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Mystery lake

Mysterious lake in Tunisian desert turns from turquoise to green sludge "The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water."
posted by dhruva on Aug 1, 2014 - 27 comments

The California Drought: Water and Power

"During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself." After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the deserts of Southern California have been turned into livable spaces only by huge feats of engineering that divert massive amounts of water from other parts of the state and the country. Marc Reisner's 1986 book Cadillac Desert documents the history of acquiring and diverting water to the American Southwest. A four-part documentary based on the book was released in 1997. Part 1: Mulholland's Dream // Part 2: An American Nile // Part 3: The Mercy of Nature // Part 4: Last Oasis
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Feb 16, 2014 - 124 comments

God Is Love

Out in a forgotten, dusty corner of Southern California, just east of the Salton Sea, Leonard Knight let his love and devotion to the Lord inspire a Technicolor vision on the desert floor. His creation came to be known as Salvation Mountain. On Monday, Leonard Knight passed away at the age of 82. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Feb 11, 2014 - 21 comments

Sounds with an "eternal essence"

Sometimes called the "Alan Lomaxes of India," the founders of Amarrass Records are on a mission to record and revitalize interest in traditional music from India, Turkey, and beyond. Over 100 videos on their YouTube channel chronicle their field recordings and festivals featuring artists like Lakha Khan, the Barmer Boys, Bombino, and many others. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Apr 12, 2013 - 10 comments

The Pinky Show: Our Goal is to always be learning new information...

Pinky & Bunny are cute little kitties who live in the Mojave Desert. Their friends are Mimi & Kim (and sometimes grumpy old Daisy). They like to make videos about contemporary issues with a progressive view. Bunny died on Jan 25, 2013. [more inside]
posted by ovvl on Mar 12, 2013 - 11 comments

The sunsets were purple and red and yellow...

Not little fluffy clouds in Arizona, but little squishy, um...orbs. In the desert near Tuscon, thousands of tiny purple spheres have appeared, isolated from the rest of the terrain. The mysterious objects, described as being like "gooey marbles that ooze out a water substance when squished," have yet to be identified.
posted by davebush on Feb 8, 2013 - 75 comments

The hunt for the Death Valley Germans

In 1996, a family of German tourists went on vacation in the desert Southwest of the US. They disappeared in Death Valley sometime late July of that year, and despite repeated searches, their remains were not found until 2009. Tom Mahood details how that happened.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt on Jan 3, 2013 - 168 comments

Destroyer Gods and Sons-of-Bitches

In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. - Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy
posted by Artw on Nov 24, 2012 - 22 comments

Photographs of Mirrors on Easels that Look Like Paintings in the Desert

The Edge Effect. Daniel Kukla spent March of 2012 as an artist in residence at Joshua Tree National Park.
posted by Lexica on Oct 1, 2012 - 10 comments

Namibian Fairy Circles

Namibian Fairy Circles "By comparing photos taken over a 4-year period, Walter Tschinkel confirmed something other scientists had suspected: The circles were alive—or at least they were dynamic. A number of circles appeared and disappeared over this time period. Extrapolating from the data, Tschinkel calculated that most smaller circles arise and vanish every 24 years, whereas larger circles last up to 75 years. Overall, the lifespan averaged 41 years."
posted by dhruva on Jun 28, 2012 - 16 comments

The World in its Extreme

It is the hottest place in the world, and the driest. It is home to thriving commerce and to desperate, hopeless poverty. It is the Sahara, an eternal source of fascination and terror. Part 2. Part 3. [Hat tip: Longform]
posted by Joe in Australia on Jun 26, 2012 - 13 comments

"Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert."

The food desert has been a regular topic here on MetaFilter, posts about which often highlight a particular narrative about the effects of meager food choices for poorer urban communities, negatively affecting health and choice among low income people. Though not always. Some new studies indicate the situation in the US might be more like the latter, not quite as dire as is usually asserted. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Apr 19, 2012 - 63 comments

Flawed Symmetry of Prediction: time-lapse landscape, astrophotograpy and painting in high definition

Flawed Symmetry of Prediction is a 4 and a half minute long video, compiling time lapse images of abandoned buildings in rural, desert settings, plus strategic lighting and an optical illusion painting or two. See also: On the Inside Looking Out (The Brain of Infinity), another "street art" time-lapse video. If you want to see single images in more detail, photographer/videographyer Jeff Frost has a portfolio site up with some of pictures. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 2, 2012 - 7 comments

The Bedouin

The Bedouin are an ethnic group of tribes that live in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Sinai Peninsula, amongst others. The Bedouin have lived a largely nomadic life, developing a menu, style of dance and sport they can call their own. Today they are a culture in transition as "startling changes over the last two decades have irrevocably altered the nature of life for the bedouin and for the land they inhabit." However a glimpse into their past can be seen through this great collection of images taken between 1890 and 1920.
posted by Effigy2000 on Nov 27, 2011 - 12 comments

"They are part of our future."

Libya's National Transitional Council has gotten used to uncovering Moumar Gadhafi's perplexing objects and bygone lifestyle-detritus (previously), though rarely have these objects been sentient and requiring immediate care. When the NTC arrived in Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, they encountered his abandoned menagerie of rare-breed animals. Accordingly, the reserve has been taken over by fighters loyal to the NTC, together with volunteers stirred by the animals' plight. One such volunteer, [w]ith a doctorate in international relations, Mohamad Al Majdoub makes an unlikely curator for Gaddafi's animals, but he feels that caring for the menagerie is all a part of forging a free Libya. "We have to protect it," said Majdoub. "They are part of Libya's patrimony. They are part of our future."
posted by obscurator on Oct 7, 2011 - 5 comments

Hey Internet, We Can Do This!

The US government is hoping to save millions by deleting half of its websites, including this one for the endangered desert tortoise that costs about $125/year plus eight hours of staff time. If the internet can raise money to build a statue of robocop in Detroit, surely we can save this website? Is it worth it? Do enough people use it? What other websites are going down that we should save?
posted by treeshar on Jun 16, 2011 - 83 comments

By the sleepy lagoon

On the 29th January 1942 the first ever Desert Island Discs was broadcast. Surpassed only by the Grand Ole Opry it is the second longest running radio show in history. Beautiful in its simplicity - each castaway is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for their imaginary stay on the desert island. For those who have not come across it before aquaint yourself with its iconic theme tune 'By the Sleepy Lagoon' here. Then for newcomers and old hands aquaint yourself with the wonderful new BBC website with searchable archives of 2852 episodes detailing castaways choices, and now with more than 500 episodes available for free download.
posted by numberstation on May 3, 2011 - 23 comments

Field Mice Needed

Old school hardware hacker, Postscript enthusiast, electronics writer, woo debunker, all around geek, and now amateur archaeologist Don Lancaster (prev 1, 2) needs you. And maybe some of your nerdy gadgets. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Nov 2, 2010 - 6 comments

Rain falls on Uluru

Rain is falling on Australia's big red heart. [more inside]
posted by ninazer0 on Oct 23, 2010 - 56 comments

Mojave Desert online

Desert Gazette, "Mojave Desert, True Facts Legends and Lies". With links to other sites about the Mojave, including the excellent Digital Desert. Stories of life and death in the desert. The blogger, Walter Feller's photographs. About the Mojave Desert.
posted by nickyskye on Sep 2, 2010 - 11 comments

"In the beginning, all the world was America"

When the State of Israel was founded in 1949, along with the arable land they inherited a vast, arid desert called the Negev. At that time, David Ben-Gurion envisioned it as Israel's last frontier. Today, as Israel bulldozes unrecognized Bedouin settlements there, this low-key narrative in Zionist history is getting a little more sunlight. [more inside]
posted by shii on Jul 28, 2010 - 45 comments

The Waves of Sand Roll On

In 1957, Frank Herbert was a journalist and writer of short stories, on his way to Florence, Oregon to do an article about the U. S. Department of Agriculture's attempts to control sand dunes that were shifting. The USDA was searching for something to stabilize the dunes, and they came upon European beach grass. Herbert's research was for an article tentatively titled "They Stopped The Moving Sands." The article was never completed, but his research of dune stabilization lead to larger ecological matters, and eventually the novel Dune. This year marks the 45th anniversary that novel. The world of dunes, both fictional and real, has changed quite a bit in the years. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 22, 2010 - 101 comments

The most wonderful plant ... and one of the ugliest.

Welwitschia mirabilis lies around the Namibian coastal desert like misshapen heaps of horticultural debris, either singly or in untidy clumps. Each plant has two huge leaves lolling out from its gaping trunk that collect moisture from the sea fogs. These plants would win no awards for beauty - the Regius Keeper of Kew Gardens described them as "one of the ugliest" plants brought to England, and it's hard to disagree with the Daily Mail's description of it as "hideous ... leprous ... snaking and sinister". None the less, it is a tourist attraction in its own right and supports the Namibian coat of arms where it symbolises fortitude and tenacity. If you're still hanging out for some Welwitschian goodness, here's a video and lots more photos on Wikimedia Commons. You can even try growing one yourself!
posted by Joe in Australia on Apr 13, 2010 - 31 comments

"....Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart."

From these various anthropological approaches, a basic dichotomy has emerged between two types of societies from very different ecosystems: societies born in rain forests and those that thrive in deserts.... Begin with religious beliefs. A striking proportion of rain forest dwellers are polytheistic, worshipping an array of spirits and gods.... But desert dwellers... are usually monotheistic. Of course, despite allegiances to a single deity, other supernatural beings may be involved, like angels and djinns and Satan. But the hierarchy is notable, with minor deities subservient to the Omnipotent One. This division makes ecological sense.... Desert societies, with their far-flung members tending goats and camels, are classic spawning grounds for warrior classes and the accessories of militarism.... Rain forest cultures also are less likely to harbor beliefs about the inferiority of women; you won’t be likely to find rain forest men giving thanks in prayer that they were not created female, as is the case in at least one notable desert-derived religion.... (Previously, previously, previously)
posted by orthogonality on Jul 12, 2009 - 73 comments

"Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might have been."

The Dzrtgrls explore mines, ghost towns, rockhounding spots, petroglyphs, geocaching and metal detecting sites, and take lots of great pictures in the process.
posted by rollbiz on Apr 26, 2009 - 12 comments

Desert Plants, Chihuly Glass

Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. Home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world, the Garden offers interesting and inspiring experiences, while their website offers gardening help including good growing guides. The Desert Botanical Garden has educational programming and research for children as well as adults. The internationally acclaimed living collection of over 20,000 desert plants, with particular emphasis on those inhabiting the Sonoran Desert, continues to serve the public and scientific community. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Feb 7, 2009 - 13 comments

Ancient Oases

10 Incredible Ancient Oases.
posted by homunculus on Aug 24, 2008 - 21 comments

Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara

Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara. "How a dinosaur hunter uncovered the Sahara's strangest Stone Age graveyard."
posted by homunculus on Aug 16, 2008 - 9 comments

Bloom in the desert

Very nice High definition video from Phillip Bloom music is "28 Ghosts IV" by Nine Inch Nails. Deer Vegas music is Deer Stop" by Goldfrapp [more inside]
posted by hortense on Jul 26, 2008 - 18 comments

Night Vision

The Light-Painter of Mojave D: An Interview with Troy Paiva (previously) about his photography and his new book, Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration. [Via BLDGBLOG]
posted by homunculus on Jun 12, 2008 - 5 comments

Now it's dark.

Lost America is a purdy website featuring night photography of ghost towns, urban exploration, decommissioned military facilities, airplane graveyards, and other roadside abandonments of the American west.
posted by dhammond on Mar 2, 2008 - 22 comments

Bono's Joshua Tree RIP

Iconic joshua tree has fallen... many fine photographs centering on the national park and lots of information about the trees are included on this fan site. via [more inside]
posted by hortense on Feb 20, 2008 - 29 comments

The Salton Sea

Jonson takes pictures of The Salton Sea, which is a strange place, like some kind of huge, perpetual, Burning Man, but by a huge, salty, polluted, manmade lake with distant shores, dying fish, has-been resort towns, Salvation Mountain, fundie dinos, fountains of youth, and nice churches. [via mefi projects] [previously] [howdy]
posted by brownpau on Jan 30, 2007 - 36 comments

Death Valley Slideshow

Death Valley car trip photos including some panoramas of the racetrack and its mysterious stones, and cute kids. via
posted by hortense on Dec 31, 2006 - 19 comments

The Tatooine Hotel

You may know that some of the Tatooine parts of Star Wars were filmed in Tunisia . But did you know you can spend the night in Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen's distinctive underground house? In the middle of the desert, local people have taken up residence in the 30-year-old set.
posted by gottabefunky on Dec 12, 2006 - 20 comments

the large soundness of nature

The moral terrain of the desert. Mary Austin describes a desert "where the borders of conscience break down... where the boundary of soul and sense is as faint as a train in a sand-storm... [where] the senses are obsessed by the coil of a huge and senseless monotony” -- is that the desert of photographer Richard Misrach? Joan Didion describes a "country so ominous and terrible that to live in it is to live with antimatter, [where] it is difficult to believe that 'the good' is a knowable quantity... [T]here is some sinister hysteria in the air out here tonight” -- is that the desert of photographer Bill Lesch? Possibly the most depressing are these suburban deserts.
posted by salvia on Sep 10, 2006 - 7 comments

Night Ice

"The Bible describes how to make ice on the desert. Please describe the procedure and explain how it fits your knowledge of heat transfer."

Your assignment: make ice in the desert. Without electricity. Without extra chemicals. Without extra gadgetry or imports. Oh, and the temperature is about 55 degrees (13C). It can be done, there is science behind it. And yet we seem to have forgotten something that everyone used to know.
posted by jessamyn on Aug 1, 2006 - 43 comments

amazon drought nearing climate tipping point

The Amazon rainforest becomes "a desert" after three consecutive years without rain - the trees die. Next year would be the third year of an ongoing drought. The forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon (or about 45 years of stored human emmisions at current rates) - 3/4's of the carbon is released within a year of dieing. The Amazon is "headed in a terrible direction".
posted by stbalbach on Jul 25, 2006 - 80 comments

When the Desert Winds Turn Deadly

"The sky turned orange as the storm approached, until total darkness blanketed the ground." Sandstorms in Iraq -- caused by heating of the desert sand and a northwesterly summer wind known as the shamal -- can kill. (A similiar storm over Interstate 5 in California in 1991 caused a deadly 164-car pileup.) They can also be uncannily beautiful and dream-like when seen from a distance (WMP link).
posted by digaman on Jun 4, 2006 - 35 comments

What to Take When Deploying To the Middle East

Living and working in the desert. I was reading this interesting article when I came upon this: [more inside]
posted by tellurian on Mar 30, 2006 - 28 comments

Rock art in the Sahara

Rock art tour in the Sahara.
posted by Wolfdog on Mar 13, 2006 - 6 comments

Death in the Desert

Remains of guru's disciple identified Shortly after the 1998 death of "A Separate Reality" guru Carlos Castaneda, whose peyote-fueled sorceric journeys into the Mexican desert captured the imagination of a generation in the 1970s, five of his closest disciples made out their wills, disconnected their telephones, and disappeared into thin air. via
posted by hortense on Feb 20, 2006 - 46 comments

Coso Rock Art

Coso Rock Art: "The Coso Rock Art District, a National Historic Landmark deep in the U.S. Navy's testing station at China Lake, contains one of America's most impressive petroglyphic and archeological complexes . . . . Coso rock art has become famous for its stylized representational symbolic system, a system that has intrigued—and baffled—archeologists and lay observers for decades." A guide to the rock art types here. See also A Guided Tour of Coso Rock Art and the Coso Gallery.
posted by LarryC on Jul 30, 2005 - 8 comments

Death Valley Wildflowers

Death Valley in bloom. Lots more here and the story is here. Flickr photos with tags deathvalley+flowers. (Full disclosure: I work on Flickr. -ericost) NPR did a segment recently. Desert USA has a guide. The Death Valley National Park news page has a link to two PDFs. Wildflower Update. (via MetaTalk, five fresh fish, monju_bosatsu, ericost, euphorb, ori, and the MeFi community. All text and copy directly lifted from the thread.)
posted by loquacious on Mar 15, 2005 - 24 comments

Brian Lockett's various museums

The Goleta Air & Space Museum/ Goleta Natural History Museum While looking for hot spring photos, I found this virtual museum. It is loaded with amazing shots of warbirds in flight and the latest in space travel On the other hand some very well done nature photography. Including desert panoramas This is all the work of one man.
posted by hortense on Jan 31, 2005 - 13 comments

When dunes collide

The mating habits of barchan sand dunes.
posted by homunculus on Dec 25, 2003 - 2 comments

Dude, Where's My Oxygen?

Columbia Univ. severs ties with Biosphere 2. I remember when Biosphere 2 opened and watched as the team of starry-eyed scientists entered the self-sustaining environment. It's even been the subject of a bad Hollywood movie. But now the structure may become nothing more than a giant scrap pile of steel and glass in the desert. The mission of the project was impressive, and despite glitches such as acidic water and "crazy ant" infestation, should an experiment be abandoned because it didn't go as expected? Or is it just man's folly to try and replicate intelligent design?
posted by archimago on Sep 10, 2003 - 11 comments

burning man 2003

it does look like fun
burning man 2003. more links? photos? stories? from this years fun in the desert.
posted by specialk420 on Aug 30, 2003 - 42 comments

Build me a robot...

Grand Challenge The research arm of the US Department of Defense, DARPA, is sponsoring a $1 million winner take all contest to build a completely autonomous vehicle which can navigate a roughly 250 mile course in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in under 10 hours. Teams from Caltech and Carnegie Mellon have formed, though anyone is allowed to enter.
posted by split atom on May 13, 2003 - 8 comments

It's nice being green.

It's nice being green. The south Sahara's getting its groove back, after 4,000 years.
posted by DenOfSizer on Sep 20, 2002 - 9 comments

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