Tutu Pele Dancing

Aloha, Gang!

This one’s for the ufological crowd. You know how you always hear about strange lights zipping around volcanic eruptions? And you’re supposed to be impressed with this UFO activity because to someone out there, a lot of someones out there, it means aliens are hanging out in lava or something. But then it’s probably fireballs and plasmas. Earth lights or earthquake lights. No, it’s people living in the center Earth. No, it’s aliens again.

And the beat goes on.

Whelp, when you actually live on an erupting volcano in Hawaii, a funny thing happens. When fireballs pop out, they may or may not do so meaningfully–but everyone knows they’re fireballs. There are no UFOs here, but there is the goddess Pele dancing in her fire. Incontrovertibly. I’ve see photo after photo on local facebook groups and they are impressive. It’s not like you have to squint to see her. She’s there. She’s obvious.

And the thing is, everyone knows that her image is composed of smoke and light and/or lava and distance. The optical illusion is real. So is Pele. She is here.

It’s not like we’re randomly seeing what we want to see. There are no other illusions going on in these photos like you find in clouds–or in photos of unidentified lights, for that matter. Pele’s form is an illusion and she is not.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, here’s one that has not made the rounds. It was taken by a friend of a friend living in Puna. The photographer gave me permission to post this. My friend, who sent it to me, did so with no commentary because he knew I’d see her, How could I not? She’s dancing right here, right above us, on the miracle that is Mauna Loa….

The Next 500 Years

We’ll be talking about this on the finale of Our Undoing Radio Season 8 in abou,t ooooooh, 10 weeks.

Synthetic Genetic Shakespeares

Book Review

Christopher E. Mason. The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds. The MIT Press, 2021.

Christopher Mason is an accomplished scientist whose unique and interdisciplinary research background makes him well qualified to write on the topics that underpin a book like this. His scope is nothing less than the entire Universe and its fate, his mission a call for humans to become the Guardians of life impelled by the central rationale that this is our duty. 

The general idea that long duration spaceflight will pose biomedical challenges is probably a familiar one, but Dr. Mason’s descriptions of the afflictions suffered by astronaut Scott Kelly following a year-long stint on the International Space Station may shock some readers. The take-away message is sobering; humans are not built for zero-g space travel and a journey even to our neighboring planet Mars would tax, probably exceed, the physical…

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The Mars Sample Return Mission – A Road Map for Future High-Risk Research?

Because this deserves more attention….

Synthetic Genetic Shakespeares

Should full environmental assessments be required before some laboratory research projects involving biological agents are approved? Proactive measures are mandated keep microbial pathogens contained and ensure the safety of laboratory personnel as well as the public. Although effective, is the customary focus on the immediate laboratory environment sufficient for all situations today?

Development projects that involve federal lands, federal funding or will be subject to federal oversight may be required to produce Environmental Impact Statements or Environmental Assessments during the planning process to describe their anticipated effects on the physical, cultural and human environments (1). These planning tools are intended to disclose to the public and policy makers the full range of issues involved with projects that could impact environmental quality, but do not necessarily prohibit environmental harm.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning a mission to transport samples collected by the Perseverance rover on the Martian…

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