Gweek is back - at least for now! For those of you who are new to Gweek, it's a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about media, science, science fiction, video games, comic books, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
My is co-host Dean Putney, the first engineer at Glowforge and Boing Boing’s software developer. In this episode Dean and I talk about:
Christine Moran’s year in Antarctica -- an email newsletter written by a scientist who is spending a year in Antarctica working on their huge radio telescope. Lots of cool photos!
Bitcoin for the Befuddled - A fun book that uses analogies to explain the blockchain, cryptography, proof-of-work, mining, and other aspects of bitcoin. Highly recommended for non-technical people who want to understand bitcoin.
One Page Adventures - Brilliant RPG adventures for tabletop roleplaying, designed to fit all on a single (double-sided) page. Creative commons licensed and free to download, but easy to support on Patreon. Here’s one of Dean's favorites.
Boing Boing's other great podcasts! Flash Forward (a podcast about the future), Home: Stories from L.A., and You Are Not So Smart (about the way people's brains work and fail to work), and Incredibly Interesting Authors.
Subscribe on iTunes. Read the rest
Photographer, technologist, and Boing Boing reader Christopher Michel shot this wonderful image in Antarctica, and very kindly shared it in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, which you can also do with any awesome images you shoot. Read the rest
This combination of Dec. 10, 2013, left, and March 11, 2014 photos provided by NASA shows a large iceberg separating from the Pine Island Glacier and traveling across Pine Island Bay in Antarctica. (NASA)
One of the largest icebergs on the planet, about six times the size of Manhattan, has separated from an Antarctic glacier and is floating out towards open ocean. The iceberg is named B-31, and is roughly 255 square miles (660 square km). Its estimated maximum thickness is 1,600 feet (487 meters). Last Fall, it broke off from the Pine Island Glacier. Researchers have been watching it drift away since then, via satellite.
"The ice island, named B31, will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean, though it will be hard to track visually for the next six months as Antarctica heads into winter darkness," according to scientists at NASA's Earth Observatory monitoring its progress.
Read the rest
The Antarctic Heritage Trust of New Zealand announced
(PDF) that it had discovered a century-old box of photographic negatives from Captain Scott's last expedition base at Cape Evans, depicting Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party. The mouldy cellulose nitrate negs were among 10,000 artifacts recovered from Scott's Cape Evans hut, and were "clumped together." The negs were painstakingly restored and the photos have been published
. They're damaged but remarkable, and no one knows who took them.
) Read the rest
The valleys of Antarctica are the coldest places on Earth — where dense, super-chilled air accumulates, dropping the temperature as low as -136 ˚F (-93.2 ˚C). Read the rest
Antarctica's Organic Lake is 8 degrees Fahrenheit, but the water doesn't freeze, thanks to a heavy concentration of salt. But wait, it gets more awesome. Despite the cold and the salt, Organic Lake is also home to a diverse array of life
. Read the rest
The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is almost two miles thick in some places. But the British Antarctic Survey is able to peek beneath the frozen surface with the help of satellites, lasers, and radar. Read the rest
Featuring five different kinds of sea ice + penguins on fast forward
Antarctica: A Year On Ice looks like it's going to offer a damn fine supply of polar landscape porn.
Be sure to stick through to the final scene of the trailer, which is awe-inspiring in an entirely different way. Read the rest
Let's just play this safe and assume that, until more samples have been collected and detailed DNA analysis has been done, the real answer to the question, "Is bacteria found in Antarctica's Lake Vostok
actually new to science or just contamination from the drilling?" is "We don't really know."
This is a great example of why making scientific pronouncements from the field, before you've had time to do the really in-depth analysis that goes into writing a peer-reviewed research paper, can be problematic. Right now, you've got different camps of researchers making totally contradictory claims. Who is right is, so far, anybody's guess. Read the rest
"You can say anything you want in a press release". Sadly, that sentiment is too true. Turns out, recent reports of the discovery of previously unknown bacteria in samples hauled up from the waters of Antarctica's frozen Lake Vostok have turned out to be premature. The bacteria turned out to be contaminants carried by the drilling and collection apparatus
. At Scientific American, Elizabeth Howell talks about this flub in the context of other stories where scientists bypassed peer review and announced findings to the newspapers first. Read the rest
Last week, "Inspiration Mars
" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice
. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.
Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.
The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.
"How to get along for 500 days alone together
" Read the rest
“It appears that there lies a large wetland ecosystem under Antarctica’s ice sheet, with an active microbiology.” — There's some really exciting news coming from the land at the bottom of the world
. Read the rest
Or as I like to call it, Cape Fuckthiswearegoinghome.
Sadly, Antarctica's Cape Goodenough (pictured here on National Geographic's Political Map of the World) was not named by a less-then-intrepid band of explorers who decided that seeing the coastline of Antarctica was plenty of adventure for them, thankyouverymuch.
Instead, it's named for William Goodenough, admiral in the British Royal Navy. Yes. Admiral Goodenough. I'm sure the troops were enthused.
But wait, there's more. In the 1930s and 1940s, the admiral was apparently involved in the creation of comfortable, dormitory-style housing for international post-graduate students in London. Today, the buildings are known as ... Goodenough College. Read the rest
Beautiful footage of Weddell seals in Antarctica — on the ice and under the water.
Henry Kaiser is kind of our man on the inside in Antarctica. He works there every year as a film maker, turning science into movies. He sent this awesome Halloween greeting from underneath the sea ice.
Bonus: He also sent us a video taken at the same spot — only this has 100% fewer wacky masks and 100% more sea anemones. Read the rest
LocalWiki's Philip Neustrom says,
My non-profit, LocalWiki, has been working on this really incredible
project to help document the continent of Antarctica. Most notable,
at least right now, is this custom map we've pieced together from
very-hard-to-find NASA aerial imagery and coastline datasets. It's
probably the most beautiful thing I've ever worked on.
Check out the LocalWiki for Antarctica. The project "aims to document the
full extent of human involvement on the continent," and for now is focused on a two-mile region
surrounding Palmer Station.
Under the Ice: Research Diving in Antarctica
Charting the Frozen Continent
Photos from trip to Falklands & South Georgia Islands and Antarctica ...
Google unveils Street View imagery from Antarctica, including South ...
Making Inaccessible Island a little more accessible
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