Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Miniature Skulls Carved from Pearls Used to Create Anatomical Jewelry

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Producing work since 1974, Japanese artist and jeweler Shinji Nakaba infuses all matter of anatomical forms, skulls, and flowers into what he describes as “wearable sculptures.” The pieces come in all shapes and sizes, but his most prolific series involves human and animal skulls carved from oyster pearls and attached to rings, necklaces, and brooches. In addition to selling pieces through his online shop, Nakaba’s work has been shown at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, as well as several galleries and museums around Japan. You can see more of his jewelry designs and pearl carvings on his website. (via Colossal Submissions)

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What is the Earth’s Average Temperature?

Earth is the only planet in our Solar System where life is known to exists. Note the use

The post What is the Earth’s Average Temperature? has been published on Technology Org.

 
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The EPA messed up the Animas River. But the real threats are still private industry and the GOP.

The American Southwest suffered a serious environmental crisis last week, after an Environmental Protection Agency effort to clean up old mining waste went disastrously awry, breaching a containment dam and releasing millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Animas River. The city of Durango and San Juan County in Colorado, as well as the Navajo Nation (the largest Native American reservation in the U.S.), have declared a state of emergency, instructing their citizens to stay out of the water and avoid using it for agriculture or drinking for the time being.

It's a giant screw-up by the EPA, which is scrambling to fix the problem. Yet it's one that could not have happened without a monstrous failure of private industry, which means it bears directly on the 2016 presidential race, in which environmental issues will play an important role. The Animas River debacle shows that Republican dogma — which says that pollution is basically no problem and that the EPA should be sharply restricted, if not abolished altogether — is tantamount to a pro-poisoning position.

Mining has long been a fixture of the Mountain West, but it has slowed considerably from the go-go days of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of that was hardrock mining of gold and silver, which require very dangerous chemicals and the processing of thousands of tons of ore. Colorado is thus littered with thousands of abandoned mines, and the Animas watershed was no exception, with 400 old mines.

This is a problem, because the mountain mines inevitably fill with water that has leached through the rock, carrying heavy metals and other toxins with it. Cleaning this up is very expensive, and mine companies would obviously prefer not to do it. Early mine investors were notorious for setting up a shell mining company, extracting the material while paying their executive class a fantastic salary, setting up a token cleanup operation (or forgoing it altogether), then declaring bankruptcy and starting all over again.

That's the profitable, job-creating businessman's solution to mining waste: just poison the neighborhood, then skedaddle. Hey presto, someone else's problem!

However, as regulations became more stringent (especially thanks to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts), things changed. In general, companies (like Anaconda Copper) now work with the EPA and local communities to clean up old sites, often at great expense.

It was one of those old pools of mining waste — around Silverton, Colorado — that the EPA was testing when it accidentally breached a containment dam and released the water. It's been a big problem for years; the EPA and the mine company have pushed for Superfund designation (which would have made more money available for cleanup), while locals have resisted, fearing for their property values.

Again, clearly the EPA is at fault here. But it's also worth noting that this spill is relatively minor compared to previous similar incidents, and that the dam would have likely burst on its own eventually. The question is what to do about it. Left to its own devices, it's quite obvious what private industry would do: nothing. When it comes to environmental externalities, there is simply no alternative to some kind of government policy. And since the waste is already in place, there is no way to set up a Pigovian tax scheme that would deter such waste in the first place. It's the EPA or bust.

Nevertheless, bust is basically the Republican position. At every turn during the Obama years, they have advocated for fewer environmental controls, greater freedom for corporations to pollute the environment, a cut in EPA funding, and attacks on the science that makes the regulations possible. During the 2012 campaign, the EPA's "job killing regulations" became something of a Republican catechism. These days, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wants to abolish the agency altogether, while Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair of the Senate's environment committee, has merely compared it to the Gestapo.

Ironically, new rules stemming from the Clean Water Act have been the subject of particular conservative ire of late. A minor update in a rule interpreting the Clean Water Act sparked furious Republican outrage, as well as a proposal to abolish the rule that would make it dramatically harder to regulate American rivers and streams.

On pollution, the magic of the free market is supposed to be what takes the place of sclerotic EPA bureaucracy. You only have to look back to the Gilded Age to see what a farcical idea that is. The Republican utopia is one where cities suffocate under a cloud of choking smog; where the hearts of American children pump lead-clouded blood; and where drinking water will be sacrificed to pad corporate profits.

 
#science 
 » see original post http://theweek.com/articles/571316/epa-messed-animas-river-but-real-threats-are-still-private-industry-gop

Photographs of Empty and Abandoned Amusement Parks Explore China’s Architecture of Leisure

Shijingshang Park-Beijing

Shijingshang Park-Beijing, all images by Stefano Cerio

In Stefano Cerio's series “Chinese Fun,” he explores the facades of amusement without an audience’s reaction. The photographer enters areas built for fun and leisure in the off months or closing hours, exploring the absurdity that creeps into the architecture of entertainment when there is no one to enjoy it but a single camera.

Within the series the Italian photographer explores amusement parks, water landscapes, and sports grounds set in front of the background of gray skies and atop rain-soaked cement. The images were taken in the four cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, and Hong Kong, and show a colorfully decorated food stand with an anthropomorphic hamburger, an overflowing basket of fruit the size of a car, and various rides that look like absurdist pieces of architecture when not in use.

Cerio’s photographic work has increasingly focused on the theme of representation, and he explains his work as “exploring the boundary line between vision, recounting the real and the spectator’s horizon of expectation, [and] the staging of a possible reality that might not be true but is at least plausible.” Through these examples he views places of leisure as “the other,” locations built for the suspension of day-to-day life.

Some of Cerio’s works will be included in the Fondazione Volume! in Rome from September 23 to November 3 and a composite book of this series, Stefano Cerio: Chinese Fun, is available in the US starting tomorrow. (via Hyperallergic)

Treausure Island PirateKingdom-Qingdao

Treausure Island PirateKingdom-Qingdao

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Shilaoren Bathing Beach-Qingdao

Shilaoren Bathing Beach-Qingdao

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Shanghai Happy Valley-Shanghai

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Tuanjiehu Park-Beijing

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Water Cube-Beijing

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Polar Ocean Park-Qingdao

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How can we figure out when the universe began?

Looking out from our planet at the vast array of stars, humans have always asked questions central to

The post How can we figure out when the universe began? has been published on Technology Org.

 
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