Gotham Knowledge
All Things: Interesting | Science | Art | Culture
| Twitter @GothamKnowledge
  • "Does the amount of initials before your last name add to the prestige or just pretentiousness?"
  • ≤ kg

    The story of the Kilogram, and how we measure. via @radiolab 

  • mindblowingscience:

    Are GMOs safe? A Week in Science

    This week:Genetically Modified Foods are rapidly entering our food chain, but many people have concerns about their safety. Dr Paul Willis investigates the science facts and myths behind this controversial topic.

    You can follow A Week in Science throughout the week on Twitter, and join the discussion, by following @RiAus

    (via shychemist)

    • 25
    • 25
  • "Hello coffee my old friend."
    • 1
  • Secrets of the Skunk Works




    "When the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works began marking its 70th birthday this year, media specialist Bob Driver dragged an old suitcase into a company director’s office. Opening it, he asked if the contents could finally be shown to the public.

    Inside was a 55-year-old model of the A-3, Lockheed’s first try at blending stealth with speed—and a direct predecessor of the triple-sonic A-12 Blackbird. It had been designed by Skunk Works founder Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, and Driver had hidden it away for decades, defying periodic management directives to purge company archives.

    The director he approached was Stephen Justice, who runs Advanced Systems Development at Skunk Works. “I treasure that the people here want to protect our history,” says Justice. “Bob recognized the A-3 model as being something special, and important to hold onto.”

    Seventy years earlier, Kelly Johnson had stood on a desert lakebed in California and grinned as an XP-80 screamed past him on its maiden flight. Seven months before that, he had walked out of U.S. Army Air Forces General “Hap” Arnold’s office with a contract to design what became the first U.S. jet fighter to see combat. In just 215 days, 23 handpicked engineers built it in a drafty hangar so awash in the fumes from a nearby factory that wags started calling it the Skunk Works.

    Justice began canvassing program managers for other artifacts and documents that could be released to honor the anniversary. The objects in this gallery had never before been seen by anyone without a security clearance.

    Why so much secrecy? “It takes about one-tenth the time and one-tenth the resources to develop a countermeasure to anything that’s introduced,” Justice says. “To maintain your edge over any threat, you need to protect what your capabilities are. And sometimes you need to protect their existence.”

    Today’s Skunk Works employs 3,700 employees at facilities in Palmdale, California, Marietta, Georgia, and Fort Worth, Texas. They are working on over 500 projects, from radar coatings to war games to compact fusion reactors to a Mach 6 spyplane.

    Sifting through the archives revealed breathtaking technologies and capabilities. Some were too early for their time; some cost too much; some filled a need that didn’t yet exist. But everywhere, Justice says, “you see clear examples of the creativity and unbounded imaginations of the grandfathers of the Skunk Works.”

  • skunkbear:

    The Eighth International Conference on Mars kicks off today - a perfect opportunity to share the USGS’s beautiful geologic map of Mars. The last map like this was made in 1986, and we’ve learned a whole lot since then. 

    The different colors represent different types of rock. Viewed through a geological lens the red planet looks more like a rainbow planet.

    The Mapmakers: Kenneth L. Tanaka, James A. Skinner, Jr., James M. Dohm, Rossman P. Irwin, III, Eric J. Kolb, Corey M. Fortezzo, Thomas Platz, Gregory G. Michael, and Trent M. Hare

    • 395
    • 395
  • Evolution of our sense of smell.


    Don’t miss the last weekend, to learn about the biology and evolution of the sense of smell in The Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins. Enjoy demonstrations and hands-on activities, including sending and receiving scents using a new digital device called the oPhone.  Learn more about the program here.

  • s-c-i-guy:

    Perihelion and Aphelion

    The closest point to the Sun in a planet’s orbit is called perihelion. The furthest point is called aphelion. Notice how the planet moves fastest at perihelion and slowest at aphelion.

    The time during the year that aphelion and perihelion (when we are closet to the sun) changes over a roughly 100,000 year cycle, known as the Milankovitch Cycle.  Our orbit around the sun is not a circle, it is an ellipse with an eccentricity of about 0.0167.  This orbit both changes shape and rotates around the sun much like a spirogram tracing out a flower-like shape.

    It is summer in the northern hemisphere, a time when people often say things like, “We are closer to the sun than we are in winter.”  This is not really true.  Summer is a product of the angle at which Earth is tilted, right now Earth is tilted so that the northern regions lean toward the sun.  In terms of orbit we are actually at the furthest point Earth gets from the sun.

    This has interesting implications in terms of the global climate.  This means that right now winters tend to be warm (the planet is closer to the sun) and summers cool (the planet further from the sun).  In the big picture this places us in the midst of a global cool cycle, the type of situation that tends to lead to ice ages, like the one we are emerging from.


    (via thenewenlightenmentage)

    • 1417
    • 1417
  • spaceplasma:

    Titan’s Atmosphere

    Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found

    Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Much as with Venus prior to the Space Age, the dense, opaque atmosphere prevented understanding of Titan’s surface until new information accumulated with the arrival of the Cassini–Huygens mission in 2004, including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan’s polar regions.

    The atmosphere is largely nitrogen; minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog. Titan’s lower gravity means that its atmosphere is far more extended than Earth’s and about 1.19 times as massive. It supports opaque haze layers that block most visible light from the Sun and other sources and renders Titan’s surface features obscure. Atmospheric methane creates a greenhouse effect on Titan’s surface, without which Titan would be far colder. Conversely, haze in Titan’s atmosphere contributes to an anti-greenhouse effect by reflecting sunlight back into space, cancelling a portion of the greenhouse effect warming and making its surface significantly colder than its upper atmosphere.

    Titan’s clouds, probably composed of methane, ethane or other simple organics, are scattered and variable, punctuating the overall haze.The findings of the Huygens probe indicate that Titan’s atmosphere periodically rains liquid methane and other organic compounds onto its surface. Clouds typically cover 1% of Titan’s disk, though outburst events have been observed in which the cloud cover rapidly expands to as much as 8%. One hypothesis asserts that the southern clouds are formed when heightened levels of sunlight during the southern summer generate uplift in the atmosphere, resulting in convection. This explanation is complicated by the fact that cloud formation has been observed not only after the southern summer solstice but also during mid-spring.

    Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

    • 948
    • 948
  • spaceplasma:

    Quick Rosetta update:

    This is the shape model of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. From the images taken on 14 July, the OSIRIS team has begun modelling the comet’s three-dimensional shape. The animated gif presented here covers one full rotation of the nucleus around its spin axis, to emphasise the lobate structure of the comet. This model will be refined as more data becomes available – it is still a preliminary shape model and some features may be artefacts.

    • More information: here


    • 114
    • 114
  • spaceplasma:

    Wolf-Rayet Star 124: Stellar Wind Machine

    Resembling an aerial fireworks explosion, this dramatic picture of the energetic star WR124 reveals it is surrounded by hot clumps of gas being ejected into space at speeds of over 100,000 miles per hour. Also remarkable are vast arcs of glowing gas around the star, which are resolved into filamentary, chaotic substructures, yet with no overall global shell structure.

    The massive, hot central star is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. This extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star (in this case 50,000 degrees Kelvin) is going through a violent, transitional phase characterized by the fierce ejection of mass. The blobs may result from the furious stellar wind that does not flow smoothly into space but has instabilities which make it clumpy.The surrounding nebula is estimated to be no older than 10,000 years, which means that it is so young it has not yet slammed into the gasses comprising the surrounding interstellar medium.

    Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA - Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

    • 368
    • 368
  • naturegraphics:


    Background: Over the past decade and half, physicists in United States and Canada have launched at least half a dozen companies to pursue alternative designs for fusion reactors. This week’s news feature looks into the most promising technologies and technical struggles scientists need to face.

    Design challenge: The aim for the graphic was to explain the design of three basic fusion reactor alternatives: tokamak, spheromak and colliding beam reactor. Editors believed it would be also helpful for the reader to include simple diagrams showing main nuclear fusion processes that are mentioned in the story.

    Since some of these reactors are still in the concept stage it was important for the illustration not to go into too much detail and instead explain the technology in a very schematic way. We also wanted to make sure these illustrations would be visually uniform and work together as a set.

    The final graphic shows a simplified 3D cutout of each reactor in white with plasma inside colored yellow. Additionally, hot metal has been marked red, magnet coils in light blue and fuel injection as blue arrows.

    We considered showing the direction of magnetic fields (that trap hot plasma) but it proved to be a challenge. Magnetic field lines would need to spiral around the plasma vortex (or hot metal vortex in general fusion) and we soon realised they would clash with other important information. We decided that showing the direction of plasma movement is more crucial whereas magnetic field can be easier included in the caption text. 

    -Jasiek Krzysztofiak

    • 9
    • 9
  • theomeganerd:

    Batman Action Figure 

    by Tetsuya Nomura - the man responsible for creating Kingdom Hearts as well as designing some of Final Fantasy’s most iconic characters, has unveiled a new interpretation of Batman.

    Currently on display at San Diego Comic-Con, the new version of Batman was done to celebrate an upcoming line of Square Enix and DC Comics-produced collectible figurines, which will be sold under the title Variant Play Arts Kai series.

    (via main-menu)

    • 242
    • 242
  • quakeguy:

    This person is making doom floppy disk pillows… I want!

    Now I must change the locks to Red, Blue, Green. 

    (via planetsedge)

    • 799
    • 799
  • for-science-sake:

    1. Mossy Leaf-Tailed Gecko
    2. Grey Tree Frog 
    3. Grey Cicada 
    4. Casque head Chameleon 
    5. Lichen Spider
    6. Underwing Moth
    7. Peppered Moth
    8. Owl Fly Larva
    9. Eastern Screech Owl 

    (via sagansense)

    • 1354
    • 1354