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  • feedwordpress 08:01:37 on 2015/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , Curtiss, Federico Winer, flight, , , satellite, , White Wing   

    “Every day above ground is a good day”*… 


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    Beijing Airport

     

    ”Google Earth is marvelous and changed the way we live more than we imagine,” [artist Federico Winer] writes. “We use it as a tool to travel, to find addresses, to explore our world, so the next level was to convert that tool into an artistic expression.”

    That’s what his Ultradistancia project is all about. Winer infuses Google Earth landscapes with vivid color—distorting them and making the shapes, contours, and patterns on the planet’s surface pop. As the project’s name suggests, the idea is to become intimate with these mini-portraits of Earth, from afar…

    Dallas, TX

     

    More at “One Artist’s Vivid Distortions of Google Earth Images.”

    * “Mel Bernstein” (Haris Yulin), Scarface

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    As we mind the gap, we might send lofty birthday greetings to Glenn Hammond Curtiss; he was born on this date in 1878.  While it’s generally accepted that the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight, Curtiss took the plane from its wood, fabric, and wire beginnings to the earliest versions of the modern transport aircraft we know today.  Curtiss made his first flight on his 30th birthday (this date in 1908), in White Wing, a design of the Aerial Experiment Association, a group led by Alexander Graham Bell.  White Wing was the first plane in America to be controlled by ailerons (instead of the wing-warping used by the Wrights) and the first plane on wheels in the U.S.  Curtiss went on to found the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company (now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation), and to make dozens of contributions to the technology of flight.  Perhaps most notably his experiments with seaplanes during the years leading up to World War I led to major advances in naval aviation; indeed, Curtiss civil and military aircraft were predominant in the inter-war and World War II eras.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:06 on 2015/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , planet, satellite, , TIROS, ,   

    “I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth”*… 


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    If the range of habitable radii is sufficiently broad, most inhabited planets are likely to be closer in size to Mars than the Earth. Furthermore, since population density is widely observed to decline with increasing body mass, we conclude that most intelligent species are expected to exceed 300kg…

    From the summary of University of Barcelona cosmologist Fergus Simpson‘s paper, “The Nature of Inhabited Planets and their Inhabitants” (which can be downloaded as a PDF here).

    * Stephen Hawking

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    As we phone home, we might recall that it was on this date in 1960 that the first weather satellite, TIROS I, was launched from Cape Kennedy (or Canaveral, as then it was) and sent back the first television pictures from space. The first in a long series of launches in the TIROS program (Television Infrared Observation Satellite), it was NASA’s initial step, at a time when the effectiveness of satellite observations was still unproven, in determining if satellites could be useful in the study of the Earth.  In the event, TIROS I and it successors proved extremely useful in weather forecasting.

    TIROS I prototype at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:38 on 2015/03/13 Permalink
    Tags: , Herschel, , , satellite, , , , , Uranus   

    “Listen now for the sound that forevermore separates the old from the new!”*… 


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    Telstar

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    Newton Minow, famed Chairman of the FCC during the Kennedy Administration, recalled visiting NASA with the President, who asked him about a satellite they were shown:

    I told him that it would be more important than sending a man into space. “Why?” he asked. “Because,” I said, “this satellite will send ideas into space, and ideas last longer than men.”

    Greg Roberts, a retired astronomer and ham radio operator (ZS1BI in Cape Town) has been observing and recording the sounds broadcast by satellites since 1957.  He’s collected his recordings so that one can hear “ideas traveling through space,” for example, Telstar.

    Hear them all at “Sounds from Space.”

    * NBC News, introducing the “beep-beep” chirp transmitted by the Sputnik satellites

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    As we look to the skies, we might recall that it was on this date in 1781 that English astronomer William Herschel detected every schoolboy’s favorite planet, Uranus, in the night sky (though he initially thought it was a comet:; it was the first planet to be discovered with the aid of a telescope.  In fact, Uranus had been detected much earlier– but mistaken for a star:  the earliest likely observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128BC seems to have recorded the planet as a star for his star catalogue, later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.  The earliest definite sighting was in 1690 when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as the star 34 Tauri.

    Herschel named the planet in honor of his King: Georgium Sidus (George’s Star), an unpopular choice, especially outside England; argument over alternatives ensued.  Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode came up with the moniker “Uranus,” which was adopted throughout the world’s astronomical community by 1850.

    Uranus, photographed by Voyager 2 in 1986.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:23 on 2014/10/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , Overview, , satellite, , , urban theory   

    “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available… a new idea, as powerful as any in history, will be let loose”*… 


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    10/2/2014  L’Eixample.  Valencia, Spain (39°27′53″N 0°22′12″W)      The urban plan of the L’Eixample district in Valencia, Spain is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and square blocks with chamfered corners.

    Plato suggested that “man must rise above the Earth —to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”  Benjamin Grant and his colleagues at Daily Overview mean to help.

    Our project was inspired, and derives its name, from an idea known as the Overview Effect. This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire.

    From our line of sight on the earth’s surface, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet. We believe that beholding these forces as they shape our Earth is necessary to make progress in understanding who we are as a species, and what is needed to sustain a safe and healthy planet.

    As a result, the Overviews (what we call these images) focus on the the places and moments where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape. Each Overview starts with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.

    The mesmerizing flatness seen from this vantage point, the surprising comfort of systematic organization on a massive scale, or the vibrant colors that we capture will hopefully turn your head. However, once we have that attention, we hope you will go beyond the aesthetics, contemplate just exactly what it is that you’re seeing, and consider what that means for our planet…

    9/30/2014  Erosion.  Betsiboka River, Madagascar  (15°48′55″S 46°16′13″E)       Dramatic evidence of the catastrophic erosion in northwestern Madagascar is seen at the rapidly expanding Betsiboka River Delta. Deforestation of the country’s central highlands for cultivation and pastureland has resulted in the most significant erosion recorded anywhere in the world (approximately 112 tons/acre), which transforms the river to this vivid orange color.

    Tour the Earth from above at Daily Overview.

    * astronomer Fred Hoyle

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    As we put perspective into purposeful practice, we might send insightful birthday greetings to Lewis Mumford; he was born on this date in 1895.  A historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and cultural critic, Mumford is probably best remembered for his writings on cities, perhaps especially for his award-winning book The City in History.  (See also The City– the extraordinary film that Mumford made with Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke, from an outline by the renowned documentarian Pare Lorentz, with a score by Aaron Copland.) 

    Mumford’s approaches to technology, its history, and its roles in society were acknowledged influences on writers like Jacques Ellul, Witold Rybczynski, Amory Lovins, E. F. Schumacher, Herbert Marcuse, Thomas Merton, and Marshall McLuhan.  In a similar way, he was an inspiration for the organicist and environmentalist movements of today.

    Unfortunately, once an economy is geared to expansion, the means rapidly turn into an end and “the going becomes the goal.” Even more unfortunately, the industries that are favored by such expansion must, to maintain their output, be devoted to goods that are readily consumable either by their nature, or because they are so shoddily fabricated that they must soon be replaced. By fashion and build-in obsolescence the economies of machine production, instead of producing leisure and durable wealth, are duly cancelled out by the mandatory consumption on an even larger scale.

    - Lewis Mumford, The City in History

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