Cassini’s Grand Finale Begins

The Cassini spacecraft is set to make its first dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings today, April 26, 2017. This dive, first of 22, opens the last stage of the Cassini-Huygens mission before the vehicle is driven into Saturn on September 15, 2017.

To celebrate, here are a few of the amazing photos sent back from the mission.

NASA Catching Its Tail 5329_PIA12826

NASA Colorful Colossusses 5631_PIA14922

NASA Spring at the North Pole 5805_PIA14945

NASA Water World 6275_PIA18343

Incredible. At this writing, the mission’s been running for over 19 years. It’s amazing what we can do when there’s a will.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

Follow the grand finale milestones, read the mission-end FAQs, browse graphics, documents, videos in a dedicated grand finale gallery, or follow Cassini on Twitter.

Images by by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI: Catching Its Tail; Colorful Colossuses and Changing Hues (Titan and Saturn); Spring at the North Pole; Water World (Enceladus and Saturn’s rings); the Earth Day tweet photo with more info is available at The Day the Earth Smiled.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Western Asian Science Fictional Art

Omar Gilani is an illustrator, designer, and concept artist currently based in Pakistan. Not all of his art has sci-fi elements, but the pieces that do are amazing. Take a look:

Omar Gilani 2
Omar Gilani
Omar Gilani 5
Omar Gilani

The engineer-turned-artist takes inspiration from everyday life and combines traditional drawing with digitally created elements.

Omar Gilani sits4
Omar Gilani
Omar Gilani maybe3
Omar Gilani

I am very sorry I found out about his work only a day(!) after the Hugo nomination period closed. Well, hopefully he’ll continue producing genre art so I can nominate him next year.

Found via Islam and Science Fiction.

Crossposted from the Playfully Grownup Home blog.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Online Finds: Trappist-1 Illustrations

A NASA Tumblr post about the newly found exoplanets in the Trappist-1 system included fantastic artist’s renderings of what the system and the planets might look like.

NASA Tumblr Trappist-1 Illustration System

“The planets also are very close to each other. How close? Well, if a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.”

NASA Tumblr Trappist-1 Illustration Planet

One is even a retro-style travel poster! (See other NASA retro travel posters here.)

NASA Tumblr Trappist-1 Illustration Poster

Love ’em! Find more at NASA on Tumblr!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Crossposted from the Playfully Grownup Home blog.

Images by NASA, via the NASA Tumblr blog.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Stained Glass Dalek

Did you see this amazing stained glass Dalek already?

Jamie Anderson Chris Thompson Stained Glass Dalek Stainley-1050x1050

Producer / director / writer Jamie Anderson worked with designer Chris Thompson to help make the lead and stained glass Dalek a reality. It’s based on a Doctor Who audio drama script by Mike Tucker called Order of the Daleks.

Thompson describes the making-of process:

“My main thought process was to create a “Gothic” Dalek and replace all the flat surfaces with glass designs. My initial sketches had palisades, crowns, spikes and other gothic elements, but we decided to dial a lot of these back for story reasons. In the episode itself these Dalek casings are made by very primitive monks so the focus needed to be on the stained glass and not the metal elements.”

The detailing is absolutely exquisite. There is, of course, more to the design than that—visit Jamie Anderson’s site for the full story and the meaning of some of the elements.

Found via Tor.com.

Image via Jamie Anderson

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Ancient Skeleton Wishes You Happy Halloween

This skeleton lounging with a drinking vessel in its hand, sitting next to bread and an amphora of wine is definitely very apropos:

The History Blog Anadolu Agency Antakya Turkey Skeleton Mosaic

Known as the skeleton mosaic, the panel is part of a triptych discovered in the dining room of a house in Antakya, Turkey (ancient Antioch). The accompanying words (‘euphro’ + ‘synos’) have been translated as “be cheerful, live your life,” presumably to remind diners of the briefness of life.

Found via Colossal.

Happy Halloween to those celebrating!

Image: Anadolu Agency via The History Blog (Antakya [Antioch], İplik Pazarı district, Hatay, Turkey; probably 3rd c. CE; mosaic)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

New Edition of Alice in Wonderland with Salvador Dalí

In 2015, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Princeton University Press reprinted a color edition with illustrations by Salvador Dalí.

William Bennet Modern Down the Rabbit Hole DALI1003

Surreal, almost psychedelic, and rarely seen before the reprint, the original gouaches were first published in 1969.

William Bennet Modern The Mock Turtle's Story DALI1011

The color use is amazing, and the surrealist style fits elements of the story. However, I can’t escape the feeling that had I seen these illustrations as a kid, they would’ve given me nightmares.

Found via Colossus and Brain Pickings.

Images: Down the Rabbit Hole and The Mock Turtle’s Story via William Bennett Gallery (1969; heliogravures of original gouaches; by Salvador Dalí)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

New Research Resource: Gigantic Online Picture Map of London

The London Picture Archive is a gigantic, free online photo map of the city’s past. The project has been nicknamed Collage.

Collage The London Picture Archive

Managed by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the map is made with over 250,000 photos, prints, maps, and drawings from the collections of LMA and Guildhall Art Gallery. Visitors can search by street name, or browse featured galleries and subjects. From the description of Collage:

“The images provide an extraordinary record of London and its people from the fifteenth century to the present day. The whole of Greater London is covered, as are the adjoining counties. Some of the many highlights include photographs of Victorian London; the sixteenth century ‘Agas’ map of London; Hollar’s stunning panorama from 1647; beautifully designed twentieth century posters for London’s tramways; the Cross and Tibbs photographs of Second World War damage to the City of London and the collections formerly held at the Guildhall Print Room. We regularly add new content from the LMA collections and, in particular, continue to develop descriptions and subject tags for the very large London County Council Photograph Library.”

I’ve only poked around for a short time, but for general purposes Collage looks like an endless source of images. For more specific searches it may not do quite so well. It certainly appears to be a worthwhile source for historical or historically inspired worldbuilding.

Image: screencap of Collage home page by Eppu Jensen

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna

Legal Brief Partly in Klingon to Counter a Big Movie Studio

The copyright infringement case filed by Paramount Pictures Corporation against the Star Trek fan production Axanar has been in the news a bit this spring. I have a mild interest in it, but I don’t spend much time following the reports—with one marvellous, excellent, and hilarious exception.

Attorney Marc Randazza wrote an amicus curiae brief for Language Creation Society (i.e., for the defendant’s benefit) to counter a copyright claim by Paramount “over the entire Klingon language, not any particular words or portions of dialogue from any episodes of Star Trek, but in the entire vocabulary, graphemes, and grammar rules of Klingon.”

His friend and co-blogger Ken White at Popehat shared the story and the brief itself (as a .pdf file). (The full docket for the case is also available via the U.S. Courts Archive.)

Mr. Randazza not only argues that one cannot copyright an entire language, invented or not; he also briefly summarizes the history and some current uses of Klingon. (Did you know, for example, that the Klingon Language Institute has overseen Klingon wordplay contests? I didn’t. Check them out; the palindromes are especially awesome.)

The best thing about the brief, however, is how Mr. Randazza uses Klingon—complete with the Klingon font, transliterations to the Latin alphabet, and translations—to illustrate his arguments.

I’ve copied three examples below without the Klingon font, using the Latin transliterations instead and adding the English translations Mr. Randazza provides. It’s worthwhile to visit the .pdf brief available online (here or here) for the full effect, though.

“Plaintiff Paramount Pictures Corporation (“Paramount”) has claimed this copyright interest for many years, but has not actually asserted it in court before now – most likely because the notion of it is [meq Hutlh / it lacks reasons].”

[p. 9 of 26]

“Just as poker jargon is unprotectable, so is Klingon. To grant such protection would be to attempt to leash that which Plaintiffs have no right to control. Plaintiffs will learn that [Suvlu’taHvIS yapbe’ HoS neH / brute strength is not the most important asset in a fight].”

[pp. 16-17 of 26]

“Plaintiffs attempt to downplay the significance of their claim of ownership over the Klingon language by arguing that ‘a language is only useful if it can be used to communication [sic] with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate.’ […]

“A language is not constrained to a given ethnic or racial group. By their logic, Ancient Greek is not ‘useful’ because the Ancient Greeks are no longer with us, and the language has no native speakers, despite it being the original language of some of the seminal literary and philosophical works of the western world. Plaintiffs’ logic would seem to dictate that French is not ‘useful’ if spoken by a native German. [qoH vuvbe’ SuS / The wind does not respect a fool.]”

[pp. 23-24 of 26]

At the very least, do yourself a favor and check out how the first line of the Sesame Street theme song translates into Klingon (pp. 23-24). Ha!

Randazza Amicus Curiae Paramount v Axanar

Mr. Randazza’s straightforward and humorous writing not only counters stereotypes about legal language, but it’s also very informative. (And he did it pro bono!) Qapla’, sir!

Image: Screencap from Brief of Amicus Curiae by Marc J. Randazza for Paramount v. Axanar (case no. 2:15-cv-09938-RGK-E) filed April 26, 2016

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

NASA Goes off to Outer Space for Star Wars Day

This May the Fourth, NASA rules. Check out what they posted on the NASA Tumblr account:

NASA Tumblr Saturns Moon Mimas

“Worlds That Will Make You Believe Star Wars is Real

“The fantastical planets in Star Wars preceded our discovery of real planets outside our solar system… but fiction isn’t too far from the facts. When we send our spacecraft into the solar system and point our telescopes beyond, we often see things that seem taken right out of the Star Wars universe.

“Is there a more perfect time than May the 4th to compare real worlds to the ones depicted in Star Wars?

“Probably not… so here are a few:

What follows is pictures (mostly artists’ renderings) and short descriptions of eight planetary bodies that could serve as models for various locations in the Star Wars universe. And don’t let the photo of Saturn’s moon Mimas above fool you; it’s the most scruffy-looking of the bunch.

NASA’s post isn’t earth-shattering or deep or anything. But it does show a sense of humor, and combines pop culture geekery with science geekery in a very satisfying way. (YMMV, of course.)

I’m gonna go take you to Jabba now follow NASA on Tumblr right now.

Image: Saturn’s moon Mimas (the so-called Death Star moon) via NASA on Tumblr.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Quality Research Resources by Private Individuals

I wrote last week about what a fantastic thing it is to have a wealth of primary sources stored in libraries and museums, nowadays increasingly being made available online. For completeness’s sake, it needs to be mentioned that it’s not only library and museum professionals that share quality research or materials online.

nypl-unidentified-woman-reading-a-book
Unidentified woman reading a book via NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division (1913; photograph)

Below I list a (very) few linguistic and historical resources put together by dedicated private individuals. They’re all diligent in documenting their steps and sources, and providing info and links for those interested in finding more. Thorough documentation is, again, not a surefire way to avoid mistakes, but it does allow tracking sources and re-creating the research.

A short list, to be sure, but what better than that to add to. 🙂

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.