30 years of Reuters Pictures: Part three

Wander through this article and enjoy stunning photography, meaningful in so many ways. Personal, political, history recorded – sometimes just before it is forgotten. Check out the two preceding parts, explore the Reuters’ slideshows.

Here are a couple of samples:

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The Northern Lights are seen above the ash plume of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano…Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson.

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Staff members stand in a meeting room at Lehman Brothers offices in London. It is the beginning of the global financial crisis…Reuters photographer Kevin Coombs.

Marvels of the Universe

A site worth visiting week after week.

And if you need to back up and peruse a wider view of the comparative unimportance of our species – and the truly irrational crappola of True Believers – play and rewind this voyage through our nearest neighbor, Andromeda. Reflect upon this view of a less-than significant morsel less important than a mustard seed lost on the beach in Coney Island.

But – we think we’re important.

Earth in 4K — pretty snazzy even in 1080p

A timelapse of Earth in 4K resolution, as imaged by the geostationary Elektro-L weather satellite, from May 15th to May 19th, 2011. Elektro-L is located ~40,000 km above the Indian ocean, and it orbits at a speed that causes it to remain over the same spot as the Earth rotates. The satellite creates a 121 megapixel image (11136×11136 pixels) every 30 minutes with visible and infrared light wavelengths. The images were edited to adjust levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to show vegetation more naturally. The images were resized by 50%, misalignments between frames were manually corrected, and image artifacts that occurred when the camera was facing towards the sun were partially corrected. The images were interpolated by a factor of 20 to create a smooth animation. The animation was rendered in the Youtube 4K UHD resolution of 3840×2160. An original animation file with a resolution of (5568×5568) is available on request.

To answer frequently asked questions; why are city lights, the Sun, and other stars not visible? City lights are not visible because they are thousands of times less bright than the reflection of sunlight off the Earth. If the camera was sensitive enough to detect city lights, the Earth would be overexposed. The Sun is not visible due to mechanisms used to protect the camera CCD from direct exposure to sunlight. A circular mask on the CCD ensures that only the Earth is visible. This mask can be seen as pixelation on Earth’s horizon. The mask also excludes stars from view, although they would not be bright enough to be visible to this camera.

Thanks, Mike

Pic of the Day

Click to enlargeHasan Ba lar/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest

National Geographic’s annual Photo Contest is under way, which means it’s once again time to see some of the best travel photos that both amateur and professional photographers around the world have to offer.

The contest, which will wrap up at the end of the month, takes submissions in three simple categories – People, Places and Nature. The first-place winner in each category will win $2,500, and the grand-prize winner, in addition to first-place in their category, will receive $7,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Geographic’s annual photo seminar.

All of the entries (the good and the bad) can currently be viewed on Nat Geo’s website, and they’re still taking submissions, so you can try your luck as well. Take a look!

Thanks, Ursarodinia

NASA debuts selfie of Earth

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NASA has unveiled a global selfie, a stunning mosaic of the planet Earth seen from outer space that was stitched together from tens of thousands of self-portraits taken by people from around the world.

The Earth images were created with more than 36,000 selfies that were submitted to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory this year on Earth Day, by people from 131 nations or regions. In the mosaic, self-portraits with blue backgrounds illustrate oceans, those with white backgrounds illustrate clouds, and photos with brown backgrounds illustrate continents.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Our planet may have an underground ocean three times that on the surface

Is this where mermaids come from?

After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed.

The water is locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 660km beneath the crust of the Earth, researchers say. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the study published in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories…

Jacobsen and his colleagues are the first to provide direct evidence that there may be water in an area of the Earth’s mantle known as the transition zone. They based their findings on a study of a vast underground region extending across most of the interior of the US.

Ringwoodite acts like a sponge due to a crystal structure that makes it attract hydrogen and trap water.

If just 1% of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.

The study used data from the USArray, a network of seismometers across the US that measure the vibrations of earthquakes, combined with Jacobsen’s lab experiments on rocks simulating the high pressures found more than 600km underground.

It produced evidence that melting and movement of rock in the transition zone – hundreds of kilometres down, between the upper and lower mantles – led to a process where water could become fused and trapped in the rock.

The discovery is remarkable because most melting in the mantle was previously thought to occur at a much shallower distance, about 80km below the Earth’s surface.

…The hidden water might also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years. “If [the stored water] wasn’t there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out,” he said.

We might have gills instead of assorted noses. Rather than a Tea Party, Congress might be held hostage by a school of poisonous jellyfish.

Getting ready for hell and high water — climate adaptation science

Changes are already happening to Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week’s issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities…

“Adapting to an evolving climate is going to be required in every sector of society, in every region of the globe. We need to get going, to provide integrated science if we are going to meet the challenge,” said senior scientist Richard Moss of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “In this article, we describe the foundations for this research and suggest measures to establish it.”

“The need to adapt and adjust is going to be global,” said Moss. “We need a flexible, integrated approach that merges theoretical and problem-oriented sciences around four general challenges.”

The four challenges are:

Understanding what information is needed to make decisions about adapting to climate change

Identifying vulnerabilities in society, the economy and the environment

Improving forecasts and climate models in ways that can address specific problems

Providing technology, management, and policy options for adapting

As an example of how practical and basic research can work together, Moss described work in the U.S. involving water utilities, university scientists, and private firms to pilot use of climate models and water utility modeling to design resilient water systems.

“This research is motivated by a practical challenge, ensuring reliable water supplies. Among the scientific advances that will be required is better integration of weather and climate models to improve decadal climate information to help people plan,” Moss said.

“Traditionally we think that what society needs is better predictions. But at this workshop, all of us – climate and social scientists alike – recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt,” he said.

Sounds like some folks realize that Congress is about as capable as the folks who designed the lifeboats for the Titanic. We may as well get to work figuring out survival alternatives since the gremlins in charge ain’t capable of rescuing anyone including themselves.