Archive for May 2011
Forget men on mars; exoplanet Gliese 581d in the solar system neighboring ours may have conditions just right for supporting some forms of life. While the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, French researchers made a pretty fascinating discovery about the planet. For a few years scientists have thought the planets orbiting the star Gliese 581 could support life, but until recently it was believed Gliese 581d was too cold. However, when the researchers simulated the atmospheric make-up of the planet, they found it rich in carbon dioxide, creating a warm enough climate to possibly support oceans and rainfall.
Though don’t get too excited (we’re looking at you, Lance Bass). The incredibly dense air on Gliese 581d makes for a red, murky atmosphere toxic to humans. It would also take roughly 300,000 years to reach the planet on a spacecraft. Visiting it may be out of the question for now, but it’s exciting and just a little scary to think about the vast and varying environments where life can exist.
Excuse us for a moment while we take a break from the art + science of seeing and venture into the art + science of listening. What do you get when you auto-tune some of the most influential voices in science, compile them together, and compose music around them? A Symphony of Science, of course. Composer John Boswell explores the philosophy and beauty that lie within the many different fields of science through music. Listening to one of his three-minute songs allows you to reflect on the great mysteries of the cosmos, galaxies, the human body. Boswell’s most well-known creation is “A Glorious Dawn,” a song filled with Carl Sagan’s musings and insights on the universe; however, over here at GLIMPSE, we also enjoy his most recent, “Ode to the Brain”— the auto-tuned voices (which bring out the kitschy science nerd in all of us) are unexpectedly poetic. Each song is quite catchy and as we bop our head to the beat, we gain a deeper understanding of our vast, infinite surroundings.
You know when you see an old picture of a city or town you grew up in and you can’t believe how different it looks? You realize, of course, that places constantly change, and that a photograph from 1934 is not going to show a Starbucks on the street corner. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the present and forget we are a product of the past. HyperCities is here to remind us of the layers and layers of history that constitute a place.
HyperCities is an interactive, research-based website that depicts the rich and ever-evolving history of cities using maps. When you launch HyperCities, you see a birds-eye view, satellite image of a city as it is today. But look to the right of the screen and there’s a timeline with a corresponding map to each year. Click on a year and its map overlaps the present day satellite view. Click another year and that map overlaps the previous. The more layers amassed, the more fascinating it becomes.
Take a look at New York City—in 1609 the island of Manhattan was nothing more than grasslands, forest, and marsh. HyperCities allows us to witness its steady evolution into the bustling, center-of-the-universe city we know today. This project beautifully depicts the human relationship with landscape and geography. Every place has a history. Every place was once a blank canvas—humankind couldn’t resist transforming the landscape…and then mapping it.
- Allison Nonko