Rebooting Carl Sagan’s seminal “Cosmos” miniseries three decades later is almost impossible — unless you happen to be renowned astrophysicist and science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson.
For those who may have missed the original back in 1980, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” was a documentary series on PBS that explored the universe as well as the history of scientific discovery. Sagan’s topics of discussionranged from Japanese folklore to debunking astrology to the ultimate fate of the stars and galaxies that surround us.
In addition to the excellent @NatGeo article below, I’d recommend checking out a couple of other related items of interest form their site (links after the excerpt).
Photograph by Darlyne A. Murawski, National Geographic
You could call them early bloomers: In 2010 and 2012, plants in the eastern U.S. produced flowers earlier than at any point in recorded history, a new study says.
This result, according to the research team, has a bit of a literary twist: It comes from data collected by U.S. environmental writers Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. Thoreau began observing bloom times in Massachusetts in 1852, and Leopold began in Wisconsin in 1935.
Scientists compared this historical data with modern, record-shattering high temperatures in Massachusetts and Wisconsin during 2010 and 2012. (See “Heat Waves ‘Almost Certainly’ Due to Global Warming?”)
They discovered that those two recent warm spells triggered many spring-flowering plants to blossom up to 4.1 days earlier for every 1.8-degrees Fahrenheit (degree Celsius) rise in average spring temperatures.
Many studies have already shown that flowering times have come earlier as a result of recent global warming, but what’s unknown is how long the plants will be able to “keep up” by budding earlier and earlier. (Get more facts about spring.)
So far, plants—at least in the eastern U.S.—are coping.
“It’s just remarkable that they can physiologically handle this,” said study leader Elizabeth Ellwood, a biologist at Boston University in Massachusetts.
But Ellwood suspects that “at some point this won’t be the case anymore as winter gets shorter.”
“Something’s gotta give.”
Related NatGeo Article: 6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You
Topics Covered: Atmospheric carbon, increased energy demands, aging transportation infrastructures, droughts, increased cases of allergies and asthma, cities could become more dangerous
NatGeo YouTube Channel: Amazon Adventure—Documenting Life in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park (beautiful photography, as always, of an ecologically important area).
Think for a moment, for years this shot was Afghanistan to us. 9/11 changed all that but as the war winds down and we reflect on our nation building efforts there this is a perfect image to take in. I think this image captured our hearts and helped give us the will to support the cost of lives and billions of dollars to help Afghani people just like this woman. Had we been cold hearted we could have just bailed out of Afghanistan as soon as the Taliban fell. We could have left them to their own Taliban ways, and smashed terror bases at will much as we do now in Africa.
Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.
A Life Revealed
Her eyes have captivated the world since she appeared on our cover in 1985. Now we can tell her story.
By Cathy Newman
Photograph by Steve McCurry
She remembers the moment. The photographer took her picture. She remembers her anger. The man was a stranger. She had never been photographed before. Until they met again 17 years later, she had not been photographed since.
The photographer remembers the moment too. The light was soft. The refugee camp in Pakistan was a sea of tents. Inside the school tent he noticed her first. Sensing her shyness, he approached her last. She told him he could take her picture. “I didn’t think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day,” he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees.
The portrait by Steve McCurry turned out to be one of those images that sears the heart, and in June 1985 it ran on the cover of this magazine. Her eyes are sea green. They are haunted and haunting, and in them you can read the tragedy of a land drained by war. She became known around National Geographic as the “Afghan girl,” and for 17 years no one knew her name.
In January a team from National Geographic Television & Film’s EXPLORER brought McCurry to Pakistan to search for the girl with green eyes. They showed her picture around Nasir Bagh, the still standing refugee camp near Peshawar where the photograph had been made. A teacher from the school claimed to know her name. A young woman named Alam Bibi was located in a village nearby, but McCurry decided it wasn’t her.
No, what made my eyebrows rise was the perpetrator of this idiocy.
National Geographic Channel found that nearly 65% of Americans surveyed said they believed that Obama was better able to handle an alien onslaught than the Republican presidential candidate.
The National Geographic Society is not synonymous with the National Geographic Channel, which is largely owned by News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s sinister organization. But still…National Geographic has their good name attached to this garbage? For shame.
National Geographic is reporting on the remarkable discovery and analysis of a 1,600 year old ancient Maya temple in Guatemala. Called the Temple of the Night Sun, it features a series of striking stone monuments, including various depictions of the Maya sun god as a shark, jaguar, and blood drinker. Archaeologists are hoping that the discovery will shed some light on the fierce rivalries that characterized the era.
The video above showcases the work done by a team of archeologists led by Stephen Houston and comes courtesy of Brown University.
Aliens often compete with superheroes, vampires and zombies to top hit movie lists — but more than a third of Americans say UFOs are not a fantasy.
That’s the word from a new National Geographic Channel study finding that 80 million Americans are certain UFOs exist and that one in 10 believe they’ve spotted one.
“We wanted the pulse on people’s opinions,” says Brad Dancer, senior vice president of research and digital media for National Geographic. “We wanted to get a sense of how Americans view UFOs, what people believe and how mainstream pop culture may or may not be playing into their opinions on it.”
The results are in: Seventeen percent of Americans don’t believe UFOs exist, 36% think they do, and 48% aren’t sure.
About 79% of those surveyed think the government has kept information about UFOs a secret from the public, and 55% believe there are real-life Men in Black-style agents who threaten people who spot UFOs.
Although 81% of Americans think aliens could possess superpowers like time travel and mind-reading, most expect extraterrestrials to be rather friendly and wouldn’t mind a minor alien invasion.
Here are three nominees for the 2012 coveted Golden Crocoduck. Please don’t ask how you can vote — voting begins in October and details will be announced in a video at that time. All three videos shown here can be found in the nominees’ playlist on my channel.
2:45 Fake skeletons shown at michaelsheiser.com
2:55 Fake skeleton from Worth 1000
3:08 Hindu Voice story from karsewak.blogspot.com.au
3:29 “Skeleton of Giant is Internet Hoax” - National Geographic, Dec 14 2007.
3:41 Worth1000 competition entry fx.worth1000.com
5:05 “Fossilized” giant described at archive.org
8:06 onwards —
“Type V Collagen Controls the Initiation of Collagen
Richard J. Wenstrup et al., Aug 2004
“Collagen fibril formation”
Karl E. Kadler 1996
“Collagen fibril morphology and organization: Implications for force
transmission in ligament and tendon”
Paolo P. Provenzano 2005
“Extracellular Compartments in Tendon Morphogenesis:
Collagen Fibril, Bundle, and Macroaggregate Formation”
David E. Birk et al 1986
Clip of Jenna Bus from “Jenna Bush - Predator 2” on YouTube
For those not familiar with cockney rhyming slang:
Frog and toad = road
Jimmy riddle = piddle (urination)
Adam and Eve = believe
Porky pie = lie
National Geographic is currently holding its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 30. For the past nine weeks, the society has been gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to vote for them as well. National Geographic was kind enough to let me choose among its entries from 2011 for display here on In Focus. Gathered below are 45 images from the three categories of People, Places, and Nature, with captions written by the individual photographers.
Don’t be surprised if some of you see power outages or if your electronics get jacked up.
A mushroom of cooled plasma popped like a pimple and rained onto the surface of the sun yesterday—shooting perhaps the largest amount of solar material into space ever seen, scientists say.
The solar flare—an unusually bright spot on the sun—wasn’t surprising as a “moderate” event. Space observatories in the past year recorded about 70 such solar flares, each roughly ten times weaker than “extreme” flares, of which only two have occurred since 2007.
Instead, what shocked scientists was the unusual amount of material that lofted up, expanded, and fell back down over roughly half the surface area of the sun. The event’s simultaneous launch of particles into space is called a coronal mass ejection (CME).
“This totally caught us by surprise. There wasn’t much going on with this spot, but as it came from behind the sun, all of the sudden there was a flare and huge ejection of particles,” said astrophysicist Phillip Chamberlin of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), one of several spacecraft that recorded the event.
“We’ve never seen a CME this enormous.”
Read it all. And solar flares have affected the power grid and communications before. It will be far worse now because we are so connected.
An 11,500 year old temple complex sheds light on the relation between the development of religion and other cultural drivers.