There’s a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s comic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove in which Jack D. Ripper, an American general who’s gone rogue and ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, unspools his paranoid worldview—and the explanation for why he drinks “only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure grain alcohol”
Treading Water by Laura Parker [National Geographic]
Phil Stoddard, in his third term as mayor of South Miami, is one of the few politicians willing to talk about when that time might come... He drew a graph with three lines that show population, property values, and sea level all rising. Then abruptly, population growth and property values plummet. “Something is going to upset the applecart,” he says. “A hurricane, a flood, another foot of sea rise, the loss of freshwater. People are going to stop coming here and bail.”[more inside]
Whales Aren't Keen on Being Flayed Alive By Gulls by Ed Yong (National Geographic Phenomena). [more inside]
Personhood Week: Why We’re So Obsessed with Persons, by Virginia Hughes (@virginiahughes), National Geographic:
"People have been trying to define personhood for a long time, maybe since the beginning of people. The first recorded attempt came from Boethius, a philosopher from 6th-Century Rome, who said a person was 'an individual substance of rational nature.' Fast-forward a thousand years and Locke says it's about rationality, self-awareness, and memory. Kant adds that humans have 'dignity,' an intrinsic ability to freely choose. In 1978, Daniel Dennett says it's intelligence, self-awareness, language, and being 'conscious in some special way' that other animals aren't. The next year Joseph Fletcher lays out 15 criteria (!), including a sense of futurity, concern for others, curiosity, and even IQ."[more inside]
"Using footage from NASA's Johnson Space Center, filmmaker Fede Castro creates a captivating time-lapse video of Earth from space. In a little over four minutes, 'Nuestra Tierra—Our Earth' takes us around the world, sighting major cities and even catching the breathtaking aurora borealis." More from Fede Castro.
"It was always assumed that V-formation flight was learned from the adult birds. But these guys are all the same age and they learned to fly from a human in a microlight. They learned V-formation flying from each other. National Geographic reports on some of the fascinating intricacies of the V formation observed in migrating birds.
In June 2001, Estonian immigrant Konstantin Petrov got a job as an electrician for Windows on the World, the famous restaurant in the World Trade Center. The New Yorker has an article about the recent discovery of a trove of photographs he took during lulls in his shifts, an incredible record of the complex before the events of thirteen years ago. [more inside]
In the southern portion of China there is an expansive karst landscape, formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. The region is home to the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is actually seven different notable features, as well as the visually impressive Moon Hill, some of China's supercaves, and Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the world's deepest sinkhole. You can climb Moon Hill, but it's best to plan ahead. You can also explore China's great caves, but it is necessary to explore between October-November and February-March to avoid the monsoon seasons, and getting down Xiaozhai Tiankeng requires a lot of gear. You can read more about the Tiankengs (giant dolines or sinkholes) in the karst of China (PDF).
Forty years ago, a vast molten cavity known as the Darvaza crater – nicknamed the "door to hell" – opened up in the desert of north Turkmenistan, and has been burning ever since. Last year, George Kourounis became the first person to descend to the bottom of the crater. [more inside]
Going Deep with David Rees (yes, that David Rees) is a TV series about mundane things examined in a far from mundane manner. Episodes to date have explained how to tie one's shoes, how to make ice, and how to dig a hole, among other things. In an interview in The Atlantic, Rees explains his philosophy for the show: There are NO fake facts in our show. The humor comes from my interactions with the experts, who have all been incredibly good-natured and (sometimes) silly without compromising the integrity of the information they're sharing with me. That's important to us, because we really do want this show to be a celebration of everything that's right under our noses—and for that mission to succeed, we need to honor the topics by not bullshitting our way through them.
“This is not your grandmother’s hunger,” says Janet Poppendieck, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “Today more working people and their families are hungry because wages have declined.”
The Corona Atlas of the Middle East uses spy satellite imagery to reveal as many as 10,000 previously unknown archaeological sites.
Who are the Nazi War Diggers?
Now four men – the War Diggers - are scouring Eastern Europe in a battered Soviet era jeep, armed with metal detectors, shovels and sheer grit. Their mission is to uncover these forgotten battlefields and the buried stories in them. This is a race against time to get the history from the ground before it’s lost forever.Talent biographies are available here. Conflict Antiquities has a long list of unanswered "urgent ethical and legal questions". The Anonymous Swiss Collector has a response from National Geographic [opens as word document], but questions remain. Archaeologists, osteologists, anthropologists, and others have not been pleased: the #NaziWarDiggers hashtag has more responses. [more inside]
National Geographic takes some amazing photos and video. (SL National Geographic, requires Flash) Takes quite awhile to load but worth it.
To get you ready for Independence Day, National Geographic has provided some useful tips for photographing fireworks, complete with a pretty gallery.
Why does music feel so good? "Music moves people of all cultures, in a way that doesn’t seem to happen with other animals. Nobody really understands why listening to music — which, unlike sex or food, has no intrinsic value — can trigger such profoundly rewarding experiences. Salimpoor and other neuroscientists are trying to figure it out with the help of brain scanners."
"FOUND is a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives. In honor of our 125th anniversary, we are showcasing photographs that reveal cultures and moments of the past. Many of these photos have never been published and are rarely seen by the public."
An updated gallery of National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry's last roll of Kodachrome film. [more inside]
January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
The Norovirus: A Study in Puked Perfection, "Each norovirus carries just nine protein-coding genes (you have about 20,000). Even with that skimpy genetic toolkit, noroviruses can break the locks on our cells, slip in, and hack our own DNA to make new noroviruses. The details of this invasion are sketchy, alas, because scientists haven’t figured out a good way to rear noroviruses in human cells in their labs. It’s not even clear exactly which type of cell they invade once they reach the gut. Regardless of the type, they clearly know how to exploit their hosts. Noroviruses come roaring out of the infected cells in vast numbers. And then they come roaring out of the body. Within a day of infection, noroviruses have rewired our digestive system so that stuff comes flying out from both ends." [more inside]
The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel isn't Wild, Taboo or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer. It's Doomsday Preppers, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]
Released today: the top Google searches of 2012. Also, the top Google searches in the UK. Hungry for more "Best of 2012" collections? Curious about "best of" versus "most popular"? There's much [more inside]
...the team captured every nuance of the cat’s movement as it reached top speeds of 60+ miles per hour (svl)
"Murdering the Impossible" - a 2006 National Geographic profile of Reinhold Messner, "the greatest climber in history". [more inside]
"When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain."
In the Shadow of Wounded Knee. Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
Oldest message in a bottle found. The bottle was released as part of a research project tracking deep ocean currents. (Via socimages, via boingboing.)
In 2005, the Discovery Channel aired Alien Worlds, a fictional documentary based on Wayne Douglas Barlowe's graphic novel, Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV." Depicting mankind's first robotic mission to an extrasolar planet that could support life, the show drew from NASA's Origins Program, the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest Mission, and ESA's Darwin Project. It was primarily presented through CGI, but included interviews from a variety of NASA scientists and other experts, including Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, John Craig Venter and Jack Horner. Oh, and George Lucas, too. Official site. Previously on MeFi. [more inside]
The Kitty Cam Project: Sponsored by the University of Georgia and National Georgraphic, The Kitty Cam Project is not what you might think. For one year, researchers followed the activities of owned, free-roaming cats in Athens, GA by equipping them with cameras. They found that cats do more killing than previously thought.
The Evolution Documentary channel (autoplays video) has collected documentaries and clips about evolution available on youtube, including documentaries from BBC, Nova, and National Geographic. [more inside]
"Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces (SLNatGeo)
"This beautiful, educational, erudite, and thoroughly appreciated publication is the heretofore unrecognized instrument of doom..." MetaFilter loves National Geographic magazine; the beloved publication is mentioned in over 100 front-page posts. You may not know that in 1974, science humor magazine The Journal of Irreproducible Results printed an article warning of the threat posed by National Geographic magazine; because no one throws the magazine away, the combined weight of millions of back issues would eventually trigger earthquakes and other disasters. Readers of the magazine gleefully joined the "controversy" and submitted tongue-in-cheek rebuttals and letters to the editor. JIR's website has the collection of articles related to the joke.
Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species is a short video featuring close-up wildlife footage by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.
National Geographic photographer Mattias Klum talks about having a face to face run in with an endangered Asiatic lioness while shooting in the wild. [more inside]
Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, is brash and grandiose—and wildly attractive to young strivers seeking success. [more inside]
On October 26th, a hole was blasted in the base of 125' tall Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. In less than 2 hours, the reservoir behind the dam drained completely and the White Salmon flowed unimpeded by a dam for the first time in 100 years. [more inside]
"It's...it's across the entire horizon." Inside a sandstorm in the Sahara. "It seems like they've been transported to Mars."
If you see a hundred jellies, keep going. If you see a thousand jellies, keep going. If you see a million jellies, stop - you're there.
Head some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines or 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo, and you'll find Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Amongst the Rock Islands of Palau is a vaguely Y-shaped uninhabited island, called Mecherchar or Eil Malk, which includes a number of marine lakes. One of the more astounding lakes is Ongeim'l Tketau or Jellyfish Lake, home to millions of jellyfish that make daily migrations, tracking the sun. [more inside]
Biggest Rabbit was "Roly-Poly." The remains of a 26 pound prehistoric rabbit were found on an island believed to have been without predators, accounting for their size. "He was probably on an evolutionary vacation," said Brian Kraatz, an expert in rabbit evolution, like an "islander beach bum."
A team at National Geographic, for an upcoming show called How Hard Can it Be?, created a real-life floating house inspired by the movie Up.
The American Festivals Project takes you along on two guys' National Geographic-funded 2008 tour of the "small, hidden, and bizarre" festivals celebrated all over the United States. Through photos, video, and a blog, discover Rattlesnake Roundup, Okie noodling, an American Fasnacht, the Idiotarod, and plenty more. [more inside]
National Geographic's "infinite photograph" series is an endless, fractal mosaic of beautiful images from around the world, each based on a different theme : US National Parks, the natural world, weather, or one day's contribution to the source for all the photographs used, the National Geographic My Shot site. (requires Flash). [more inside]
Population 7 Billion By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain?
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