Mountains in Co. Wicklow, Ireland around Glendalough
Majesty, grandeur, mystique--I need no dictionary to define these words for me. For my eyes have seen the mountains, their strength and their tranquility, their lush green swells and their stark stone faces. In the morning, they don their misty robes and crown their peaks with the orange rays of the sun. I wonder what business they conduct under that mysterious shroud. Is the morning breeze like their whisper, their quiet conversation amongst themselves? Or are the birds, chirping gleefully in the dew-dressed branches of the trees, their messengers?
Who can know? Who can grasp to the full the pure splendor of the mountains?
Yet, as regal as they seem, when midday comes, they throw off their shadowy cloaks and reveal their full beauty to all. No longer do they wear their crown, no longer do the clouds flow behind them like the train of a royal robe--like mere peasants, they lay with all mankind under the scourging of the sweltering sun. They are not sheltered from the rain, the lightning, or the thunder.
I suppose they think themselves rather humble for this, as if they have rid themselves of their majesty. Yet to me, all the regalia of the most distinguished monarch are rags in light of the mountains' magnificence.
Since the dawn of time, nature has inspired us in so many ways. It has infiltrated our art, our architecture, and even our transportation. Now, nature is inspiring another front: armor.
Specifically, protective measures found in animal's biology are giving us a new perspective on how we create our own protective gear. Conch shells and fish scales are remarkably strong, while spider silk is both durable and elastic. Today, three labs are working with these materials to create the armor of tomorrow.
An alligator gar in an aquarium (Alligator Gar 10 by Greg Hume via Wikimedia Commons, used per provisions of CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
The alligator gar's fish scales are strong. Like, really strong. In fact, its tough scales can't even be penetrated by many knives--to break through this animal's scales, you'll probably need a hacksaw. The scales' strength becomes even more evident when compared to those of other fish. Francois Barthelat of McGill University performed a test of the striped bass' and garfish's skin by poking a needle through them. The bass' scales buckled fairly easily, but the gar's skin was a whole different story.
Barthelat reports, “When we did the same tests on the garfish we just couldn’t go through the skin. The little needle would basically buckle and break."
From this, Barthelat and his colleagues have come to believe that synthetic gar scales would provide excellent protection for humans, too. They've begun developing multiple prototypes with these mock scales. One method they are using is 3D printing the scales onto strips of rubber. This method is perhaps the easiest to work with because of the (relative) simplicity it provides in tweaking different aspects of the scales for maximum protection. However, plastic isn't going to work in the long run.
Give me that time of year when the heat of summer fades, chased away by that refreshing cool breeze.
Give me that time time of year when the cocoa is piping hot, the porch is chill enough to sit on, and the leaves are red enough to flutter gracefully to the withering ground.
Give me that time of year when the sun is not a nuisance. Its pale rays give a gentle, cozy warmth that seems to penetrate past the skin and warm the soul.
Give me that time of year when the children run through the pumpkin patch, bounce along on the hayrides, and make mazes through the cornfields.
The arrival of fall--a marvel in its own right. Winter: it takes away; summer, it gives too much. But fall, ah, that lovely season! When we gather around an endless spread of food to give thanks, when we share a laugh with our reunited families, when orange like a flame slowly swallows the tree branches--truly, there are few other times like it.
Indeed, in all the clamor of this busy season, let us not neglect to ponder the invaluable things and memories the autumn brings us. For soon, the barrenness of winter shall creep up, and we shall again long to turn back the clock to the colorful, wonderful days of fall's arrival.
Happy fall, everyone!
Earth has a lot of junk in its atmosphere, and I'm not talking about pollutants--I'm talking 500,000 chunks of debris of various sizes orbiting the Earth and achieving top speeds of 17,500 mph.
Back in 2016, a satellite commissioned by the European Space Agency was damaged by one of these lightning-quick pieces of space junk. Thankfully, the damage was minimal, but only because the debris was so small. If it had been larger, chances are the entire solar panel would have been decimated. According to Jason Derleth of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts project, if debris continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, collisions between pieces of junk will increase and essentially clog up the lower atmosphere.
“If that ever happens it will make space unusable essentially, and we’re pretty close to that,” he notes.
That's why his NIAC program is now funding research into ways to deal with this growing problem. One company funded by this program, The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California, has conceived a brilliant and efficient way to get rid of all this junk without creating more junk (yay!).
Artist's rendition of the Brane Craft (NASA)
(credit: Entering Hyperspace by Éole via VisualHunt.com, used per provisions of CC Attribution-Noncommerical License 2.0. Modifications were made to the original work.
The release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is just a few months away, and I'm celebrating in a huge way.
My email subscribers were first to hear about this exciting event (if you aren't signed up and you want to be in on the latest news from your favorite series, you can do so here), but now, I'm ready now to let all of my readers know. December 2017 will officially be Star Wars Takeover Month on my blog. So, what does that mean?
First, beginning Friday, December 1st, I will be totally dedicating all of my blog posts to speculation, rumors, and updates leading up to and continuing after the release of The Last Jedi. Do not miss the conversation on my blog--including opinion polls I'll be conducting in the comments section--in December. For the best experience, be sure to sign up for Disqus to make joining the discussion as easy as fighting those Jedi who tried to arrest the Emperor!
Second, beginning on November 13th, I'll be hosting the first ever Who Would Win in a Fight? Star Wars Edition. Some tough decisions will have to be made as I pit your favorite Star Wars characters against each other. Eight go in, but one will come out as the WWWF champion. Who will it be? It's up to you, but make sure you vote!
Third, I'll be doing a giveaway of The Last Jedi POP! figures in December--make sure to stay tuned for more details as the date gets closer!
Mark your calendars, and get ready--Star Wars Takeover Month will be here faster than the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run (well, maybe not that fast).
Until then, may the Force be with you!
I walk along through an open field of rainbow flowers, extending my hand and letting my fingers brush over the vivid petals. Suddenly, I see one of them lift up in the wind, flutter a short distance, and land upon another stalk just in front of me. I approach it to get a better look.
To my surprise, it is no flower petal I find--it is the beauty of a butterfly that graces that stalk. Its gaze seems fixed on the sprawling meadow before it, and it does not stir, save the gentle, slow flapping of its ravishingly adorned wings. The light color of the flowers contrasts starkly with its black wings tinged with blue at the ends. What simple, yet marvelous, beauty its tiny wings convey! They are almost like a small canvas upon which the Creator has poured a most harmonious blend of his finest paints.
Just then, I see another butterfly come and settle down beside the other. It, too, is nothing short of striking in its color--but its wings are not the same as the other at all. Instead, it is streaked with yellow and orange, almost as if it had caught a bit of the sunset upon its back. It too, watches with utter awe at the mysterious comings and goings of untouched nature.
I love the modest grace of the butterfly. We can't help but ponder how, no matter their color, they are all beautifully made--not so much unlike us, after all.
I stand with eyes fixed on the darkling sky. The sun has faded from sight, and shadowy, mysterious clouds have obscured the moon and left the sky an inky void. The only sound to be heard is the light drizzle of rain pattering on a metal roof nearby.
All at once, I see something like a blue flame burst through the veil of darkness. It leaps across the clouds, nimble as a deer. It seems to split apart into many branches, like a rapidly sprouting tree. Soon, its many arms are stretching across the heavens.
But just as suddenly as it came, it withers away--a distant grumble the only remnant of this magnificent, glittering bolt of lightning. A minute of tranquility passes. My eyes are large; my heart is pumping. I eagerly await the coming of the next strike.
Once more, another one charges out of the nothingness. Like a shimmering arrow, it zips through the shadows. Its spindly fingers almost seem to claw the clouds. But again, its stunning light quickly fizzles out. A deafening boom follows behind it, causing me to stumble backwards a few steps. My heart pounds again--this time more out of fear than awe.
Thunder and lightning, it would seem, is the language of Earth. When it roars, it warns us to take good care of what has been given us; and when it gently rumbles through that distant, glimmering flash, its awesomeness reminds us why we should.
The Star Wars universe never sleeps, but of course, I'm not complaining.
Over the weekend, Lucasfilm dropped an incredible, chill-bump-inducing, action-packed trailer for the fourth (and, sadly, final) season of the hit Disney XD show Star Wars Rebels. From the looks of it, Rebels is looking to go out with a bang.
Today, I'll be breaking down the trailer to see what goodies and hints are hidden within. If you're worried about spoilers, you may not want to continue. For everyone else, let's get to it!
The trailer opens with the sight of a burning city (Capital City, Lothal) mixed with the cries of the Ghost crew calling each other's names.
We suddenly realize that this scene is a dream (or perhaps a vision) of Ezra's. He wakes up alone in a quiet, almost desert-like area, a look of anger and confusion on his face.
"Loth-rat, Loth-cat, Loth-wolf, run. Pick a path and all is done," Ezra recites as he looks at cryptic cave paintings. According to Wookiepedia, this is a rhyme that Ezra's mother taught him when he was young. He then comes face to face with two of these aforementioned creatures, including the Loth-cat that has shadowed him throughout the Rebels series:
The theme in these opening scenes is clear: Ezra's past (Lothal is his home planet) will have a strong effect on this season. Ezra's parents were forceful (yet mostly peaceful) critics of the Empire, killed in a prison break on Lothal. The question still remains: to what degree will Ezra's parents' legacy affect the new series, and what new significance will Lothal hold, besides its history of causing headaches for the Empire?
I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!