by Alex Autin


Images Of The Week (W35-14)

Happy Birthday Patrick!

Tuesday, Aug 26, was Patrick the Wombat’s birthday. His 29th birthday, according to the above tweet from zoologist and National Geographic explorer, Lucy Cooke. Patrick, thought to be the world’s oldest wombat, hangs out at Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia. Happy birthday, Patrick! Image Credit: Lucy Cooke


A Dry Run


European Space Agency trainers and caving specialists underground in Sardinia, Italy, setting the scene for astronaut training next month. The trainers descended into the caves on a ‘dry run’ without the astronauts to test their planned tasks and operations. CAVES – short for Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills – offers astronauts, trainers and planners a chance to test space-like procedures while exploring uncharted caverns in new environments. Image Credit: ESA/L.Bessone


Late Summer Flare


On Aug 24 NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this above image of a mid-level solar flare which peaked at 8:16 am EDT on the left side of the Sun. Luckily for us humans, powerful bursts of radiation such as this M5 flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect us on the ground. BUT! If intense enough they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. To learn more about solar flares as they happen, and space weather in general, check out  NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. Image Credit: NASA/SDO


Florida Overview

This completely interesting Google Earth satellite image, featured Aug 28 on Daily Overview, shows a residential development in Lake Worth, Florida. Much of the town is built on rapidly drained sand which fosters the growth of tropical plants such as coconut palms and avocado trees. The Daily Overview is a project inspired by the Overview Effect - a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts when viewing the Earth as a whole. The site publishes daily satellite images focusing on the places and moments where human activity, for better or for worse, has shaped the landscape. Image Credit: Daily Overview




What is it??!! Well, it’s a mite, and chances are you have some on your face – like right now. According to a Aug 27 report published in Plos One, if you took a really (REALLY!) close look at your face you’d probably find two relatives of spiders and ticks, Demodex folliculorum and D. brevis, wriggled into your pores and hair follicles. Yep, even in your eyelashes. The above false-color scanning electron micrograph  image shows the pink tail of a mite in a hair follicle. While previously researchers had found the arachnids on 100 % of human cadavers but only 10 to 25 % of the living, the new study suggests these hitchhikers live on the face of every adult human on the planet. Have a nice weekend! Image Credit: Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source via Science News

SEFT-1, Crossing Mexico In A ‘Spacecraft’


Meet SEFT-1, Sonda de Exploración Ferroviaria Tripulada (or Manned Railway Exploration Probe)

In the latter part of the 19th Century, the Mexican government partnered with British companies to build a railway line connecting Mexico City with the Atlantic Ocean. Since that time the passenger railways have fallen out of use, leaving thousands of kilometers of disused track snaking across the country and cutting rural communities off from larger cities.

Enter artists, and brothers, Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla Domene, aka Los Ferronautas (Railway Astronauts), who decided, in sort of an ‘art meets research’ project, to build a vehicle capable of exploring the country’s abandoned railway lines. The vehicle had to not only be capable of traveling by rail as well as land, but also had to provide a living space and research lab along the way.

Following the completion of the probe, the brothers spent a year traveling across Mexico in the SEFT-1 to explore the disused railways as a starting point for reflection and research into the notion of Modern Ruins: places and systems recently left behind, not necessarily because they weren’t functional, but for a range of political and economical reasons.

Along the way the artists interviewed people they met, often from communities isolated by Mexico’s passenger railway closures, and shared their findings online at the project’s website –, from which people could also live-monitor the probe’s status, location, and routes.

Last month the SEFT-1 probe vehicle was on display at a Modern Ruins Exhibition at the Furtherfield Gallery in London.

Along The Railway:



About SEFT-1: The DIY Probe Vehicle

All Images Credit: Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla Domene


Images Of The Week (W32-14)

The Better To See You!


According to a report this week in the science journal, PLOS ONE, deep in the twilight zone of the ocean, small, glowing sharks have evolved special eye features to maximize the amount of light they see. Scientists mapping the eye shape, structure, and retina cells of five deep-sea bioluminescent sharks, which live 200 to 1000 meters deep in the ocean, noted that the eyes of these sharks possess a higher density of light-sensing cells known as rods than those of their nonbioluminescent cousins. Some species also have a gap between the lens and the iris to allow extra light in the retina, a feature previously unknown in sharks. In the eyes of lanternsharks, pictured above, scientists discovered a translucent area in the upper socket. Researchers suspect this feature might help the sharks adjust their glow to match the sunlight for camouflage. Image Credit: Dr. J. Mallefet /FNRS/UC via Science


…And I’ll Huff And I’ll Puff


On Aug 5, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor on NASA’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite captured natural-color images of both Iselle and Hurricane Julio en route to Hawaii. The bright shading toward the center-left of the image is sunglint, the reflection of sunlight off the water and directly back at the satellite sensor. Image Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response


Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

This, very cool (hot?), image of a flame generated in space for the BASS-II combustion experiment on the International Space Station was tweeted on Aug 5 from orbit by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst along with the comment: “This is a flame we generated in space. It  helps to increase fire safety on Earth.”  Image Credit: ESA/NASA


On A Beam Of Light

STEM Education Day

Photographed through a pair of prismatic glasses over the camera lens, insanely cool physics professor Dr. Dan Bruton is surrounded by a rainbow of refracted light during a Aug 6 demonstration at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) program at the college hosted local Cub Scouts to introduce them to the multidisciplinary program. Image Credit: AP Photo/The Daily Sentinel, Andrew D. Brosig


Once Upon A Time…


The 3 Little Bears, pictured above, named Ema, Oska and Ron, are now adjusting to life in a bear sanctuary after a group of animal activists in Kosovo freed them from captivity in March. As of 2010 it is illegal to keep wild animals privately in Kosovo, especially brown bears, who are endangered in the country. According to the Associated Press, authorities were alerted about the cubs after citizens sighted photos of them on Facebook. The international animal charity group, Four Paws, on Friday relocated the cubs to Bear Sanctuary Prishtinaa, a fifteen hectares forested enclosure in Kosovo’s wilderness.  The cubs will remain at the bear sanctuary until March of next year when they will be released in the wild.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,623 other followers