You can now watch all 13 episodes of Carl Sagan's mind-expanding, life-changing 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage for free on Twitch! Written by Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, Cosmos is a profoundly important scientific head-trip that sparks the imagination and instills that sense of wonder and hope that we all desperately need right now.
Watch live video from COSMOS on www.twitch.tv
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In 1869, two men were digging a well on the farm of William Newell in Cardiff, New York when they discovered the body of a ten-foot-tall man buried in the earth. Unfortunately, the famed Cardiff Giant was actually just a statue that Newell's cousin had buried in a hoax meant to provoke discussions around religion while bringing in a ton of cash from people who desperately wanted to believe that biblical stories of giant humans were true, or were simply jonesing for a dose of wonder. From Smithsonian:
Hull was an atheist, a controversial stance for that time in American history, and “though he lacked any formal education, greatly admired science.” He wasn’t wealthy, either, and his plan for the Cardiff giant included both striking it rich and proving a point about the relationship between science and faith.
The giant was sold to a group of businessmen and went on tour. Eventually, its popularity attracted the attention of the age’s greatest huckster, P.T. Barnum. After the businessmen wouldn’t sell him their stony cash cow, Barnum created a replica and began showing it as the real thing. The owners of the authentic “giant” tried to sue Barnum, but according to Rose, the judge hearing the case just said “Bring your giant here, and if he swears to his own genuineness as a bona fide petrification, you shall have the injunction you ask for.” In other words: You can’t really have a fake of a fake.
"The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax"
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I was honored to be yesterday's guest on my favorite interview podcast, Erik Davis's Expanding Mind. Erik and I have been friends since the cyberdelic early 1990s. He is a brilliant head and prolific writer who explores the cultures of consciousness with rigor, wit, and genuine curiosity. On the podcast, Erik and I had a freewheeling conversation about the Voyager Golden Record vinyl release that I co-produced with Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, my work at the Institute for the Future, and the intersection of science, art, and magic to spark the imagination. Have a listen:
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Forty years ago this month, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and beyond, into the mysteries of interstellar space. Mounted to each spacecraft is a golden phonograph record, a message to introduce our civilization to extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now. The Voyager Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science. The Voyager Golden Record is a gift from humanity to the cosmos, but it’s also a gift to humanity. It lies at the intersection of science and art to spark the imagination, and delivers a dose of hope that so many of us are jonesing for these days. Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I embarked on a long journey to release the Voyager Golden Record as a box set of vinyl LPs so those on Earth can hear it as it was meant to be played. We were humbled by the incredible support our project received. (You can read about our experience in the project updates here.)
Ten months after our Kickstarter ended, the enthusiasm and excitement around the Voyager anniversary and the golden record continues to increase. We feel very fortunate that the story of this historical artifact resonates with so many people! As promised, we will never reproduce the Kickstarter "40th Anniversary Edition" box set again. Our Kickstarter backers took the journey with us and we are deeply grateful. However, for those who were not able to participate in the Kickstarter, we have decided to repress the Voyager Golden Record in a different edition than the one our Kickstarter backers will receive. Read the rest
The Macro Room sliced numerous objects in half -- from a toothpaste tube to a seashell to a digital camera -- to reveal the beautiful mysteries inside.
(via Laughing Squid)
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Are you jonesing for a dose of optimism and possibility? In the mood to contemplate the cosmos? Want to experience a musical message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played? The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a project I launched with Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, is a lavish vinyl box set containing the contents of the phonograph record launched into space in 1977 and now 13 billion miles from Earth.
Our Kickstarter ends at 8pm PDT tonight (Thursday). Once we fulfill the rewards from this campaign, we'll never produce this deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition again.
We are so thankful enthusiasm and excitement about our project and the incredible Voyager interstellar mission. The curiosity and support is infectious. We're deeply grateful that a project that has been on our minds for so long has resonated with so many people around the world. Ad astra!
For more on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, please visit our Kickstarter page here.
And here's an excerpt from an interview with me about the project, from The Vinyl Factory:
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Ultimately it was a utopian vision for Earth as much as an actual attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials… Wasn’t it?
Yeah I think the idea is that if there is a civilisation that is intelligent enough to actually intercept it, they’ll be able to follow the instructions on how to play it. And I think that’s true. In some ways though, it doesn’t even really matter if it’s ever played or not by an extra-terrestrial civilisation.
My friend Daniel Martin Diaz's exquisite paintings lie at the intersection of science, art, and magic to provoke questions about technology, physics, theories of mind, and the nature of reality. He has an exhibition of spectacular new works opening in San Francisco today at the wonderful science/nature/curiosity shop Paxton Gate. The show is titled titled "Atomic Enlightenment." Indeed. Get illuminated.
Over the past few years, I have become immersed in scientific and philosophical concepts, such as Anatomy, Computer Science, Math, Cosmology, Biology, Quantum Physics, and Consciousness. I have been particularly fascinated with scientific diagrams, which explain theories and properties through imagery. Although these rudimentary images are without any leanings towards aesthetics, I find them to be beautiful, though that is not the intention. All of the projects I have created begin as drawings, which I feel has a beauty and intimacy that painting cannot capture. The subtle lines that graphite creates, and the quickness in which one can capture an idea makes this medium alluring.
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BB pal Ariel "Spacehack" Waldman has curated a stellar program for the big DENT: SPACE conference next week (9/21-9/22) in San Francisco! I'm honored to be on the schedule with such amazing people as SETI Institute's Seth Shostak, science writer Mary Roach, The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla, Ars Technica's Annalee Newitz, UC Berkeley planet hunter Alex Filippenko, and so many more fascinating folks! I'll be joining Ariel on stage Thursday at 2:50pm to talk about space history and the intersection of science and art to instill a sense of wonder about the universe, and a far out new project that I'll announce soon. See below on how to get a free ticket! Ariel writes:
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On September 21-22, 2016, Dent:Space takes place at the Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts (formerly the Exploratorium museum) with two stages of fascinating speakers spanning the technological, artistic, commercial, scientific, educational, and DIY aspects of space exploration. We’re also putting together an exhibit hall for the conference — kind of a World’s Fair-like set of interactive demos that illustrate the future of space exploration and its many possibilities. We were able to give away 3,000 free tickets to the talks and exhibits, but we’ve run out of room for that. In the interest of keeping it all accessible for as many as possible, tickets are still only $49. But, as a (Boing Boing reader), you can still grab a free ticket here
Dent:Space is a celebration of humans breaking the status quo of who can be involved and what can be achieved in space exploration.
Our pals at surreal clothiers Imaginary Foundation bring us this fine enamel pin emblazoned with an essential insight of the ages, captured by a simple Venn diagram. Just $10! Read the rest
Today marks the Italian publication of "L'arte Di Stupire" ("The Art of Amazement") the new book by Boing Boing friends and collaborators Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis whose work is best described as "magic experience design." I've read a draft English translation and it's absolutely fantastic. I can't wait for the eventual publication of the English edition. Here's what I said about the book:
Buscema and Tomatis are modern day mystics who move seamlessly between the realms of science, art, and magic, seeking wonder at every turn. They delight in inspiring us all to cultivate curiosity and embrace astonishment in our daily lives. This brilliant book is an empowering grimoire for hacking reality and giving the gift of magical experiences to others. Read the rest
I am currently mesmerized by these mimosa jello shots, served in the peels of the oranges juiced to make them. They are absolutely ridiculous and I love them. A little something for New Year's Day? Read the rest
See those weird, black, spidery things dotting the dunes in this colorized photo taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2010? Yeah. Nobody knows what the hell those things are.
What we do know about them just underlines how incredibly unfamiliar Mars really is to us. First spotted by humans in 1998, these splotches pop up every Martian spring, and disappear in winter. Usually, they appear in the same places as the previous year, and they tend to congregate on the sunny sides of sand dunes — all but shunning flat ground. There's nothing on Earth that looks like this that we can compare them to. It's a for real-real mystery, writes Robert Krulwich at NPR. But there are theories:
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Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it's transformed my idea of what it's like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I've thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air. Geysers shoot up in odd places. It feels random, like being surprise attacked by an monstrous, underground fountain.
"If you were there," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University, "you'd be standing on a slab of carbon dioxide ice.
“At the dead hour of the night, when the world is hushed in sleep and all is still; when there is not a sound to be heard save the dead beat escapement of the clock, counting with hollow voice the footsteps of time in ceaseless round, I turn to the Ephemeris and find there, by calculations made years ago, that when that clock tells a certain hour, a star which I never saw will be in the field of the telescope for a moment, flit through and then disappear. The instrument is set; the moment approaches and is intently awaited—I look—the star mute with eloquence that gathers sublimity from the silence of the night, comes smiling and dancing into the field, and at the instant predicted even to the fraction of a second, it makes its transit and is gone. With emotions too deep for the organs of speech, the heart swells out with unutterable anthems; we then see that there is harmony in the heavens above; and though we cannot hear, we feel the ‘music of the spheres.’” — Matthew Fontaine Maury, in an 1849 presentation to the Virginia Historical Society. Maury was superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Read more about Maury and other retro scientists in Caren Cooper's guest posts at the Scientific American blogs.
Video: Yosemite Nature Notes on night skies and light pollution. Read the rest