Earth’s designers now invite client feedback, for better or worse…

Tuesday, 10 June, 2014

As a product I always thought Earth was pretty good, but trying to please everyone was always going to be a big task, just ask the person who wrote the design brief for the planet, or more the point, the builder, or forces of the universe, that brought this rock we call home into existence:

Right now we’re only seeing two great lights in the sky… a greater one for day and a lesser one for night? Thinking that maybe we weren’t clear in the original briefing. Definitely need more than just two great lights. Need to make this a memorable, high-value experience for our users. Please revisit slides thirteen and fourteen in the deck. Shout with questions.

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The Earth and the Moon waltzing, in perfect unison, through space

Wednesday, 18 December, 2013

NASA’s Juno space probe, that is en-route to Jupiter as we speak, recently recorded these images of the Moon orbiting the Earth, the first time footage of the two bodies moving together through space has been filmed/photographed.

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Cutting down the clutter in Earth orbit by imposing a debris tax

Wednesday, 16 October, 2013

If a tax on orbital debris, that is the dead satellites, burnt out rocket parts, and who knows what else, that is circulating above the Earth’s atmosphere, doesn’t make sense right now, it will after you see Gravity.

The study found that commercial satellite firms launch more satellites than is “socially desirable,” and they use launch technology that is more likely to create debris “because they only compare individual marginal benefits and costs of their technology choice and fail to take into account social benefits and costs.” That puts space debris squarely into the category of a “negative externality,” much like regular Earth-bound pollution, where the costs are unfairly borne by a third party – in this case just about everyone else on Earth.

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Earth indeed has a heart but we already knew that

Friday, 16 August, 2013

Earth seasons, image by IDV Solutions

Stitch together photos taken by Earth orbiting NASA satellites of the seasons coming and going in, this instance, the northern hemisphere, into an animation, and it quickly becomes apparent that our planet has its own heartbeat.

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The next supercontinent is slowly forming, what should we call it?

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013

We know, or at least strongly suspect, that Earth’s landmasses variously coalesce and drift apart over hundreds of millions of years, to either form massive, single bodies, or smaller, separate continents, such as those that we are familiar with presently.

Those looking carefully though think they may have detected the beginning of the process that will eventually see – and we’re talking millions, upon millions, of years here – the formation of the planet’s next supercontinent.

Currently, both the African and Eurasian plates are moving away from the North American and South American plates, but at the same time the African plate is moving north, into the Eurasian plate – this is why the Alps exist. Small subduction zones have already been found in the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar, that are migrating as this happens.

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The unique sights, and sounds, of flat Earth art

Friday, 10 May, 2013

Flat Earth Society artwork

Unique is probably the best word to describe the way the Flat Earth Society creates its musical recordings:

Flat earth society takes readings from the stylus of topographic radar, cuts them into vinyl and then plays them back with a stylus. Phonographic hills-and-dales grow into the Alps, Andes, Himalayas, Grand Canyon, Great Steppe, Great Rift Valley, Great Outback and the Lesser Antilles. Where Enrico Caruso and Nellie Melba once sang one hears the Baja Peninsula, Antarctic Peninsula, and the bathymetric pauses of the Red Sea and Baffin Bay. Peaks and valleys, spikes and wells, spires and troughs, aspirations and depressions, all have their gradations in mythical and actual landscapes.

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Who speaks for Earth? The Visit Earth bureau of course

Thursday, 2 May, 2013

Visit Earth

Perhaps it’s time we tried another approach if we wish to lure extraterrestrials into visiting Earth?

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Asteroids, and possible ways of keeping them away from Earth

Wednesday, 27 February, 2013

Earth has been menaced by a couple of asteroids and meteorites of late. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of these threats for a while, but it raises the question of how to deal with such objects, especially if there is some sort of advance warning that they are on the way.

Thankfully there are a couple of options on the table. Scientists in California for instance say it is possible to use laser beams to evaporate asteroids, or failing that, move them into less threatening orbits:

Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth. It is equally capable of changing an asteroid’s orbit – deflecting it away from Earth, or into the Sun – and may also prove to be a valuable tool for assessing an asteroid’s composition, enabling lucrative, rare-element mining. And it’s entirely based on current essential technology.

Meanwhile, Sung Wook Paek, a MIT graduate, says splattering white paint on the surface of asteroids would also help alter their course:

Paintballs themselves could impart a slight momentum change to the asteroid, diverting it only slightly, but not enough to avoid Earth. The main effect would come from the paint’s increase in reflectivity on the asteroid. Thus, the pressure of photons coming from the sun, acting over enough time, could result in a large shift in course. Paek concluded that the course of asteroid Apophis, a 27-gigaton rock that is expected to pass close to Earth in 2029 and in 2036, could be changed enough to miss Earth. He estimated that 5 tons of paint would be sufficient to cover the 1,480-foot-diameter asteroid.

And just for the record, a map of the globe marking known meteorite strikes over the last four thousand three hundred years… there’s quite a few.

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Earth, a lovely planet until… we arrived

Tuesday, 5 February, 2013

Man, a thought provoking video by Steve Cutts. Our often poor treatment of Earth is a by-product of the relatively easy lives that many of us are fortunate enough to lead. What do you see here?

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Becoming scarce… where has all the topsoil gone?

Friday, 25 January, 2013

Climate change, peak oil, rising sea levels, we have more than a few challenges ahead of us if the world our grand children will be living in is to be anywhere near habitable. Now I read topsoil, where crops and the like, or the sources of much of the food we eat, looks to be running out:

A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded – the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone. Because of various farming methods that strip the soil of carbon and make it less robust as well as weaker in nutrients, soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished. Even the well-maintained farming land in Europe, which may look idyllic, is being lost at unsustainable rates.

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