KKK child meets a Black cop

I sincerely hope this little child grew up into a smart, well-educated adult. Successful in all the ways understood as meaningful in a modern society. I don’t think it’s a contemporary photo…although in the Solid South, it wouldn’t be out of place, today.

I wonder if they forgave their parents for being bigots?

Arecibo Observatory has perished


Better Days

Just before eight in the morning on December 1st of last year, Ada Monzón was at the Guaynabo studios of WAPA, a television station in Puerto Rico, preparing to give a weather update, when she got a text from a friend. Jonathan Friedman, an aeronomer who lives near the Arecibo Observatory, about an hour and a half from San Juan, had sent her a photo, taken from his sister-in-law’s back yard, of the brilliant blue Caribbean sky and the green, heavily forested limestone hills. In the picture, a thin cloud of dust hovered just above the tree line; the image was notable not for what it showed but for what was missing. On a normal day—on any day before that one, in fact—a shot from that back yard would have captured Arecibo’s nine-hundred-ton radio-telescope platform, with its massive Gregorian dome, floating improbably over the valley, suspended from cables five hundred feet above the ground. Accompanying the photo was Friedman’s message, which read, simply, “Se cayó ”—“It fell.”

Every year since Arecibo’s completion, in 1963, hundreds of researchers from around the world had taken turns pointing the radio telescope toward the sky to glean the secrets of the universe. It had played a role in the fields of radio astronomy and atmospheric, climate, and planetary science, as well as in the search for exoplanets and the study of near-Earth asteroids that, were they to collide with our planet, could end life as we know it. There were even biologists working at Arecibo, studying how plant life developed in the dim light beneath the telescope’s porous dish.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day…Wally


Yup. You’re in Ireland.

Oversleeping can cause all sorts of problems. Just ask this walrus — who seems to have fallen asleep on an ice floe and drifted at least a thousand miles from the Arctic Circle to Ireland.

The walrus was first spotted along the coast of Valentia Island in County Kerry, one of the westernmost points of Ireland. Alan Houlihan and his 5-year-old daughter, Muireann, were walking along the beach this past weekend when they noticed the creature lounging on some rocks.

“I thought it was a seal at first, and then we saw the tusks,” Houlihan said. “He kind of jumped up on the rocks. He was massive. He was about the size of a bull or a cow, pretty similar in size; he’s big, big.”

Walruses rarely appear in Ireland, so how did this one end up on the coast? According to Kevin Flannery, director of the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium in County Kerry, it may have been an accident.

“I’d say what happened is he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted off,” Flannery said. “Then he was gone too far, out into the mid-Atlantic or somewhere like that — down off Greenland possibly. It’s incredible. It’s a one-off as far as I’m concerned.”

At least he won’t be hassled by passport control.

Volcano in Iceland returns to life


Vilhelm Gunnarsson/Getty

After a series of earthquakes in Iceland, the long-dormant volcano Fagradalsfjall erupted on Friday night. The volcano is located nearly 40 miles outside of Reykjavik, the nearest city and the country’s capital, and didn’t threaten any lives or infrastructure damage.

Images of the eruption immediately flooded social media as Iceland residents saw lava and ash from the volcano light up the sky.

The country’s Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, took a trip to the volcano as the eruption began to monitor the situation. Sigurbjörnsdóttir posted photos and a live video from the helicopter showing lava oozing down from the eruption.

RTFA. Lots more photos and video. I love Iceland. Haven’t been there in years…and always loved every hour in that beautiful land.

The Birth of a Black Hole


Sakkmesterke/Science

In 2018, astronomers were shocked to find a bizarre explosion in a galaxy 200 million light-years away. It wasn’t like any normal supernova seen before—it was both briefer and brighter. The event was given an official designation, AT2018cow, but it soon went by a more jovial nickname: the Cow.

The short-lived event—known as a transient—defied explanation. Some thought it might be a star being torn apart by a nearby black hole, but others favored a “failed supernova” scenario, where a black hole quite literally eats a star from the inside out. To find out for sure, they needed to find more Cow-like events.

More than two years later, they got one.

Beginning on October 12, 2020, telescopes watched as something in a galaxy 3 billion light-years away became incredibly bright, then disappeared from view. It behaved almost identically to the Cow, astronomers reported in a paper posted to the online preprint site arXiv.org last week, leading them to conclude that it must be the same type of episode. In keeping with tradition, it was given its own animal-inspired name: the Camel.

These astronomers were able to watch the course of this event, from a bright, explosive start, to what likely is a failed star collapsing into a black hole. In real time…happening 3 billion years ago.

NatGeo Instagram Pic of the Day


Corey Arnold/Nat Geo

A black bear cub strolls gingerly along a backyard porch railing in Asheville, North Carolina. Urban black bears are a fixture of life in the city, scouring neighborhoods for acorns, unattended bird feeders, and unsecured garbage, says Corey Arnold, a photographer and Nat Geo Explorer. His image (above), which got nearly a half-million likes in a week on our Instagram page, is part of an upcoming Nat Geo story about urban wildlife in America.

Fireflies in a bamboo forest

In the summer of 2019, Daniel Kordan was shooting in a remote location on Kyushu, the third-largest island of Japan’s five main islands, and he was treated to quite an experience.

“They call them hime hotaru in Japan – synchronous fireflies,” Kordan tells PetaPixel. “At this remote location of Kyushu island, we saw a really crazy amount of them.

“At a certain moment when your eyes get used to dark ambient light you see the whole forest is blinking synchronously like a Christmas tree! It’s like a big wave of stars going up and down in the deep bamboo forest.”

Click through to the article at PetaPixel and enjoy more about Kordan’s firefly adventure on the island of Kyushu. You’ll also find links to his work on other sites including his website and INSTAGRAM.

Wheels down on Mars, once again


First image from Perseverance

NASA folks land on Mars, again. I switched onto the NASA Channel to check on how they were doing…and the lander had chute deployed and about 7 kilometers above the surface of Mars.

It was just halftime in the Europa League football match I was watching; so, I quick ran to get my wet-and-snow walking shoes – to change while watching. I usually start a couple laps of our fenceline at halftime if I’m watching footie and we got a few more inches of snow, last night.

They spiked the landing. Truly fun to watch for an old time science and scifi geek like me. Nice to see reality match fiction.

Check your local TV access for progress!