science moments of 2016

The Guardian lists The 12 key science moments of 2016.

  1. World Health Organisation declares a public emergency of international concern over Zika
  2. SpaceX demonstrates a big step towards fully reusable space craft
  3. Portugal is entirely powered by renewable energy for four days
  4. New reserves of helium discovered
  5. Confirmation of the discovery of a nearby habitable planet
  6. Our last universal common ancestor gets a makeover
  7. The legacy of a celebrated neuroscientist is contested
  8. Greenland sharks live for a very long time
  9. CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere passes 400 parts per million
  10. A bad marriage can lead to an early death
  11. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice volumes both fall to an all-time low
  12. Scientists modify photosynthesis to boost crop yield

Then again, Michael Mann wrote in the Washington Post, I’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under Trump.

Also, The Arctic could end a year of record-breaking temperatures with a heat wave. “In a year of record-high temperatures and record-low sea ice, the Arctic appears poised to witness another frightening scenario: temperatures at the North Pole so high that they might even swing above freezing, something not typically seen until May.”

Cassini: Mission to Saturn: Saturn's Hexagon in Motion

Cassini: Mission to Saturn: Saturn’s Hexagon in Motion

The differences in this version of the movie, in which different wavelengths of light from ultraviolet to visible to infrared have been assigned colors, show a distinct contrast between the types of atmospheric particles inside and outside the hexagon. Inside the hexagon there are fewer large haze particles and a concentration of small haze particles, while outside the hexagon, the opposite is true. The jet stream that makes up the hexagon seems to act like a barrier, which results in something like the ‘ozone hole’ in the Antarctic.

This movie shows a view from directly over the north pole, keeping up with the rotation of the planet so that all the motion seen on the screen is the motion of the hexagonal jet stream or the storms inside of it, without any added motion from the spinning of the planet itself. The original images were re-projected to show this polar view.

The eight frames of the movie were captured over 10 hours on Dec.10, 2012. Each of the eight frames consists of 16 map-projected images (four per color filter, and four filters per frame) so the movie combines data from 128 images total."


Friday, December 16, 2016

Movie Review: Rogue One

It’s very good. It’s like a Star Wars version of the Guns of Navarone. I went into it knowing virtually nothing about it, having seen only one trailer a few months ago. I left very happy. It’s not without flaws, but I enjoyed it and the third act worked very well. I can quibble about some things, but that makes for fun post movie discussion.

I saw it in IMAX 3D in the second row. I even saw it in the only laser 4K projector theater in New England but I still want to see it again in 2D. I don’t think it will make much of a difference. I didn’t like wearing the glasses, I felt like I was watching through a porthole. Also lots of shots were composed for 3D, so when people are standing around talking, there’s someone’s back in the foreground covering half the frame and it’s very blurry and then there’s someone facing the camera in focus and then there’s background out of focus. The depth of field in a lot of shots seemed unnecessarily shallow. It got much better in the climax. If there’s a 2D IMAX version (I’m not sure there is) I’d go for that.

I left with a question that I can state here without spoilers. The Star Wars universe has some interesting future tech and seems short changed in some other ways. They don't seem to have decent encryption for secret transmissions, so they have to messenger things around. There's a bit of computer tech in Rogue One that just had me scratching my head of why someone would invent something like that. So here's the question. How long until Star Wars becomes the old Flash Gordon serials, where the tech is no longer futuristic?

Update: This is Film Critics Hulk’s take, Film Crit Hulk SMASH: The Slippery, Sloping Story of ROGUE ONE and I have to say I agree with all of it.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Top 25 News Photos of 2016

Some really stunning photos in The Atlantic’s Top 25 News Photos of 2016 “The past twelve months have been an eventful time for news stories, from the unpredictable and tumultuous U.S. presidential election, to continued war and terror in the Middle East and refugees fleeing to Europe, to a historic World Series win for the Chicago Cubs, ongoing protests demanding racial justice in the U.S., the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and so much more. Today, we present the Top 25 News Photos of 2016—and starting tomorrow will be presenting part one of a more comprehensive three-part series, 2016: The Year in Photos. Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content.”

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Your Periodic Table Is Officially Out of Date

Gizmodo reports Your Periodic Table Is Officially Out of Date

Scientists with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) have officially approved the names of four new elements, completing the seventh row of the periodic table.

The four elements, discovered between 2002 and 2010, aren’t new per se, but the names are. IUPAC officially recognized the discovery of the super-heavy, highly reactive elements in December of 2015, and announced the suggested names back in June of this year. After a five-month chill-out period for the world to digest the new monikers, the bureau made the names official this week.

  • Nihonium and symbol Nh, for the element 113
  • Moscovium and symbol Mc, for the element 115
  • Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117
  • Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118

Japanese researchers proposed Nihonium, which means Japan, and a team of scientists from Russia and the US named Moscovium for Moscow and Tennessine for Tennessee. Oganesson was named in honor of Yuri Oganessian, a Russian chemist. The additions replace the current seventh row placeholders, ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium, ununoctium (and good riddance)."