Good day to you, my fine reader.

Time to take a break from the chaos and stupidity sweeping the globe. (But then again, when hasn’t there been stupidity and chaos sweeping the globe?)

As William Shatner said, “Live life like you’re gonna die – coz your gonna.” I try to remind myself every day that there’s still room in the darkness for truth and beauty.

They’ve been replaying “The World At War” on the History Channel here in Japan to coincide with the anniversary of the end of World War 2. That was 66 years ago. I am continually impressed by the scope of that documentary series, as well as its timeliness. It was released in 1974, so it includes a lot of eyewitness accounts and interviews with some of the protagonists. For historians, you always try to find primary sources, and this series is chock full of them. As the generation that experienced that war is passing away, it makes it all the more poignant. A lot of the remaining survivors of Hiroshima were infants at the time. Watching the episode on how Russia endured invasion by the Nazis and eventually turned them back, losing 20 million people in the process (basically the entire population of Australia killed in two years), I was amazed at how the Russians kept their spirit and determination alive through all that suffering.

There also lighter amusements keeping my interest in good things alive and well.

“You Are Not A Photographer” highlights the worst of so-called ‘professional’ photography done by spare-room hacks with a digital camera and free software. It’s hard to believe people get paid for churning out this stuff. I really like the use of their terms, “fauxtographer” and “fauxtography”. May it inspire us all to better and brighter things.

Some 153 photos of teeny tiny things. Gizmodo often has neat photo compilations.

Sand magnified to 250 times normal size looks cool. So do air bubbles frozen in ice.

There’s tilt shift photography, and then there’s tilt shift photography. I might have to go into making giant mockups of small things for fun and profit.

The cast of The Big Lebowski got together at Lebowskifest. How I wish…

Australia will soon have a boneyard of its very own. Time to rent a helicopter and a super 70mm camera and make my own version of Baraka…

Some very cool time lapse video.

The history of villains in American films makes for some interesting reading.

Japan hasn’t run out of cute girls, but the handlers of AKB48 decided to use computers to piece together bits of their stable to make a new one.

Faking it is huge in fashion photography, but I never realized how much models contorted and abused their bodies until I read this article.

Astronomers have found another moon around Pluto. That’s four, if you’re counting. 

A whole bunch of man-made passages have been found in Bavaria.

Somehow I keep alternating between Middle School and College.

Home made cola. I wouldn’t mind trying this out sometime. Just dump half the sugar and the colouring and I’ll be there.

Imagine batteries that last forever. Not oo far away, hopefully.

The key to longer life might lie inside cancer. What? Yes, cancer. There’s a mutation in the genes of pancreatic cancer that can lengthen the telomeres on the ends of DNA, thought to control when cells die.  

So, we can’t currently actually travel to another universe. However we could perhaps detect evidence of the multiverse in the Cosmic Background Radiation.

Closer to home, the recent discovery of fossilized life from 3.4 billion years ago that lived by metabolizing sulphur gives hope to finding evidence of life on Mars.

On a personal note, I would really appreciate a new spine.

 

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You gotta love Science. Every week scientists continue to push back the limits of our knowledge and discover new things that astonish and stimulate the mind. Who can say how all this will change the future, but I hope it’s for the better. Here are a few things from the past few weeks.

Canadian researchers have created a cure for cancer, but thanks to the lack of reportage, no one really knows about it. Could it be because the pharmaceutical companies won’t be able to make any money off of it? Oh say it aint so!

The Voyager probes continue to send back data from the edge of the solar system, where they’ve shown that the sun’s magnetic field forms dynamic elongated ‘bubbles’ as it rubs up against deep space.

Maybe the sun might capture a wandering interstellar planet?

Scientists have been able to trap and study anti-matter for the first time, being able to trap such particles for longer than ever before.

They’ve been able to show that dark energy exists and it is the driving force behind the expansion of the universe. There’s no need to worry about a ‘Big Crunch’ causing the end of the universe, as it looks like the universe is destined to expand forever.

Speaking of dark stuff, dark matter’s strength seems to vary with the seasons. This could be caused by variations in te speed of the Earth as it whizzes around the Sun and causing the inetraction with dark matter particles (also called WIMPs) to vary. This could exaplin why these particles have been so difficult to detect, but on the surface it doesn’t seem to make much sense either…

One of the big problems with solar power is what to do about clouds, as well as night. A Japanese company has proposed a simple (?) yet logical , albeit extraordinarily expensive solution – building a giant ring or solar cells around the equator … of the Moon.

Speaking of the Sun. It seems to be emitting a new form of particle that’s causing a lot of heads to be scratched. One of the fundamentals rules of the cosmos was that particles decay at a steady, predictable rate. Note my use of the past tense there, since it seems this new particle could be causing decay rates to change. That isn’t supposed to happen. The idea that it is the Sun causing this could be very worrying indeed.

The universe was quite a sight 11 billion years ago…

Closer to home, PepsiCo has invented a new kind of salt, as well as a way to maintain the sweetness of their cola products while cutting the amount of sweetner they use. Coming to a junk-food aisle near you very soon.