Astronomers have discovered a distant, massive and ancient black hole that calls into question current models for the early expansion of the universe. A team of scientists from China and Arizona spotted the brightest quasar from the early universe, named SDSS J0100+2802, centered on a black hole 12.8 billion light years away and as bright as 420 trillion suns.
Quasars are celestial objects that are essentially very bright clouds of material being swallowed by a black hole. The material accelerates toward the black hole and heats up in the process, causing it to glow brightly.
The existence of such a powerful and ancient object presents something of a puzzle for scientists because it formed less than a billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was relatively young.
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CubeSats offer a way to get into space on the cheap. They're compact, inexpensive, and they can piggyback on larger launch payloads to get into orbit. The trouble is, this piggybacking is often like trying to hitchhike cross country on a ride that only goes to the edge of town. The European Space Agency (ESA) is widening the scope a little by opening a competition for CubeSats to ride into deep space on its Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM).
The ESA competition is open to scientists and companies of its member nations member and is intended to provide room for six CubeSat units. A particular CubeSat could be made up of two or three units, so the ESA mission might for example carry two CubeSats of three units each.
According to ESA, the competition isn't just for a launch spot, but also to seek new sensors and other technologies that can complement the AIM mission, which is part of the international Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA), which is tasked with investigating how to deflect asteroids that might pose a hazard to Earth.
Last Friday, Keanu Jones' short film "Giving Back the Navajo Way" was one of 15 that screened in the 2015 White House Film Festival. Jones, an 18-year-old high school senior at Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, was on hand at the screening, and got to meet President Obama and rub elbows with celebrities like actress Hilary Swank and director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).
“I’ve never really thought that making a simple three-minute film would even take me to the White House or to see Obama,” Jones told Cronkite News.
Below, you can see Jones' film, which covers a number of topics, including caring for elders and water management; all 15 of the selections are viewable on the Festival's page at the White House website.
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Recently, I got a letter that made me want to scream: A kid was stopped by the cops for riding his bike on a three-house street! But this exchange ends with … well, you’ll see. I learned something. Maybe we all will.
I changed the names to keep the author and her town anonymous.
Here’s a situation that has been ongoing for several months, and we’re in shock. We’re fortunate that so far, nothing worse has happened to us than a few uncomfortable conversations with cops, and the fact that now our kids are afraid to go past the boundaries of our (very tiny) yard without an adult for fear of being accosted again. Here’s the rough outline:
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It seems that in our busy life of fast food and convenience, many people have become so disconnected from their food, they don’t know where their food actually comes from (or what it is made of!). This is the first article in a series to help kids understand more about our food system.
Today we’re mapping our fruits and vegetables: with a little research in the supermarket, the kids are discovering where our food was grown and how long it traveled to get here!
We recently packed a notebook and pen with us during a trip to the supermarket, on a quest to see where our fruit and vegetables were grown. Luckily, most of the supermarkets near us label the origins of the produce, and my kids were able to gather their data quite independently.
Two years ago, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Deal of 2013, which temporarily reversed the sequester cuts that eroded opportunity for students and protections for hard-working families.
It was quite an accomplishment given the political climate. Many hoped it signaled the end of the era of extreme austerity, and that lawmakers would restore investments that help the middle class thrive and ensures that students receive essential supports.
Instead, GOP members in the House and Senate have proposed to cut trillions in investments over the next decade, further threatening the well-being of the middle class and our most vulnerable students.
Allyson Chick is a Board-certified elementary school teacher from Memphis, Tennessee, and even at a Senate briefing discussing the teaching profession and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization, she is a teacher first.
“I’m on the front lines of education as a teacher, and this is something I know about learners—you can’t really absorb anything more than ten minutes at a time,” said Chick. As the fourth educator to speak that day, she led the room in some classroom exercises. “I need you to stretch, wiggle your fingers and wiggle your toes because I want to be heard desperately.”
Chick was joined by four fellow educators from who discussed their own experiences on teacher-led initiatives to evaluate and improve the teacher profession in hopes that Senators would learn from their example in the ongoing ESEA reauthorization.
As someone who represents new teachers, Chick refers to teachers who get through the first few years as survivors.
“Teachers are not always supported in the first five years. If you make it through five years, you are absolutely a survivor,” said Chick. In her school, colleagues got together on their own to help each other through evaluations and improving their practice.
A team of astronomers from MIT have detected signs of a possible ring system around the minor planet Chiron. First discovered in 1977, Chiron belongs to a class of minor planets known as centaurs. These bodies share some of the characteristics exhibited by both comets and asteroids, hence their classification as Centaurs, which in ancient mythology denoted a creature with the traits of both man and horse.
Astronomers estimate that there are in excess of 44,000 centaurs present in our solar system, mostly existing in the space between the orbits of Jupiter and Pluto. One such centaur, Chariklo, has already been found to host a ring system of its own. The discovery shocked astronomers, as it was not previously thought that so small a body had sufficient gravity to capture the materials to form its own ring system.
The recent observations of Chiron were made using two Hawaii-based observatories – NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility located on Mauna Kea, and the Las Cunbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Haleakala. The telescopes were tasked with watching for a stellar occultation, which occurs when a body, in this case Chiron, passes in front of a bright, distant star.
Money needed for upgrades to older equipment and IT security issues continue to drag on NASA, according to a report issued this week by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.
The report focuses on NASA’s Deep Space Network, which through variety of antennas and transmitters at communications complexes in three locations: Goldstone, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia provides space missions with the tracking, telemetry, and command services required to control and maintain spacecraft and transmit science data. NASA’s international partners also use the Deep Space Net.
From the OIG report: “Much of DSN's hardware is more than 30 years old, costly to maintain, and requires modernization and expansion to ensure continued service for existing and planned missions. Although DSN is meeting its current operational commitments, budget reductions have challenged the Network's ability to maintain these performance levels and threaten its future reliability. Specifically, in FY 2009 the Network implemented a plan to achieve $226.9 million in savings over 10 years and use most of that savings to build new antennas and transmitters. However, in FY 2013 the NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program cut the Network's budget by $101.3 million, causing DSN to delay upgrades, close antennas, and cancel or re-plan tasks.
In addition, SCaN administrators are considering additional cuts for DSN in FY 2016 that could further delay maintenance and upgrade tasks. Finally, despite these reductions DSN has not revised life-cycle cost estimates for the upgrade project or performed a detailed funding profile beyond FY 2018, making it difficult to effectively plan and justify funding for the project and DSN's future commitments. If budget reductions continue, DSN faces an increased risk that it will be unable to meet future operational commitments or complete the upgrade project on schedule.”
DSN management has an upgrade project to build new antennas and transmitters between now and 2025, NASA said.
When the invaders came, Cappadocians knew where to hide: underground, in one of the 250 subterranean safe havens they had carved from pliable volcanic ash rock called tuff.
Now a housing construction project may have unearthed the biggest hiding place ever found in Cappadocia, a region of central Turkey famous for the otherworldly chimney houses, cave churches, and underground cities its residents carved for millennia.
Discovered beneath a Byzantine-era hilltop castle in Nevşehir, the provincial capital, the site dates back at least to early Byzantine times. It is still largely unexplored, but initial studies suggest its size and features may rival those of Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Cappadocia, which could house 20,000 people.
In 2013, construction workers demolishing low-income homes ringing the castle discovered entrances to a network of rooms and tunnels. The city halted the housing project, called in archaeologists and geophysicists, and began investigating.
A 300-year-old paper trail between the local government and Ottoman officials suggested where to begin. “We found documents stating that there were close to 30 major water tunnels in this region,” says Nevşehir mayor Hasan Ünver.
In 2014, those tunnels led scientists to discover a multilevel settlement of living spaces, kitchens, wineries, chapels, staircases, and bezirhane—linseed presses for producing lamp oil to light the underground city. Artifacts including grindstones, stone crosses, and ceramics indicate the city was in use from the Byzantine era through the Ottoman conquest.
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In another hopeful sign that Mars was once habitable, NASA's Curiosity rover has detected nitrogen in the soil of the Red Planet for the first time.
NASA says that the nitrogen was detected indirectly in the form of nitric oxide when soil samples were heated using the mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph on Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
The instruments detected various nitrogen compounds, including nitric oxide, which is produced by the breakdown of nitrates, in amounts that indicate that nitrates were a much more probable source than alternatives.
Nitrates (NO3) are nitrogen-bearing molecules containing nitrogen and oxygen that are basic to biology and are found in DNA, proteins, and many other organic molecules.
On Earth, nitrogen is mostly found in the form of nitrogen gas in the atmosphere, but plants and bacteria are able to "fix" the nitrogen molecules into nitrates, so they can be used by other organisms. However, they can also be produced by lightning or, in the case of Mars, carried down by meteorites.
It is a singular fate to be the last of one’s kind. That is the fate of the men and women, nearly all of them elderly, who are—like Marie Wilcox, of California; Gyani Maiya Sen, of Nepal; Verdena Parker, of Oregon; and Charlie Mungulda, of Australia—the last known speakers of a language: Wukchumni, Kusunda, Hupa, and Amurdag, respectively. But a few years ago, in Chile, I met Joubert Yanten Gomez, who told me he was “the world’s only speaker of Selk’nam.” He was twenty-one.
Yanten Gomez, who uses the tribal name Keyuk, grew up modestly, in Santiago. His father, Blas Yanten, is a woodworker, and his mother, Ivonne Gomez Castro, practices traditional medicine. As a young girl, she was mocked at school for her mestizo looks, so she hesitated to tell her children—Keyuk and an older sister—about their ancestry. They hadn’t known that their maternal relatives descended from the Selk’nam, a nomadic tribe of unknown origin that settled in Tierra del Fuego. The first Europeans to encounter the Selk’nam, in the sixteenth century, were astonished by their height and their hardiness—they braved the frigid climate by coating their bodies with whale fat. The tribe lived mostly undisturbed until the late eighteen-hundreds, when an influx of sheep ranchers and gold prospectors who coveted their land put bounties on their heads. (One hunter boasted that he had received a pound sterling per corpse, redeemable with a pair of ears.) The survivors of the Selk’nam Genocide, as it is called—a population of about four thousand was reduced to some three hundred—were resettled on reservations run by missionaries. The last known fluent speaker of the language, Angela Loij, a laundress and farmer, died forty years ago.
Many children are natural mimics, but Keyuk could imitate speech like a mynah. His father, who is white, had spent part of his childhood in the Arauco region, which is home to the Mapuche, Chile’s largest native community, and he taught Keyuk their language, Mapudungun. The boy, a bookworm and an A student, easily became fluent. A third-grade research project impassioned him about indigenous peoples, and Ivonne, who descends from a line of shamans, took this as a sign that his ancestors were speaking through him. When she told him of their heritage, Keyuk vowed that he would master Selk’nam and also, eventually, Yagán—the nearly extinct language of a neighboring people in the far south—reckoning that he could pass them down to his children and perhaps reseed the languages among the tribes’ descendants. At fourteen, he travelled with his father to Puerto Williams, a town in Chile’s Antarctic province that calls itself “the world’s southernmost city,” to meet Cristina Calderón, the last native Yagán speaker. She subsequently tutored him by phone.
If it is lonely to be the last of anything, the distinction has a mythic romance: the last emperor, the last of the Just, the last of the Mohicans. Keyuk’s precocity enhanced his mystique. A Chilean television station flew him to Tierra del Fuego as part of a series, “Sons of the Earth,” that focussed on the country’s original inhabitants. He was interviewed, at sixteen, by the Financial Times. A filmmaker who knew him put us in touch, and we met at a café in Santiago.
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Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. Now thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. It's part of what Lomax envisioned for the collection — long before the age of the Internet.
Lomax recorded a staggering amount of folk music. He worked from the 1930s to the '90s, and traveled from the Deep South to the mountains of West Virginia, all the way to Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. When it came time to bring all of those hours of sound into the digital era, the people in charge of the Lomax archive weren't quite sure how to tackle the problem.
"We err on the side of doing the maximum amount possible," says Don Fleming, executive director of the Association for Cultural Equity, the nonprofit organization Lomax founded in New York in the '80s. Fleming and a small staff made up mostly of volunteers have digitized and posted some 17,000 sound recordings.
"For the first time, everything that we've digitized of Alan's field recording trips are online, on our website," says Fleming. "It's every take, all the way through. False takes, interviews, music."
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Two veterans of the US space program have marked 50 years of service with in appropriately sedate style. In 1965, a pair of gigantic crawlers were built to move the Saturn V moon rockets to the launch pad. Half a century later, they are still in service and being upgraded to handle NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) and other launch vehicles. To celebrate, the 6 million lb (2.7 million kg) Crawler-Transporter 2 (CT-2) made a rollout for a visitor and media day at less than one mph.
Once the largest land vehicles ever built and still the largest self-powered vehicles, NASA's crawler-transporters have had one of the greatest supporting roles in history, moving every Apollo, Skylab and Apollo Soyuz mission and all the Shuttle missions to Launch Pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
They were built by the Marion Shovel Company in Marion, Ohio to transport the giant Saturn V boosters from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) because the inclement Florida weather precluded assembling the rockets on the launch pad. Measuring 131 ft by 114 ft (40 m x 35 m), the machines supported on eight tractor treads are driven by 16 electric traction motors run by two AC generators and two DC generators powered by diesel engines.
Wondrous as today's technology is, there remains no feasible way to put ordinary people in space. Except, it seems, through virtual reality. Australian multimedia company Opaque Multimedia has combined an Oculus Rift headset with Microsoft Kinect 2 motion tracking to make it possible for every Tom, Dick, and Sally on the planet to get a first-hand (virtual) taste of life on – or rather just outside – the International Space Station. The comapny's new tech demo, Earthlight, lets players explore in first person around the outside of the ISS as it orbits the Earth, safe in the comfort of their living room.
Earthlight may not capture every element of the real experience, but it was designed to get as close to it as possible. Move your hands out in front of you and you'll see in your headset a space-gloved hand exactly where you'd expect it to be. Similarly, reach out to a handle or bit of scaffolding and give it a tug and your virtual self will begin to float forwards. And as you explore you might just see the Earth as it looks from 431 kilometers (268 miles) above.
It was difficult to make this work from a technical standpoint because even a millisecond delay or minor deviation between your movement and your avatar's movement can make the experience more horrifying than exhilarating. Project lead Norman Wang says that to keep it running smoothly they had to push both the software and hardware to their limit.
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Have geologists just discovered a new layer of Earth's interior?
A new study suggests that a previously unknown rocky layer may be lurking about 930 miles beneath our feet -- and evidence suggests that it's significantly stiffer than similar layers, which could help explain earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
“The Earth has many layers, like an onion,” study co-author Dr. Lowell Miyagi, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, said in a written statement. “Most layers are defined by the minerals that are present. Essentially, we have discovered a new layer in the Earth. This layer isn’t defined by the minerals present, but by the strength of these minerals.”
The pressure is on. For the study, the researchers used a device known as a diamond anvil to simulate how the mineral ferropericlase reacts to high pressure. Ferropericlase is abundant in the Earth's mantle, the layer that's sandwiched between our planet's core and the thin crust on which we live.
What did the researchers find?
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A makerspace is defined as a cooperative laboratory workspace where students and faculty can make things, conduct research and collaborate. In makerspaces, students gain practical hands-on experience with new technologies while engaging in applied formal and informal learning.
The maker culture at Morehouse is one that seeks to engage our students, faculty, and community in STEM-related, do-it-yourself activities that foster creativity, ingenuity, and leadership development. Our goal is to provide a physical and intellectual infrastructure that allows our students and stakeholders to express their creativity, solve problems and explore opportunities through making.
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The last time we heard from David Meckley–who was hand-picked by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to improve York schools financially and academically–he was trying to ram through a plan to turn all the district’s public schools into privately-run charter schools.
The proposal Meckley put forth as the city’s chief recovery officer proved overwhelmingly unpopular with the community and triggered protests involving educators, students, parents, and neighborhood leaders.
But what a difference a new administration can make. After Corbett suffered a resounding loss to the state’s new governor, Tom Wolf, in November, the city of York now finds itself looking for a new chief recovery officer.
Meckley, much to the delight of pro-public education activists throughout the city, resigned earlier this month—claiming Governor Wolf and his opposition to converting public schools to charters made it “impossible” for him to move forward.
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According to an audit report by California’s Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, Ben Chavis, founder of Oakland’s American Indian Model Charter Schools, steered an estimated $3.7 million in school funds to his own businesses. The audit also listed thousands in unauthorized credit card purchases: charges for meals, flights, hotels and tickets to see the San Francisco Giants.
While these audit findings suggest the misuse of public funds at one California charter school, this is not an isolated case. Another audit by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team found that Kendra Okonkwo, founder of the Wisdom Academy of Young Scientists in Los Angeles, reportedly engineered $2.6 million in payments to herself, her relatives and her close associates. Steven Cox, founder of the California Charter Academy, was indicted for allegedly misappropriating $5.5 million in public funds, leading to the collapse of his school. Emilio Vazquez, executive director of Santa Ana’s Albor Charter School, allegedly funneled more than $12 million to his family, friends and businesses.
A new report released by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) charges that, to date, fraud, waste and abuse at California charter schools have drained more than $81 million from the public coffers. The report indicates this may just be the tip of the iceberg. In a state with roughly 1100 charter schools serving more than half a million students, ferreting out fraud presents a significant challenge to overseers. Under the current system, countless abuses are bound to fall through the cracks. CPD highlights three fundamental flaws in California’s oversight scheme.
If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science – and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities.
From President Obama on down, public officials have cautioned against pursuing degrees like art history, which are seen as expensive luxuries in today’s world. Republicans want to go several steps further and defund these kinds of majors. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” asked Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. “I don’t think so.”
America’s last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal education is irrelevant, and technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher.
This dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future. The United States has led the world in economic dynamism, innovation and entrepreneurship thanks to exactly the kind of teaching we are now told to defenestrate.
A broad general education helps foster critical thinking and creativity. Exposure to a variety of fields produces synergy and cross fertilization. Yes, science and technology are crucial components of this education, but so are English and philosophy.
When unveiling a new edition of the iPad, Steve Jobs explained that “it’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want. America will not dominate the 21st century by making cheaper computer chips but instead by constantly reimagining how computers and other new technologies interact with human beings.
For most of its history, the United States was unique in offering a well-rounded education. In their comprehensive study, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” Harvard’s Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz point out that in the 19th century, countries like Britain, France and Germany educated only a few and put them through narrow programs designed to impart only the skills crucial to their professions.
America, by contrast, provided mass general education because people were not rooted in specific locations with long-established trades that offered the only paths forward for young men. And the American economy has historically changed so quickly that the nature of work and the requirements for success have tended to shift from one generation to the next. People don’t want to lock themselves into one professional guild or learn one specific skill for life.
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Marathons may be an everyday occurrence for people on Earth, but are a little more noteworthy when you're a little robot on Mars. According to NASA, as of March 16, the Mars Opportunity rover has covered 26.219 mi (42.195 km) in the leisurely time of about 11 years and two months. or 3,968 Martian days. In 2014, Opportunity broke the record of any space rover when it passed the distance covered by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 moon rover, which was launched in 1973.
The Marathon milestone is marked by another event aimed at extending the life of the rover, which is operating 11 years beyond its original mission deadline. However, the robotic explorer has been showing signs of "amnesia" for the past three months due to a faulty flash memory bank that prevented it from storing data overnight, forcing NASA to download from Opportunity each Martian day before sunset.
As of March 20, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has confirmed that mission control has reformatted the rover's memory so that the damaged one of seven flash memory banks has been bypassed, thereby allowing it to resume normal operations.
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Back in January, 2012, we mentioned that the Guggenheim (the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed modern art museum in NYC) had put 65 art catalogues on the web, all free of charge.
We’re happy to report that, between then and now, the number of free texts has grown to 109. Published between 1937 and 1999, the art books/catalogues offer an intellectual and visual introduction to the work of Alexander Calder, Edvard Munch, Francis Bacon, Gustav Klimt & Egon Schiele, Fernand Léger, and Kandinsky. Plus there are other texts (e.g., Masterpieces of Modern Art and Abstract Expressionists Imagists) that tackle meta movements and themes.
Anyone interested in the history of the Guggenheim will want to spend time with a collection called “The Syllabus.” It contains five books by Hilla Rebay, the museum’s first director and curator. Together, they let you take a close look at the art originally housed in the Guggenheim when the museum first opened its doors in 1939.
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A pioneer of “Afrofuturism,” bandleader Sun Ra emerged from a traditional swing scene in Alabama, touring the country in his teens as a member of his high school biology teacher’s big band. While attending Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, he had a out-of-body experience during which he was transported into outer space.
As biographer John Szwed records him saying, “my whole body changed into something else. I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn.” While there, aliens with “little antenna on each ear. A little antenna on each eye” instructed him to drop out of college and speak through his music. And that’s just what he did, changing his name from Herman Blount and never looking back.
Whether you believe that story, whether Sun Ra believes it, or whether his entire persona is a theatrical put-on should make no difference. Because Sun Ra would be a visionary either way.
Combining Afrocentric science fiction, esoteric and occult philosophy, Egyptology, and, with his “Arkestra,” his own brand of free jazz-futurism that has no equal on earth, the man is truly sui generis. In 1971, he served as artist-in-residence at UC Berkeley and offered a spring semester lecture, African-American Studies 198, also known as “Sun Ra 171,” “The Black Man in the Universe,” or “The Black man in the Cosmos.”
The course featured readings from—to name just a few—theosophist Madame Blavatsky, French philosopher Constantin Francois de Chasseboeuf, black American writer and poet Henry Dumas, and “God,” whom the cosmic jazz theorist reportedly listed as the author of The Source Book of Man’s Life and Death (otherwise known as the King James Bible).
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You could pay $118 on Amazon for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s catalog The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry. Or you could pay $0 to download it at MetPublications, the site offering “five decades of Met Museum publications on art history available to read, download, and/or search for free.” If that strikes you as an obvious choice, prepare to spend some serious time browsing MetPublications’ collection of free art books and catalogs.
You may remember that we featured the site a few years ago, back when it offered 397 whole books free for the reading, including American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885–1915; Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomical Drawings from the Royal Library; and Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the Met has kept adding to their digital trove since then, and, as a result, you can now find there no fewer than 422 art catalogs and other books besides. Those sit alongside the 400,000 free art images the museum put online last year.
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NASA officials today said they have picked the specific asteroid mission and offered new details for that mission which could launch in the 2020 timeframe.
Specifically, NASA’s associate administrator Robert Lightfoot said the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will rendezvous with the target asteroid, land a robotic spacecraft on the surface, grab a 4 meter or so sized boulder and begin a six-year journey to redirect the boulder into orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts.
+More on network World: How to protect Earth from asteroid destruction; Quick look: NASA’s ambitious asteroid grabbing mission+
There had been a discussion about grabbing an entire asteroid and bringing it back to Lunar orbit but that proved to be more complicated and costly – about $100 million more than the boulder-grabbing scheme, Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot said NASA has so far identified three valid asteroid candidates for the mission: Itokawa, Bennu and 2008 EV5, though it is focusing on the 2008EV 5 asteroid for now. Lightfoot said EV5 has a number of attractive qualities, namely it not been visited by other spacecraft missions, it has been extensively observed, its orbit is well known and it is a carbonaceous asteroid – the most common type of asteroid and contains a number of elements scientists are interested in studying up close.
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