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Amsterdam, Netherlands

News Article
Site: http://www.scientificamerican.com

A heavily rusted cast iron ring sits on a bookshelf inside a neoclassical church a few blocks north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The ring is about an inch deep and as wide as a sheet of paper, and, according to its description, it is a “segment of the original Internet”. It is perhaps better to use the artist's words to narrate the next part of the installation: “The Internet was designed by the evil geniuses at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as a network (sic) would still function during and after a nuclear war. To that end, they constructed a massive labyrinth of heavily fortified tunnels just large enough for meandering cats. Each cat had a component of a message on an electronic chip on its collar; the fragment was useless until combined with the other fragments when all the cats reached the same destination using TCP/IP, or Transfer Cat Protocol/Internet Protocol. That's the origin of the phrase, “The Internet is a network of tubes, and those tubes are full of cats.” It is hard to imagine a better home for David Glenn Rinehart's satirical installation than where it is, the main office of the Internet Archive. Most people are familiar with their website, archive.org, a non-profit library of over 25 petabytes of webpages, films, books, music and software. It is where you can mend broken web-links, see old political advertisements and play old DOS games, all within a few hops. It is one of the world's largest digital repositories. But all things on the digital cloud do have a brick-and-mortar home. And the ethos at 300 Funston Avenue makes the visitor acutely aware both of the physical nature of data and the need for a public space around its preservation. The building is a place where both the bricks of data and the bytes of books come to life. At first glance, nothing seems out of place in the church service hall. Pews face a stage flanked by what look like hymn numbers. Then, sustained glances reveal whims. Servers are wedged in spaces along the walls, just behind the pews. Lights on the servers blink any time someone accesses the archive. Old tech T-shirts serve as cushion covers on the pews. “Habla bitcoin” is emblazoned on one, “First mozilla developer meeting, April 7 2000” on another. The hymn numbers on the wall spell out 314 159 265 (pi) and 161 803 399 (the golden ratio). A pendulum hangs from the ceiling, dangling over a stack of hard disk drives perched on a pew armrest. Rinehart, their artist in residence, calls this one “Earthquake detector, 2012 prototype." It is as though everything is intended to be found by serendipity. There is no dearth of symbolism around data's earthly underpinnings at the Internet Archive. Even the people running the ecosystem are archived. More than a hundred terracotta figures stand in the pews and along the side walls of the church – one for each employee who has worked on the archive for at least three years. The artist, Nuala Creed, would spend time chatting with each employee, understanding their ways and including a prop for each figure. Danny Bernstein has a skull in his right hand. Jen Kujath is knitting. Aaron Ximm grips a point-and-shoot. Jyfe Afamasaga cradles a baby. Aaron Swartz, whose figure has acquired a memorial-like status for visitors to the Archive, is tapping on a laptop. Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, commissioned Creed to work on the installation after being inspired by the 2300-year-old Xian terracotta warriors. “In some sense, it makes what you are doing permanent,” Kahle said in a documentary on the ceramic figures. “But in a kind of a bizarre, analog way”. When the ancient Library of Alexandria was burned to the ground, the world lost a vast collection of scrolls and books, and a center for learning. In any discussion around preservation, the ancient library has come to represent society's loss of memory. The same discussion arose soon after web access went mainstream in the mid-1990s leading to a deluge of content. The Internet Archive started operating in 1996 with grand ambitions – to not repeat the mistakes of Alexandria. “A group of entrepreneurs and engineers have determined to not let this happen to the early Internet,” wrote Kahle in a 1997 Scientific American article. Thus began the slow and steady process of crawling the web and making a copy of everything out there, from gigabytes to terabytes to petabytes. The Archive adopted a logo of an imposing temple-like structure propped up by columns. Something like an ancient library, something, that is, that might befit a permanent home for memory. California officially recognized it as a library in 2007; Kahle started using the phrase “Alexandria 2.0” to describe the Internet Archive. And in 2009, they got a chance to move to an early 20th century neoclassical church with Corinthian columns. It was an opportunity too good to pass up for Alexandria 2.0. Soon, construction workers started drawing fiber to transform the church into the Internet's library. That a new library building should have even come up was odd in a year when 40 percent of the nation's libraries reported flat or decreased operating budgets. For decades, with each passing radio and television wave, people had questioned the role of a library. If a library is a holy space to visit and seek knowledge, what use for it when information could be conveniently dialed in? (The theme for the first National Library Week in 1958 was “Wake Up and Read!”). Then, in the 1960s, when a future etched in bytes seemed more or less inevitable, J.C.R. Licklider led a committee to understanding the changing role of knowledge centers. The target year was 2000. “It freed us to concentrate upon what man would like the nature of his interaction with knowledge to be,” they wrote in the 1965 book, “Libraries of the Future”. Licklider's work was one of the first extensive reports that discussed a future filled with digital content. The topic hasn't gone out of fashion in fifty years. In 2014, the American Library Association switched the theme around and launched the Center for the Future of Libraries. Much of the conversation last year around the role of the new Librarian of Congress was about someone who would pull the Library into the digital century. Brewster Kahle's name made the rounds, too. Keeping with the times, the call even came with a hashtag: #draftbrewster. President Obama eventually nominated Carla Hayden, the head of Baltimore's free public library system, to the position. Hayden led the effort to modernize Baltimore's libraries. But people also know her for championing the role of a library as an essential community space. "The library mattered to people's lives," she said. Hayden made the news for keeping the library's doors open during the days of protest after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.  To her – and many librarians across the country – the future of a library was similar to its past: a place for people to come together. So much of an individual's day revolves around two social environments: home and the workplace. But as Ray Oldenburg describes in his 1989 book, The Great Good Place, a community hinges on the presence of a “third place” like a coffee shop for interaction and a civic society. Librarians increasingly stress that they are custodians of such a third place. A library is a free, enclosed, community space that makes no demands of you, least of all the expectation that you would buy something. There are not that many public places that can say that. Since the first tax-supported public library came up in New Hampshire in 1833, the nation's libraries have seeped into the consciousness of society. Nobody is required to go to a library. But, according to a 2013 Pew poll, eight in ten people found it worth their while to step into this third place. The Archive is a third place unlike any other. It stores petabytes of data generated by the online third place on server racks in the same room that is open to the community for talks and events. The public thus comes together in a place surrounded by content from the online space, sort of a third place housed in a third place. There can be no cloud storage without the scaffold surrounding it – storage devices, scanners, server racks, cable trays, climate-controlled buildings. It cannot exist without the people doing the preserving. To so much of the world, data that isn't free doesn't exist. The archivists are fighting for an open yet preserved repository of the world's information. It is easy to see there is no end to this. “We're trying to do something that's actually impossible,” said Alexis Rossi, Director of Media and Access at the Internet Archive. To not repeat the mistakes of ancient Alexandria, the Archive maintains backups at other places, including one at modern Alexandria. This preservation obsession is captured in what Rossi calls the “cockroach test” – data that survives the apocalypse with its meaning intact. Servers in a church, terracotta figures of tech employees and a backup in Alexandria have an element of whimsy. But there is much value in symbolism. It's useful to reiterate that people help preserve data. And a library built around the physicality of data can rally a community together. Granted, the Internet Archive's mainstay is its First Life, where it has to keep plodding away to amass more data, more copies, more from non-English speaking communities. It then has another challenge – to curate and make sense of the data. But perhaps the bigger struggle, decade after decade, is to cement the future of a library in a community. Libraries are custodians of our collective knowledge and a public gathering space for reflection and debate. As Robert Putnam writes in his 2003 book, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, “People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.” There is no pressing need to house a bunch of servers in a church, in a residential neighborhood, and especially in a city where it is increasingly difficult to survive on a librarian's salary. No need, that is, except the possibility of being a community fixture. The Archive could of course do much more to engage the public. But the Internet's physical library revolves around the sensibility that every cloud needs an anchor. And packed audiences at events like last year's Library Leaders Forum underline the power of this digital library as a community center. Perhaps fittingly for today, a server farm has managed to highlight the importance of public space and commons.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

Ship's Company beside and on the USS Conestoga, at San Diego, California, circa early 1921, in this handout photo provided by the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. USS Conestoga is shown in San Diego, California, circa early 1921, shortly before she disappeared while en route from San Diego to Samoa, by way of Pearl Harbor, in this handout photo provided by the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. The wreck of the USS Conestoga was found near one of the Farallones Islands about 30 miles (50 km) west of San Francisco, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Navy said in a statement. "After nearly a century of ambiguity and a profound sense of loss, the Conestoga's disappearance no longer is a mystery," said NOAA Deputy Administrator Manson Brown. The ocean-going tug left San Francisco on March 25, 1921, bound for American Samoa via Hawaii with 56 officers and sailors aboard. It was never heard from again, and its disappearance triggered an air and sea search and gripped newspapers across the United States. The Navy declared Conestoga and its crew lost in June 1921. It was the last Navy ship to be lost without a trace in peacetime, the statement said. Unraveling the mystery began in 2009, when NOAA found an uncharted likely shipwreck in 189 feet (57.6 meters) of water about three miles (five km) off Southeast Farallon Island, in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The agency began an investigation in September 2014 and the ship was identified in October 2015. Weather logs show that around the time of Conestoga's departure, the wind in San Francisco's Golden Gate area rose to 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) and the seas were rough with high waves, the statement said. A garbled radio transmission from Conestoga relayed by a ship said the tug was "battling a storm and that the barge she was towing had been torn adrift by heavy seas." Investigators believe that the Conestoga sank as it tried to reach a protected cove on Southeast Farallon Island. Underwater videos show the wreck lying on the seabed and largely intact. The wood deck and other upper features have collapsed into the hull due to corrosion and age, the statement said. Marine growth covers the exterior. No human remains have been found.


News Article
Site: http://www.scientificamerican.com

After posting our early edition of 2016 science art exhibits nationwide, several artists got in touch to let me know about upcoming shows they are in. I updated the roundup accordingly and in the process, discovered four opening receptions in the next three weeks. If you are in the area and available, don't miss the opportunity to meet these accomplished artists face-to-face: Origin of the Universe. Evolution of the Universe. String Theory. Dark Matter. Dark Energy. Multiverse. Unification of Space + Time. Our Solar System. Cultural Cosmology. Art.Science.Gallery.’s science-inspired printmakers explore the cosmos in this far out exhibition for PrintAustin 2016, a city-wide printmaking festival. This exhibition explores the relationship between culture and nature, one of the oldest human tropes. In this recurring schism, humans believe ourselves to be of nature and, alternately, distinct from it. As we search texts and traditions to support either position, the persistence of the trope itself is underscored; it’s an impasse, shifting in form. It’s also an embrace of or a resistance to the natural world that produced us; from which we believe we stand apart. In Raw and Cooked, artists Jim Jacobs, Joshua Winegar, and Paul Crow present work within this nature/culture dialectic. Jacobs begins with an ancient horticultural intervention, the graft, to focus our attention on a literal intersection of the natural and the human-made. Winegar takes on the natural world as a partner in a conversation with his psyche, alternately responding to, and intervening in, the world which surrounds him. Crow maps the span of his life onto the time frame of the human awareness of global climate change. Each artist begins with material that exists before agency and brings it through a process of intervention to manifest a hybrid: the artist in dialogue both with the world and without, and with an inner understanding of that world. Artist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison creates large scale ceramic installations and sculptures inspired by science and marine biology. Her intricate hand-crafted porcelain works celebrate the fragile beauty of endangered coral reef ecosystems and promote awareness to conserve and protect our natural world. Born and raised in San Francisco, Courtney received an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Marine Ecology and Ceramic Sculpture from Skidmore College in 2008 and a Master of Arts in Environmental Studies from Brown University with coursework at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. Mattison has exhibited her work nationally including at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education. Exhibit details: Botanical Paintings in Colored Pencil by Nina Antze January 7, 2016 – April 25, 2016 Please call ahead 707-527-9277 x 107 to see exhibit Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA California Flora is an exhibit of botanical paintings by colored pencil artist Nina Antze. The paintings were created over the past eight years and focus mainly on California natives. Also included are paintings documenting Luther Burbank’s Experiment Farm in Sebastopol and a piece from the Alcatraz Florilegium, a documentation of the plants of the Alcatraz gardens. Nina Antze is a botanical artist and quilt maker living in Northern California. She has a degree in Fine Art from San Francisco State University and has a Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the New York Botanical Gardens. She teaches Colored Pencil classes in the Botanical Certificate Program at Filoli Gardens, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and around the Bay Area. Her botanical paintings and colored pencil drawings have been exhibited in New York, at the Huntington Library, and at Filoli Gardens and her quilts have won numerous awards. She works in colored pencil, watercolor pencil and fabric. Her botanicals can be viewed at her website, www.pcquilt.com Exhibit details: The Alcatraz Florilegium January 16 - 29, 2016 University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley 200 Centennial Drive Berkeley, CA The Northern California Society of Botanical Artists (NCSBA) in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Garden Conservancy has created a florilegium, a series of botanical paintings, to document the plants of The Gardens of Alcatraz. The UC Botanical Garden is thrilled to welcome the NCSBA to exhibit this special showing of the Alcatraz Florilegium, with over 70 drawings and paintings, in the beautiful Julia Morgan Hall. For those unable to attend the exhibit in person, visit the online version here. _______________________________ If you have a scienceart exhibit that should be included in Symbiartic's regular scienceart roundup, with the relevant details.


Patent
Golden Gate | Date: 2013-01-25

Combination ski-snowboard devices reversibly configured in both: a ski configuration comprising two skis each with both an inside and outside edge and a ski binding mounting systems, and in a snowboard configuration having two outside edges and two binding mounting systems. Methods for converting ski-snowboard devices from a snowboard configuration to a ski configuration and from a ski configuration to a snowboard configuration.


News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: http://www.theenergycollective.com/rss/all

Trees are dying across Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks. Glaciers are melting in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Corals are bleaching in Virgin Islands National Park. Published field research conducted in U.S. national parks has detected these changes and shown that human climate change – carbon pollution from our power plants, cars and other human activities – is the cause. As principal climate change scientist of the U.S. National Park Service, I conduct research on how climate change has already altered the national parks and could further change them in the future. I also analyze how ecosystems in the national parks can naturally reduce climate change by storing carbon. I then help national park staff to use the scientific results to adjust management actions for potential future conditions. Research in U.S. national parks contributes in important ways to global scientific understanding of climate change. National parks are unique places where it is easier to tell if human climate change is the main cause of changes that we observe in the field, because many parks have been protected from urbanization, timber harvesting, grazing and other nonclimate factors. The results of this research highlight how urgently we need to reduce carbon pollution to protect the future of the national parks. Human-caused climate change has altered landscapes, water, plants and animals in our national parks. Research in the parks has used two scientific procedures to show that this is occurring: detection and attribution. Detection is the finding of statistically significant changes over time. Attribution is the analysis of the different causes of the changes. Around the world and in U.S. national parks, snow and ice are melting. Glaciers in numerous national parks have contributed to the global database of 168 000 glaciers that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has used to show that human climate change is melting glaciers. Field measurements and repeat photography show that Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska lost 640 meters to melting from 1948 to 2000. In Glacier National Park in Montana, Agassiz Glacier receded 1.5 kilometers from 1926 to 1979. Snow measurements and tree cores from Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and other national parks contributed to an analysis showing that snowpack across the western U.S. has dropped to its lowest level in eight centuries. On land, climate change is shifting the ranges where plants grow. A global analysis that colleagues and I published in 2010 found that, around the world, climate change has shifted biomes – major types of vegetation, such as forests and tundra – upslope or toward the poles or the Equator. This type of research requires long-term monitoring of permanent plots or reconstruction of past vegetation species distributions using historical information or analyses of tree rings or other markers of the past. In the African Sahel, I uncovered a biome shift by hiking 1,900 kilometers, counting thousands of trees, reconstructing past tree species distributions through verified interviews with village elders and counting thousands of trees on historical aerial photos. Research has documented biome shifts in U.S. national parks. In Yosemite National Park, subalpine forest shifted upslope into subalpine meadows in the 20th century. In Noatak National Preserve, Alaska, boreal conifer forest shifted northward into tundra in the 19th and 20th centuries. Wildlife is also shifting. In Yosemite National Park, scientists compared the species of small mammals they captured in 2006 to the species originally captured along an elevation transect from 1914 to 1920 and showed that climate change shifted the ranges of the American pika and other species 500 meters upslope. Across the United States, the Audubon Society organizes its annual Christmas Bird Count in numerous national parks and other sites. Analyses of bird species results from 1975 to 2004 and possible local causes of changing distributions found that climate change shifted the winter ranges of a set of 254 bird species northward. Examples include northward shifts of the evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) in Shenandoah National Park and the canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus) in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Climate change is driving wildfires in and around many national parks in western states. Fire is natural and we need it to periodically renew forests, but too much wildfire can damage ecosystems and burn into towns and cities. Field data from 1916 to 2003 on wildfire in national parks and across the western U.S. show that, even during periods when land managers actively suppressed wildfires, fluctuations in the area that burned each year correlated with changes in temperature and aridity due to climate change. Reconstruction of fires of the past 2,000 years in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks confirms that temperature and drought are the dominant factors explaining fire occurrence. Climate change is killing trees due to increased drought, changes in wildfire patterns and increased bark beetle infestations. Tracking of trees in Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks has contributed to a database that revealed how climate change has doubled tree mortality since 1955 across the western United States. High ocean temperatures due to climate change have bleached and killed coral. In 2005, hot sea surface temperatures killed up to 80 percent of coral reef area at sites in Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. When the U.S. Congress established the National Park Service a century ago, it directed the agency to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the parks in ways to leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” By altering the globally unique landscapes, waters, plants and animals of the national parks, climate change challenges the National Park Service to manage the parks for potential future conditions rather than as little pictures of a past to which we can no longer return. For example, Yosemite National Park resource managers plan to use climate change data to target prescribed burns and wildland fires in areas that will be different from the areas selected using estimates of fire distributions from the 1850s. At Golden Gate National Recreation Area, resource managers have examined stewardship plans resource-by-resource to develop actions that account for climate change. At Everglades National Park, managers are using sea level rise data to help plan management of coastal areas. It is in our power to reduce carbon pollution from cars, power plants and deforestation and prevent the most drastic consequences of climate change. In the face of climate change, we can help protect our most treasured places – the national parks. From Patrick Gonzalez, Principal Climate Change Scientist, National Park Service. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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