Recently, news broke that a scientist had unilaterally launched a geo-engineering experiment — dumping iron sulfate and iron oxide into the Pacific Ocean. There were two goals to the project: First, grow a massive plankton bloom which would store atmospheric carbon the same way that trees take in and store atmospheric carbon; second, use that plankton as a food source to restore salmon populations in the northern Pacific. If it sounds like those two goals are kind of fundamentally contradictory — if the salmon eat the plankton, then the stored carbon is going to end up back in the atmosphere, not indefinitely stored — well, you're right.
But the project showed that it's relatively easy for a small group of people to experiment on Earth's ecosystem without any oversight or approval from the global community at large. That's why the story made headlines. And it's why Scientific American's David Biello did a two-part feature on the experiment, writing about the background and interviewing Russ George, the scientist who launched the project.
George's ideas do have a basis in science. In essence, he's trying to replicate the effects of a volcanic eruption, which are associated with plankton blooms. George believes that the blooms are caused by large depositions of the nutrient iron. And, although other scientists think his goal of feeding salmon would defeat his goal of storing carbon, George thinks their findings are wrong. And he thinks this study will prove it. As a bonus, he's also hoping that the effect on salmon will reinvigorate the economy of a nearby Haida fishing village.
As for the legality of the project, here's what George told Scientific American:
This is Canada so it's British law, not American law. In British law, if you want to do something and you're not sure whether it's legal or not, you commission officers of the court to do an analysis and produce an official document, a legal opinion as to whether it breaks the law or not. This was done. The opinion was that with comparative studies and international laws we were absolutely in the clear. The claim that this is illegal is the design of the people who want to burn the books. This is the life of the village that they're trying to kill.
With their big, bitey teeth and teeny, ineffectual arms, it can be difficult to picture how Tyrannosaurus Rex actually managed to eat anything. After all, all of our personal experience with eating involves an awful lot of gripping with the forearms. Some new research, takes a stab at understanding T. Rex table manners. The results are pretty neat — and they highlight the similarities between dinosaurs and birds — but I want to make a bit of a bigger deal out of the methodology.
Several times on this blog, we've talked about the importance of the vast archives of archaeological and paleontological specimens that are sitting around in storage at museums and universities. Some of these things have never even been removed from the matrix of burlap and plaster used to secure them for shipping. Some have sat there for decades, enjoying only a cursory glance from researchers. But when scientists finally start sifting through these unseen specimens, they often find fascinating things.
In an official announcement on its web site, gamer channel G4 told fans that its two of its most popular and long-running shows would end at the end of the year:
G4's two longest-running and defining series, Attack of the Show! and X-Play, will be ending their run at the end of 2012. Both shows will include original episodes through the end of the year, and will look back at their most memorable moments as we lead up to their final episodes.
Both long-running shows helped define, as well as expand, the pop culture and gaming TV experience for a generation. We hope you've had as much fun watching them as we have had making them...
As a send-off, both shows will feature a lineup of famous guest hosts, including John Barrowman, Horatio Sanz, Michael Ian Black, and Paul Scheer. A complete list wasn't provided, but don't be surprised if some G4 alumni -- like Nerdist's Chris Hardwick, Kevin Pereira, and Olivia Munn -- show up to be a part of the extended farewell.
These Iowa psychpop-kraudrone-WTFwave weirdos return with their second full length for De Stijl, the group now expanded from a duo to a trio, with a sound that while still weird, continues to move further away from the twisted noiseness of the early releases, toward something distinctly more melodic and much more accessible. Titled "Spill Into Atmosphere" (CD and LP), this release melds their psych-kraut tendencies with something that sounds much more like some lost new wave /cold wave artifact, due in no small part to the deep dramatic crooned vox of frontman Shawn Reed, he of the late great Raccoo-oo-oon. But the band get all wave-y too, weaving a lush twisted backdrop of synth buzz, and driving drums, the bass thick and fuzzy and sinewy, the sound rife with playful almost carnivalesque melodies, often blossoming into sun dappled prismatic clouds of swirling synth shimmer, but just as often locking into a tranced out hypnorock mesmer.
If these guys were an instrumental band, they'd definitely be a whole different beast, some sort of heady, druggy psych-kraut-prog combo that would fall more in line with groups like Cave, Lumerians, Gnod and the like, cuz the instrumental stretches here get downright blissy and trancey and dreamily psychedelic. The vocals though give it a distinctly goth-pop cast, adding some Suicide and Spacemen 3 and Interpol to Wet Hair's sonic equation, and transforming this into something much weirder, and in its own twisted way, much cooler.
X-Ray Specs — the cheap glasses that ostensibly allow you to see the bones in your own hand and/or ladies' undergarments — are instantly familiar to anybody who read comic books in the 20th century. Last week, The Onion AV Club shared a fascinating video showing that immature gags about x-ray vision began long before the Marvel Comics' advertising department was even a glimmer in somebody's eye.
"The X-Ray Fiend" was a short film produced in 1897 — just two years after William Rontgen gave x-rays their name. It's basically an X-Ray Specs gag writ large, with the aforementioned fiend checking out the insides of a necking couple. You can watch it at The Onion.
That video sent me toodling around through some of the fascinating history surrounding x-rays in pop culture. Rontgen wasn't the first to discovery x-rays, but he was the first person to really study them in depth and his x-ray photograph of his wife's hand kicked off a public sensation. To give you an idea of how into x-rays everybody was for a while, the AV Club story actually includes a link to a 19th century Scientific American how-to that promised to teach the reader to make their own x-ray machine at home. You know. For funsies.
It's kind of crazy how popular x-rays became, considering how dangerous they can be. The Scientific American piece, for instance, now comes with a 21st century disclaimer warning that "Many operators of the early x-ray systems experienced severe damage to hands over time, often necessitating amputations or other surgery." Which brings us to Clarence Dally ...
Tornado-loving BB pal Jody Radzik just turned me on to Extreme Instability, a collection of one intrepid storm chaser's breathtaking weather photography. The above photo that I've taken it upon myself to title "Act of God" is from a bow echo in Watertown, South Dakota on August 3. The photographer: "I'm driving along, having gained at least a small bit of ground again, when I see this white cross and a roadside chapel next to the road. No way. Slam on the brakes, pull over and jump out of the car and shoot fast fast." Extreme Instability
This video clip has been around since 2011, but it may be new for you. It documents photographer John King's "an amazing chance encounter with a troop of wild mountain gorillas near Bwindi National Park, Uganda," and at around 3 minutes in, shows a cameraman being curiously poked and cuddled by a female and her babies. Definitely a cure for any case of the bummers you may be experiencing today. Don't miss the look the gorilla gives the human around 5:11, before it walks away. As a commenter put it, "ALPHA AS FUCK."
At left, the new Honda Fit She's, a car available in predictable pink or what the maker calls "eyeliner brown." The vehicle is designed for the female market in Japan, and costs around $17.5K USD at current exchange rates. Official website here, in Japanese.
The Honda Fit She's features a “Plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality, a windshield that prevents wrinkles, a pink interior stitching, "tutti-frutti-hued chrome bezels," and an adorable heart instead of an apostrophe in “She’s.”