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Posts Tagged ‘sun

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph”*…

 

Three decades ago, as a graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mimi Plumb [see here] was wandering around Bernal Heights when she came across the site of a recent house fire. Plumb went inside to explore the building’s charred remains. She paused to photograph a blackened globe and a singed stack of telephone books. In the basement, she found snapshots of an unknown family, and in the bedroom, a burned lamp and dresser. The grim, soot-filled rooms would later remind her of her childhood during the Cuban missile crisis, when duck-and-cover drills occurred every few weeks. “My mother told me there might be a nuclear war,” Plumb says. “I would wake up in the middle of the night.”

The photos of the house were among the first that Plumb would take for her series Dark Days, which will be published this summer by TBW Books in a collection titled Landfall

After seven years of taking photos for the series, Plumb did the unthinkable: She packed the negatives into a box and didn’t look at them again. In some ways, she knew she had nothing more to add to the work, that she had adequately captured that feeling of imbalance. But there was also another reason. Plumb felt pressure as a female photographer to take more “palatable” images.

The series was tucked away until 2015, when Plumb, having retired from teaching black-and-white photography, began going through her archives. She was struck by how much the work — with its themes of nuclear anxiety and environmental decline — “runs eerily parallel to our current situation.”…

More on Plumb’s work at “Unearthed“; see more of the Dark Days series at her site

* Alfred Stieglitz

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As we ponder the pix, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that French physicists Louis Fizeau and Leon Foucault took the first photograph of the sun.  The daguerreotype was just 4.7 inches, but as National Geographic reported, still caught sunspots.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 2, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily”*…

 

All the old rites and superstitions that once warded off mystical evils have been condensed into one single command, so vast and monolithic we’ve forgotten that it’s even possible to disobey: Don’t look directly at the sun.

Not to look directly into the sun is (at a guess) one of the first lessons everyone is taught by their parents. As unquestioned ideological precepts go, it’s enormously effective. You learn it, you internalize it, and never really think of it again until you have kids of your own. And then you say it once more, repeating your parents’ words, and theirs, in an unbroken tradition going back God knows how many millennia. No, honey, never look directly into the sun…  But people do it. And our world is the better for it, because staring directly into the sun is our moral and political duty…

Question authority: “What happens when you stare at the sun.”

* François de La Rochefoucauld

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As we put down the smoked glass, we might spare a thought for the creator of the object of another set of taboos, Harry Wesley Coover, Jr.; he died on this date in 2011.  A chemist working for Eastman Kodak, he accidentally discovered a substance first marketed as “Eastman 910,” now commonly known as Super Glue. Coover was a prolific inventor– he held 460 patents– but was proudest of the organizational system that he developed and oversaw at Kodak: “programmed innovation,” a management methodology emphasizing research and development, which resulted in the introduction of 320 new products and sales growth from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion.  In 2004, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame; then in 2010, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

 source

 

Written by LW

March 26, 2017 at 1:01 am

Signs of the Times, Part 666…

 

Earlier missives have covered the ironic antics of Bansky (e.g., here).  Now, in the spirit of his faux Paris Hilton CD covers, TrustoCorp and their “Tabloid Magazine Interventions“…

As Arrested Motion reports:

… they’ve gone into magazine stands, bookstores and pharmacies throughout Hollywood, Manhattan, Williamsburg, LAX and JFK to drop copies of these little artistic interventions for the unsuspecting public.

No details were spared as headlines blasted celebrities and public figures like Lindsey Lohan, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in hypothetical features of entertaining variants for ever popular gossip magazines such as US, People and OK. What’s more is that each page of the tabloid have an embedded alphanumeric code that leads to a secret website for people that can figure it out. So keep your eyes peeled as you pass by your local newsstands as you may be lucky enough to find that TrustoCorp made a special delivery in your neighborhood.

See the rest of the covers at Arrested Motion.

And visit the TrustoCorp site for an interactive map revealing the locations of the signs that the collective has helpfully distributed around Manhattan, signs like…

Lexington and 24th

Greenwich and Morton

 

As we celebrate semiotic significance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1833 that the first successful “penny newspaper,” the New York Sun, was first published.  While it is probably best remembered for its 1897 editorial “Is There a Santa Claus?” (commonly referred to as “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”), it also published “The Great Moon Hoax” (featured here recently), and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Balloon Hoax.”

We also have the Sun— more specifically, its managing editor from 1863-1890, John Bogart– to thank for that oft-quoted definition of the journalistic enterprise: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

source

 

Shine on…

click on the image above, or here, for larger version (well worth doing)

Amateur astronomer Alan Friedman captured this photo of the surface of the sun.  As Discover‘s Bad Astronomy reports:

The scene-stealer is that detached prominence [that appears to be a cloud] off to the left. That’s the leftover material ejected from the Sun by an erupting sunspot (you can see other sunspots in the picture as well). The gas is ionized — a plasma — and so it’s affected by magnetic fields. The material follows the magnetic field of the Sun in the explosion, lifting it off the surface and into space. Sometimes it falls back, and sometimes it leaves the Sun entirely. In this case, Alan caught some of the material at what looks like the top of its trajectory.

The beauty of this picture belies its violence and sheer magnitude: the mass of material in a prominence can easily top 10 billion tons! As for size, see that dark elongated sunspot near the base of the prominence, just to the right of the bigger, speckly one? That spot is roughly twice the size of the Earth.

We’ve come a long way since the discovery of sun spots in 1611… but that too was the work of a gifted and dedicated amateur.

As we raise our SPFs, we might recall that on this date in 1957, a star of a different sort fell when Charles van Doren’s winning streak on the television game show Twenty One came to an end.  Van Doren was a young Columbia professor at the time, the scion of a storied family: son of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and literary critic/teacher Mark Van Doren and novelist and writer Dorothy Van Doren, and nephew of critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Carl Van Doren.  This pedigree, along with an academic resume that included St. Johns, Cambridge, and Columbia and advanced degrees in both astrophysics and English, made him a natural for the broad general knowledge challenge of the quiz show.

And indeed, in January of 1957, Van Doren started a winning run that ultimately earned him more than $129,000 (more than $1 million in 2009 dollars) and made him famous (he graced the the cover of Time on February 11, 1957). His reign ended when he lost to Vivienne Nearing (a lawyer whose husband Van Doren had previously beaten).

Subsequently, allegations were made that Van Doren has cheated; and in 1959, he testified before a House investigatory committee that he had been given questions and answers in advance of the show:

I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception… I asked (co-producer Albert Freedman) to let me go on (Twenty One) honestly, without receiving help. He said that was impossible. He told me that I would not have a chance to defeat Stempel [the long-running champ before Van Doren knocked him off] because he was too knowledgeable. He also told me that the show was merely entertainment and that giving help to quiz contests was a common practice and merely a part of show business. This of course was not true, but perhaps I wanted to believe him. He also stressed the fact that by appearing on a nationally televised program I would be doing a great service to the intellectual life, to teachers and to education in general, by increasing public respect for the work of the mind through my performances. In fact, I think I have done a disservice to all of them. I deeply regret this, since I believe nothing is of more vital importance to our civilization than education.

Vivienne Nearing, host Jack Barry, and Charles Van Doren (source)

 

Great Ball of Fire!…

In this x-ray photo, the dark arc near the top right edge of the image is a filament of plasma blasting off the surface (NASA, AP Photo)

From Astronomy Now, news of a “coronal mass ejection”:

The Sun appears to have jolted from its deep slumber, blasting tonnes of plasma into interplanetary space on Sunday, which is expected to collide with the Earth within the next 24 hours.

“This eruption is directed right at us, and is expected to get here early in the day on 4 August,” says astronomer Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It’s the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time.”

By the time one receives this missive, the plasma should have come ashore.

.. if indeed, one is able to read this.  As The Telegraph reports (via News24):

Scientists have warned that a really big solar eruption could destroy satellites and wreck power and communications grids.

Or maybe not.  Solarcycle24, a specialist site, is more circumspect:

There will be a chance for minor geomagnetic storming and a small possibility of major geomagnetic storming at high latitudes.

Which is to say that penguins and polar bears may be in for even-more-vivid-than-usual light shows in their night skies…

As to which prediction is right:  well, Dear Readers, if you are reading this…

As we recheck all of our surge protectors, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that, after several unsuccessful attempts, the first telegraph line across the Atlantic Ocean was completed– and the world became materially smaller.

Cover for a 1858 musical composition commemorating the cable (source: Naval Historical Center); click here or on image to enlarge

Looking directly at the sun…


With thanks to photographer Thierry Legault, the only image ever taken of a transit of a space shuttle (Atlantis) and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in front of the Sun– during the last repair mission of Hubble.  Legault took the photo in Florida (100 km south of the Kennedy Space Center) on May 13th (at 12:17 local time), several minutes before grapple of Hubble by Atlantis.

See the full image here…  and see other examples of Legault’s extraordinary “astrophotography” work here.

As we rub our eyes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1804 that Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France– at least in part an unintended consequence of Britain’s declaration of war against France (again), exactly one year before, in response to Napoleon’s “activities” in Italy and Switzerland… (Napoleon formally crowned himself “Emperor Napoleon I” on December 2, 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris.)

Jacques-Louis David’s portrait of Napoleon (1812)

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