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The Fermi Paradox

Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?” It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.
posted by michswiss on Jun 26, 2014 - 141 comments

She Looks Like An Old Bald Headed Man

Someone posted an ad on Craigslist seeking women who for one reason or another had never seen their own vagina and then set them up with a mirror in the Vagina Booth to film their reaction.
posted by gman on May 31, 2014 - 27 comments

"Be brave, but not too brave."

In Deep: The Dark And Dangerous World Of Extreme Cavers
On his thirteenth day underground, when he’d come to the edge of the known world and was preparing to pass beyond it, Marcin Gala placed a call to the surface. He’d travelled more than three miles through the earth by then, over stalagmites and boulder fields, cave-ins and vaulting galleries. He’d spidered down waterfalls, inched along crumbling ledges, and bellied through tunnels so tight that his back touched the roof with every breath. Now he stood at the shore of a small, dark pool under a dome of sulfurous flowstone. He felt the weight of the mountain above him—a mile of solid rock—and wondered if he’d ever find his way back again. It was his last chance to hear his wife and daughter’s voices before the cave swallowed him up.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 18, 2014 - 74 comments

Ice flow nowhere to go

Stuck in the Antarctic ice we set out to study - Erik van Sebille of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 describes his fieldwork in Antarctica. The Guardian has extensive coverage of the expedition, including visiting the remains of a previous expedition, how they became icebound, and their rescue.
posted by Artw on Jan 14, 2014 - 17 comments

...and then "some clown invented the printed circuit."

During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 24, 2013 - 40 comments

Red Planet Blues

The trouble with terraforming Mars...
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2013 - 73 comments

Places Are Made Of A Thousand Stories

"I want to see the world. Follow a map to its edges, and keep going. Forgo the plans. Trust my instincts. Let curiosity be my guide.
I want to change hemispheres and sleep with unfamiliar stars and let the journey unfold before me."

Maptia is on a mission to gather first-person stories from travelers, "to create the most inspirational map in the world." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 12, 2013 - 3 comments

Deep Tranquil Sea

If you tuned in to the live feeds of the Okeanos Explorer dives this past summer, you might really enjoy their highlights video. (links back to the same address as the original post but I thought the new material was worth it)
posted by bonobothegreat on Nov 3, 2013 - 4 comments

Explore the Exoplanets

Explore the Exoplanets courtesy of Nasa. ""Eyes on Exoplanets" provides a scientifically accurate, fully rendered 3D universe of the 900-plus "Exoplanet" discoveries." [via NASA/Kepler, via NASAPlanetQuest]. Kepler/Exoplanets previously on Mefi 1 2 3 4 and (from 2002) 5.
posted by marienbad on Oct 19, 2013 - 10 comments

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: explorer, shaman, proto-anthropologist

' "Discovery" is such a loaded term nowadays in American cultural studies that one dare not use it without immediately qualifying it as problematic and politically charged. We tend to prefer "invasion" or "dispossession" or "conquest" because those words, and their attendant categories, suggest a more accurate way to characterize early American exploration.... Homi Bhabha's theory of the "hybrid" colonial subject, and his focus on the production and maintenance of colonial power, has compelling implications for the relationship between European explorers and Native Americans in Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 discovery narrative La Relación. Several scholars have commented on Cabeza de Vaca's hybridity—the collision between his Spanish heritage and his acquisition of Native American culture—but none has discussed it in terms of the exercise of colonial power and its resultant ambiguities.' This is a verbose introduction to the interesting and complex life of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of the four survivors of the 600-strong Narváez expedition, in the period of inland Spanish conquistadores. You could read more, or watch Cabeza de Vaca, the 1991 film that is "sometimes straightforward, sometimes pagaentlike and sometimes hallucinatory ... a road trip movie set in a time before there were roads."
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 13, 2013 - 14 comments

And so in 1632 seven men were left in Smeerenburg to wait out the winter

We tend to think now of scurvy as mainly a punch line, if anything—“scurvy-ridden rats” is the kind of popular pirate epithet that appears in even the most G-rated family fare. Partly this is because now, fully understanding its mechanism, it seems a particularly ridiculous problem. But ask anyone who's suffered from it: it is a singularly horrid and terrible way to die.
- The Spoil of Mariners, Colin Dickey, Lapham's Quarterly.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Sep 29, 2013 - 28 comments

Stop whining, we're living in the Space Age

Look, I get that some of you want to go to Mars even if it means dying there. I know you're bitter that there are no giant ads for Coke on the surface of the Moon. But what would it say about our species if we let you go and do stupid shit like that? The fact that our scientific community is mostly on board with not murdering you to explore Mars is a good thing. The fact that we are trying to figure how to safely and sustainably build on the Moon before doing it — that is a sign of progress.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 4, 2013 - 59 comments

Abandoned Buildings AND Cute Animals

Once upon a time, a man explored some abandoned cottages. The people had left long ago, but the houses were still being lived in. Fortunately, the man was a photographer.
posted by Lou Stuells on Aug 22, 2013 - 26 comments

Tell us what you think about human spaceflight

The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013. You can also read the current submissions. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 19, 2013 - 3 comments

Runnymede? Paris? Kipling? The possibilities are endless.

"On an average weekday the TTC collects 1,582,000 fares. 180 are collected at Bessarian Station": Finding Bessarion, a short film about exploring the unknown (subway station).thanks to AM for the link
posted by jb on Jun 12, 2013 - 58 comments

"We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands."

Kosmos allows you to explore a virtual, computer-generated 3-d universe from your browser. Background, screen shots and hardware requirements. (Requires WebGL and a little time to load on slower computers.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 1, 2013 - 15 comments

Early copper coins from an African trading empire found in Australia

The history of people finding Australia goes a little something like this: Aboriginal Australians separated from a migration out of Africa into Asia about 70,000 years, and Australian archaeological sites have proof of humans going back 50,000 years. Jump ahead to 1606, when there were two European voyages that made landfall and charted portions of Australia. First was Willem Janszoon's voyage in late February or early March of that year, and then Luís Vaz de Torres came a few months later. Abel Jansen Tasman was the first European to come across Tasmania, and between 1642 and 1646, his crew charted the Australian coast, more or less (Google auto-translation, original page). Then of course, there was James Cook's 1770 voyage. With all these dates in mind, how did five copper coins from an African sultanate that collapsed in the early 1500s (Google books) end up on an uninhabited island in the Northern Territory of present-day Australia? [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 28, 2013 - 84 comments

The weather was unseasonably warm, an astonishing 50 degrees F!

Imaging The Arctic: "In Spring 2013, based out of the small settlements of Niaqornat and Kullorsuaq, expeditionary artist Maria Coryell-Martin will accompany scientist Dr. Kristin Laidre onto the pack ice of Baffin Bay." They are keeping an online field journal detailing Dr. Laidre's study of the effects of sea-ice loss on narwhals and polar bears, with Maria Coryell-Martin's illustrations accompanying field notes.
posted by ChuraChura on May 1, 2013 - 1 comment

Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

When the US Department of Energy halted Plutonium 238 production as far back as 1988, things looked grim for the future of space exploration. On Monday, March 18th, NASA's planetary science division head Jim Green announced that production has been restarted, and is currently in the test phases leading up to a restart at full scale.
posted by cthuljew on Mar 25, 2013 - 37 comments

sea & sky

seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 18, 2013 - 14 comments

Urbex

Excuse Us While We Kiss The Sky. [Single page view] "By day they work as computer programmers and stock boys and academics. But at night they are known as urban explorers. The Brooklyn Bridge, London's Shard, Notre Dame—each structure is an expedition waiting to happen. Each sewer, each scaffold, each off-limits site is a puzzle to solve. No wonder the cops are after them. Matthew Power embeds with the space invaders and sees a world—above- and belowground—that the rest of us never knew existed." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 11, 2013 - 17 comments

"There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!"

Daily Telegraph: Why the world isn't running out of oil: "Moreover, as well as bountiful oilfields in North America, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other producers in the Middle East, there are massive, barely tapped reserves in South America, Africa and the Arctic: not billions of barrels’ worth, but trillions. So the planet is not about to run out of oil. On the contrary, according to a Harvard University report published last year, we are heading for a glut. The 75-page study, by oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, was based on a field-by-field analysis of most of the major oil exploration and development projects in the world, and it predicted a 20 per cent increase in global oil production by 2020." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Feb 21, 2013 - 69 comments

Portals to the universe

"A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all". (Audio link of interview at top left corner of page, other relevant links at bottom of page)
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 17, 2013 - 10 comments

Indeterminate Hikes

"How do we engage technology sustainably and in a way that supports creativity and freedom?... One of the things I try to do... is to somehow interrupt the use of [new and emerging] technologies so that it causes people [an] unexpected and renewed awakening or sensibility of those devices being in our lives." [more inside]
posted by knile on Jan 24, 2013 - 14 comments

Property Rights! In! Spaaa​aaaaa​aaaaa​aaaaace!

Practical, economic development of space — treating it not as a mere borderland of Earth, but a new frontier in its own right — has not materialized. Still, the promise is as great as it ever was, and, contrary to popular opinion, is eminently achievable — but only if the current legal framework and attitude toward space can be shifted toward seeing it as a realm not just of human exploration, but also of human enterprise.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 12, 2013 - 17 comments

So high, so low, so many things to know.

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]
posted by zarq on Jan 8, 2013 - 10 comments

Our Robot/Meatbag Space Future

Almost Being There: Why the Future of Space Exploration Is Not What You Think
posted by Artw on Nov 13, 2012 - 33 comments

Atomic Rockets

Atomic Rockets is chock full of stuff to tickle the imagination of anyone who has enjoyed science fiction accounts of space travel. You can move your cursor over the "Show topic list" button in the top right corner of the page and start exploring.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 29, 2012 - 8 comments

We come in peace for all mankind.

Google brings its Street View cameras into the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is their largest special Street View collection to date: 6000 panoramic images, including the Apollo 14 module, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Firing Room #4 and Space Shuttle Orbiters Atlantis and Endeavour. Intro Video. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 25, 2012 - 11 comments

Is It Moist On Mars?

New report suggests Mars may be full of liquid water - Smithsonianmag.com
posted by The Whelk on Jun 26, 2012 - 77 comments

Dr. Livingstone's diary deciphered

For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 3, 2012 - 11 comments

blwap thought the haddock

Nested.
posted by cthuljew on Apr 8, 2012 - 37 comments

full of ★☆★☆★

OMG SPACE aims to illustrate the scale and the grandeur of our solar system, as well as illustrate through the use of infographics our work in the exploration of our solar system with various spacecraft. [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Apr 3, 2012 - 19 comments

No man is an island

Eke out a peaceful life in the wilderness in Make No Wonder, a new HTML5 game by MeFi's own Matthew Hollett. [via mefi projects]
posted by theodolite on Mar 29, 2012 - 106 comments

The Joy of Falling Through the Floor

Jim Rossignol, of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, explores the strange beauty at the edges and behind the scenes of video games. The article uses images from artist Robert Overweg. [more inside]
posted by gilrain on Mar 23, 2012 - 17 comments

Dissecting OV's 103, 104 and 105.

Orbiter Autopsies "What NASA will learn from dissecting Space Shuttles Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour" before they transition into retirement. (From the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine.)
posted by zarq on Mar 23, 2012 - 13 comments

Can we go Dad, can we?!

Making the Case for Human Missions to Asteroids
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 7, 2012 - 26 comments

SHEATH CONTAINING FULLY EQUIPPED OCEAN LINER

"Historians have long debated what could have been done differently to prevent that tragedy, and what still could be done to keep such a tragedy from repeating on future expeditions. In 1913, a Swiss inventor proposed a solution to the problem. Naturally, it involved giant mechanical mosquitoes." [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Feb 28, 2012 - 19 comments

"That View Is Tremendous"

Fifty years ago today, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. In an recent interview, he lamented the decline of the manned US space program: "It's unseemly to me that here we are, supposedly the world's greatest space-faring nation, and we don't even have a way to get back and forth to our own International Space Station." [more inside]
posted by dsfan on Feb 20, 2012 - 80 comments

The Ghost and the Carcass

The Atemporality of "Ruin Porn": Part I, Part II.
posted by Artw on Jan 26, 2012 - 34 comments

A Pixie is trapped in frost...

William and Sly 2 is a gorgeous, ethereal fantasy exploration game wherein you play a nimble fox tasked with finding the scattered pages of your human friend's journal, while gathering mushrooms, finding keys to unlock mystery boxes, and freeing rune-bound spirits and pixies trapped in frost along the way. [more inside]
posted by taz on Jan 16, 2012 - 14 comments

"We Stopped Dreaming"

King of the Cosmos (A Profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson) by Carl Zimmer. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 3, 2012 - 20 comments

"You need have no fear of any failure" -- the life and explorations of Percy Fawcett

The London Geographical Journal, the preeminent publication in its field, observed in 1953 that “Fawcett marked the end of an age. One might almost call him the last of the individualist explorers. The day of the aeroplane, the radio, the organized and heavily financed modern expedition had not arrived. With him, it was the heroic story of a man against the forest.” Fawcett was none other than Percival "Percy" Harrison Fawcett, British soldier, trained as a surveyor of unknown lands, doubling as a British spy. But his true love was exploration, and not simply to mark boundaries on a map. His final goal was the same that had been the demise of many explorers: a mighty lost civilization in South America. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 29, 2011 - 6 comments

NASA's new ride

NASA is designing a spiffy new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will lob people and cargo to the moon, an asteroid and eventually Mars. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Oct 20, 2011 - 92 comments

New photos of several Apollo landing sites

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken new photos of the landing sites of Apollo 12, 14 and 17. Almost 40 years after the missions, the tracks made by the astronauts and the Lunar Rover are still visible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 6, 2011 - 74 comments

Africa: History, Cartography and Exploration

Evolution of the Map of Africa [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 7, 2011 - 15 comments

Turns out we ARE hosting an intergalactic kegger down here

The twin Voyager probes launched by NASA in 1977 have discovered something new in the heliosheath at the edge of the solar system: it's frothy out there. Video. Press Release. Via. Voyager: Previously.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2011 - 33 comments

The frozen desert

Huge cache of frozen carbon dioxide found on Mars.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 24, 2011 - 45 comments

Project Nekton Redux

Over 50 years after the original Project Nekton, high-flying adventurer Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Oceanic team plans five dives into the deep blue sea with a one-man flying sub, starting with the 36,201 foot deep Mariana Trench.
posted by cenoxo on Apr 5, 2011 - 30 comments

"You're right. Man, this is beautiful"

Built as part of the fifth /dev/fort developer retreat, Spacelog.org allows you to explore early space missions via the original NASA transcripts. Currently live are Mercury 6 which made John Glenn the first American in orbit, and the 'successful failure' Apollo 13 (The transcribed key moment and the original). Alongside the transcripts are supporting materials from the NASA archives including photography and descriptions of the mission phases. The developers are looking for help to digitise the Gemini 7, Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions.
posted by garrett on Dec 1, 2010 - 11 comments

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