As the Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization of 147 member states who represent almost all of the human inhabitants of the planet Earth, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet. We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of the immense universes that surrounds us and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.

The story of Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, humanity’s eternal message to the cosmos 

(via explore-blog)
(this post was reblogged from explore-blog)

Dinner Guide to Saving the Ocean

pulitzercenter:

image

I am that guy.

You know the one. When the waiter comes to the table to give the specials, I’m the one who needs to know where the snapper’s from, how the swordfish was caught, and whether the salmon is farm-raised. My brother generally starts apologizing for me as soon as I open my mouth to see if the Chilean seabass is from the Marion Islands or the McDonald Islands. The answer better be the McDonalds or I lose it.

I am aware that there are lots of things on the menu. And that if we freaked out over every food injustice we’d quickly become the classic Portlandia sketch.

But here’s the thing, sustainable fish is not like organic veggies or free-range chicken. In fact, if you only follow one food issue, forget GMOs, hormones in beef, or (please, God) biodynamic wine.

Become a fish nerd. As I detail in a story for the upcoming issue of Harpers Magazine the oceans are in freefall. We are literally squeezing them dry. Except, you know, not literally dry I suppose.

Fish are the last wild creatures that we eat (no, that mooseburger you ate was not from a wild moose). And as global demand for fish has doubled in the past 20 years, the prices have remained stagnant. How is that possible, you ask? We catch a buttload more of them now, that’s how. Many populations have tanked below 20 or 10 percent as we just move onto the next species. And worst of all is how many we catch, kill, and chuck overboard because it’s the wrong thing. Up to 90 percent in many cases.

And unlike beef or chicken, most of that fish we buy at a restaurant rather than the market, meaning we are even more unconnected to it. Which leads to the next logical question, “What can I do?” The answer is, a lot. Fish may be the most damaging food you can eat, but it’s also the one where the consumer has the most direct power to affect change. So rather than simply saying, “Don’t eat seafood anymore,” I’ve created a guide, arranged in order of pains in the ass (easiest stuff at the beginning, biggest pains in the ass at the end, in case you drop out early). I give you the Erik Vance Restaurant Guide to Saving the Oceans.

Send a message to the chef – Your average chef could give hot bowl of sea lion turds about where his/her seafood comes from. And most think you feel the same way. Many tell me that they would happily look into sustainable options if they thought their diners cared. It’s hard work and they’re not going to do it just to be nice. Statistics suggest that more than half of us do. So if you’re not sure if something’s sustainable and you want to eat it anyway, tell the waiter to tell the chef (or manager – whoever orders the fish) that sustainable options are important to you. That you will eat the halibut-of-dubious-origins this time, but that you expect an effort to find clean versions next time. If everyone did that alone, it might save our oceans.

Sushi - Don’t eat it. There are, like, six truly sustainable sushi restaurants in the country and their owners are driving themselves insane. Sorry, but just don’t eat it.

Talk to your waiter - Ask if the fish is sustainable. If the waiter doesn’t know, then it’s not. If he comes back and says it is, he’s probably fibbing (this happens A LOT). If a restaurant is going to the trouble of sourcing their fish right, they will tell their waitstaff before the night starts. Unless your waiter is new or not terribly bright.

Don’t trust the waiter - Even if the waiter says a fish is sustainable, it may not be. After all, there is a premium for selling sustainable and it’s not clear that laws are being broken if you fib a little. These fibs can come from either the restaurant or the distributor, trying to appease a chef who cares about the oceans. A few years back I fact checked the menu of a restaurant in San Francisco, called Waterbar, that claimed to have sustainable fish and charged high prices for them. When I called the distributors and talked to the staff, more than half of the menu was either unverifiable or patently false (I encourage any local journos to take a look at them and see if they’ve improved – might be a story in it).

Check the species - What kind of fish is it? Obviously, if you are eating orange roughy or blue fin tuna, it doesn’t matter how the thing was caught, it’s from a decimated population. For this, there is no better guide than the Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide. They have a cool smartphone ap and little paper pocket guides, organized by region. If a fish is on the green list, eat away; if it’s yellow, only on special occasions; and if it’s red, don’t order the stupid thing.

Start at the bottom - If you do recognize the fish ask yourself, “Is this from the top or the bottom of the food chain?” Tuna, shark, and swordfish are all slow growing and likely to disappear faster (also loaded with mercury). Things like halibut, sardine, crab or trout are closer to the bottom and tend to be better.

Check the gear - “Gear” in fishing parlance is how the fish was caught. Bottom trawlers, for example are basically bulldozers that rumble up and down the ocean floor, wreaking havoc. Long liners leave hooks that sit out for days and catch everything and its mother. Acceptable terms are troll caught (not to be confused with “trawl” caught), rod and reel, Scottish seine, trap-caught, or pole caught. “Hook and line” is sort of a mixed bag that could either be a sustainable fishing rod or an unsustainable longline.

Check the season - If you are still reading, you are probably already a fish nerd. Yes, fish, like crops, have seasons. If you are eating something that claims to be fresh and it’s out of season, well, either it’s caught in a very nasty way for the ocean or its not fresh. Sadly, most seasons are from late spring to early fall (mmm, except for the wonderful California crab season).

Fins and farming - If it has fins, it shouldn’t be farmed. That’s a rough guide, but salmon and other farmed fish are heavy polluters and eat a lot of fishmeal (ie: other ground-up fish from the ocean as shown in this hilariously-titled movie). If it has a shell and is farmed, like oysters or (rarely) scallops, it’s great to eat. If it’s farmed shrimp … well, ah, that’s complicated.

Mix it up - This one is actually pretty easy, but it hurts a lot more. About 60 percent of the fish we eat in the US is either shrimp, salmon, or tuna. Even if we hunted them right, no species can withstand being America’s favorite fish. Just avoiding the top three and broadening your horizons is a help. Try the rockfish, it’s good.

In all of this, remember that the term “sustainable” is not a legal term. It’s not like “organic,” “grade A,” or “registered sex offender,” which have specific legal definitions. Laws requiring accurate menus punish lying about what kind of fish it is, not lying about whether it’s good for the planet. If I want to say it’s sustainable because I urinated on it while calling it nasty names, well, I’m not breaking any laws. Except, I suppose, one or two health codes.

But after I published a seafood story a few years back, I got a call from NOAA’s enforcement wing trying to figure out how they might begin enforcing sustainability. It’s still a ways off, but the more demand we create the faster industry will adapt. And we’re not talking about a lot, here. The industry completely freaked out and went through a revolution when it realized that 10-15 percent of us wanted to buy sustainable fish. If we hit 30, God knows what we might accomplish.

Read more from Pulitzer Center grantee Erik Vance and view his whole project: Mexico: Emptying the World’s Aquarium

Great post on how you all can help the future of our oceans.

(this post was reblogged from pulitzercenter)

the-actual-universe:

The Sun is better than art

This incredible image was produced using data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) taken on January 17, 2003. This is the sun photographed as it was building towards a major eruption.

SDO carries imaging instruments that photograph different wavelengths of light released from the sun. If you remember your physics, there is a relationship between the wavelength of light, the frequency of the light, and the energy of the light, so SDO images basically reflect the temperature of the sun.

The colors in this shot are 3 different wavelengths of light. Temperature across the sun’s surface and in its corona varies as gases are moved around by convection and by the sun’s powerful magnetic field. Images like this are both gorgeous and help scientists understand the forces churning beneath the surface of the body at the heart of the solar system.

-JBB

Image credit: NASA Goddard/SDO

This is amazing but calling it “better than art” assumes that art and science are mutually exclusive, which they aren’t.

(this post was reblogged from the-actual-universe)

MOON MOSAIC — A gorgeous image of the Moon from Noel Carboni via NASA: “No single exposure can easily capture faint stars along with the subtle colors of the Moon. But this dramatic composite view highlights both. The mosaic digitally stitches together fifteen carefully exposed high resolution images of a bright, gibbous Moon and a representative background star field. The fascinating color differences along the lunar surface are real, though highly exaggerated, corresponding to regions with different chemical compositions.” (NASA)

(this post was reblogged from kiyo)

spaceexp:

On June 30, 2004, the Cassini spacecraft, carrying the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, arrived at Saturn. Today Cassini celebrates 10 years exploring the Saturn system. Originally intended for a four-year primary mission, Cassini has received three extensions allowing the spacecraft to collect 514 GB of science data and 332,000 stunning images of the planet, its rings and moons.

Below is a list compiled by NASA of Cassini’s Top 10 discoveries and accomplishments:
— The Huygens probe makes first landing on a moon in the outer Solar System (Titan)
— Discovery of active, icy plumes on the Saturnian moon Enceladus
— Saturn’s rings revealed as active and dynamic — a laboratory for how planets form
— Titan revealed as an Earth-like world with rain, rivers, lakes and seas
— Studies of Saturn’s great northern storm of 2010-2011
— Studies reveal radio-wave patterns are not tied to Saturn’s interior rotation, as previously thought
— Vertical structures in the rings imaged for the first time
— Study of prebiotic chemistry on Titan
— Mystery of the dual, bright-dark surface of the moon Iapetus solved
— First complete view of the north polar hexagon and discovery of giant hurricanes at both of Saturn’s poles

Read more:
Cassini’s 10 Years At Saturn: http://go.nasa.gov/1o3EzJZ
Cassini’s Top 10 Discoveries: http://go.nasa.gov/1m1Skuf
Check out Cassini’s Top Images: http://go.nasa.gov/1veUSF3
Download The Infographic: http://go.nasa.gov/1wxXSyW

Image Credit: NASA

posted by pennyfornasa

(this post was reblogged from starstuffblog)
(this post was reblogged from crookedinspiration)

pewinternet:

Tech experts hope the open structure of the internet will prevail in the coming decade. But they also fear threats to the internet’s connectivity will arise from efforts by nations to restrict content, increased surveillance, and commercialization of too much online activity.

We’ve got a NEW REPORT from our expert series out today, and we’ll be spending the day talking all things future of the internet, the Web at 25, and the threats that face the Net in the coming decade. Follow along here and on Twitter with #web25.

(this post was reblogged from pewinternet)
(this post was reblogged from 2087)

design-is-fine:

Benedictus Relais, 1930. A portfolio of Art Deco prints, Paris. Via NYPL

(this post was reblogged from design-is-fine)

jtotheizzoe:

Doodling the Right Thing

With a few humble doodles, I think Google may have created the most widely-seen, and perhaps the most influential, science communication effort on Earth. Their series of Google search page tributes to female scientists (a few of which I’ve shared above) is a huge win for showcasing the efforts of women in science, which, unless you’ve been living under a very patriarchal rock for the past forever, you know is something the world needs very badly. 

It might seem silly to be talking about a picture like this, but we’re dealing with the Times Square billboard of internet graphics here. Every day, 730 million people visit Google.com a total of 17 billion times. Billion. Granted, not all of them see the same Google doodle, as only a small set of them are “global” doodles, but even if just 10% of daily unique visitors see a particular doodle, and just 10% of those people take the time to figure out who/what they’re looking at, that means 7+ million people a day (and that doesn’t even take into account repeated visits). I suspect that’s a low estimate, too, although I base that on nothing except my own optimism.

For comparison, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey drew just over 3 million U.S. viewers for its final episode. I’ll concede that’s not really a fair comparison, since Cosmos is a highly-produced, hour-long scripted TV series with very broad and lofty goals and a Google doodle is, well, a picture on the internet. The point I’m trying to make is not that Cosmos is less influential than a cartoon, because that’s ridiculous (although I must admit the more I think about it, I really don’t know how ridiculous it is). My point is that a Google doodle about science reaches a metric f**kton of people.

I am having a hard time thinking of another single Internet Thing that has the potential to reach so many people in a single day. No meme-filled Facebook page or educational YouTube channel comes close, and I don’t suspect any traditional science news/media sites are even in the ballpark. 

Google still has a long way to go to bring their doodle gender representation anywhere close to level. According to SPARK, only 17% of doodles between 2001-2013 were women (and 74% of them were white people). I can’t find the numbers, but on the bright side it seems like 2014 has showcased a high percentage of women in the doodles. In addition to monitoring women featured in doodles, the blog Speaking Up For Us keeps a running list of doodle-worthy women.Despite that remaining imbalance, I think this is an incredible effort on the part of Google, and we should demand even more doodles of underrepresented groups (both in science and beyond).

Can something so passive make any difference? To be honest, I don’t know, but I suspect that it does. When people only see one type of person recognized for accomplishing the Great Scientific Things of history, they consciously and subconsciously assume that only that type of person actually accomplishes Great Scientific Things. That is how underrepresented people stay underrepresented, which is the opposite thing we want to happen.

Google doodles aren’t going to cure cancer or send a human to Mars, but they just might help inspire the person who does. Not bad for a drawing.

(this post was reblogged from jtotheizzoe)
(this post was reblogged from jkottke)
spaceplasma:

Pan across the Tarantula Nebula

This star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbours the Milky Way. It is home to many extreme conditions including supernova remnants and the heaviest star ever found. The Tarantula Nebula is the most luminous nebula of its type in the local Universe.

Credit: NASA, ESA

spaceplasma:

Pan across the Tarantula Nebula

This star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbours the Milky Way. It is home to many extreme conditions including supernova remnants and the heaviest star ever found. The Tarantula Nebula is the most luminous nebula of its type in the local Universe.

Credit: NASA, ESA

(this post was reblogged from spaceplasma)
(this post was reblogged from nevver)