Sunday Things - abandonment and auroral edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday October 21 2012

SCIENCE! Also, rusty.
Remains of the High Power Auroral Stimulation (HIPAS) Observatory in Two Rivers, Alaska - according to Wikipedia they got up to all sorts of things, including heating the ionosphere in order to create artificial aurorae, spinning mercury to form curved mirrors, and disposing of hazardous waste using a plasma torch. All gone now...
The Staberinde and friends?
The Atlantic Ghost Fleet - lovely photos of the French Navy's ghost fleet in Brest, Brittany. Nautical rust!
Belgium, man, Belgium!
Nato Bunker Kemmelberg - former Nato bunker in Belgium, for your cold war paranoiac needs. Compare Britain's Secret Nuclear Bunker!

Bonus Pictoral Aurorae Corner: Possibly not created by HIPAS, linked above...

I can't see my house from here!
Aurorae over Planet Earth - captured by the American Suomi-NPP satellite - the sun's been in quite a farty mood lately...
Very much northern lights.
Icelandic Lights - captured by a Jean-Luc Dauvergne, who possibly isn't a research satellite.

SPAAAACE again?

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Aurorae on Jupiter - courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope and Boston University's HST Aurora Campaign. Other planets get aurorae too! Assuming they have worthwhile magnetic fields, of course...

Sunday Things - silicotype edition

posted in Photography by Cargo Cult on Sunday October 14 2012

Everyone else was busy prancing around with Tumblr, Instagram, Twitpic and the like, so I decided to join in on the fun with my home-made Silicotypes. Needlessly referencing older photographic systems, the defining characteristics of this new, semiconductor-based photography are a distinct lack of context, limited descriptions and metadata, and a burgeoning need to tidy everything up and upload properly to Flickr.

Le Space Shuttle

Stream of consciousness photography, pretty much.

Trees!

As ever, there's yet another RSS feed - and perhaps at some point in the not-too-distant future I'll add commenting and search abilities.

For now, just subscribe to the RSS and watch the inexplicable photography arrive...

Sunday Things - media edition

posted in Media by Cargo Cult on Sunday October 7 2012

Sundays are for reflecting on science fiction - past, present and future. Or is that nonlinear future/more-future, ultra-future and alternate-past?

Looper trailer - may contain traces of dubstep

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Looper - utterly, gloriously ridiculous time-travel caper with James Cole, sorry, Bruce Willis playing an older version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt - a production-line assassin paid to kill whoever is sent back from the future, including (as it turns out) himself. The central conceit doesn't stand up to any kind of analysis, but quite frankly it doesn't matter. Violent, stylish and at times really funny - well worth seeing. Even if it perhaps turns out to be something other than a time-travel movie... Rating: nine out of twelve monkeys!
Iain with-an-M. Banks
The Hydrogen Sonata - massive personal influence Iain M. Banks' latest Culture novel. I've only just started reading it, but even forty pages in there's been a conical, metallic-core-to-rocky-surface fragment of planet shielding a ceremonial facility from the remnants of an exploded supernova, a musical instrument requiring a four-armed humanoid player to climb inside it, a Culture ship of indeterminate class with an elided-for-brevity name... Potentially Sublime?
Dishonoured, damnit!
Dishonoured - or 'Dishonored' as the peculiar spelling would have it - hopefully-not-awful semi-RPG occasional-stealth-'em-up from an Arkane coalition also involving key Deus Ex developers and City 17's Viktor Antonov. In theory, utterly splendid - but ever the pessimist, I am ready for abject disappointment. We live in hope!
Edit 2012-10-08: Rock, Paper, Shotgun already has a Wot I Think up for Dishonored - sounds extremely promising!

Edit 2012-10-12: Do you like exploring? Do you like exquisitely imagined worlds with fiction oozing out of every nook and cranny? If so, you have to play this game. It's gorgeous, and is basically designed for people like me.

Sunday Things - miscellaneous edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 30 2012

Sundays are for realising the combination of a cold and jet-lag has prevented the Saturday night compilation of the latest Sunday Things. So in a way, this is late - and for the first time ever - but it's still Sunday. So things can't be so bad?

Sunbathing is far riskier than anyone imagined.
August 31st Coronal Mass Ejection - giant eruption on the Sun, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. I'm only posting this 'cause anyone who somehow hasn't seen this already is seriously missing out!

Hopefully not foul Greek graffiti? Winter sports facilities always look strange without snow
Abandoned Olympic Sites - the intentionally transient nature of much of the London Olympics' constructions may help avoid a similar fate, but infrastructure from previous games has stuck around... There are some great other links within the article, too. via locworks

A knotty problem.
Knots on Mars - a few thoughts on the hand-tied knots lacing together cables on the MSL Curiosity Mars rover, courtesy of the International Guild of Knot Tyers (no, really). I've always found that space probes are a beautiful intersection of precision engineering and delicately hand-built prototypes - cosmetic imperfections and evidence of modifications reveal their defiantly non-mass-produced nature. via David

Bonus Extreme Weather corner:

  • Extreme Instability - people's hero goes chasing storms in a car with a camera. I went through what looked like a weather front in northern France the other day - a huge bank of clouds with damp consequences on the other side.
  • Atmospheric Optics - all those funny crepuscular rays, parhelia, supernumerary rainbows, halos and noctilucent clouds all have names, don't you know.
  • French Warship versus Big Waves - I'm hoping for weather like that on Lake Washington. The 271 bus has already been splashed by smaller waves...

Sunday Things - Seattle LiDAR edition

posted in 3D by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 23 2012

What to do on long train journeys with no intertubes and no books to read? Instead of succumbing to tedious modern media consumption with a Kindle or iPad, why not break out the high-end modelling and rendering packages, combine them with geographical data conversion utilities and visualise some previously-downloaded LiDAR heightfield data of significant Pacific Northwestern cities?

Seattle LiDAR 1 Seattle LiDAR 2 Seattle LiDAR 3 (this was supposed to be low-lying morning mist, but didn't turn out too well)
Rendering data from the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium, converted to GeoTIFF format with a recent GDAL installation, then rendered into glorious globally-illuminated worlds using one's own personal copy of Modo. Convert the funny ASCII .e00 files with something like 'gdal_translate -of gtiff -ot uint16 -scale 0 1000 0 65535 q47122e31ff.e00 q47122e31ff.tiff' - the resulting 16-bit TIFF can then be opened in Photoshop for checking and tweaking, then rendered as a displacement map in Modo. Surprisingly, it eats through my laptop's battery like you wouldn't believe.