The still-spreading Gult Coast oil spill is threatening to become a full-fledged environmental disaster that may eclipse Exxon Valdez in cost and impact. [WaPo]
- Today, the Obama administration put pressure on BP America to do more to stop the leak and clean up its aftermath. [NYT]
- Experts and volunteers are scrambling to aid the wildlife affected by the spill. [Discovery News]
- NASA’s Earth Observatory team is tracking the oil spill’s progress by satellite. [Discovery News]
Image: This satellite photo provided by NASA shows the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico as it closes in on the Pass a Loutre area of Plaquemines Parish, La. (NASA photo)
The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In the spirit of the occasion, the famous telescope has captured this phantasmagorical image deep within the Carina Nebula. Not too shabby for a telescope with two decades under its belt. NASA and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team describe it best: “This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.” [NASA and Discovery News]
- A bone to pick: Was the Donner Party’s legendary cannibalism just a myth? A new study of the bones found at the Donner’s campsite in California’s Sierra Nevadas suggests the snowbound pioneers may not have eaten each other after all. [DISCOVERY NEWS]
Kjerstin Williams is the second of three geniuses featured in Rose Magazine’s cover story. If you’re not green with envy over her day job — working with robots at Applied Minds — then her night job ought to do the trick: she’s a jazz singer, and a good one, at that.
With her pixie-blond hair and bubbly personality (we dubbed her a RoboVixen) Williams resides somewhere on the bridge between science and art — a spectrum that’s often at play on the Caltech campus, where science reigns supreme, but a musical subculture has thrived.
Williams has even performed at Carnegie Hall with the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band.
She harmonizes regularly around town with The Conspirators, a quartet of Caltech musicians. At top and below is a photo series by Jonathan Prentice of a recent session at the Pasadena Jazz Institute.
Swing along and read the full story on Williams in Rose Magazine.
For a firsthand glimpse into the playful duality of Williams’ life, follow her on Twitter.
Portrait by Walt Mancini. Performance photos by Jonathan Prentice: Kjerstin Williams and The Conspirators perform at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in July. Laurence Yeung on guitar, Jim Van Deventer on tenor sax, Jimi Hawes on upright bass, Michael Ferrara on drums and special guest Bill Watrous on the trombone.
Rose Magazine cover subject John Dabiri is only 29, and he’s already racking up serious accolades, like this one from the White House, for his research on jellyfish. Dabiri isn’t a biologist — he’s an associate professor of aeronautics at Caltech, where he and his team study the movement of jellies for inspiration that has some surprising potential to change the way we live.
If you think the 650-million-year-old creatures only matter when they’ve got their stinging tentacles wrapped around your leg, Dabiri’s research would solidly suggest otherwise.
His analysis on the way creatures swim, pump and propel themselves underwater includes human-oriented applications in:
- Underwater vehicles, particularly military uses
- Wind energy and how it is harnessed
- Mass mixing and movement of the oceans, connected to climate change
- Human heart diagnostics, with potential for treating heart disease
Visit the Caltech Biological Propulsion Laboratory Web site to see some of the research tools that allow Dabiri and team to study jellyfish, both in the lab and out in the ocean, including a 40-meter tilting water channel (that generates waves) and some really fancy underwater camera and laser systems.
The animation below, courtesy of Dabiri, shows the movement and forces of water created by a moon jellyfish as it interacts with the ocean around it. (Photo above by Walt Mancini / Staff)