Happy New Year

by the light of a lit bong…

I’m a sucker for light and I’m a sucker for bongs as well, begging your pardon. Here is an image that combines the two. The light shining through the bong had been filtered through yet another favorite of mine, glass bricks. It has a pleasing geometry, if nothing else.

Fair warning: after a few decades of such happy new years, your lungs are likely to resemble the photo, so be aware. On the other hand, I did once almost drown and if you don’t stay out of the water, it could almost happen to you as well!

Photo / graphic by Roman.

The Ancient Light of Days

Photos by Roman.

Come now, what did your folks tell you about staring at the Sun? For some reason, even looking at a photo of the Sun reflected in a mud puddle challenges my eyes, but here we go, even so. The blatant blare of the Sun against the rather more restrained colors of the puddle bottom (of Earth) are, imho, a delicious combination that I have trouble not inhaling like a glutton, eye strain or no.

Light from the Sun takes a little over 8 minutes to reach the Earth from the Sun’s surface, such as it is. But the Sun is such a huge and dense and ionized body that a photon created by the Sun can take from 10,000 to 170,000 years to exit the Sun. Yes, folks, solar photons born from fusing hydrogen spend most of their time stuck in traffic, behind plasma belching semi-trucks of magnetism. Today’s light is yesterday’s news, it seems, a blast from the past, a throwback Thursday. The British are coming? Don’t entrust the news to a fresh photon on its way to the surface.

So indulge me this final visit to a mud puddle for the season. It’s really cosmic, man.

Photo by Roman.

“Fifty Lost Earths”

I visit Professor David Kipping’s Cool Worlds Lab YouTube channel regularly, despite the clouds of commercials that swarm like mosquitoes or maybe midges. The channel satisfies a slightly geeky fascination with exoplanet research.

This particular video is a retrospective on the data returned by the Kepler space telescope. It’s political in the sense that what Kepler has found, or hasn’t found, has implications for the design of any follow-on missions, one of which is already in the planning stages.

“Twelve years ago, NASA predicted around 50 Earth-like planets would be discovered by the Kepler telescope. And yet, we’re left essentially none. What happened? Why did those predictions not match reality? And what can we learn from these 50 lost dreams…”

Written & presented by Prof David Kipping

“Hand in Hand”

“Only a formal handshake separates two politicians from a sealed contract. But as both stubbornly try to gain the upper hand within the gesture, their grim intransigence takes on a monstrous life of its own.”

The above from the Swiss Das alte Lager Vimeo channel. It was written and directed by Ennio Ruschetti while at the Zurich University of Arts.

I’m especially fond of this brief video as it is a surreal and succinct and funny performance of what I call “pecking order politics”. It’s a label that tends to trivialize something that is present in all human society and every bit as powerful as more emergent characteristics like class, ethnicity, etc. Though we don’t everywhere deal with it the same way… There are situational “pecking orders” for example… But I won’t go on about it; boring! and my ideas about it probably only half baked. Check out the video instead; it’s a trip.