SciFi and Science

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I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi fan – growing up reading Tom Swift, watching with excitement all the early rockets blast off or blow up in the Sputnik Era. The thought of adventure and exploration beyond the bounds of Earth just mede my head spin! Unfortunately, any reading time now for me is usually art or science related. The thought of fiction just seemed too luxurious a way to spend time – at least until now.

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What an escape I have found in RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson – the perfect solution for me on those dreary sunless days of winter! Part One of a trilogy, RED MARS chronicles the first settlement on Mars. It’s a great story, well researched, filled with technological wonders, aesthetic and environmental concerns, etc. No surprise I’m enjoying it, given all the wonderful extended descriptions of the geology and landscape.

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Did you know that many scientists today, particularly the younger ones, were influenced into their career paths thanks to science fiction that dared to challenge young minds? There are plenty of “closet” trekkies at NASA, I am sure.

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I read the news today, oh boy. It was announced that climate change denier Sen. Ted Cruz has been appointed to lead the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee. As professor Michio Kaku said,”It’s like having the fox guard the chicken coop.” And while Cruz will make inspired speeches about space flight, keep in mind that one of NASA’s most important roles is to look back at our planet, keeping an eye on climate change. I wonder where the budgets will be cut?

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At the same time Senator Marco “I’m not a scientist but…” Rubio was named chair of the subcommittee on Oceans,Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

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And, of course, there is Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a “hoax,” has now taken over as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (which oversees the EPA)

Bill Moyers has an excellent rundown on what the last election has wrought. Take a look:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/28/gop-takes-senate-climate-change-deniers-will-control-key-committees/

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This handful of images shows the variety of appearances made by brachiopods – all from the same site, all the same age. Of the thousands of brachiopod types these are but a few.

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Last is part of a gastropod, just for a little change. These particular fossils  are roughly 385 million years old. And, as species, they lasted millions and millions of years. I oftentimes wonder how it will work out for us.

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One final note. A thanks to all of you who visit this site. I have always been more concerned about turning out something worthy of your time, rather than engaging in publicizing the blog. So I was gratified to see the annual data info WordPress sent recently that showed a very nice jump in viewership – a 33% increase in 2014 over the previous year – 8800 unique visits from 69 countries.

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Thank you again for this visit.

0313: Those Creative Juices

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This time of year, as we slowly work our way out of winter’s hibernation, I often see a rise in those self-help articles – you know – “15 Tips for Creativity,” “Daily Habits of Artists That Unlock Creativity,” “Nine of the Best Ways to Boost Creativity,” etc. Perhaps they work for some. I will often scan them – one never knows where or when inspiration will rear its head. But over the years I’ve come up with some tricks of my own to help jumpstart the process.

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The other day I dug into some architectural images from my library and attempted a fresh and different approach to the subject – in the above case two views of a walkway from a recent visit to Empire Plaza in Albany. Next was a visit to my New York images. This last one, below, had always seemed unresolved to me, seemed to lack something. But now, after a few severe changes, it holds some new found appeal, maybe a new direction to explore. But it got the wheels turning, however creakily!

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These exercises must have had some effect because, after leaving my camera sitting dormant through the last few storms, I pulled it out yesterday. And on that very gray day I found this odd bit of color. Almost felt like Easter lilies – color brightening my day and my outlook!

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I have a few other tricks that fire up those creative juices. And, no surprise, they mostly have to do with visual stimuli. Chief among them is my longstanding love affair with the work of the late great American artist Richard Diebenkorn. His Ocean Park series, much of which I was fortunate to see at the Corcoran a couple of years ago, is an endless source of inspiration.

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NASA always has spectacular images available for perusal. At the moment, in honor of the new “Cosmos” series currently airing, they have posted a stunning new gallery of space photos on Flickr. Here are a few:

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And then there is the issue of Google Earth and its vast visual possibilities. I’ll delve into that in a coming post. For now, though, here are two images I captured while exploring the Gobi Desert.

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Whether on Earth or in deep space, natural design abounds. Inspiration soon follows!

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Finally, a quick roundup of my current shows. The opening at BAU Gallery in Beacon was a wonderful success. I’m very happy with my move to BAU – the members are terrific and the town is a positive hotbed for art. Show runs through April 6, Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 6 PM. I’ll be sitting the gallery this Saturday, March 15 and also on the closing day, April 6. Please drop by if you are in the area.

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The 38th Annual Photo Regional opened the other day at the Albany Center Gallery and will run thru April 18. Two of my pieces were accepted into this juried show. An Artists Reception is set for April 5, 5-9PM.

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I just received these pics from the opening of my exhibition “Inspired Fossils” in  the Tuscan town of Fucecchio last weekend. That’s my friend, Dr. Stefano Dominici, giving (I’m sure) his always interesting take on the work. I’m told that the Mayor gave some opening remarks as well. Reviews are good and there is real interest in the topic. My deep thanks to my friends in Italy who have worked hard to move the show to this new venue, the fourteenth century Civic Museum. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Thanks for the visit.

The Forces of Ignorance

I make certain assumptions about the readers of this blog. I know that many of you have a sense of or at least a curiosity about science and the world around us. So, perhaps I am simply preaching to the choir with this week’s missive. I’m not interested in going off on the state of politics in this country at this moment in time (although I could quite handily). Rather, here is just a brief note to consider when determining the value of one’s vote.

In a world dominated by technological advances (so fast that it can be dizzying) it would seem that we would want the best and brightest minds working overtime keeping us on the cutting edge. Consider for a moment please the House Science Committee. Officially known as the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Its jurisdiction covers everything from energy research and development to NASA and the National Science Foundation (and everything in between).

Here are a few of its members:

Paul Broun, R-Ga. – Rep. Broun, who happens also to be an MD, said last week that evolution and the big bang theory are “lies from the pit of Hell.” He went on to say that the Earth is 9,000 years old and it was literally created in six days.

Todd Akin, R-Mo. –  Yeah – the “legitimate rape” guy with the Third Grade understanding of reproduction. He might yet become the next Senator from Missouri.

James Sensenbrenner, R-Wi. – He regards the climate crisis as “scientific fascism.”

The list goes on. How smart do you want your kids to be? How smart do you want your country to be? Please tell all your friends to vote this year. It is that important.

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Enough about that. I hope I didn’t chase you away. This past week I played hookey from fossils. The best days of Autumn are here and Cindy and I made a trip down to Storm King. For those unfamiliar, Storm King is regarded as one of the world’s leading sculpture Parks set in the lower Hudson Valley. It displays more than 100 sculptures beautifully laid out over 500 acres. We had a spectacular time on a beautiful day. Here are some images from that trip.

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Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Where To Spend the Money

Great news about NASA‘s success with the Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. Good reason to be excited, not only to recognize the sheer magnitude of achievement, but also for what is yet to come. The earliest images, specifically those from the descent camera, had everyone elated. But did you know that they almost didn’t happen?

A little reported story came over CNN by their science guy, John Zarrella, about Mike Malin, head of Malin Space Science Systems, a small company in San Diego. They have been designing, building, and operating space camera systems for the past twenty years. On this mission, to cut costs NASA decided to kill that descent camera after already spending a million dollars on it. Mike then found ways to finish the project through other funding sources, one of which was his own pocket. “Eighty thousand,” when asked he said with a big smile, “But wasn’t it worth it!” Check out the brief clip here.

So, in a country where the science community is applauded on one hand for it brilliance (but shortchanged on the funding front), that same brilliance and critical thinking is ridiculed by a significant portion of the public over issues like climate change. While more serious signs emerged this past week in a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences, some of the most vociferous deniers are the same people happy to fund programs like Louisiana’s School Voucher System. This little gem will allow millions to be spent in one of the worst school systems in the nation. Maybe on computers, or broadened subjects, or maybe even expanding (or simply initiating) music and art programs. One would hope. But no According to Mother Jones“Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord – all on the taxpayers’ dime.”

One last note: These same people, who very well might sway the coming election, think that early earth history was something akin to Fred Flintstone riding dinosaurs 10,000 years ago. That kind of thinking will will be a great help in navigating us through the difficult times ahead!

A mixed bag of images today, some fossils (mostly plant, Devonian, from Schoharie County) and BFF ( Before Fred Flintstone!), others just some interesting rocks from the last hike.Don’t forget to look out for the Perseid Meteor Shower on the nights of August 11 through 13. If the skies are clear you’ll see a great show.

Subscribe at my homepage https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Thanks again for the visit.