Light stopped for 60 seconds inside a crystal at a research center in Germany after scientists fired lasers at it. No, this isn’t the opening scene of a James Bond film — this is physics, and it’s happening right now. Scientists at the University of Darmstadt in Germany stopped light, the fastest thing in the universe, dead in its tracks, and held it there for a whole minute.
…Light travels at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. It takes just over a second (1.2862 seconds, to be exact) for a beam of light to reach the moon. The team of university researchers in Germany was able to stop light for 60 seconds using crystals and lasers.
Another physicist had previously trapped light, but not for a couple of seconds. What does it mean, besides being able to trap light and not cause some kind of tragic death wave to roll through the universe. For reasons I am not completely clear on, this opens up the possibility of quantum communication. At least a couple times a year someone makes some discovery in physicist and claims this may lead to quantum communication. Apparently the Chinese are pretty sure already they can do that (using a special German satellite). Since the Chinese quantum communication involves sending photons with a laser pulse, quantum communication can mean more than one thing. So I’ll keep a look-out for some physicists to set the ground rules on what exactly quantum communication is and specific names for the various kinds being developed.
Frances, 1930s. Toned gelatin silver photograph, by Consuelo Kanaga (1894-1978).
Wisconsin GOP Gov. Gives Thumbs-Up to Private Security Commandos Hired By Greedy Mining Co. The company has come up with a strategy to thwart future protests: label the protesters “eco-terrorists.” If you’ve scrolled through the comments on a newspaper site or some blogs you know how quickly the discussion becomes flame throwing generalizations. Those left-of-center are not angels, but they’re generally better at keeping to the facts. One easy tactic, long practiced by political zealots is to paint the other side with the wrong doings of a few. If you get a couple dozen people together one is going to be a little faster to anger and bad behavior – apply that function to hundreds, to thousands to millions of people – guaranteed a few are going to be short fuses. So it goes with the environment. Some of the protesting is like so bad dude, like shouting and calling people names – goodness forbid. Though seriously, some have gotten physically combative and damaged property beyond anything that can be justified as civil disobedience. That tiny group is all the excuse Wisconsin Gov. Walker needs to call in a private army of head busters. None of you ordinary folk concerned about water quality, clean air and slag heaps will be considered reasonable citizens, you are a defacto terror suspect against the holy goodness of everything big mining companies do. So the 1st Amendment takes another beating in the name of safety and security.
But the seals’ appearance has not been universally appreciated. The animals have been met by many islanders with a convoluted mix of resentment and spite. This fury has led to what the government is calling a string of “suspicious deaths.” But spend a little time in Hawaii, and you come to recognize these deaths for what they are — something loaded and forbidding. A word that came to my mind was “assassination.”
The most recent wave of Hawaiian-monk-seal murders began on the island of Molokai in November 2011. An 8-year-old male seal was found slain on a secluded beach. A month later, the body of a female, not yet 2 years old, turned up in the same area. Then, in early January, a third victim was found on Kauai. The government tries to keep the details of such killings secret, though it is known that some monk seals have been beaten to death and some have been shot. (In 2009, on Kauai, a man was charged with shooting a female seal twice with a .22; one round lodged in the fetus she was carrying.) In the incident on Kauai last January, the killer was said to have left a “suspicious object” lodged in the animal’s head.
Killing an endangered species in Hawaii is both a state and federal offense.
There is a long read with a lot of back story. One element is the resentment of some locals against protected species and public land like the marine sanctuary, combined with some native resentment against the history of white or mainland interference into native life and tradition. I can sympathize with some of that, but I cannot see how killing such beautiful innocent creatures solves their problems or garners public sympathy for their political complaints.
The British actress and model Twiggy, models a shirt dress amidst posters of her previous work, 1967. This picture combines two of my favorite aspects to modern era photography , say from the 1920s to the present. It looks retro and very modern at the same time. And Twiggy, or Lesley Lawson is also wonderful. She still acts, models, write books and is generally her own thriving business concern.
Changeable Weather by Gutave de Jonghe. Between 1860 and 1870. Oil on panel.capturing a natural moment, as opposed to a formal pose, was a style that de Jonghe gravitated to in his early mid career in painting. The change in style served him well. Though he not only preserved some of his classical eye for detail he took it a step further by adding touches like the transparency of the white bonnet fabric the girl is holding in her hand.
The cunning geniuses in the NRA are on track to make millions of dollars in the wake of the massacre by developing a whole new revenue stream with their plan to have armed guards in every American school. Not to be left out, security companies are also getting in on the action by launching new ranges of bulletproof clothing and accessories designed exclusively for school children.
Gun sales, which have been on the increase sense President Obama was elected, have had another surge. We’re well into a new kind of arms race. I’ve been reading tragic stories like this for years, they seem destined to increase as well, 5-Year-Old Get .22 Caliber Birthday Rifle, Shoots and Kills 2-Year-Old Sister. “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” Job 4:8 and “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.” Proverbs 22:8. The secular version would be that actions have consequences.
Lovely, visionary designs for a New York City water farm from DoCK Lab ( there are more and better pictures at the link). These beautiful designs for a water farm in New York City come courtesy of brothers Massimiliano Ercolani and Emanuele Ercolani, who together make up DoCK Lab, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Rome. Their inspiring project is based on the possibility of developing New York’s East River in a sustainable way – installing hydroelectric generators under water and promoting organic farming. Sadly, it’s unlikely to happen. But these spacious drawings of an urban utopia, with watery, rusty skies, grey metallic rivers and grids of floating, eco-saving lawns are wonderful in and of themselves. These floating aquatic farms would be right on the river so there might be some reasons in terms of commercial barge traffic or other economic or ecological barriers for not trying out such a scheme. It would be great to see a smaller scale pilot project to see how well it worked in terms of the technology and if they would pay for themselves..
Parks, gardens and green space in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there, says a University of Exeter study.
Using data from 5,000 UK households over 17 years, researchers found that living in a greener area had a significant positive effect.
The findings could help to inform urban planners and have an impact on society at large, they said.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.
There are some encouraging trends in architecture, just judging from my visits to architectural news sites over the last couple years. One is incorporating green spaces into remodeled and new buildings. Sometimes meaning a roof-top garden, occasionally having green areas on every floor (part indoors/part outdoors mini-parks on upper floors). Space is at a premium in cities so the growth of small street level parks is limited. While not directly a green space, many architects are getting away from the rectangular box. Incorporating curves – sometimes with jetting with balconies. They at least give the impression of being in a structure that is more organic, a more natural part of the environment. I like the nice clean lines of some minimalist rectangles, but we can have both.
In February, 11 congressmen—10 Republicans and 1 Democrat—joined some two dozen  industry groups, including the Fertilizer Institute, the American Chemistry Council, and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, to back the General Duty Clarification Act . The bill is designed to sap the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to regulate safety and security at major chemical sites, as prescribed by the Clean Air Act.
“We call that the Koch brothers bill,” Greenpeace legislative director Rick Hind says
Just because the Koch brothers get a kick out of seeing towns blow-up and American workers getting sick, does not mean its true freedom, of the the new improved conservative libertarian variety.
“Environmental threats are among the most grave impediments to lifting human development … The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be,” warns the report, which builds on the 2011 edition looking at sustainable development.
I can empathize with my family members, but no one else. I guess it’s progress.
I first noticed this with Mona Charen. Who? I don’t even know if she’s still around. But, anyway, once upon a time ADHD was one of those things conservatives thought was some sort of liberal plot diagnosis. I have no opinion on the diagnosis of or treatment of ADHD, but for some reason there was a period when it pissed conservatives off because oh who the fuck knows Benghazi. Conservative media personality Mona Charen would regularly write these “ADHD IS REAL!!!” columns because, you know, she had an ADHD kid.
First we are talking about a Republican here so one should at least consider the possibility of political opportunism on Portman’s part. gee, my son is going to come out, being part of a political movement that thinks gayness means being less of a citizen, how do I get some political mileage out of this. So assuming Portman is being genuine, he and Charen exemplify a kind of neural misfiring when it comes to empathy. They can only see issues when they personally experience them. They lack the character, imagination, intelligence, humility or whatever, to see themselves in someone else’s shoes. I tend to think that is not an insurmountable personal flaw, but a large and very fundamental one. It is something shared by authoritarians throughout history.
Restaurant horror show: How waitstaffs are mistreated. Almost 10 percent of the U.S. workforce is in the restaurant industry. Why is it legal to treat them so poorly? Being a capitalist I find this embarrassing. Capitalism could work – everyone make a decent living, have good working conditions, have health care, clean air, beautiful cities, great education – but only if that capitalism is informed by fairness, a deep sense of one’s humanity. The tip of the pyramid, and their sycophants, tend to see life as a contest; how much they can extract from other with the barest minimum of compensation.
Little girl in blue,1918. Oil on canvas. By Amedeo Modigliani. Sometimes I read someone like Joyce Carol Oates (The Pied Piper of Tucson) or Larry McMurtry ( The Last Picture Show), both of whom generally use such simple prose. Words we all use in sentences everyday. I wonder how they can string those words together to such profound effect. Modigliani is like with with the simple lines of his paintings. The faces are usually some slight variation of the classic oval. There is some shadowing that does add some depth and curve, but just barely. The eyes are the same, yet different enough to let the viewer know that these eyes are of someone different from the last.
The wings of the Australia’s Clanger cicada are bumpy, strewn with unimaginably tiny spikes. These teeny bumps give the wings a special ability, according to new research: the cicada’s wings are naturally antibiotic—they kill some bacteria on contact.
These are microscopic spikes that puncture a hole in the bacteria, so a bandaging material, for example ,could be woven with such spikes and the patient couldn’t tell it from current bandages.
This high, barren, white desert is so remote and so inhospitable that no human beings have ever made it their natural home.
But despite this, the continent is teaming with life, the majority of it in the rich oceans that surround the ice.
Here, whales, seals, penguins and sea birds gorge on the rich variety of sea life, which is in turn fuelled by the nutrient rich waters.
But this is not a local phenomenon – the effects of Antarctica’s productivity is felt across the planet. The waters are an engine that drives productivity in all oceans, helping create some of the world’s richest fishing grounds… for both animals and people.
There is a video at the link. It is produced by the BBC, who have been making nature videos for around a thousand years or so.
The other day I came upon a post by Margaret Lyons at Vulture pointing out the frequent use of rape jokes in sitcoms this season. A number of sitcoms, especially Two Broke Girls, Whitney, and Work It included scenes where rape served as a punchline. Lyons explains what particularly bothers her about this is that references to rape are being used simply as a “shorthand for outrageousness,” a way to cue the audience that they’re watching a show that is bold and daring, that will say anything!
Sharp may or may not be too broad in her condemnation. part of that depends on one’s personal senibilites and also on how much artistic license that comedy writers should have. I would tend toward letting them have too much rather than too little sense my on/off switch and channel selector works great. She points to this essay with a similar theme about the abundance of rape in movies as a plot device – The Bigger Picture: What happens when we find ‘The Line’ as viewers?
This is something that’s been bothering me for a while, and I think it’s a bigger problem than the film community would like to admit. It seems to me that somewhere along the way, it was decided that the easiest way to make an audience uncomfortable was to have someone rape a character onscreen. I must see 30 films a year where somebody needs to have “something bad” happen, and the go-to impulse in almost every case is rape. It is guaranteed to cause a visceral reaction, even when the scenes are badly staged and lazy, which most of them are.
What scares me most about it is that the vast majority of the scenes are directed so poorly that they become, in essence, titillation, and there is something immeasurably sick about including a scene in your film that involves rape just so you can sneak a little nudity into the movie.
I’m not a big fan of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” and one of the things that has bothered me about it since I read the first book is the rape of Lisbeth Salander, as well as her eventual revenge of the guy who did it. There is certainly an element of wish fulfillment to what she does to the guy, and in every version of the story, whether it’s the book or the Swedish film or Fincher’s version, it’s played as a “You go, girl!” moment when she turns the tables. Larsson’s original title for his book was, famously, “Men Who Hate Women,” and that certainly puts a blunt thematic point on what Larsson intended to say with his story.
While I agree in general that rape seems to have become part of the zeitgeist of popular writers and film makers I am a little torn about Dragoon Tattoo as an example. I have personal aversion to scenes of rape, sexual humiliation and torture. So I come to those scenes with a built in prejudice against them. I wish they would stop at a dramatic point and leave the rest for the viewer’s imagination to fill in. Yet artists are going to make and live with their judgments – good or bad, or in between. That essayist writes, “There’s no larger statement the sequence makes. There’s no throughline in the rest of the series about Lisbeth and her sexual history. There’s nothing that connects those two scenes, the set-up and pay-off, to anything else in the story.” That is the problem. I had to write a couple papers in school in which I had to take opposing sides on an issue and be as fair as possible. I think you can make a case for and against that scene in Dragon. It did add to the collection of hardships which made the character who she is. Though there is a possible middle ground. That she be physically humiliated. That the scene be less graphic, cutting away at the point where viewers clearly see where things are headed, fade out. Then a fade in to Lisbeth bruised and bloodied. It does seem time for the dramatists zeitgeist to move on. Most everyone is familiar with the horrors of such attacks, if not from personal experience from knowing someone who has been through one. Sexual assaults are far too commonplace.
Moxyland is a new science fiction novel by Lauren Beukes. There are some reviews here – Moxyland
““Moxyland” does lots of things, masterfully, that lots of sf
never even guesses that it could be doing.” – William Gibson
You think you know who’s really in power?
You have No. F*cking. Idea.
Moxyland is an ultra-smart thriller about technological progress, and the freedoms it removes.
In the near future, four hip young things live in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone’s got to stand up to government inc., whatever the cost.
The pay off is that at the same link you can download a nine page preview/excerpt.
The 1981 self-portrait taken by celebrated photographer Cindy Sherman was sold at a Christie’s auction Wednesday. The sale surpassed Christie’s estimates of $1.5-2 million ringing in at a final price of $3,890,500. That’s not only a record for the photographer, but also the “highest price ever realized for a photograph,” says Daniel Kunitz, editor in chief of Modern Painters.
I have a book of Cindy Sherman photos. Likely the only way I will ever be able to afford having her work.
According to a new study at the University of St. Gallen seen by SPIEGEL, one contributing factor may be that stockbrokers’ behavior is more reckless and manipulative than that of psychopaths. Researchers at the Swiss research university measured the readiness to cooperate and the egotism of 28 professional traders who took part in computer simulations and intelligence tests. The results, compared with the behavior of psychopaths, exceeded the expectations of the study’s co-authors, forensic expert Pascal Scherrer, and Thomas Noll, a lead administrator at the Pöschwies prison north of Zürich.
Appetite for Destruction
“Naturally one can’t characterize the traders as deranged,” Noll told SPIEGEL. “But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test.”
Particularly shocking for Noll was the fact that the bankers weren’t aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage.
In other words bankers around the world are big on pissing contests no matter who is hurt. But remember any attempt to regulate this behavior is the slippery slope to Marxist hell.
“People have this vision of children’s literature as sweet and full of bunnies,” says Nel. “But a lot of people would say ‘Yertle the Turtle’ was the most famous anti-fascism poem ever written.”
At times kindly old Dr. Seuss so upset his targets that they struck back in anger. The Seuss book “The Lorax,” a cautionary tale about conservation and greed, seems harmless enough.
“Even the Bush administration, which is not necessarily seen as environmentally conscious,” says Nel, “would probably say that they would agree with the message of the Lorax and recognize it as a good thing.”
But the book so outraged the lumber industry that the Wood Flooring Manufacturing Association wrote and released “The Truax.”
Again, any attempt to regulate, to preserve our natural heritage for future generation in the case of “Turax” is seen as radical infringement on crony capitalism that only sees tomorrow’s profits.