I've just discovered a lovely Dutch blog: Head Like an Orange. It's just a collection of GIFs...but what GIFs! They're moving images, very simple, but you can watch each one indefinitely, like watching a campfire. And one of them is a campfire.
Because looking down on our beautiful planet from the lofty height of the International Space Station never gets old, here is just one more breathtaking time-lapse video to check out. When NASA made the raw images and videos available a few months ago, filmmakers of all stripes assembled stunning videos set to music. We even made our own version, here at the Atlantic Video channel. In this latest video, below, NASA gives it their own spin, choosing a dramatic song, fittingly called "Walking in the Air," by Howard Blake.
By chance I've just discovered Wordle, a free application that converts a chunk of text or (part of) a website into a word cloud. Once you've done that, hit the Randomize button to see the cloud in various colours and fonts. It's great fun, sometimes surprising, and you can save a cloud as a jpeg.
It is difficult to find anyone these days who is not familiar with Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical world of orcs, hobbits and dwarves. A whole generation of film-goers is familiar with such place names like "Dead Marshes" and "Mount Doom."
But this peculiar nomenclature isn't unique to Middle Earth. In fact, such names are everywhere. In France, for example, youl'll find the City of Boatmen. The Caucasus plays host to the Land of the Fire Keepers. And who hasn't dreamed of vacationing in the Land of Calves? But to get to these places, you'll need a new map, which should be hitting bookstores in the Great Land of the Tattooed -- Great Britain -- by the end of the month.
The story contains a photo gallery of map excerpts with place names in English. It's fascinating.
Here's a good article in the June 2008 issue of The Atlantic: The Sky Is Falling. The link also takes you to a video in which the article's author, Gregg Easterbrook, talks about the issue of forestalling an asteroid collision with the earth.
By all means visit Bound for glory at the Guardian Unlimited. It's a slide show of a dozen colour photographs taken in rural America long ago. It's amazing how colour makes the people and scenes seem vivid and immediate, even when that world has vanished.
The University of Sheffield has a great site. Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before shows the nations of the world displayed in proportion to their importance by a given standard—metal imports or exports, for example. Great fun, and literally an eye-opener.
I'm reading Roving Mars, by Stephen Squyres, the Principal Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It's a fine book, and it made me go looking for information on the Web. Here's the Mars Exploration Rover Mission Home Page. Absolutely amazing stuff—not least the fact that both rovers are still in operation, over two years after arriving on Mars.
Click on the Payson Panorama to see the picture fill your computer screen. Then scroll sideways or down to see the rest of the panorama. It's an experience.
If you don't know who Richard P. Feynman was, you're going to have mixed feelings when you learn about him: Scientific genius, raconteur, wit, and safecracker. I've just finished the collected letters edited by his daughter, and that in turn led me to BasicFeynman.com.
Why the mixed feelings? Because he was one of the great figures of the 20th century, you'll fall in love with him, and you'll be mortified that it's taken you this long.
A rocky, earthlike planet has been detected circling another star. It's 7.5 times as massive as Earth and twice our diameter, so it's probably not a congenial vacation spot. But it's the smallest extrasolar planet yet discovered, and you can read about it on CNN.com.
A new atlas using satellite photos shows how dramatically, and swiftly, the surface of the earth has changed in the past quarter-century or so. You can see some examples in the BBC News feature Changing planet revealed in atlas.