John Green, Crash Course (Literature)
(Relevant given the widening release of the documentary SALINGER)
Seeing Earth for the First Time
On October 24, 1946, a group of American military engineers and scientists did a very strange thing: they used a Nazi V2 rocket to take the first picture of the Earth from space. It was a strange but perhaps fitting time to find this kind of perspective—World War II was barely over, NASA did not yet exist, and Sputnik wouldn’t be launched for another 11 years. The only people who had seriously given thought to spaceships were the Nazis, who developed the V2 rocket bombs that wreaked havoc in London and Antwerp towards the end of WWII. When the Allies captured Nazi factory and launch sites, America seized some of these V2s and took some to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where they were launched into space for testing. Clyde Holliday, an engineer there, understood that images would be a powerful tool for space exploration, so he developed a 35mm camera that could take a photo every 1.5 seconds, and sent it up with a V2. Before this, the highest pictures ever taken were by the Explorer II, a balloon that reached 22 kilometres high in 1935, but Holliday’s V2 rocket climbed to an altitude over 100 kilometres. It snapped photos every 1.5 seconds, then fell back down and slammed into the Earth, destroying the camera—but luckily a steel cassette protected the film. The image seen above is the first image the camera took: the grainy grey Earth against the vast blackness of space. Later images stitched together in a panorama can be seen here. National Geographic released these photos in 1950, giving the world our first real glimpse of how small we are, and how high we can reach.
You know what the first thing of flying is, Little Albatross? Well of course you do. You can read my mind. Love. You can know all the math in the ‘verse, you take a bird in the air you don’t love it’ll shake you just as sure as the worlds turn. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down. Tells you she’s hurting ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.
This edition of Ridiculous Headlines, scientists have re-discovered ice!
It gets better tho, this new form of liquid is called, wait for it… a liquid-liquid. Yo dawg, I heard you like liquids, so I go you some liquids for your liquids. Anyway… here is how you can do this yourself, it’s called supercooling. Now you can do
magicSCIENCE at home!
All three of these fractals were created using a fractal generator. They were inspired by German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s famous biology book Artforms of Nature. In particular, these fractals were based on Haeckel’s artwork Astrophyton darwinium.
These fractals show that mathematics and biology can make a very stunning combination!
If you’re new to the classic illustrations that inspired these, you’re in for a treat. Check the links above.
Name That Dolphin!
Dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, they give themselves a signature whistle “name” just after birth, and we know that they imitate each other’s “whistle names” when looking for lost relatives.
That’s already very cool. But now this science has gotten even cooler.
New research on this special form of animal intelligence shows that dolphins who hear their own “name” called out respond with their personal whistle. It’s like one says “Hey, is Flipper here?" and then Flipper says "Yeah, I’m here!”
The audio above, via NPR Science, demonstrates one of these signature “identity whistles” recorded by researcher Stephanie King. She and her team recorded them from individuals, modified them slightly, and then played them back to the original dolphin. The dolphins answered!
This opens the door to studying the extensive repertoire used by these intelligent mammals. They use a multitude of vocalizations that remain mysterious, but are now all the more intriguing. What are they “saying”?