Getting spiders high for science started in 1948, when German zoologist H.M. Peters got fed up with trying to study web-building behavior in spiders who wouldn’t do him the courtesy of working on his schedule. His garden spiders tended to build their webs between two and five a.m., and he asked his pharmacologist friend P.N. Witt if there might be some chemical stimulant that would coax the spiders into building their webs at a more reasonable time.
Witt tried giving the spiders some amphetamine and, while they kept building at their usual hour (to Peters’ dismay), the two scientists did notice that those webs were more haphazard than normal. Over the next few decades, Witt continued to dose spiders with a smorgasbord of psychoactive substances, including marijuana, LSD, caffeine and mescaline, to see how they reacted. Since spiders can’t use tiny bongs or drink from little mugs, Witt and his team either dissolved the drugs in sugar water or injected them into flies and then fed the spiders with them.
Images: Spider web images by NASA, via Mental Floss. Clockwise, starting with the top-left: a regular web; a web on marijuana; a web on benzedrine; a web on caffeine; a web on chloral hydrate; and a web on LSD.
In the VICE documentary Space Barbie, Valeria Lukyanova, the Ukrainian woman who is famous for crafting her appearance to look like Barbie, reveals that she is a time-traveling spirit guide who can speak to aliens. She explains that being physically perfect (or close to it) has helped her share her ideas with the world because the human race is naturally attracted to good looks.
The Out & Allied @ JSC Employee Resource Group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has added its voice to the It Gets Better Project.
As they write at ReelNASA, the video’s creation is meant to send a “message to current and future NASA employees that it is OK to be LGBTQ, and that NASA JSC management supports and encourages an inclusive, diverse workforce in our workplace.”
The BBC has created a monster infographic illustrating “every attempt to leave Earth’s orbit and reach a destination in extraterrestrial space – be it with probes, orbiters, rovers, or of course manned missions.”
The graphic shows successful and failed missions, country of launch origin and type of mission (eg., fly-by, rover, actual landing).
Blake posted a video earlier showing NASA’s new Earth photos created with infrared imaging technology. I can’t stop looking at them though.
Here’s the basic set (including a 54000x27000 GeoTIFF version of the top image — let’s make posters), and here’s a fascinating look at the Nile. And over here is an interactive map where you can explore the entire globe.
A handful of scientists have observed earthly night lights over the past four decades with military satellites and astronaut photography. But in 2012, the view became significantly clearer. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite — launched in October 2011 by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Defense — carries a low-light sensor that can distinguish night lights with six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels (dynamic range) than before. Also, because Suomi NPP is a civilian science satellite, data is available to scientists within minutes to hours of acquisition.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP can observe dim light down to the scale of an isolated highway lamp or fishing boat. It can even detect faint, nocturnal atmospheric light — known as airglow — and observe clouds lit by it. Through the use of its “day-night band,” VIIRS can make the first quantitative measurements of light emissions and reflections, distinguishing the intensity and the sources of night light. The sum of these measurements gives us a global view of the human footprint on the Earth.
Stunning — Michael.
Images: City Lights, via Nasa Earth Observatory. Select to embiggen.
I’ll note Suomi NPP orbits about 800 kilometers (500 miles) above the Earth and sees only a small part of the planet at any one time. This animation comprises 2.5 terabytes of data—2500 gigabytes!—that were stitched together to show the entire Earth’s face over a single rotation.
Visible - A mosaic of images taken by the Clementinemission. This is a black-and-white version of what you would seeif you were in orbit around the moon. This composite imagery was prepared by the USGS.
Apollo - A collection of placemarks that tell the story of the Apollo missions that landed on the moon. This includes stories, quotes,images, panoramas, audio clips, and links to videos of the astronauts’ adventures on the lunar surface.
Charts - A collection of geological and topographic charts of various regions of the moon.
I had to go the laborious manual route because the frame-rate is too low causing the footage to jerk around too quickly for automated motion tracking to handle it.
It should definitely be noted that by its very nature interpolation creates inaccuracies. The original was 4fps, so converting to 30fps at the same speed means that you’re essentially inventing 87% of the footage.
On top of that I also had to use pan and scan techniques in order to convert it to the 1080p format but still track the interesting features.
The first few seconds were the hardest part. Accomplishing smooth movement in that section actually involved separating the heat shield from the background layer and rendering them as two independently moving layers.
I say all of this because people should understand that although I took great pains to make this accurate, you should still watch the original footage if you want a true accuracy.
(Plus, white-balancing images of a planet that we’ve never been to is quite a task :)
I used the rather meaningless phrase “ultra HD” to try and describe the fact that I actually rendered the video at enterprise-quality 1080p, 50,000 kbps (instead of the usual ~1000kbps). This meant it took the entire night to render and the filesize was hundreds of times bigger.
You probably won’t notice the difference unless you play the video at 1080p - but I think it was worth it.
On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.—NASA
“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.” — Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012)
Image: The view from the Apollo 11 Command and Service Module shows the Earth rising above the Moon’s horizon on July 20th, 1969. NASA, via Boston.com.