Thursday, 7 May 2015

A gentle nudge with a nuke: Deflecting Earth-bound asteroids

In 2013, a small asteroid exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The sonic boom from the event sent more than a thousand people to the hospital, mostly from flying glass from shattered windows. The Chelyabinsk meteor was a relatively small chunk of space rock—asteroid researchers think it was probably about 20 meters (66 feet) across—but exploding over a city made it a noteworthy event. It's probable many similar asteroids hit Earth on a regular basis, but most don't happen to fly over metropolitan areas; they fall into the ocean or over lightly populated regions.

However, Earth has played target in the cosmic darts tournament before. Meteor Crater in Arizona, the Tunguska impact in Siberia in 1908, and most famously the Chicxulub asteroid in Mexico (which played a part in the extinction of the dinosaurs) are just three of many known examples. That's why many people are looking at viable options for planetary defense: destroying or turning asteroids aside before they can hit Earth. And planetary defense is one reason the United States' National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) has given for not destroying some of its surplus nuclear warheads.

It's easy to be cynical about American nuclear weapons policy, especially now that we're decades since the end of the Cold War. Debates over nuclear winter, mutually assured destruction, and the like feel very distant. So reports that the US wasn't following the stated schedule for decommissioning nukes in the name of planetary defense triggered the skeptical radar, not least since The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and other sources made it sound like the plan was to blow asteroids to smithereens.

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Truly Zac Posen Bridal 2016

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Here come the brides! NY Bridal week is taking over Gotham just as the city starts to bloom. Zac Posen unveiled his latest collection in collaboration with David's Bridal Wednesday under the Truly Zac Posen label. 

Many luxury designers have partnered with more mainstream retailers for a smaller, more affordable bridal collection. I found that many of the cheaper versions of a designer's brand were exactly that, cheaper. They don't look like the designer's work; they don't reflect the aesthetic and not surprisingly, they don't look like luxury.

With Truly Zac Posen, the price tag for the most elaborate gown tops out at \$1850. That might not be cheap by sportswear standards, but still affordable in wedding gown standards. There were similar florals, color palettes and silhouettes to his recent collections. However, the fabric quality, while similar in texture, was noticeably not the same (then again, his top tier collections can be 10X the prices here.)  There were beautiful ballgowns that swished extravagantly though slightly deflated from the biggest skirts of his main runway. The David's Bridal budget can afford less petticoats.. 

A good designer knows how to achieve expensive looks no matter what the budget. There were still embellishments like bonded lace appliques, feathers and pearl beads. Lace pricing can vary wildly as can pearls. The trick is to choose wisely and with a great eye.

As a New Yorker, we love lean towards a darker palette. We don't necessarily need to be all dressed in white. Many modern brides are happy to wear a gorgeous black or brightly colored gown down the aisle.

If you are a contemporary bride with a modest budget and lofty dreams, Truly Zac Posen might be your the fashion Godfather to grant your wish.
photos by John Acquino via WWD
 
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Handmade Kraft Paper Animations by Nancy Liang

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From time to time we love to stop and marvel at the mathematical wizardry of artists and designers who make GIFs with code, but Sydney-based illustrator Nancy Liang takes an old-school approach with her imaginative scenes made almost entirely by hand. There isn’t a single element in her animations that doesn’t begin as a physical drawing or object. Liang works mostly with kraft paper cutouts and pencil drawings, all of which is carefully planned in copious sketches before each element is scanned and animated in Photoshop. Seen here are a few of her most recent pieces, you can see more on her Tumblr: Over the Moon.

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Space Image: Faint D Ring

Not all of Saturn’s rings are created equal: here the C and D rings appear side-by-side, but the

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LHC: Crash course in physics

The world’s biggest particle smasher – in fact, the world’s biggest machine – is warming up for its

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170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking

Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions.

Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?

An analytic approach

A team of scientists gathered to search for the answers through the application of current analytical techniques, an approach called archaeochemistry. Using a combination of targeted and nontargeted modern chemical analytic approaches, the researchers aimed to uncover aspects of the winemaking practices.

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Monique Lhuillier Brides Down The Rabbit Hole SS16

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It looks like a lot of designers are into fairy tales for weddings this year. Monique Lhuillier's 2016 bridal collection had Alice in Wonderland as her muse. The presentation was held in the gorgeous Baccarat Hotel's Grand Salon.

While the inspiration is not seen as a literal representation in the collection, Lhuillier saw her bride as someone who was exploring curiosity and fantasy. Instead of an all-white collection, there were gowns of blush, honey, mint and pale blue. Almost every look had a dramatic skirt silhouette. There were lots and lots of layers of transparent fabrics. One would be a mountain of tulle. Another dress was graduated organza. Trumpet shapes gowns, flowing lace, every bride was meant to make a huge impression entering or leaving a room.

As per her signature look, Monique Lhuillier incorporated rich, delicate embroidery into her collection. Also, she is a master of fabric manipulation in her gowns. It is not a surprise that so many celebrities choose Lhuillier for their red carpet or wedding look. Her gowns are timeless glamor.
Photos by Greg Kessler
 
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Double Exposure Animal Portraits by Andreas Lie

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Norwegian visual artist Andreas Lie merges verdant landscapes and photographs of animals to creates subtle double exposure portraits. Snowy mountain peaks and thick forests become the shaggy fur of wolves and foxes, and even the northern lights appear through the silhouette of a polar bear. Lie is undoubtedly influenced by his surroundings in Bergen, Norway, a coastal city surrounded by seven mountains. Many of these are available as prints and other objects on Society6. (via Beautiful/Decay, Blu)

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High-power Laser Spinoff Proves Versatility is Strength

Since lasers were invented in 1960, they have penetrated countless scientific, industrial and recreational fields: from eye surgery

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NASA Awards Grants for Research, Technology Development

NASA has awarded 26 grants totaling \$9.9 million to help bolster the capacity and competitiveness of 28 states

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