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Did Ancient Greeks Visit North America?

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We have a general rule of thumb: if a headline ends in a question mark (?), the answer is almost always “NO”.  This is no exception but is one of the times where a better answer is “probably not, but maybe”! In a recent paper, Ioannis Liritzis, an archaeologist at the University of the Aegean, along with his co-authors examined the writings of Plutarch to discern the meaning behind one of the tales. In it, a character talks of a grand adventure from which he’d recently returned. He describes it as a long voyage to a distant “great continent” which travelers would make the trip roughly every 30 years, when the planet Saturn appeared in the constellation Taurus. Using this and other context clues, Liritz’s team examined solar eclipse records to ballpark date such a voyage to 56CE and they examine a number of possible explanations for how and why these sailors might have made such a journey. In the end, the conclusion is that it’s certainly possible but not altogether probable given the lack of archeological and metallurgical evidence.  But the entire theory is a fascinating read that explores the potential fora while chapter of unknown historical exploration.

Shots From Above: The World From The Serenity Of A Glider

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Photographer Chris Dahl-Bredine had a terrible ski accident in the 90s which drove him to start looking at the way the world works and how everything fits together. Part of this journey was him learning to fly and he fell in love with the openness of seeing things from a hang glider. Eventually, he built his own motorized glider and took to the sky to photograph the world from above. The result is a beautiful view that evokes a sense of the Overview Effect without leaving the atmosphere. 

Ode to Muir NYC Premiere

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On Monday, December 10th we’ll be hosting the NYC premiere of the newest Teton Gravity Research film, Ode to Muir, in the historic 1925 Jaffe theatre. Read all about how to attend here.  Our decision to host the premiere, and to donate all of the proceeds to Protect our Winters, was easy to make. We work with explorers, travelers and scientists. We wanted to give something back to that community, and make an awesome event for like minded folks to come together. We wanted to make an impactful donation to a cause that we believe in.  This film embodies a spirit that is in each of the Lat Long partners: that wilderness must be protected, treasured and enjoyed first hand, and that, as Muir once said, “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks…”. We build stories online in part to help spread that feeling around the world, and to help encourage others to get up and make their own stories offline.  We wouldn’t have been able to make this event possible without some awesome partners alongside us, like Paragon Sports, one of the oldest outdoor sports stores in the country (who has been in NYC since...Read...

The Insane Talisker Open Water Rowing Challenge

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Each year, a few dozen rowing teams set off from the Canary Islands and cross the Atlantic without an engine or sail. Rowing 3,000 miles (4,800 km) to Antigua, they’ll spend months battling waves, weather and themselves while pulling at the oars in 2 hour shifts. It isn’t so much a race as it is a group challenge – the spirit is one of mutual cooperation where boats with 1-4 crew members set off cross an ocean. It’s called the world’s toughest row and perhaps most surprisingly, most teams actually finish. Of the last 38 to set off, 37 have reached the finish.  The next race kicks off December 12 and as the date gets closer, you can follow the race tracker on the challenge website.

Climb Everest With a First Person POV

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In 2013, Elia Saikaly recorded hist entire ascent of Mt. Everest in HD video. The result is an incredible first person view of the challenges that face climbing parties amidst breathtaking scenery. Having read a number of accounts of the climb, I’ve built a mental image of various parts of the mountain but here you can clearly see milestones fo the climb and get a sense for how they affect the climbers. You can feel they tension of the Hillary Step and see why it is (was?) such a bottleneck with an infamous history.

Singapore researchers create manta-ray inspired underwater drone: MantaDroid

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Singaporean researchers created this underwater drone that swims like a manta ray. Flexible fins give it the ability to glide through turbulent seas and while there have been other crafts built with a similar capabilities, the MantaDroid is the first to use just one motor for each fin. It uses the water around it to help control the motion of the fin and drive the drone forward. It can move about .7 meters per second and you’ve got to check out the video to see how similar it moves to a true manta.

The Undersea Cable Network

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Everything about telecommunications feels so instantaneous and global that most of us just assume satellites are the magic network that holds it all together. Sure, they stitch together vital parts of our networks but when you need to move heaps of data around the globe, it’s going underwater. Over 400 international cables stretch more than 550,000 miles (885.139 km) across the ocean floor and carry unfathomable amounts of data. The longest cable is SEA-ME-WE3, and moves data at roughly 575 gigabytes per second between 34 countries from Germany to Australia. SubmarineCableMap.com has an interactive map that lets you dive into the specs of every cable out there and explore how they connect the far reaches of the planet. Business Insider made this cinematic view of the same data which sprinkles in some fun facts along the way.  And if you really want to get into the far corners of possibility, Gizmodo published a fun read back in 2012 about how one might theoretically be able to destroy the internet in which the cable network plays an important role.

The Women of Astronomical Nomenclature

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Mary Blagg started the effort to standardize astronomical feature names in the early 1900s and today, the work is carried on by Tenille Gaither and Rosalyn Hayward of the USGS. Together, they manage the database incredibly known as the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.  The article is a great read about the history of naming features beyond Earth and the people who have kept everyone in sync. and then check out the Gazeteer’s website where you can browse all the named features, some of which feature great imagery like Pantheon Fossae on Mercury, the Baphyras Catena of Mars or a full maps of Uranian moons. 

Inverted economics of fishing the high seas

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Using satellite imagery and machine learning, we can now monitor global fishing fleets in near real time, including the previously opaque world of fishing on the high seas. It’s estimated that without government subsidies, over half of this $8 Billion market would be unprofitable, including all deep-sea trawling, a perennial culprit of extensive ecosystem damage. The high seas — marine waters that fall outside national jurisdiction — cover 43% of the Earth’s surface and the fishing of its depths is dominated by 5 countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Spain.  In their paper “The economics of fishing the high seas“, the authors dive into the technical details of their economic analysis and while it can get pretty dry in spots, the use of satellite imagery with advance machine learning is an incredible application of technology.