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Found things

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Facebook’s war on free will: How technology is making our minds...

Facebook’s war on free will: How technology is making our minds redundant http://fd.gs/bN

* * * * 27 September 2017 | 10:28 am * * * *

Ride a SpaceX rocket back to EarthOn Friday (May 27, 2016)...

Ride a SpaceX rocket back to Earth

On Friday (May 27, 2016) SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the THAICOM 8 satellite into orbit. The launch went off right on time (after a one-day delay due to an unusual reading from the upper stage on the Thursday launch attempt), with the Falcon roaring into the sky, the 25th in the Falcon 9 line to do so.

It was also the fifth time in a row SpaceX attempted to land the first stage booster back on Earth, and as hoped the booster successfully touched down on the floating drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” about nine minutes after launch.

The landing was pretty spectacular, but a few hours later SpaceX released this video… and it’s just about the coolest thing we’ve ever seen: time-lapse footage from the booster, the camera pointed down as the rocket heads home.

Check it.

* * * * 30 May 2016 | 10:53 pm * * * *

How technology hijacks people’s mindsSlot machines make more...

How technology hijacks people’s minds

Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined, and several billion people have a slot machine their pocket…

  • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got
  • When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match
  • When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath

Google’s design ethicist breaks down how technology exploits our minds’ weaknesses for the benefit of business.

Worth a read. (12 minutes.)

* * * * 23 May 2016 | 11:46 am * * * *

The art of imperfectionFailed It! brings together a wide array...

The art of imperfection

Failed It! brings together a wide array work that captures serendipitous absurdities alongside found photographs of real-life #fails. The book from publisher Phaidon suggests we ought to take creative inspiration from spectacular mistakes.

* * * * 10 May 2016 | 9:08 am * * * *

Radiohead: Burn The WitchNew Radiohead. Colour me happy.

Radiohead: Burn The Witch

New Radiohead. Colour me happy.

* * * * 3 May 2016 | 8:32 pm * * * *

Russia’s abandoned space shuttlesPhotographer Ralph...

Russia’s abandoned space shuttles

Photographer Ralph Mirebs gained access to the building housing the abandoned Soviet space shuttle programme, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There he found two crumbling, dust-covered craft that were built for the Buran orbital vehicle programme back in the 1970s and 80s.

The reusable spacecraft project began in 1974 but was formally suspended in 1993 after it completed just one unmanned orbital spaceflight in 1988.

They are generally considered as a Soviet equivalent of the United States’ Space Shuttle but in the Buran project, only the plane-shaped orbiter itself was theoretically reusable, and while Orbiter K1 was recovered successfully after its first orbital flight in 1988, it was never reused.

The only orbital launch of a Buran-class orbiter took place on November 15, 1988 from Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad. OK-1K1 was lifted into space, on an unmanned mission, by the specially designed Energia rocket. The Energia rocket lifted the vehicle into a temporary orbit before the orbiter separated as planned. After boosting itself to a higher orbit and completing two revolutions around the Earth, ODU (engine control system) engines fired automatically to begin the descent into the atmosphere. Exactly 206 minutes into the mission, Orbiter OK-1K1 landed, having lost only eight of its 38,000 thermal tiles over the course of the flight. The automated landing took place on a runway at Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Truly awesome.

* * * * 24 April 2016 | 11:09 am * * * *

New Polly Jean Harvey. Love it.

New Polly Jean Harvey. Love it.

* * * * 15 April 2016 | 3:28 pm * * * *

Massive marine reserve to be created in the Atlantic The British...

Massive marine reserve to be created in the Atlantic

The British government has announced that it will create a marine reserve slightly smaller than the UK in the waters off Ascension Island. The South Atlantic reserve totals 234,291 sq. km and is being funded with the help of a £300,000 grant from the charitable Bacon Foundation.

“Ascension has been at the frontiers of science since Charles Darwin went there in the 19th Century, so it is entirely appropriate that it is now at the centre of a great scientific effort to design the Atlantic’s largest marine reserve.”

– Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation chairman

The new reserve will increase marine conservation zones to about 2% of the ocean, a far cry from the 30% recommended by scientists to preserve species and expand fish stocks, but much more than just a few years ago…

* * * * 7 January 2016 | 7:22 pm * * * *

Frida Kahlo and her Casa Azul home – a lifetime in picturesFrida...

Frida painting Portrait of her Father Guillermo Kahlo in 1951, 10 years after his death

Frida and a friend laughing, circa 1945

Frida in the Casa Azul, circa 1952. She died two years later at the age of 47

Left: Frida with her 1943 painting, Diego on my mind, which features a self-portrait in the traditional Tehuana costume, and right: with a pet monkey in the garden of the Casa Azul

Frida and Diego Rivera on the steps of the Casa Azul, where they both worked and lived

Frida, photographed while she was pregnant, at the Casa Azul

Frida Kahlo, aged four. She was born and grew up in her parents’ house, the Casa Azul in Coyoacán, which was then a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City

Frida Kahlo with family on balcony. From left to right: Frida’s cousin Carlos Veraza, Alfonso Rouiax, Frida, Consuelo Navarro and Cristina Kahlo, in the Casa Azul on 2 November 1926

The studio of Frida’s husband, painter and muralist Diego Rivera, at the Casa Azul, in 1930

A portrait of the Kahlo-Calderón sisters: (clockwise from the left) Cristina, Adriana, Matilde and Frida, who was then aged 10

Frida Kahlo and her Casa Azul home – a lifetime in pictures

Frida Kahlo left her mark on the city where she was born in 1907 and lived with Diego Rivera until her death in 1954. Her home, the Casa Azul, is now a museum and pilgrimage site for many who consider the artist an early Mexican feminist.

* * * * 6 January 2016 | 10:54 pm * * * *

Will advanced AI spell the end of lawyers?Lawyers have been...

Will advanced AI spell the end of lawyers?

Lawyers have been described as the canaries in the coal mine in the face of a wave of automation now beginning to displace highly skilled workers. The increasing reliance on so-called “e-discovery” software in lawsuits raises the spectre that $35-an-hour paralegals as well as $400-an-hour lawyers could fall victim to programs that could read and analyze legal documents more quickly and accurately than humans.

A new study called “Can Robots Be Lawyers?” analyses which aspects of a lawyer’s job could be automated and concludes that many of the tasks that lawyers perform fall well within human behaviour that cannot be easily codify:

“When a task is less structured, as many tasks are, it will often be impossible to anticipate all possible contingencies.”

– Dana Remus

Being a lawyer involves performing a range of tasks including counseling, appearing in court, and persuading juries. Reading documents accounts for a relatively modest portion of a lawyer’s activities. Remus estimates that around 13 percent of all legal work will ultimately fall prey to automation.

It would be devastating if that amount of work disappeared in a single year, but implemented over many years, this amount of technological change will be less noticeable. Even in the case of start-ups like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, two sites that can aid in the preparation of legal documents, the impact of automation will more likely be in expanding into underserved markets rather than in displacing existing legal services.

“A careful look at existing and emerging technologies reveals that it is only relatively structured and repetitive tasks that can currently be automated. These tasks represent a relatively modest percentage of lawyers’ billable hours.”

So has the much discussed wave of automation been overstated?

* * * * 5 January 2016 | 4:14 pm * * * *

How the Internet changed the way we readUC Literature Professor...

How the Internet changed the way we read

UC Literature Professor Jackson Bliss puts into words something many of you have probably experienced: the evolution of the internet and mobile devices has changed how we read.

“The truth is that most of us read continuously in a perpetual stream of incestuous words, but instead of reading novels, book reviews, or newspapers like we used to in the ancien régime, we now read text messages, social media, and bite-sized entries about our protean cultural history on Wikipedia.”

In the great epistemic galaxy of words, we have become both reading junkies and also professional text skimmers. Reading has become a relentless exercise in self-validation, which is why we get impatient when writers don’t come out and simply tell us what they’re arguing.

Content — whether thought-provoking, regurgitated, or analytically superficial, impeccably-researched, politically doctrinaire, or grammatically atrocious — now occupies the same cultural space, the same screen space, and the same mental space in the public imagination.

After awhile, we just stop keeping track of what’s legitimately good because it takes too much energy to separate the crème from the foam.

Full article.

* * * * 4 January 2016 | 1:35 pm * * * *

Apple had a prototype touchscreen phone in 1983If you were on...

Apple had a prototype touchscreen phone in 1983

If you were on Jeopardy and were asked what year Apple released its first touchscreen phone, you would probably say “What is 2007, Alex?”

You would be correct, but if things had gone a bit differently, the answer could have been 1983. That year Apple designed a prototype for a landline telephone set with a built-in touchscreen.

The device featured a touchscreen, but it had a monochrome look and implemented a stylus for input. Its design heavily leans on white, and is indicative of Apple’s 1980’s product design scheme - and, to some degree, its present day one.

One of the photographs of the unit features a check-writing app, which would suggest that it would be used for some kind of modem-based payments system.

The phone never made it past the prototype phase, and that was probably to the company’s benefit. As cool — and ahead of its time — as it was, this would have been an epic flop. In order to serve any significant purpose, it would have needed a built-in modem for transferring data to other phones or computers; in 1983 the internet was over a decade away from widespread consumer adoption.

However some of the ideas behind the device’s function showed up a few years later in the Newton PDA. The Newton’s software could have been an extension of the software Apple used in this prototype (assuming that the pictures of the prototype show actual — and not rendered — software). While today the Newton has a cult status as Apple’s first mobile device, it was a dud. Even in the late 1980’s, most customers weren’t interested in replacing pen and paper with a stylus and wonky touchscreen.

* * * * 3 January 2016 | 1:11 pm * * * *

This is how cats see the worldNo one ever talks about what the...

Cats' visual fields span 200 degrees; humans can only see 180 degrees

Cats can see much better in dim light than humans can

Cats' color vision is less vibrant than humans', a result of different densities of photoreceptors in their retinas

This is how cats see the world

No one ever talks about what the world looks like if you’re a cat. Instead, we speak of the bird’s-eye view and use fish-eye lenses to make things look weird.

But we rarely consider how the internet’s favorite subject sees the world. Luckily, artist Nickolay Lamm has volunteered to act as cat-vision conduit. Here, Lamm presents his idea of what different scenes might look like if you were a cat, taking into consideration the way feline eyes work, and using input from veterinarians and ophthalmologists.

For starters, cats’ visual fields are broader than ours, spanning roughly 200 degrees instead of 180 degrees, and their visual acuity isn’t as good. So, the things humans can sharply resolve at distances of 100-200 feet look blurry to cats, which can see these objects at distances of up to 20 feet. That might not sound so great, but there’s a trade-off: Because of the various photoreceptors parked in cats’ retinas, they kick our asses at seeing in dim light. Instead of the color-resolving, detail-loving cone cells that populate the center of human retinas, cats (and dogs) have many more rod cells, which excel in dim light and are responsible for night-vision capability. The rod cells also refresh more quickly, which lets cats pick up very rapid movements — like, for example, the quickly shifting path a marauding laser dot might trace.

Lastly, cats see colors differently than we do, which is why the cat-versions of these images look less vibrant than the people-versions. Scientists used to think cats were dichromats — able to only see two colors — but they’re not, exactly. While feline photoreceptors are most sensitive to wavelengths in the blue-violet and greenish-yellow ranges, it appears they might be able to see a little bit of green as well. In other words, cats are mostly red-green color blind, as are many of us, with a little bit of green creeping in.

Awesome huh?

* * * * 2 January 2016 | 10:37 am * * * *

Bird portraits by Gary Heery: “a kind of controlled...


Peregrine falcon



Wedge-tailed eagle

White swan

Red-tailed black cockatoo

Willie wagtail

Bird portraits by Gary Heery: “a kind of controlled spontaneity”

Feathered friends are the subject of Bird, the latest book from Gary Heery, one of Australia’s most celebrated portrait photographers.

Heery says to capture the birds in motion he erected a translucent tent, creating an intimate and contained environment in which the birds could fly.

“I treated it, not unlike any other portraiture situation, as a kind of controlled spontaneity”

The end result is a collection of dynamic, yet almost clinically detailed, images, with each bird’s distinct personality captured in all its glory.

* * * * 7 December 2015 | 12:01 am * * * *

New Horizons’ first ultra high resolution photos of Pluto...

New Horizons’ first ultra high resolution photos of Pluto released

After a 9 year journey to Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto this past July, taking so much data that it will take a full 16 months to send it all back.

The first of the highest resolution photos ever taken were released by NASA earlier today, and before the data has even been scientifically analyzed, a visual inspection teaches us a number of things about its sedimentary history, its active geology and its transient, eroding mountainous terrain.

Perhaps the best part: Pluto is the prototype for the most common type of world in the Universe, even though it’s not a planet anymore.

* * * * 5 December 2015 | 11:07 am * * * *

Flying cars and giant snakes: 60 years of street life in Los...

Untitled, 1964, by Bruce Davidson

Los Angeles, 2002, by Mark Swope

Los Angeles, California, 1964, by Joel Meyerowitz

Emily, 2860 Sunset Blvd, 2010, by Lise Sarfati

On Normandie and Rosecrans in Los Angeles, 5 March 2010, by Sam Comen

Lavanderia #1, 2002, by Christina Fernandez

Man with Snake, 1992, by Steve McCurry

LA Street Corner, 1966, by Elliott Erwitt

Los Angeles Airport, 1976, by Joel Meyerowitz

7th Street, 2011, by Matthew Porter

Flying cars and giant snakes: 60 years of street life in Los Angeles

The city of angels combines glamour and grit like no other. With pet pythons, palm trees, oil refineries and smoke breaks on Sunset Boulevard, here’s how photographers have depicted the metropolis over the last six decades.

Both Sides of Sunset is published by Metropolis Books on 6 July.

* * * * 19 November 2015 | 9:17 pm * * * *

10 creepy things that have happened on halloweenHalloween is a...

10 creepy things that have happened on halloween

Halloween is a time for trick-or-treating, ghost stories, horror movies, and fun. It’s all about having a good scare without being in any real danger - or is it?

These 10 true horror stories may make you think twice about how you celebrate All Hallows Eve this year.

1. The “Candyman” of Houston, TX

In 1974, a man named Ronald O'Bryan permanently changed the meaning of trick-or-treat by murdering one of his children with poisoned candy. The married father of two had recently taken out life insurance policies on both of his children, and in order to cash in, planned to poison them with cyanide-laced Pixy Stix.

The former Pasadena Detective Sergeant who investigated the creepy case says he remembers that night well. He describes it as a cold, damp, misty night. Due to the weather, Mr. O'Bryan wore a raincoat and hid the tainted treats in his sleeves.

O'Bryan, now forever dubbed “The Candyman” of Houston, TX thought that he could cover up his intent to murder by handing the lethal sweets out not only to his own children but to three others in the neighborhood. O'Bryan succeeded in killing only one child that night, his eight-year-old son, Timothy, who died within an hour of eating the candy. Thankfully, none of the other children ate theirs.

Ever since then, urban legends about razor blades, pins, and other horrible things appearing in candy have frightened parents everywhere into inspecting the treats their little ones bring home every Halloween night.

2. The strange disappearance of DJ Blue

On Halloween night in 2012, 22-year-old Leon Hall, also known as DJ Blue, was kicked out of a nightclub for disorderly conduct. When the well-known Seattle entertainer didn’t respond to any texts or calls within the next few days, his friends knew something was seriously wrong. Although everyone hoped for a positive outcome, Hall’s body was said to have been found floating in a bay almost a month later. The exact circumstances behind his death are still unknown.

3. Trick-or-treater killed in drive-by shooting

On October 31st, 1994 at approximately 6:15 p.m., a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt opened fire on seven-year-old trick-or-treater, Tony Bagley, his sister, aunt, and mother. While each family member was wounded, only the innocent young boy, who wore a skeleton costume that night, perished in the attack.

According to witnesses, the gunman jumped into a waiting vehicle that sped off into the night. The perpetrator was never found, and this tragic Las Vegas murder remains unsolved to this day.

4. Stalked by a “smiley face” killer

University of Minnesota senior, Christopher Jenkins, was just 21 years old when he mysteriously disappeared on Halloween night in 2002. Friends reported last seeing him leave a bar in downtown Minneapolis around midnight. Four months later, his body was found floating in the Mississippi River, still clothed in his Halloween costume.

Although the Minneapolis police classified the incident as an accidental drowning most likely due to extreme intoxication, his parents, Steve and Jan Jenkins, refused to believe it. They knew something wasn’t right about their son’s death and it prompted them to pursue their own investigation. Their search lead them to an odd series of drowning deaths, many involving young men who attended colleges along the Interstate 94 corridor in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa area.

Three of the victims attended college in New York State while another nine were enrolled at the University of LaCrosse, in Wisconsin. Once authorities took up the investigation, they connected at least 40 mysterious deaths by drowning of college-age men across the country.

Authorities believe that in each case, the men (who were all high achievers and similar in height and weight) were drugged before their bodies were dumped into the water. One of the creepiest things about the case is that, as the investigation wore on, at least some of them were connected by a crude drawing of a smiley face painted either on a tree or other surface near the crime scene.

Detectives have dubbed the killer or killers “Smiley Face”, and believe they are still at large today.

5. Bodies on ice

Onlookers were enjoying a family-friendly “Holiday on Ice” show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum on Halloween night, 1963. The entertainers were in the process of finishing a medley entitled, “Mardi Gras” and were skating into a pinwheel formation, when a sudden explosion rocked the building, catapulting skaters and patrons into the air.

Minutes later, a second ear-splitting explosion created a fireball that rose to the rafters. The ice, which had offered innocent entertainment only an hour before, quickly became a makeshift morgue, with some bodies burnt so horribly, authorities were unable to identify whether they were male or female.

It was later discovered that a rusty tank leaking propane had been slowly filling the room with gas. Once the gas came in contact with an electric popcorn machine, it went off like a powder keg, sending chunks of concrete and severed body parts raining down into the audience.

The death toll from the explosion amounted to 74 people, with 40 dying on the scene and 20 perishing from their injuries later on.

Today, a memorial plaque honoring each victim hangs in the lobby of the building.

6. Stalked and killed on the railroad tracks

18-year-old British Columbia resident, Taylor Van Diest, was walking alone to meet a friend on Halloween night, 2011. Sometime during the walk, she noticed she was being followed and relayed this information via text.

Shortly after that, all contact stopped and the young woman seemingly vanished into thin air. Hours later, Taylor was found by the railroad tracks, brutally beaten with life-threatening head wounds. She was rushed to the hospital but later died of her injuries.

DNA evidence, scraped from underneath the victim’s fingernails, pointed to 26-year-old Matthew Foerster as the perpetrator. It is believed that the attack began as an attempted rape, but when Taylor screamed and fought to escape, Foerster panicked and smashed her head repeatedly with a blunt instrument.

Foerster plead guilty to the attack and was sentenced to first-degree murder, giving him an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

7. The girl who never came home from trick-or-treating

Back in 1973, going trick-or-treating alone in the small town of Fon du Lac, Wisconsin was considered normal. That’s exactly what nine-year-old Lisa French was doing on Halloween night when she set off to a neighbor’s house for some treats. When she didn’t come home, her concerned family launched a search.

A few days later, Lisa’s nude body was found stuffed into a plastic bag and dumped in a farm field.

The neighbor, Gerald Turner, would take nine months to confess to raping and murdering the little girl. In 1999, an undated letter from Turner to the deceased girl was released to the general public.

Although in one part, Turner appears to feel remorse for his crime, he describes the scene in such vivid detail, one wonders if he wrote the letter not to unburden himself, but to relive and relish that night one more time.
To this day, Fond du Lac still schedules trick-or-treating from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the Sunday before Halloween.

8. The Halloween home invasion

This story zips right past creepy and goes straight to terrifying. When a 34-year-old woman heard a knock at the door on Halloween night, 2014, she assumed it was trick-or-treaters.

Instead of little ghosts and goblins begging for candy, however, she found herself face to face with three masked adults, two of them brandishing handguns. The trio barged inside, forced her and her 48-year-old husband to sit down, and bound their hands and feet with duct tape.

It was then that two more invaders showed up, joining the original attackers in ransacking the family’s Long Island, NY home. After some struggling, the woman was able to free herself from her bonds. She grabbed her two-year-old son and ran to a neighbor’s home to call the police.

The attackers, four men and one woman, fled before authorities arrived and are believed to be still at large.

9. The Peter Fabiano murder

On Halloween night in 1957, 35-year-old Los Angeles resident, Peter Fabiano, answered the door to what he believed to be trick-or-treaters. Instead, the last thing he saw was an adult in a hat, red gloves, and a domino mask, aiming a brown paper bag that contained a .22 caliber pistol right at him. The person fired the fatal shot and immediately fled the scene, hoping to disappear under the cover of anonymity.

The story goes that a woman named Joan Rabel had had an affair with Peter’s wife, Betty, and wanted revenge after her lover reconciled with her husband. She enlisted the help of one Goldyne Pizer to hatch a murderous plot to get rid of the one thing she believed stood in the way of their relationship: Peter Fabiano.

Police managed to track them both down and they were jailed for second-degree murder and sentenced to five years in prison.

10. Preacher murders woman to fulfil sick fantasy

Despite that fact that John D. White had already been in prison for stabbing one woman and murdering another, he managed to become a preacher in a small Michigan church.

Living in a trailer park, he set his sights on an attractive 24-year-old girl named Rebekah and couldn’t get the twisted thought of performing acts of necrophilia on her out of his head. On Halloween night, 2012, the pastor could no longer contain himself. He downed four or five beers before going to the woman’s mobile home and bludgeoning her to death with a mallet and strangling her with a zip tie.

After dumping her body early that Wednesday, he returned to the scene of the crime to dress her three-year-old son in a Halloween costume and drop the boy off with his father. White’s 14-member congregation stood staunchly by his side until the preacher confessed to the crime, citing pornographic movies for leading him into the depraved temptation.

Although certain beliefs make some view Halloween as a night of evil, incidents like this are far and few in between. But just to be safe, it’s a good idea to travel in groups, trick-or-treat early, and check the peephole before you answer the door…

* * * * 31 October 2015 | 9:10 pm * * * *

The clothes that survived HiroshimaIshiuchi Miyako has been...

The clothes that survived Hiroshima

Ishiuchi Miyako has been visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum for years, photographing the haunting artefacts of people who died in the blast.

Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows is at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, until 21 February.

* * * * 23 October 2015 | 12:19 pm * * * *

Four fascinating discoveries made by NASA’s New Horizons...

Four fascinating discoveries made by NASA’s New Horizons probe

Before July, 2015, the clearest observation of Pluto was nothing more than a blurry computer-generated image based on data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope. It wasn’t until NASA’s New Horizons mission reached the distant little world, which is somewhat smaller than the Moon, after a 9-year journey spanning nearly 5 billion miles that Pluto’s secrets started to be unlocked. The ambitious probe, now travelling into the furthest reaches of the Solar System at over 36,000 miles per hour, reached its target on July 14th, where it flew by the dwarf planet at a distance of just 7,800 miles. New Horizons continues to send back images and data over vast distances, revealing stunning detail about this mysterious and previously unknown world.

1. Pluto May Be Geologically Active


Pluto was long assumed to be a completely dead world without any sign of geological activity. However, the high-resolution images being beamed back from New Horizons have revealed many surface features that simply shouldn’t be there, such as young mountains and recently resurfaced terrains. Unlike other solar system bodies, such as the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which have been closely studied, Pluto doesn’t experience any tidal heating from the gravitational pull of a large nearby object, leaving scientists baffled by the fact that the small world appears to have completely independent geological processes of its own.

2. Pluto Has an Atmosphere


Also pointing to geological activity is the fact that Pluto appears to be constantly regenerating its tenuous nitrogen atmosphere. Because Pluto is so small, its surface gravity is less than a twelfth that of Earth, making it impossible to retain any more than a trace atmosphere. Nonetheless, Pluto’s atmosphere extends some 1,000 miles above the surface as it disappears into space. These facts have lead scientists to believe that the nitrogen that makes up the bulk of the atmosphere is somehow being supplied from the interior. As such, scientists are now looking out for signs of cryovolcanos and geysers resupplying the atmosphere with nitrogen.

3. Pluto’s ‘Heart’ Is Geologically Young


When the first pictures of Pluto were beamed back in July, 2015, the huge heart-shaped formation on the surface took social media by storm. This distinct, light-coloured region is about 990 miles across, and the western half is smooth and void of craters. It is believed that this region is no more than 100-million years old, which is pretty young in geological terms. Current data also points to glacial movements, and much of the region appears to be covered by nitrogen snow in the frigid temperatures around -229 degrees Celsius.

4. Pluto’s Largest Moon Is Completely Different


When compared to the size of its host planet, Charon is the biggest moon in the solar system. It’s more than half Pluto’s diameter, and while they have been together for billions of years, they are completely different in almost every respect. Due to the unique nature of the Pluto-Charon system, scientists are even debating whether or not to describe it as a binary system rather than a moon and its host. However, what makes Charon even more peculiar is that its scarred and battered surface bears no resemblance to that of Pluto. Its surface is covered by water ice, and it features an enormous canyon right across the equator.

Ever since its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons has actually created many more questions than it has answered, although a great deal of data remains to be received, slowly beaming back over enormous distances.

There’s no doubt that Pluto is a world of great surprises, and it has already led the world of science to rethink its view of everything from geological processes to the very formation of the solar system itself. However, New Horizon’s journey is far from over and, while it has fulfilled its primary objective, it now heads deeper into the Kuiper Belt where it will carry out a flyby of asteroid 2014 MU69 in 2019.


* * * * 18 October 2015 | 11:17 pm * * * *

Rooftop views: the world from above A selection of dizzying...

A new-build apartment block in London’s Docklands.

Umm el Howeitat, ghost town, Safaga, Egypt.

A congregation celebrates the Eid festival in the Indian town of Baharampur, West Bengal, close to the border with Bangladesh.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, taken from my window.

‘Reykjavik in the spring’. This shot was taken from the viewing platform at the top of a museum in the Iceland capital.

Midtown Manhattan taken from a high-rise building in downtown.

"This was taken just off the Dubai Mall, many floors up. I saw the patterns on the ground when looking over the balcony and waited for someone to walk through."

Rooftop views: the world from above

A selection of dizzying shots of famous cities and little-known towns submitted to photo-sharing site photocrowd.com for its monthly competition.

* * * * 17 October 2015 | 6:11 pm * * * *

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