080317: Looking Out (and Looking Back)

Today’s opener was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last year. It has been exploring Saturn and many of its 62 moons since its arrival at Saturn in 2004. Currently the spacecraft is in the middle of its “Grand Finale,” as NASA refers to its ultimate and final stage – plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere next month on September 15. It has treated us to previously unimaginable sights and still has six more weeks of transmissions.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21046

Above are the first three drawings ever of Saturn and made by the observations of Galileo over 400 years ago. July 30,1610 was the first one (top) with slightly better results for the other two as he continually refined his telescopes.

We’ve come a long way – this pic taken from behind Saturn looks back at Earth (the dot center right). The beauty and importance of these and many other images, to me, cannot be understated.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17171

This trio of craters, also shot from Cassini, reside on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA20011

NASA’s image libraries are full of these wonderful and fascinating images and are all easily  accessible online.This one above is from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and shows part of Mars’ south pole.

More on this image – https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia21639/erosion-of-the-edge-of-the-south-polar-layered-deposits

And last in this series is a picture of our own Grand Canyon taken from the International Space Station by a student controlled EarthKam camera!

More on this image – https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/space-stations-earthkam-sees-the-grand-canyon

As I said, NASA has endless libraries worth perusing. Also, my favorite non-NASA sight you might want to visit is  Planetary Landscapes – daily posts of images from here on Earth and elsewhere!

One last note: Saturday, August 5, will be the fifth anniversary of the explorations begun by the Mars Rover. It continues to chug along the surface of the planet, sending back wonderful and astounding landscape images of Mars – Images – Mars Science Laboratory

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All this thought about outer space got me to break out my collection of pulp Sci-Fi magazines. The stories age great. The cover images make me dream of being aboard a spaceship exploring the wide universe. I think it’s my way of coping with the depressing news that we witness daily – especially the science related cutbacks, the dissolution of important government functions ranging from climate change to research of all kinds, etc.

The two  “Thrilling Wonder Stories” are from 1951 and 1952.

The three remaining magazines, “Amazing Stories,” are from 1947 and 1948.

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So, from the faraway future to the faraway past – I had to toss in a few new images of the very old – 387 million years ago (give or take a few mil!) – Devonian invertebrate fossils from the neighborhood.

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Science matters.

Thanks for the visit.

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030917: Science in America 2017

The know-nothings have won… for now. The soon to be neutered (or dissolved) EPA now no longer refers to “science” on its website. Rather than refer to “science based” standards they now refer to “economically and technologically achievable standards” for their actions. (The new head of EPA, Scott Pruitt, darling of frackers, just today stated that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming!)

The know-nothings have also set their sights on NASA, an agency that has “played a leading role in researching climate change and educating the public about it.” The plan is to cut funding for “Earth Science” and anything related to “global warming.”

An then there’s Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and former head of Exxon, and friend of Vladimir Putin. If they are able to get sanctions lifted on Russia the Exxon-Rosfeft joint venture will proceed – a 500 billion dollar deal for oil exploration in the Arctic.

 

The list goes on and on. Whether it is the National Park Service or NOAA or many other government agencies, it is clear that the Trump Administration is at war with science and knowledge. Call your members of Congress and let them know your concerns. They need your vote to keep their jobs. Let them know that.

Today’s images are some random fossil images I couldn’t resist taking as I transported my collection to my new soon-to-be-completed studio. The transition is moving slowly but steadily and I look forward to returning to my work without interruption.

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I finish today with a couple of images unrelated to the fossils – one an odd outdoor vignette from a neighbor’s property and the other from my endless supply of props (soon to be packed).

Thanks for the visit.

063016: Summer Begins

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I needed to get the blood circulating the other day so I walked down to the nearby creek. It was one of those Summer days when life seemed to slow down to a crawl – temperature and humidity pressing down like a vise – leaving me somewhat listless, hoping for a breeze of any sort to bring respite.

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I’ve come to learn that, on days like that, Kaaterskill Creek, even as it runs low this time of year, can always provide that needed respite. Always a breeze creekside.  Always eight to ten degrees cooler. And this day possessing one of the only patches of day lilies around (the rest all eaten down by the large deer population).

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I also managed to find this nice large (5-6′) slab of ripple rock. The breeze and cooler air served its purpose and so, feeling refreshed, I returned to the studio where I continued to sort through the thousands of fossil rocks piled outside. By now there are so many that I have forgotten about that it was either like seeing old friends again or discovering something anew. Either way. it’s a win – win situation!

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What you see above is a grouping of trilobite parts, all of which are parts of head sections (cephalon). While there are many areas where trilobites are plentiful, this is not one of them. So this is somewhat uncommon for me. The bulging piece in the lower left is that head section. The dotted parts on each side are the eyes. Those other dotted fragments  are eyes also (from other trilobites).

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The tail section, or pygidium, appears a bit more frequently in this area. These are three that I have recently found locally.

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The more commonly found fossil around here is the brachiopod. I have read that there are well over 10,000 different types, thus the variety of looks.

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I’ll close for today with these two images. My recent forays into the woods continue to result in finding beautiful sculptural pieces of wood. This one struck me as some kind of headless recumbent figure. And below, once again, another visitor to my shooting table – ancient looking creatures coming together over millennia!

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Thanks for the visit. Please have a safe and happy 4th!

042816 – Simple Design, Simple Minds

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Many of the objects seen here today look like they just got scooped up on a recent trip to the beach. Rather, they are marine invertebrate fossils that, if memory serves me correctly, range in age from six to twenty million years old.

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It seemed like a good idea to present this group (all from the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy) in black and white.

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These wonderful designs of Nature display well in a most simple fashion.

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Last week’s topic on the sophistication of non-human minds drew an interesting variety of response. And with it still fresh in my mind I now keep running into similar types of articles. So let me share a couple of new ones with you.

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“Brain scans of insects appear to indicate that they have the capacity to be conscious and show egocentrico, apparently indicating that they have such a thing as subjective experience.” That’s the finding of study written by Andrew B Barron and Colin Klein, and published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/science/honeybees-insects-consciousness-brains.html?_r=0

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And here’s one on slime mold:

“…But that view has been changing in recent years as scientists have been confronted with the astounding abilities of brainless creatures. Take the slime mold, for example. It’s an amoeba-like, single-celled organism filled with multiple nuclei, part of a primitive lineage that’s been munching on bacteria, fungi and other forest detritus for hundreds of millions of years. And yet, this very simple living thing manages all kinds of intellectual feats.”

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-slime-mold-brain-learning-20160426-story.html

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It’s amazing what we continue to learn on the subject.

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And one last note on the general subject of intelligence, the brainiacs over at NASA are celebrating twenty five years of Hubble images with this video. Take a moment to view these astonishing images.

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Thanks as always for the visit.

1008: Rocks and More

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Today I begin with an image I have shown previously. It’s always been a favorite of mine. I’m pleased to say that a large print of it will appear in a pop-up show this Friday, October 10, in the Towbin Museum Wing of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. The opening (6pm-8pm) will coincide with the Preview Party for this year’s Benefit Auction. The show will remain up through the final day of auction on the 17th.

In a related matter there will be a panel discussion on the following Friday (October 16, 7pm) entitled Connections: Enduring Themes in the Art of the Hudson Valley Region. Panel members will include Daniel Belasco (Curator of the Samuel Dorsky Museum), Jason Rosenfeld (Co-creator of “River Crossings” and Distinguished Chair and Professor of Art History Marymount Manhattan College) and Norm Magnusson (artist and independent curator).

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I continue to work on my files from Maine. I’m beginning to think that I could spend endless amounts of time exploring the coastal rocks up there.

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Another set of rocks appear in these two images. Pretty interesting landscapes in fact. Turns out they are both images from Mars. I’ve been spending some time lately browsing the various NASA libraries – another variation on what I’m finding endlessly fascinating these days.

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In many cases, image files of considerable size can be downloaded and examined more closely. The next image, color enhanced, comes from a recently released composite picture of Pluto taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. More amazing things thanks to the scientists at NASA.Pluto_crop a_LR_12

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Back to earth once again, puttering around the studio led to these recent images. First, a fuzzy visitor making its way around fossil coral.

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I also brought out my old (Devonian) Drawer. It’s been hiding on a shelf somewhere so I thought I’d put it to use once again. The first image contains a few objects that were part of an exercise that eventually led to the image below – containing a rather large cephalopod, a 387 million year old marine invertebrate that I popped out of a rock a few years ago.

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Thanks for the visit.

0723: Hot Summer Days

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I thought last week’s mushroom pics were enough on the subject for now. That was until Cindy eyed this one near our home. Aside from its horrible odor, these first three images show that it was definitely worth some attention.

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This last image is from one of last week’s mushrooms – a week later, sufficiently shriveled and taking on a very different look.

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The big story this past week was the heat (No, not Donald Trump). Here in the Hudson Valley we were spared the worst of it, compared to those to the south of us. I even saw that Italy and much of the Mediterranean were dealing with 100+ degree days.

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Nonetheless, it was plenty uncomfortable around here. Whenever that occurs my escape route usually leads to the nearby creek where the difference in temperature can be as much as ten degrees. But, instead of a relaxing reprieve, I found myself running into fossils wherever I looked.

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These all appeared on the rock surfaces along the creek and all have been long exposed to the elements (including an often overflowing creek).

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This last fossil did not come from the creek. Rather, I just this morning broke it out of a rock. A small edge was exposed in a very dense rock that I had found a number of years ago, and I thought it inpenetrable – that is, until today. A couple of carefully placed hits to my chisel and the whole thing was exposed. I think it is a dipleura (a Devonian trilobite) – Anyone more knowledgable than me (and there are plenty of you out there) please feel free to weigh in. It is approximately 2″ wide and 2.25″ long – somewhat larger that the field guide suggests. Either way, it was a real treat to uncover this one.

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Finally, this picture was released yesterday by NOAA. It is the first time the planet has been photographed since the iconic “Blue Marble” image was taken from Apollo 17 in 1972. This one was taken by a NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory from one million miles away. It’s another fine space story – science at its best. Follow the links to read the story in full.

Thanks for the visit.

0716: What the Rain Brought

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Thanks to the recent rains (and other various conditions present) the signal went out that it was mushroom time. Seemed like everywhere I looked I saw them – all different types and shapes. And while I know very little about mushrooms (hell, I don’t even like eating them!), I must confess that they can be very interesting subjects. I have a few new fossil images at the end of this post. In the meantime I’d like to share these mushrooms with you. I found all of them at home and at my studio. No searching was involved.

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I found this one growing in a mulch pile. These first five images are the same mushroom – the above image at the mulch pile and the others back in the studio.

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Here are some of the others.

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And now, some new fossil images.

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I know you have probably heard by now about Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft and its adventures. I can’t find the words to adequately describe the brilliance and commitment of those at NASA who were responsible for this feat. They are the same brilliant minds, the staff at NASA, who are constantly threatened by ignorant elected officials in Congress. Their crime – the desire to turn their attention to issues of climate change.

So, as we formally say hello to Pluto (above) and its moon Charon (below), let’s hope that good sense might prevail here at home.

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Thanks for the visit.