ne of the most extraordinary operas of the 21st century is playing at Opera Philadelphia. Our journey from New York to see George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s Written on Skin— the title refers to the parchment on which medieval manuscripts were illuminated — was worth every yard.
The plot, based on the 13th-century vida of troubadour Guillem de Cabestany, begins with a chorus of angels — here costumed in black and pacing with stage-manager airs, futuristic electronic tablets in hand — who turn time back to the medieval period. We meet a wealthy, violent … Read the rest
The search for extraterrestrial life is fairly synonymous with the search for life as we know it. We’re just not that imaginative—when looking for other planets that could host life, we don’t know what to look for, exactly, if not Earth-like conditions. Everything we know about life comes from life on Earth.
But conditions that clearly favor life here—liquid water, surface oxygen, ozone in the stratosphere, possibly a magnetic field—may not necessarily be prerequisites for its development elsewhere. Conversely, their presence does not guarantee life, either. So what can we look for that’s an indication of life?
Skip the dwarfs
Most (about seventy percent) of the stars in our Galaxy are M dwarf stars, and many of them have associated planets.
Every time a plane flies over Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, María Batayola pauses what she’s saying and lifts a finger as she waits for it to pass. This happens every few minutes, and the noise doesn’t just interrupt conversations, she says: It distracts people at work and school, and disturbs their sleep.
“I remember waking up in the middle of the night and saying, ‘Is there a war?’” she recalls.
For about three years, Batayola has been organizing Beacon Hill residents to combat noise pollution from the nearby Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The constant buzz overhead is a stressor on the community, she says—and there’s plenty of research to back her up. Studies show that airplane noise harms people’s physical and mental health, and makes it harder … Read the rest
The U.S. military apparently wants to get into the business of launching smaller satellites on smaller rockets. In the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, the Air Force budget contains a new “Rocket Systems Launch Program” item for the purpose of buying “small launch services” for the timely delivery of smaller payloads into low-Earth and geostationary transfer orbit.
The new program, which must be approved by Congress, provides $47.6 million in fiscal year 2019 and a total of $192.5 million over the next five years. It deals with the delivery into space of payloads weighing up
The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recently shared a video about a unique natural phenomenon in a village called Dinoša, located in southeastern Montenegro—a small country on the Adriatic coast. There is a mulberry tree standing in the meadow there that turns into a fountain whenever it rains heavy. From a hollow on the tree trunk water can be seen gushing abundantly.
Apparently, the rains had flooded the underground springs and the additional pressure created pushed water up the tree trunk through cracks or hollows on the trunk, until it poured out of a hole a few feet above the ground. As you can see from the video, the ground is quite sloppy indicating the amount of groundwater there is in the soil and below. You can … Read the rest
Alexander Fleming is widely known as the brilliant microbiologist who gave the world the miraculous life-saving drug called antibiotic. But he also had an artistic side that is perhaps less well known. Fleming was a member of London’s Chelsea Arts Club, where he tried his hand at watercolor and created compositions that were amateurish at best. But his artistic talents didn’t lie in watercolors or pencil sketches but in another medium—living organism.
Fleming was one of the first scientists to use microbes to create works of art. He painted ballerinas, houses, soldiers, mothers feeding children, stick figures fighting and many other scenes on petri dishes using microbes. Fleming produced these artwork by culturing microorganisms having different natural pigments on petri dishes to create colorful patterns. He … Read the rest
PARKLAND, Florida—Gerardo Velasco knew what he was looking for in a city: baseball fields and safety. Baseball is for his 15-year-old son, who wants to be a professional baseball player. And about security, he says it’s because he grew up in Nezahualcoyotl, a city on the outskirts of the Mexican capital. “At some point it was considered the poorest in the world and the most dangerous in Mexico,” he says. He did not want his family to live in a place like that.
Until Wednesday, when a young man entered his son’s high school and killed 17 people, he had found all of this in Parkland, Florida. “I drive an hour and a half to get to work. Every time I go on the highway, … Read the rest
In 1970, Daniel Patrick Moynihan convinced the Nixon White House to support a policy of “benign neglect,” wherein basic government services were systemically denied to cities across the United States with large African-American and Latinx populations.
New York City quickly became the nation’s most famous victim of “urban blight” at the hands of the state. The city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as manufacturers fled en masse, while landlords hired arsonists to torch their buildings knowing they could get more money from insurance than they could from resale. The city fell into desolate and desperate straits. Yet within this horrific landscape, New York maintained its dignity and strength, becoming the site for the most explosive cultural movements of the late 20th century.