Venus over Mars, Futuristic Archaeology, drone vision, August 27, the Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade

1. Maybe we should take Venus not Mars.

"Mars One. The Mars Rover. Bruno Mars. Mars Bars. It's pretty clear we're OBSESSED with the idea of Mars, especially in regard to it being a potential colony for earthlings. But is that really the best option? Is there a better place for us to colonize in our solar system? Well, how about Venus? Sure the surface temperature is over 450 degrees Celsius, with crazy pressure, but there might be a smart way around that, making Venus a better option for long term colonization than Mars!"

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2. This is really, really good environmental communication.

"Korean photographer Daesung Lee’s remarkable series Futuristic Archaeology explores what the desertification of their home means for Mongolian nomads through a series of fantastically staged images. They feature landscapes-within-landscapes — barren, desert environments inlaid with decidedly greener ones. These incredible scenes aren’t digitally orchestrated: Lee actually printed out billboard-sized photographs and strung them up on site, using former nomads as models. Inside the smaller images, people ride horses, herd goats, and go about their lives fenced in by red rope barriers."

3. Computer vision for drones.

"SHIFT aims to transform your drone into something that works more like a flying dolly. Here’s how it works: The tracking software on the market today relies on following a GPS signal, which is accurate to within a few meters. Computer vision, however, can visually recognize and memorize the subject you tell it to focus on, even a moving one, and can keep the camera pinpointed with a much higher degree of accuracy than GPS. This means that computer vision has the capacity to make shot framing automatic: If it works, you wouldn’t need to worry about controlling camera aim and tilt; you’d only need to fly the copter."

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4. The secret importance of August 27, 2003.

"For me this is the big night, and I am full of anticipation. About twelve hours from now, at 5:51am Eastern Daylight Time on August 27, Mars will be 34,646,418 million miles away from Coral Gables. An astronomer at JPL has figured out that this is closer than at any time since the year 57617 B.C., and closer than Mars will be again until the year 2287. For Don, though, this is just one more night in an unbroken string of nights that began last April and will continue into next spring. Don, of course, is far from the only one so afflicted. At any given moment this summer someone around the world is observing Mars, including a couple of twenty-something wizards in Hong Kong and Singapore who are getting spectacular results with telescopes placed on their high-rise apartment balconies (when I mention them Don curses ruefully, then laughs)."

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5. The activists who attacked GPS with axes.

"On May 10, 1992, the activists Keith Kjoller and Peter Lumsdaine snuck into a Rockwell International facility in Seal Beach, California. They used wood-splitting axes to break into two clean rooms containing nine satellites being built for the U.S. government. Lumsdaine took his axe to one of the satellites, hitting it over 60 times. They were arrested and faced up to 10 years in prison for destroying federal government property, causing an estimated $2 million in damage. Ultimately, Kjoller and Lumsdaine took guilty pleas and were sentenced to 18 months and two years in prison respectively for an act of civil disobedience they named 'The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade.'"

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On Fusion: Cara gives you a really tough quiz on robots in movies. (Drawn from the knowledge she acquired doing this insane supercut.)

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip:

I'm traveling and ran out of dictionary pages stored on my phone, BUT instead I'm including the only real explanation I've given for why I run these things, from an interview with KQED:

Madrigal is fascinated by language and the bonus sixth intriguing thing in each letter is an excerpt from Margaret Nicholson’s 1957 guide to English language usage. “Any reading of the work, day after day, would lead one to the conclusion that there is no point at which language can or should be stopped from evolving. In fact, it is our grand project as English speakers,” he says.

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The Credits

1. boingboing.net 2. hyperallergic.com / @jilnotjill 3. 3drobotics.com 4. universetoday.com / @nancy_a 5. theatlantic.com

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The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade

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