Life Too Slow to See - Timelapse Footage of Marine Animals

Slow life - timelapse footage of marine animals

Last month, in a post about hummingbird singing slowed down by a factor of eight, I asked whether "our human-based perception of events in time blind us to certain aspects of 'reality'". That principle isn't limited in one direction to things too fast for us to see or hear though - see the stunningly beautiful video below (fullscreen and HD that thing) showing 'slow life', made observable in our natural timeframe only by speeding up timelapse observations:

"Slow" marine animals show their secret life under high magnification. Corals and sponges are very mobile creatures, but their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to ours and requires time lapses to be seen. These animals build coral reefs and play crucial roles in the biosphere, yet we know almost nothing about their daily lives.

...To make this little clip I took 150000 shots. Why so many? Because macro photography involves shallow depth of field. To extend it, I used focus stacking. Each frame of the video is actually a stack that consists of 3-12 shots where in-focus areas are merged. Just the intro and last scene are regular real-time footage. One frame required about 10 minutes of processing time (raw conversion + stacking). Unfortunately, the success rate was very low due to copious technical challenges and I spent almost 9 long months just to learn how to make these kinds of videos and understand how to work with these delicate creatures.

Could there be 'slow life' at the extremes, moving on the scale of millennia, all but unobservable to beings like us limited to a century of life?

(Video by Daniel Stoupin - art prints of his photography are available there. Found via Explore)

News Briefs 18-04-2014

"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it."

With thanks to Kat for the links!

Quote of the Day:

“If your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.”

N. deGrasse Tyson

NASA Orbiter Sees a Robot on Mars

Curiosity Rover on Mars

I am constantly amazed at how quickly I take amazing technology for granted which would have seemed like science fiction just a decade previous to their invention (iPhones, 60+ inch flat screen TVs etc). I guess it's just the way we're wired. But this still boggles my mind - we have put robots on to other planets, such as Mars, and in some cases we can even see those robots via other amazing technology, such as the above shot (click to telescopenate) of the Curiosity rover from the HiRise camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Amazingly, the HiRise camera has previously even imaged these robots parachuting down to the planet on their arrival.

Now, if we could just see an image of the landscape to the top left of this one, where the 'Mars light' (if it was a physical object) seemed to be shining from in those anomalous images last week...

(If there wasn't an Earthly robot on the Red Planet in that spot, I wonder if NASA would investigate further, or if the line would simply be that it's obviously some sort of shiny, mineral outcrop, and that the tracks leading to it are some sort of natural, wind-created striations in the Martian soil)

Related:

Amazing Images of a 13-Year-Old 'Eagle Huntress' from Mongolia

Eagle Huntress

With modern Western culture continually spreading throughout the globe, glimpses of fascinating ancient traditions become like jewels when we are lucky enough to observe them. Thankfully, when photographer Asher Svidensky was privileged to watch a 13-year-old huntress in Mongolia using an eagle to catch foxes, he captured the girl and her huge bird for the rest of us to see:

The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country's only apprentice huntress.

They hunt in winter, when the temperatures can drop to -40C (-40F). A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback through snow to a mountain or ridge giving an excellent view of prey for miles around. Hunters generally work in teams. After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open, and an eagle is released. If the eagle fails to make a kill, another is released.

Head over to the BBC to see more photographs and read the full story.

Link: A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia

News Briefs 17-04-2014

Happy Zombie Jesus Day Easter!

Thanks, Susan & Robbie.

Quote of the Day:

“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”

~Ram Dass

This Guy Will Make Your Mind Go in Circles...

A mind-bendingly beautiful piece of visual poetry for you all on this fine spring/autumn day...

Neurons to Nirvana: How Psychedelics Can Heal the Mind & Teach the Spirit


Drugs: They're harmful. They're addictive. They're everywhere, and all around you there are peddlers seeking to give them to your kids.

But wait, the drugs I'm referring to are the corporate drugs patented by Big Pharma; the ones your government wants you & your children to be hooked on, in order to numb you into compliance. And if that doesn't keep you sedated enough, there's the sanctioned stimulants - i.e. alcohol, tobacco & caffeine - along with all sorts of sleek consumables promoted by TV ads & flashy billboards; guaranteed to force you into voluntary slavery, until you literally drop out from exhaustion.

On the other hand, the drugs our leaders have been trying to protect us from for the past 40+ years, have been shown through sound scientific trials to have incredible therapeutic benefits, when given to patients under the right conditions. The documentary Neurons to Nirvana explores the healing potential of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, Cannabis & Ayahuasca, not only for the treatment of physiological ailments, but also in helping integrate past traumas, and all the psychological wounds which lead many in our society to try filling their internal void with external satisfactors.

What's more, the biggest lesson these plant teachers can instill to the willing seeker, is that Mind, Spirit & Soul are *all* part of the same equation; as such, the imbalance in one would provoke an illness in the other... which might also account why we have brought our world into such state of disarray.

Neurons to Nirvana, directed by Oliver Hockenhull --who was recently interviewed by our good friend Alex Tsakiris on his Skeptiko podcast-- brings together a whole set of 'heayweights' in the fields of Neuroscience and/or Psychedelic research; like ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna, addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté, professor of Psychiatrics & Pediatrics at UCLA Dr. Charles S. Grob, and many others.

On the link NeuronsToNirvana.com you can find a list of all the upcoming screenings worldwide, but if you prefer it you can either order a DVD or stream the film online --you can even send the streaming link as a gift to up to 5 different people; why not send one to your Congressman or elected representative? Maybe that could grease the wheels of change a bit.

Black Ring 'UFO' Seen Over England - What Was It?

Black Ring in the skies of England

British media are carrying a wonderfully Fortean news story about a school-girl sighting (and videoing) a 'UFO' composed simply of a large black ring (see image above).

A schoolgirl was stunned when when she looked into the sky to see an enormous unexplained black ring. Georgina Heap, 16, was playing tennis with mum Jo when she was stopped in her tracks by the fascinating sight.

Gazing into the sky, the pair saw a clearly defined black circle which looked like a giant smoke ring. The UFO remained there for around three minutes before it disappeared completely.

Georgina, who is studying for her GCSEs, said: "I looked up at it and thought, 'what the hell?', it was amazing. It was just floating there like a cloud and then it disappeared. It wasn't birds either. There were about ten of us who stopped what we were doing and watched. It is the weirdest thing I have ever seen."

The spectacle, which appeared near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on Friday evening, has stumped officials.

The 'UFO' has a wonderfully spooky look to it, but what is it? British UFO commentator Nick Pope is quoted in the Huffington Post as saying it might be a swarm of insects - and is definitely not smoke - although I'm not sure what evidence he's basing his conclusions on.

Over at Who Forted, Chris Savia points out that 'black ring' sightings such as this are actually not so rare, and has posted a similar image sighted in the skies above Texas in 2013 shortly after a transformer caught fire, an eye-witness account from 2003 that suggests a black ring formed after a lightning strike, and the video below from Chicago in 2012:

Skeptical news site Doubtful News offers a more detailed explanation: these 'black ring UFOs' are actually well-documented IFOs, being properly known as 'vortex rings', which "are often remnants of explosions":

In most instances, the rings are formed by air mixed with smoke or steam that is forced out of a (relatively) small circular or cylindrical opening (this can be a chimney, the barrel of a canon, or a vent in a volcano crater). Because of the drag of the surface of the opening, the air expelled from the centre will move faster than the air exiting the opening near the edge. The air from the sides is sucked in, and a circular motion is created. In this way, a doughnut-shaped vortex is formed, just like a smoke ring that is blown from a smoker’s lips. The ring-shape is maintained due to the rotational motion of the air flowing in the vortex ring.

In short: it's a smoke ring, like some cigarette smokers blow occasionally, just on a larger scale.

Update: A likely source of the smoke ring has been identified. Via the BBC:

A Warwick Castle spokesman said they had been testing "fire effects" to go with the daily firing of the Trebuchet Fireball - a giant catapult. "We've seen a number of different effects, including the vortex images that have been reported," the spokesman said. "As yet we don't know what causes the phenomenon but it's certainly a spooky spectacle."

News Link: Schoolgirl takes picture of 'black ring' UFO

Link: Who Forted: Big Black Ring Spotted Over Britain

Link: Doubtful News: What is the Black Ring of Leamington Spa? A vortex ring

News Briefs 15-04-2014

Sorry folks. I forgot to observe the Moon for a little while there tonight, and all quantum hell broke loose. Which reminds me - I should go check on the cat…

Quote of the Day:

It is well beyond time that we took the safety off, and started to think about pulling the Cosmic Trigger….a clean headshot is generally best.

Alan Moore