Category Archives: Photography

Lake Mead at lowest level since it was filled


And that was 79 years ago.

How low is it?

Two images from NASA’s Earth Observatory, the upper image taken in May 1984 when the reservoir was nearly full, the lower one snapped from orbit this week:

BLOG Lake Mead

More from NASA:

The last time Lake Mead was this low—in 1937—water managers were still filling the reservoir and putting finishing touches on the Hoover Dam. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the water level has now reached a record low for the second year in a row.

On May 25, 2016, the surface level of Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam stood at 1,074.03 feet (327.36 meters) above sea level. The previous low of 1,075.08 feet (327.68 meters) was set in late June 2015. The lowest water levels each year are usually reached in late June or July, after water managers have released the yearly allotment of water for farmers and cities farther down the Colorado River watershed. That means water levels are likely to continue to fall in 2016 to roughly 1,070 feet (326 meters), according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The pair of Landsat images above show the lake near its highest and lowest points over the past 32 years. The top image was acquired on May 15, 1984, by the Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite. The lake last approached full capacity in the summer of 1983. The second image was acquired on May 23, 2016, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Turn on the image comparison tool to see the changes in the shoreline after lake water levels dropped 135 feet (41 meters). Notice the white-tan “bathtub ring” around the edges of the water; this is exposed sand and minerals that would normally be under water.

Lake Mead is now roughly 37 percent full. At maximum capacity, the reservoir would hold 9.3 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters) of water, reaching an elevation 1,220 feet (372 meters) near the dam. Most of the water in this great reservoir comes from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountain range and travels through Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, and into Lake Mead. Farmers and some cities in Arizona, Nevada, California, and northern Mexico all rely on water from Lake Mead.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the lake will be refilled enough by the end of 2016 to avoid cuts in water deliveries in 2017. Lake Mead National Recreation Area continues to operate water sports, sightseeing, and hiking facilities in the area, despite ongoing drought.

The Colorado Basin has endured roughly sixteen years of drought and declining water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. At the same time, populations continue to grow in the sun-drenched region.

Heavens above! Spiral galaxy NGC 1232


From the European Southern Observatory, a dramatic look back in time 60 million years ago, when the light we see today left the spectacular galaxy on its earthward journey:

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions. Note the distorted companion galaxy on the left side, shaped like the greek letter "theta". NGC 1232 is located 20º south of the celestial equator, in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The distance is about 100 million light-years, but the excellent optical quality of the VLT and FORS allows us to see an incredible wealth of details. At the indicated distance, the edge of the field shown corresponds to about 200,000 light-years, or about twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy. The image is a composite of three images taken behind three different filters: U (360 nm; 10 min), B (420 nm; 6 min) and R (600 nm; 2:30 min) during a period of 0.7 arcsec seeing. The field shown measures 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin. North is up; East is to the left. #L

From the ESO:

This spectacular image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 was obtained on September 21, 1998, during a period of good observing conditions. It is based on three exposures in ultra-violet, blue and red light, respectively. The colours of the different regions are well visible : the central areas contain older stars of reddish colour, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions. Note the distorted companion galaxy on the left side, shaped like the greek letter “theta”.

NGC 1232 is located 20º south of the celestial equator, in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The distance is about 100 million light-years, but the excellent optical quality of the VLT and FORS allows us to see an incredible wealth of details. At the indicated distance, the edge of the field shown corresponds to about 200,000 light-years, or about twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy.

The image is a composite of three images taken behind three different filters: U (360 nm; 10 min), B (420 nm; 6 min) and R (600 nm; 2:30 min) during a period of 0.7 arcsec seeing. The field shown measures 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin. North is up; East is to the left.

Credit: ESO

Rallies across the world: March Against Monsanto


Narch agagaist Monstanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

March against Monsanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

Monsanto, the folks who brought you Roundup and all those patented Roundup Ready genetically modified crops they peddle, was the target and marches and rallies in more than 400 cities across the global today by folks angry at the firm’s control of so much of the world’s food supplies.

Big Agra’s been in a state of flux of late, with major mergers in the offing, as BBC News reported Thursday, when Bayer announced it wanted to buy the company:

There has been speculation for some months that Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, could become a target for either Bayer or BASF.

Bayer, which has a market value of about $90bn, is the second-largest producer of crop chemicals after Syngenta.

Monsanto, which has a market capitalisation of $42bn, attempted to buy Swiss rival Syngenta last year.

However, Syngenta ended up accepting a $43bn offer from ChemChina in February, although that deal is still being reviewed by regulators in the US.

Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto is expected to be bigger in value than the ChemChina-Syngenta deal.

More from Reuters:

Deutsche Bank analysts said a deal could shift Bayer’s center of gravity to agriculture, accounting for about 55 percent of core earnings, up from roughly 28 percent last year excluding the Covestro chemicals business Bayer plans to sell.

That would have a negative impact on sentiment among Bayer’s healthcare-focused investor base, the bank said.

Bayer, which has a market value of $90 billion, said the merger would create “a leading integrated agriculture business”, referring to Bayer’s push to seek more synergies from combining the development and sale of seeds and crop protection chemicals.

Most of the major agrichemical companies are aiming to genetically engineer more robust plants and custom-build chemicals to go with them, selling them together to farmers who are struggling to contend with low commodity price.

And, just for the fun of it, some voideos from around the world and an image or two.

First, the march in Saarbrücken, Germany, from Heidi Schmitt:

March against Monsanto, 21.05.2016 in Saarbrücken

On to Paris, via Ruptly TV:

France: Parisians rally against Monsanto

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Paris on Saturday for the ‘March against Monsanto,’ in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation. Protesters held banners reading: “GMO/Pesticides = the next sanitary scandal” and “GMO no thanks.”

The activists are protesting against Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) products and the alleged monopoly that Monsanto has in the food supply market.

Saturday’s march will mark the fourth annual ‘March against Monsanto.’ The march is set to take place in over 400 cities in more than 40 countries around the world.

Then off to Innsbruck, Austria with Klaus Schreiner:

2016 Monsanto Marsch Innsbruck

And then back to France and a march in Bordeaux from Gilbert Hanna:

Contre Monsanto and CO à Bordeaux marche internationale

Next, Amsterdam, via kafx:

March against Monsanto

And an image from Basel, Switzerland, via GM Watch:BLOG Monsanto Basel

Then to Toronto, via SupportLocalScene:

March Against Monsanto 2016 at Yonge & Dundas

Program notes:

Yonge and Dundas sees the Millions March Against Monsanto 2016 marching in downtown Toronto, Canada, May 21st 2016.

Next, an image form New York by Alex Beauchamp:

BLOG Monsanto NYC

Then to Japan with Ruptly TV:

Japan: Thousands protest against Monsanto in Tokyo

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Tokyo for the ‘March against Monsanto’ on Saturday, in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation.

Finally, via GM Watch, a scene from China:

BLOG Monsanto Taipei

Heavens above!: Hubble captures clusters


From NASA:

potw15xx-ngc5308a

Hubble Sees a Swarm of Ancient Star Clusters around a Galaxy

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows star clusters encircling a galaxy, like bees buzzing around a hive. The hive in question is an edge-on lenticular galaxy NGC 5308, located just under 100 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).

Members of a galaxy type that lies somewhere between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy, lenticular galaxies such as NGC 5308 are disk galaxies that have used up, or lost, the majority of their gas and dust. As a result, they experience very little ongoing star formation and consist mainly of old and aging stars. On Oct. 9, 1996, scientists saw one of NGC 5308’s aging stars meet dramatic demise, exploding as a spectacular Type la supernova.

Lenticular galaxies are often orbited by gravitationally bound collections of hundreds of thousands of older stars. Called globular clusters, these dense collections of stars form a delicate halo as they orbit around the main body of NGC 5308, appearing as bright dots on the dark sky.

The dim, irregular galaxy to the right of NGC 5308 is known as SDSS J134646.18+605911.9.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
Text credit: European Space Agency

Headline of the day II: Brazil’s answer to Melania?


The London Daily Mail homepage teaser for this story, and a reminder of the GOP furor over this:

BLOG Brazil

Threatened whites spur Donald Trump’s rise


If Donald Trump’s campaign staff are looking for a hook to hang their hopes on, it’s White Power — or rather the perceived loss of privileged status by a segment of the white population that feels threatened as their numbers threaten to dwindle to less than half the population.

An elegant demonstration conducted by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Toronto, and Rachel Wetts, a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, proves the point.

Simply darken a photo of Barack Obama and and show it to white folks and they become more likely to say they support the Tea Party, the nucleus of Trump’s supporters.

From the research paper:

Participants were shown pictures of Jay Leno, William Shatner, and an official picture of President Barack Obama. To make more or less salient his African-American heritage, participants were randomly assigned to see a version of the picture in which Obama’s skin was either artificially lightened or darkened. Participants were next given a short survey of political attitudes including a “yes/no” item asking participants “Do you consider yourself a supporter of the Tea Party?

White participants shown the darkened photo were more likely to say they supported the Tea Party (22 percent) relative to a group shown a lightened photo of Obama (12 percent), according to the research.

The result:

White participants in the Dark Obama Prime condition were significantly more likely to report that they supported the Tea Party (22%) than white participants assigned to the Light Obama Prime condition (12%).

The darkening of a black person’s skin as been done before, most notoriously when Fox News darkened a photograph of Trayvon Martin, playing to an audience base that was only 1.38 percent African American, as NewsCorpse noted at the time:

BLOG Fox tweakers

The Fox fakery came at a time when the network was relentlessly pushing the Tea Party and its inherently racist agenda.

And now back to the latest study, with a report from Stanford University:

Threats to racial status among white Americans have driven support for the Tea Party political movement and may also help explain the rise of Donald Trump, a Stanford sociologist said.

Since the Tea Party’s rise in 2009, academic experts have offered different explanations for its growth. The latest evidence from Stanford researchers shows that a perception of a “decline of whiteness” among some white Americans may be a key reason.

For example, white people who were shown an artificially darkened picture of President Barack Obama were more likely to report they supported the Tea Party than if they were shown an artificially lightened version.

Robb Willer, a Stanford professor of sociology, writes in a new research paper [open access — esnl] that the election of Obama as the first non-white president converged with other economic and demographic trends around 2008 to spark the rise of the Tea Party. In short, these factors were perceived as threatening the relative “racial standing” of whites in the United States.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

A Trump/Putin kiss echoes a Berlin past


The media and social media have been abuzz with images of a mural by Mindaugas Bonanu on the wall of Keulė Rūkė, a “small liberatarian barbecue joint” on the Lithuanian side of the Russian border:

BLOG Kiss Trump 4

We haven’t seen in any of the stories and media we’ve seen to an earlier artwork that became iconic [we even have a T-shirt with the image, a gift from elder daughter].

We refer, of course, to the 1990 Berlin Wall painting, My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, by Dmitri Vrubel and featuring the 1979 embrace of Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker. We thought it noteworthy to note the antecedent of the image that’s the virus of the moment, as well as an archetype of the pivotal moment when the Soviet Union was relinquishing its grip on East Germany and other satellite nations:

25.7.1991 "East-Side-Gallery", gelegen zwischen der Jannowitzbrücke und der Oberbaumbrücke. Reste der Berliner Mauer, die nach der Öffnung von vorwiegend ostdeutschen Künstlern auf der Ost-Seite bemalt wurden.