Frozen polygons on Mars


NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

The most powerful camera ever sent to another planet has snapped a mesmerizing picture of a bizarre springtime phenomenon on Mars, which paints the red planet with dramatic bright fans of dry ice that erupt from vents in its polar regions.

This patterned alien landscape was imaged in March by NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HIRISE), onboard its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The terrain has been sculpted into these polygons by water ice that is frozen into the soil at the planet’s high latitudes. The borders of these shapes, which stretch like white stitches across the Martian surface, are further frayed during springtime by ice transforming directly from a solid to a gas, a process called sublimation, which produces blasts of dry ice…

HiRISE first arrived at Mars in 2006 and has taken many stunning images of these polygonal polar regions of Mars. In addition, the advanced camera has snapped pictures of other strange Martian features, including an avalanche, the planet’s “chaos” terrain, and even NASA’s rovers at the surface.

Next best thing to being there in person. IMHO.

Al Jazeera reporter probably murdered by Israeli soldier


Mural of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Adel Hana/AP

An investigation by Al Jazeera has obtained an image of the bullet used to kill the network’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

According to ballistic and forensic experts, the green-tipped bullet was designed to pierce armour and is used in an M4 rifle. The round was extracted from her head.

The bullet was analysed using 3D models and, according to experts, it was 5.56mm calibre – the same used by Israeli forces. The round was designed and manufactured in the United States, experts said.

Fayez al-Dwairi, a former Jordanian major general, told Al Jazeera the weapon and round used to kill Abu Akleh are regularly carried by Israeli forces.

“When any soldier uses it, he uses it for a definite target – he wants to hunt, he wants to kill … There is no way to use it for another thing.”

Think anyone will be charged, tried, for an “extra-curricular” murder?

A single photo can change the world

Can a photograph help end a war?

Pictures from Ukraine by combat photographers, including contract photographer James Nachtwey and Associated Press photojournalists Felipe Dana, Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka, have brought to light the horrific consequences of Russia’s invasion and the unconscionable treatment of innocent civilians.

Fifty years ago, I was in the same position as those photographers, working for the Associated Press in Vietnam.

On June 7, 1972, I learned about fighting taking place in Trang Bang, a small village roughly 30 miles northwest of Saigon. I still have vivid memories of my drive the next morning to Trang Bang, seeing rows of bodies by the side of the road and hundreds of refugees fleeing the area. I eventually arrived at a village destroyed by days of airstrikes. The residents were so tired of the constant battles, they fled their village to seek refuge on the streets, under bridges or wherever they could find a moment of calm.

By midday, I had the photos I thought I needed. I was preparing to leave when I saw a South Vietnamese soldier drop a yellow smoke bomb, which served as a target signal, near a group of buildings. I picked up my camera, and a few seconds later captured the image of a plane dropping four napalm bombs on the village.

As we came closer, we saw people fleeing the napalm. I was horrified when I saw a woman with her left leg badly burned. I can still see so vividly the old woman carrying a baby who died in front of my camera and another woman carrying a small child with his skin coming off.

Then I heard a child screaming, “Nong qua! Nong qua!” Too hot! Too hot! I looked through my Leica viewfinder to see a young girl who had pulled off her burning clothes and was running toward me. I started taking pictures of her.

Then she yelled to her brother that she thought she was dying and wanted some water. I instantly put my cameras down so I could help her. I knew that was more important than taking more photos. I took my canteen for her to drink and poured water on her body to cool her off, but it created more pain for her. I didn’t know that when people get burned so badly, you’re not supposed to put water on them.

Still in shock, and amid the confusion of everyone screaming, I put all the kids into the AP van.

I drove them to Cu Chi hospital, since it was the closest to Trang Bang. The girl kept crying and screaming, “I’m dying! I’m dying.” I was sure she was going to die in my van.

At the hospital, I learned that her name was Phan Thi Kim Phuc. She had suffered third-degree burns on 30 percent of her body. The doctors were overwhelmed by the huge numbers of wounded soldiers and civilians already there. They initially refused to admit her and told me to bring her to the larger Saigon hospital. But I knew she would die if she did not get immediate help. I showed them my press badge and said, “If one of them dies I will make sure the whole world knows.” Then they brought Kim Phuc inside. I never regretted my decision.

I have never looked at this photo without crying. The passage of time changes nothing about it. A war crime committed by my peers, my country. That poor child.

There is much more in this article. Much more for you to consider. If you read this blog regularly you know I won’t agree with it all; but, that’s not important. This post is about Nick Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc. A minute in the middle of terrible history and shame for the nation where I was born. And a photo that turned back a terrible contemptible war.

Einstein and Oppenheimer

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photographs bring together two generations of world-renowned physicists at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where J. Robert Oppenheimer accepted the position of director in 1947. Under Oppenheimer’s leadership, the institute became a leading center for theoretical physics. Albert Einstein had been a scholar-in-residence at the institute since 1933, after fleeing Nazi Germany and renouncing his German citizenship. Einstein transformed the world of physics with his theory of relativity and work in quantum mechanics. On the basis of Einstein’s recommendation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a board to investigate the possibilities of using a nuclear chain reaction as an atom bomb. Oppenheimer directed the Manhattan Project, which developed and detonated the first atomic bomb in the desert outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

These four lost cities were jewels of ancient Africa

Thonis-Heracleion, Alexandria, Meroë, and Jenne-Jeno were once centers of sophistication and wealth, but their fortunes waned over time. Although their ancient splendors disappeared from sight, archaeology is now revealing their glorious pasts.

The massive monuments of Giza and the glorious temples of Thebes bear witness to the greatness of the African cities that built them. But other ancient places in Africa rivaled their greatness, yet traces of these magnificent urban centers have been harder to find. These once-thriving cities, located in present-day Egypt, Sudan, and Mali, slipped into obscurity, their splendor remaining lost to history until modern times, when archaeologists made some surprising finds.

Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt: a booming port

Ancient Egypt’s lost city of Thonis-Heracleion is one of the greatest submerged finds ever discovered by archaeologists. For thousands of years it lay hidden under water, with its existence recorded only in a few rare inscriptions and ancient texts. This port at the mouth of the Nile rose after Egypt’s power faded in the seventh century B.C. Known as Thonis to the Egyptians and Heracleion to the Greeks, it thrived as a vital center of trade and culture, and then disappeared.

This is the first of the four cities in the article. The photos and videos from the article are not accessible in this transcript. If you’re a subscriber to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, you’ll find all that over here. Otherwise, this is still an interesting read.

Updates on Four of the Wildfires Burning in New Mexico


Calf Canyon–Hermits Peak Fire, 2 a.m. May 10, 2022 – Cory Carlson

The National Weather Service has taken the unusual step of issuing a a Red Flag Warning one and two days in advance for the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire 21 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This fire has become the largest fire in the recorded history of New Mexico. At 299,565 acres it has eclipsed the previous record set by the 297,845-acre Whitewater and Baldy Fires when they burned together in May of 2012 in Southwest New Mexico. On Tuesday it was again putting up a large smoke column while a 5 to 20 mph wind gusted out of of the northwest, west, and southwest at 25 mph. The humidity dropped to 10 percent in the afternoon. The prediction is for winds gusting from the west and southwest at more than 30 mph with single digit relative humidity. Similar conditions will exist at least on Thursday for the area of the Black and Bear Trap Fires in southwest New Mexico…

Just move around through the fires noted in this larger article. Depending on wind direction, we’re getting smoked here in Santa Fe County from either the Hermit’s Peak fire or Cerro Pelado.

The Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy

This result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the center of most galaxies.

A global research team called the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration produced the image using observations from a worldwide network of radio telescopes.

The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very center of our galaxy. Scientists had previously seen stars orbiting around something invisible, compact, and very massive at the center of the Milky Way. This strongly suggested that the object—known as Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* (pronounced “sadge-ay-star”)—is a black hole, and the new image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.

Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region called a “shadow,” surrounded by a bright ringlike structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is 4 million times more massive than the sun.

A “Kodak Moment” for every serious student of science in general and astronomy in particular.

The diver thought his camera was broken!


Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Underwater photography professional by the name of Kristian Laine was recently out diving off the coast of Lady Elliot Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He was taking some shots of the sea creatures there when he stumbled upon such an unusual sight that, at first, he thought his camera was broken…

As Laine was photographing a group of male manta rays chasing after a female manta ray, he noticed in his photographs that one was unlike the others. While manta rays are generally black on top and white underneath, this big fish was black on top, but pink underneath

It turns out that the aquatic photographer ran into the rare pink manta ray nicknamed Inspector Clouseau, who is the bumbling detective in the Pink Panther movies. According to National Geographic, the pink manta ray was first spotted back in 2015 by Ryan Jeffery. It is believed to be the only pink manta ray in the world, and the pink animal was sighted no more than 10 times in the last 5 years.

Laine spent a half-hour or so with the critter. A few more photos inside the article. Wow!

Another damned wildfire!

Another damned wildfire starting up this morning…

Usual for me to search the horizon whilst walking. Starting off, this morning at 11:20AM MDT…there was nothing showing over on the Sangre de Cristo range. We’re west of Santa Fe. The Sangres are east of Santa Fe.

Coming back along our fenceline 10-15 minutes later, this is what I saw. At first, the column of smoke at the apparent starting point was columnar, 3-4 times higher than you see it here. Then, the North wind must have picked up over that side of the county and it blew out and south the way you see it.

No fun, taking iPhotos like this, believe me.

Smoky sunrise

Usually, this sunrise would be sharp and clear … not blurred. The distortion is the result of forest fires ravaging portions of New Mexico. Look to the left of the sun and you can see the layer of smoke that settled on the mountains – and our whole landscape – overnight.

The wind, today, is supposed to come from the SSW which will blow the smoke away from La Cieneguilla, west and south of the city of Santa Fe. Outdoor life in our portion of the county should return to something more like normal. Whatever that means?