RadioBDC Logo
Mourning Sound | Grizzly Bear Listen Live
 
ARCHIVES
CATEGORIES
the Big Picture

Category: science

October 9, 2014 Permalink

We've moved!

Six years and 966 entries after this blog launched, it's time for some updates. We've got a new design. The pictures are bigger and you can enjoy them on your phones and tablets.

Check us out at our new home on BostonGlobe.com But, don't worry! All our old entries will remain archived here on Boston.com. If you have any feedback on the changes, please let us know.

— The Big Picture team:

Bill Greene, Director of Photography
Thea Breite, Senior Multimedia Editor
Leanne Burden Seidel, Picture Editor
Lloyd Young, Photo Editor
Joel Abrams, Product Manager


September 19, 2014 Permalink

Images from NASA

A collection of images released by NASA gives us a look from above and beyond earth. Amazing technology allows us to view our world in ways we could never imagine. --Leanne Burden Seidel (10 photos total)

An active region just about squarely facing Earth erupted with an X 1.6 flare (largest class) as well as a coronal mass ejection on Sept. 10. The flare lasted longer than usual and sent out a burst of radiation into space. A darker wave of material was propelled across part of the Sun's surface. Images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)
more photos
September 17, 2014 Permalink

Volcanic activity

Thousands of people today started to evacuate the area near the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines after scientists warned of an imminent eruption. Compiled here are images from volcanic activity around the globe in the last couple of months. --Lloyd Young (18 photos total)

Lava cascades flow down the slope of restive Mayon Volcano as seen from Legazpi City, Albay province, Philippines, on Sept. 17. Tens of thousands of people living near the Philippines' most active volcano began to evacuate after increased activity prompted government scientists to warn of an imminent eruption. Dozens of military trucks were dispatched to pick up the residents in the danger zones around Mayon Volcano in Albay province. An estimated 12,000 families or nearly 60,000 residents are in the danger zones that affect three cities and five towns in Albay province. (Zalrian Z. Sayat/EPA)
more photos
August 11, 2014 Permalink

Supermoon photographs from around the world

There’s something about moons and photographers. So when supermoons appear, it tends to bring out the best of them from all over the world, scoping out the best location to make a dramatic photograph. A supermoon occurs when the moon, which orbits Earth in a slightly elliptical trajectory, is at the absolute closest it can get while also being full. Yesterday’s supermoon did not disappoint. --Thea Breite (15 photos total)

Penha Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
August 4, 2014 Permalink

Ebola continues to spread in West Africa

The World Health Organization is reporting 887 deaths from the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in history. A man with Ebola-like symptoms who had recently been to West Africa went to the emergency room at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on Sunday and a nurse who treated Ebola victims will be the second American flown in a specially outfitted plane from Liberia to be treated for the virus. Emory University Hospital in Atlanta is expecting her to arrive on Tuesday. Kent Brantly, a doctor on her team is also being treated there. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

The Liberian daughter of a woman that died of Ebola is in tears as her mother is taken for burial from the isolation unit in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia July 2, 2014. (Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA)
more photos
May 19, 2014 Permalink

The Ansel Adams Wilderness: A photographic tribute by Peter Essick

Esteemed National Geographic contributing photographer Peter Essick revisited the Ansel Adams Wilderness 75 years after Adams’s photographs made it famous, to pay tribute to Ansel Adams and the California sierra Nevada wilderness area named in his honor. These images come from his new book, ‘The Ansel Adams Wilderness.’ From the books’ introduction: “Like Adams, I am a native Californian familiar with the High Sierra, and some of my first successful photos were of this wilderness area (located between Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and renamed for Adams following his death in 1984). For 25 years I have traveled throughout the world as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, but the High Sierra always has had a special place in my heart.” --Thea Breite (30 photos total)

Frost covers an aspen leaf on a cold October morning near Parker Lake. (Peter Essick)
more photos
May 5, 2014 Permalink

Afghanistan landslide: Rescuers give up hope of survivors

2,100 people are thought to be buried by the landslides that hit a remote area in northern Afghanistan. Officials say the site has become a mass grave for the village of Abi Barak. After the landslide struck on Friday, residents from a nearby village rushed to the scene to help dig people out and the second landslide struck, killing many of the rescuers. Rescue efforts on now focused on the displaced survivors. --Thea Breite (18 photos total)

An aerial view shows the site of Friday's landslide that buried Abi Barak village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, May 5, 2014. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
more photos
April 28, 2014 Permalink

Tornadoes kill at least 18

Tornadoes ripped through the south-central United States Monday morning. Arkansas was the hardest hit, with at least 16 people dead. The storm system produced the first fatalities of this year's U.S. tornado season. According to weather.com, severe storms and tornadoes will continue into midweek. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

A row of lightly damages houses, top, face destroyed homes in a Vilonia, Ark., neighborhood Monday, April 28, 2014 after a tornado struck the town late Sunday, killing at least 16 people. (Danny Johnston/AP)
more photos
March 3, 2014 Permalink

Washington D.C. area has yet another snow day

Snow began falling in the nation's capital early Monday, and officials warned people to stay off treacherous, icy roads a scene that has become familiar to residents in the Midwest, East and even Deep South this year. Schools were canceled, bus service was halted in places and federal government workers in the DC area were told to stay home Monday. --Thea Breite (13 photos total)

National Park Service employee Eric Tolliver shovels snow and ice at the Lincoln Memorial as snow falls in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
more photos
December 9, 2013 Permalink

The Farne Islands counts its Puffins and other seabirds

The Farne Islands are off the coast of northeast England and are home to a huge seabird colony. The islands are owned and protected by the British conservation charity, the National Trust, which says the islands host some 23 species of seabird, as well as a substantial colony of grey seals, who come to have their pups there in the autumn. Every five years the National Trust carries out a census of the islands' population of puffins, and this year's survey showed there were almost 40,000 nesting pairs on the islands - an 8 percent rise from 2008. -Thea Breite ( 18 photos )

Rangers remove a puffin from its burrow on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, northern England on May 15. (Nigel Roddis/Reuters)
more photos
July 12, 2013 Permalink

Solar Impulse flight: Across the US, powered by the sun

The experimental airplane Solar Impulse completed its first flight across the United States this week. The Swiss-made plane, powered only by the sun, is the first to make the trip both day and night without using conventional fuel. It started the journey on May 3 in California and ended on July 6 in New York. Pilots and creators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg took turns manning the single-seat flyer, which is powered by about 12,000 silicon solar cells and has a wingspan of a jumbo jet. The next step is a trip around the world in 2015.- Leanne Burden Seidel (24 photos total)

Workers load a wing of the Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse into a Cargolux Boeing 747 cargo aircraft on February 20 at Payerne airport in Geneva. The Boeing will carry the Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft to San Francisco for a series of flights across the US from the West to East Coast. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
June 24, 2013 Permalink

Supermoon 2013

Photographers around the world looked up to the sky this past weekend to capture the "supermoon." This is the phenomenon when the moon makes its closest approach to Earth, appearing 30 percent brighter and about 14 percent larger than a typical full moon. It occurs about once every 14 months and is technically called a perigee full moon. At 221,823 miles from Earth, the supermoon was a feast for the eyes.-Leanne Burden Seidel (24 photos total)

A cotton candy vendor walks in from of the moon during the Los Angeles Angels' baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, June 22 in Anaheim, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)
more photos
May 10, 2013 Permalink

National Geographic Traveler Magazine: 2013 Photo Contest

The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)

OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
more photos
February 15, 2013 Permalink

2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

For over 55 years, the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism who represent various aspects of the profession and the composition of the jury is changed from year to year. The prize-winning images are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries over the course of a year and over two million people go to a hundred different venues to see the images. The winners themselves uphold the foundation's simple mission statement: We exist to inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism. A sampling of the winning images follows. You can browse more amazing content on World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: There will be no post on Monday in observance of the holiday.) ( 18 photos total)

World Press Photo of the Year 2012 - Paul Hansen/Sweeden/Dagens Nyheter - Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
more photos
January 7, 2013 Permalink

2012 National Geographic Photography Contest Winners

The winners have been named in the 2012 National Geographic Photography contest. As a leader in capturing the world through brilliant imagery, National Geographic sets the standard for photographic excellence. This year's competition brought 22,000 entries from over 150 countries, professionals and amateurs participating. Photographs were submitted in three categories: people, places and nature; and entries judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There was a Grand Prize winner, a winner in each category and a collection of Viewer's Choice Winners as well. Enjoy. -- Paula Nelson ( 14 photos total)

Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! - The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)
more photos
December 17, 2012 Permalink

2012 Year in Pictures: Part I

Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)

Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
more photos
October 19, 2012 Permalink

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012

It’s that time again…the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest is in full swing. The contest has reached his midpoint but there is plenty of time to enter before the November 30, 2012 deadline. Photographers of all skill levels - from professional to amateur - across the globe, submitted more than 20,000 entries from 130 countries in last year’s competition. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts in the field. There is a first place winner in each of three categories: People, Places and Nature, and a grand prizewinner as well. The following images are a sampling of the competition thus far – twelve images in each category. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. – Paula Nelson ( 36 photos total)

NATURE’S ART (Nature) - Dried up delta of the Kimberly region, N.W. Australia. Creates the most sophisticated patterns only appreciated from above. (Photo and caption by Ted Grambeau/National Geographic Photo Contest)
more photos
October 12, 2012 Permalink

Autumn 2012: Celebration of the season

The arrival of autumn brings falling leaves; vibrant and rich jewel-toned colors across the landscape; a distinct change in temperature; festivals and some celebrations. The world often marks the September event as special. Throughout history, the first day of autumn has been considered a good time to take stock of the year’s successes and failures. A myth in many cultures holds that some mystical forces let us stand eggs on their ends for a short time immediately before or after the exact time of the equinox. In Greek mythology, autumn begins when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to live with her kidnapper, Hades – in repayment of the six pomegranate seeds she illicitly ate. Here, a look at a diverse collection of autumn photographs. – Paula Nelson ( 65 photos total)

Two Adirondack chairs sit vacant on a dock along the misty shore of the Androscoggin River in Turner, Maine, Oct. 3, 2012, as the fall foliage nears peak color. (Amber Waterman/Sun Journal)
more photos
July 20, 2012 Permalink

Downpour and drought

An unexpected downpour briefly drenched parts of the US this week, while most of the central and southern United States continued to experience drought conditions - expected to be the most expansive drought in a half century. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions - from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. More than 70 percent of the nine-state Midwest was in some stage of drought this week. More extreme heat and scant rains were expected in the area, suggesting the poorest crop conditions since the historic 1988 drought. The visual documentation of the breadth and depth of the current drought conditions has just begun. This is a small sampling of images, expect much more storytelling to come in the weeks ahead. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

People walk through heavy rain at Times Square in New York, July 18, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
more photos
June 28, 2012 Permalink

Extraordinary Microscope Photographs

The Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition winners are currently on display at the New York Hall of Science. This competition, in its ninth year, is a dynamic international photo competition which honors the world's most extraordinary microscope images and videos of biological subjects. The Olympus BioScapes exhibit will be on display through August 31st. You can see the winners and many honorable mentions on the Olympus Bioscapes web site. -- Paula Nelson (19 photos total)

FIRST PLACE - Specimen: Rotifer Floscularia ringens feeding. Its rapidly beating cilia (hair-like structures) bring water-containing food to the rotifer. Technique: Differential interference contrast microscopy. (Charles Krebs/Issaquah, Washington, USA)
more photos
May 21, 2012 Permalink

Ring of Fire Eclipse: 2012

A rare annular eclipse - a ring of sunlight as the new moon, passing between Earth and sun, blocks most, but not all, of the sun's disc. It is striking to see. Differing from a total solar eclipse, the moon in an annular eclipse appears too small to cover the sun completely, leaving a ring of fire effect around the moon. The eclipse cast its shallow path crossing the West from west Texas to Oregon then arcing across the northern Pacific Ocean to Tokyo, Japan. (Thanks to all Big Picture viewers for sending us your images of the eclipse.) -- Paula Nelson (49 photos total)

A partial solar eclipse as seen during sunrise in the coastal town of Gumaca, Quezon province, southeast of Manila, May 21, 2012. Thousands turned their eyes to the sky on both sides of the Pacific to gaze excitedly as an eclipse occluded the sun at dawn in Asia and at dusk in the western United States. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, but is too far from the Earth to block it out completely, leaving a "ring of fire" visible. (Ted Aljibeted Aljibe/AFP/GettyImages)
more photos
May 18, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: May 2012

Thousands of images are supplied by multiple wire services to newspapers across the country each day. Many of those images depict ordinary scenes of life in different countries around the world. There are three picture editors that contribute to the Big Picture blog, each of them seeing the world in a little bit of a different way. Their backgrounds, their experiences, their interests - all very disparate. Each of them given the same resources (the visual wire) to edit from, each choosing very different ways to tell a story. The following photographs are my choices of those images for the month of May (and a few from late April) illustrating daily life around the world. -- Paula Nelson (53 photos total)

Adam Ortiz, a fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary, stops traffic while classmates and parents cross Washington at North 11th Street in Klamath Falls, Ore. as part of Walk to School Days, something the school has participated in every Friday in May for three years, May 11. 2012. (Andrew Mariman/The Herald and News)
more photos
April 6, 2012 Permalink

Titanic at 100 years

The sinking of the RMS Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,229 passengers and crew (official numbers vary slightly) in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The 712 survivors were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia. Few disasters have had such resonance and far-reaching effects on the fabric of society as the sinking of the Titanic. It affected attitudes toward social injustice, altered the way the North Atlantic passenger trade was conducted, changed the regulations for numbers of lifeboats carried aboard passenger vessels and created an International Ice Patrol (where commercial ships crossing the North Atlantic still, today, radio in their positions and ice sightings). The 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor marked a turning point for public awareness of the ocean and for the development of new areas of science and technology. April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. It has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, films, exhibits and memorials. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The British passenger liner RMS Titanic leaves from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage, April 10, 1912. Titanic called at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading westward toward New York. Four days into the crossing, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m., 375 miles south of Newfoundland. Just before 2:20 am Titanic broke up and sank bow-first with over a thousand people still on board. Those in the water died within minutes from hypothermia caused by immersion in the freezing ocean.(Frank O. Braynard Collection)
more photos
March 5, 2012 Permalink

Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest: 50 Finalists

The Smithsonian magazine's 9th annual photo contest finalists have been chosen. The contest attracted over 14 thousand photographers from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Fifty finalists from 67,059 images were selected by Smithsonian editors. Those editors will also choose the Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of the five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Photos were selected based on technical quality, clarity and composition, a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. (Smithsonian invites everyone to select an additional "Readers' Choice" winner by voting through March for their favorite image on line.) -- Paula Nelson (25 photos total)

BEHIND THE BLUE Lilongwe, Malawi, May 2011 (Paolo Patruno/Bologna, Italy)
more photos
March 1, 2012 Permalink

Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest and South

Weather predictions for possible tornadoes from a new storm system today threaten the Midwest and South, and have recent victims nervous about what the day might hold. The first powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South earlier this week, killing 13 people from Kansas to Kentucky, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly (and early) tornado season. Tornadoes and powerful winds tore off roofs, leveled homes and businesses, tossed mobile homes, downed power lines and injured more than 150 people. The damage was most significant in Harrisburg, a small town in southern Illinois where blocks of houses and businesses were reduced to rubble. -- Paula Nelson(25 photos total)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in ruins, March 1, 2012, in Ridgway, Ill. A pre-dawn twister flattened entire blocks of homes as violent storms ravaged the Midwest and South. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)
more photos
February 10, 2012 Permalink

2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners

By the numbers: 5, 247 Photographers, 124 Nationalities, 101, 254 pictures. Three hundred and fifty images by 57 photographers of 24 nationalities were awarded prizes in nine categories. To view the entire collection of winning images from the 55th World Press Photo Contest: 2012 World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (16 photos total)

2012 World Press Photo of the Year: A woman holds a wounded relative during protests against President Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 15, 2011. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
more photos
December 23, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part III

In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)

A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
December 16, 2011 Permalink

50 best photos from The Natural World

We share our world with many other species and live in an ever-changing environment. Fortunately, photographers around the world have captured the moments and beauty that allow us to see amazing views of this awe-inspiring planet. This is a collection of favorite photos from The Natural World gallery in 2011, a showcase of images of animals and environment that runs on Boston.com throughout the year. Next week's posts will take a look at the year in photos, so stay tuned. -Leanne Burden Seidel (50 photos total)

Seahorses are displayed at an endangered species exhibition at London Zoo. ( Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
more photos
December 2, 2011 Permalink

World AIDS Day - 2011

World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV (as of 2007), making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Yet today, there is serious talk about the "end" of this global epidemic. There are now 6.6 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine, but still too many are being infected. New research proves that early antiretroviral treatment will slash the rate of new HIV cases by up to 60 percent. This is described as the tipping point that so many have tirelessly tried to reach. -- Paula Nelson (30 photos total)

Indian school children form a red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, in Ahmadabad, India, Dec. 1, 2011. World AIDS Day is marked across the world on Dec. 1. (Ajit Solanki/Associated Press)
more photos
November 18, 2011 Permalink

National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

There's still time! The deadline for entries for this year's National Geographic Photo Contest is November 30. Photographers of all skill levels (last year more than 16,000 images submitted by photographers from 130 countries) enter photographs in three categories: Nature, People and Places. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There is one first place winner in each category and a grand prize winner as well. The following is a selection of 54 entries from each of the 3 categories. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

LONE TREE YELLOWSTONE: A solitary tree surviving another harsh winter in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Photo and caption by Anita Erdmann/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest)
more photos
November 11, 2011 Permalink

Feeding 7 billion and our fragile environment

According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)

One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)
more photos
November 4, 2011 Permalink

World Population: Where it's thick and where it's thin

The growing population of the world, now estimated to be over 7 billion, marks a global milestone and presents obvious challenges for the planet.  There are extremely densely populated cities and sparsely populated countries.  China is the most populous country with India following closely behind. This post brings together some disparate illustrations of our world as it grows, including scenes from Mong Kok district in Hong Kong, which has the highest population density in the world, with 130,000 per one square kilometer. In Mongolia, the world's least densely populated country,  2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France.  Then there's Out Skerries, a tiny outcropping of rocks off the east coast of Scotland where the population is just 65.  And doing what he can to contribute to that 7 billion global milestone is Ziona, the head of a religious sect called "Chana."  He has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren. The world is an interesting place. -- Paula Nelson  (41 photos total)

Motorists pack a junction during rush hour in Taipei in 2009. Taiwan's capital is notorious for its traffic jams, even though many motorists choose motorcycles and scooters over cars. United Nations analysts warn that population growth increases pollution, deforestation, and climate change. (Nicky Loh/Reuters)
more photos
October 28, 2011 Permalink

World Population: 7 Billion

On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

A baby, minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Oct. 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year. The cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)
more photos
October 21, 2011 Permalink

Sukkot: A celebration

Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated in late September to late October. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure covered with plant material - built for the celebration - and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah and many sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) -- Paula Nelson (29 photos total)

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child walks over palm fronds to be used to build a Sukkah hut, in Jerusalem's religious Mea Shearim neighborhood, Oct. 6, 2011. The palm branches are used as the roof of a temporary house called a "Sukkah" which is built and lived in during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)
more photos
October 14, 2011 Permalink

A simple day in the life...

Often in the Big Picture we feature "slice of life" photography originating from around the world, brought to us by photographers based in those countries who work for the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images. The photographs are often simple and show daily life in many places that we might not be able to experience in any other way except through those photographers' documentation. The images themselves are somewhat universal - they show us where people live and how people live, sometimes not so differently than we do ourselves. -- Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Three-year-old Nadia Nassrallah eats her breakfast in from of her home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 4, 2011. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
more photos
October 7, 2011 Permalink

Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition

The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see beyond the capabilities of our unaided eyes. Almost 2000 entries from 70 countries vied for recognition in the 37th annual contest, which celebrates photography through a microscope. Images two through 21 showcase the contest's winners in order, and are followed by a selection of other outstanding works. Scientists and photographers turned their attention on a wide range of subjects, both living and man-made, from lacewing larva to charged couple devices, sometimes magnifying them over 2000 times their original size. -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)

Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands photographed a Leptodora kindtii (giant waterflea) eye from a living specimen using the differential interference contrast method. (Wim van Egmond)
more photos
September 30, 2011 Permalink

Global protests

There are many forms of protest, many ways to express an objection to particular events, situations, policies, and even people.  Protests can also take many forms - from individual statements to mass demonstrations - both peaceful and violent. In the last 30 days, there have been numerous protests across the globe in many countries.  The following post is a collection of only some of those protests, but the images convey a gamut of emotions as citizens stand up for their political, economic, religious and lifestyle rights.  -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

As protesters sleep in Zuccotti Park, N.Y. police officers receive instructions. A group of activists calling themselves Occupy Wall Street targeted the Financial District for more than a week of demonstrations in late September. The group said they sought to bring attention to corporate malfeasance, social inequality, and the yawning gap in income between America's rich and poor. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
more photos
August 24, 2011 Permalink

Krishna Janmashtami

Indian Hindu devotees throughout the world celebrate Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Hindu God Lord Krishna with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. Children and adults dress as the Hindu God Krishna and his consort Radha in bright, elaborate costumes and jewelry. Human pyramids form to break the 'dahi-handi' or curd pot. The large earthenware pot is filled with milk, curds, butter, honey and fruits and is suspended from a height of 20 - 40 feet. Participants come forward to claim this prize by constructing a human pyramid, enabling the uppermost person to reach the pot and claim its contents. -- Paula Nelson (27 photos total)

An Indian schoolboy is dressed as the Hindu God Krishna. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)
more photos
August 12, 2011 Permalink

Dadaab refugee camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)
more photos
July 29, 2011 Permalink

Horn of Africa: on the brink of a humanitarian crisis

One of the worst droughts in a century, compounded by high food prices and unremitting political strife, is spawning an immense humanitarian crisis on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homeland each week; most of those who survive the brutal journey end up in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya. Aid agencies are calling it the worst drought in 60 years. Although centered on Somalia, which lacks a functioning government and suffers from constant battles with Islamic rebels, the crisis has also affected people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Reports suggest parts of Somalia may already be on the verge of famine, a repeat of the emergency situation two decades ago. Resources are woefully inadequate. "Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict," World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release. – Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp. With drought conditions in the Horn of Africa combined with poor food distribution. The Kenyan camp is expected to house 450,000 refugees by the end of the year, according to Doctors Without Borders. The camp was built to accommodate 90,000. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
June 9, 2011 Permalink

Arizona wildfire rages on

A vast wildfire, measuring half the size of the state of Rhode Island and described as the second worst fire in Arizona history, continues to surge across eastern Arizona. The fire has jumped past firefighter's containment lines to reach the edges of residential areas, prompting more evacuation orders. Winds carrying burning embers continue to ignite smaller fires, causing new concerns about the prospect of extinguishing the 13-day-old fire. The Wallow Fire has destroyed approximately 337,000 acres and threatens main electrical lines that supply power as far away as west Texas. Thousands have evacuated. Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Smoke from the Wallow Fire covers highway 60 in Springerville, Arizona. Several mountain communities have emptied in advance of the fire, and a utility that supplies power to customers in southern New Mexico and west Texas issued warnings of possible power interruptions due to the fire's spread, June 9, 2011. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
more photos
May 24, 2011 Permalink

Another Icelandic eruption: Grimsvotn volcano

Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland on May 21, 2011 has caused hundreds of travel delays. The ash cloud forced U.S. President Barack Obama to shorten a visit to Ireland and has raised some fears of a repeat of last year's huge travel disruptions across Europe when emissions from Eyjafjalljokull stranded millions of passengers. Although this disruption is said to be stronger than that of Eyiafjalljokull, it is not expected to have the same impact. Take a look back at two Big Picture posts from the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption: Iceland's disruptive volcano and More from Eyiafjallajokull. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

A plane flies past a smoke plume resulting from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, May 21, 2011. Airlines began canceling flights to Britain because of the ash cloud from the volcano reaching its airspace, although experts expected no repeat of travel chaos from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull a year ago. (Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters)
more photos
March 16, 2011 Permalink

For Discovery, a farewell spin

Space shuttle Discovery's next mission will be to awe and inspire those who visit it at the Smithsonian Institution. NASA's workhorse shuttle was retired after completing its trip last week to the International Space Station -- that’s 39 missions covering 5,750 orbits, 150 million miles, and almost a year in space since it first lifted off in 1984. It's name was inspired by the exploring ships of the past, including one that plied the Hudson Bay in the early 1600s seeking a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Discovery carried some of NASA's most-distinguished astronauts, including Eileen Collins, the first female commander, Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian to fly on a shuttle, and Senator John Glenn, who returned to space at 76. In its last mission, Discovery dropped Robonaut 2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, at the space station. -- Lloyd Young (45 photos total)

Space shuttle Discovery rolls to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its final mission, Jan. 31. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
more photos
March 15, 2011 Permalink

Japan: New fears as the tragedy deepens

Continued aftershocks and new earthquakes bring new fears to the survivors of the tragedy. Residents prepare for radiation leaks as the Prime Minister asks everyone to remain indoors - in their homes, their offices and shelters. Ninety one countries have offered help to Japan. Search and rescue and recovery continue in the devastated landscape. The death toll rises, but some hope is realized in the reunions of family and friends. -- Paula Nelson (52 photos total)

Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)
more photos
March 14, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Vast devastation

The vast devastation wrought by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, may only be matched by the destroyed lives left in their wake. Few survivors have been found, but families continue to search for their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and friends. Threats of a nuclear reactor meltdown and resulting disaster loom. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Associated Press/Kyodo News)
more photos
February 28, 2011 Permalink

Nyiragongo Crater: Journey to the Center of the World

In June 2010, a team of scientists and intrepid explorers stepped onto the shore of the lava lake boiling in the depths of Nyiragongo Crater, in the heart of the Great Lakes region of Africa. The team had dreamed of this: walking on the shores of the world's largest lava lake. Members of the team had been dazzled since childhood by the images of the 1960 documentary "The Devil's Blast" by Haroun Tazieff, who was the first to reveal to the public the glowing red breakers crashing at the bottom of Nyiragongo crater. Photographer Olivier Grunewald was within a meter of the lake itself, giving us a unique glimpse of its molten matter. (The Big Picture featured Olivier Grunewald's arresting images of sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia, in a December 2010 post.) -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

The view from the volcano’s rim, 11,380 feet above the ground. At 1,300 feet deep, the lava lake has created one of the wonders of the African continent.
more photos
February 11, 2011 Permalink

World Press Photo: winners

On the morning of February 11, 2011, the international jury of the 54th World Press Photo Contest named a photo by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, World Press Photo of the Year 2010. The image is a portrait of Bibi Aisha, disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house, taken in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over 5,691 photographers entered 108,059 images in the 2011 World Press Photo Contest and after the two-week judging period, 56 were named winners in nine categories. It is a prestigious contest and an honor to be named a winner. The following post shares 23 of those winning images. For more on the contest, including a time-lapse video of the jury room being set up, to hear the jury chairs discuss the images that were named winners, and to learn more about the competition, World Press Photo -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, fled back to her family home from her husband's house, complaining of violent treatment. The Taliban arrived one night, demanding Bibi be handed over to face justice. After a Taliban commander pronounced his verdict, Bibi's brother-in-law held her down and her husband sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Bibi was abandoned, but later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. After time in a women's refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery. Bibi Aisha now lives in the United States. World Press Photo of the Year 2010, Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine.
more photos
January 28, 2011 Permalink

Challenger disaster: remembered

On January 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m., EST, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch. Today, on the 25th anniversary of this national tragedy, we honor in memory the brave crew who gave their lives for the exploration of space. Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire social studies teacher, was NASA's choice for the first teacher in space. Because McAuliffe was our local astronaut, she is featured heavily in this post, but we honor all seven on the anniversary of a nation's great loss. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger. From left: Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik. (NASA/1986)
more photos
October 20, 2010 Permalink

Small Worlds

The Nikon International Small World Photomicrography Competition recently announced its list of winners for 2010. The competition began in 1974 as a means to recognize and applaud the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope. Peering into the small worlds of animal, plants and minerals using many techniques and different instruments, this year's entries brought us images of crystalline formations, fluorescent body parts, cellular structures and more, valuable for both their beauty and insight. The lovely folks at Nikon were kind enough to share some of their images here with us, be sure to click the link above to see all the winners. (29 photos total)

Magnified 30 times, this is an image of a Hydropsyche angustipennis (caddisfly) larva head made by Fabrice Parais, of DREAL de Basse-Normandie in Caen, France. (Courtesy of Nikon Small World)
more photos
October 8, 2010 Permalink

The National Ignition Facility

"Creating a miniature star on Earth" is the goal of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), home to the world's largest and highest-energy laser in Livermore, California. On September 29th, 2010, the NIF completed its first integrated ignition experiment, where it focused its 192 lasers on a small cylinder housing a tiny frozen capsule containing hydrogen fuel, briefly bombarding it with 1 megajoule of laser energy. The experiment was the latest in a series of tests leading to a hoped-for "ignition", where the nuclei of the atoms of the fuel inside the target capsule are made to fuse together releasing tremendous energy - potentially more energy than was put in to start the initial reaction, becoming a valuable power source. The NIF has cost over $3.5 billion since 1997 and is a part of the federally funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Scientists at NIF say they hope to achieve fusion by 2012. (27 photos total)

Inside the National Ignition Facility, a service system lift gives technicians access to the target chamber interior for inspection and maintenance. The chamber is a sphere 10 meters in diameter, assembled from ten-centimeter-thick aluminum panels which were preformed and then welded in place. It is covered with .3 meters of concrete which was injected with boron to absorb neutrons from the fusion reaction. The holes in the chamber permit the 192 laser beams to enter the chamber and to provide viewing ports for diagnostic tools. (NIF/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
more photos
March 26, 2010 Permalink

Robots, part III

Robots continue to grow in their importance amongst law enforcement, military use, medical research and care, space exploration and entertainment, among other tasks. Robots recently in the news include Russia's decades-old Lunokhod rovers - recently photographed from Lunar orbit, the naming of "Curiosity", NASA's next Mars rover, and a robotic dental patient, designed for realistic training. Collected here are a handful of relatively recent photographs of robots around the world - and the solar system. [Previously, 1, 2]. (33 photos total)

A robotic hand which has been designed to aid army bomb disposal personnel is demonstrated by Rich Walker of Shadow Robot Company at the Centre for Defence Enterprise in Oxford, in central England, on February 11, 2010. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
November 20, 2009 Permalink

Large Hadron Collider ready to restart

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) says it expects to restart the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) by this weekend after more than a year of repairs. The 27 km (17 mi) particle accelerator was launched last year, but suffered a failure from a faulty electrical connection, damaging 53 of the smasher's 9,300 superconducting magnets. Repairs are now completed, and the plan is to begin injecting protons into the LHC this weekend, on the path to search for particles such as predicted-yet-unobserved Higgs Boson. Collected below are some photographs of the repairs, and of the LHC and some of its experiments in various stages of construction. (30 photos total)

Combining two major ATLAS inner detector components. The semiconductor tracker is inserted into the transition radiation tracker for the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. These make up two of the three major components of the inner detector. They will work together to measure the trajectories produced in the proton-proton collisions at the centre of the detector when the LHC is switched on. Photo taken on February 22nd, 2006. (Maximilien Brice, © CERN)
more photos
August 12, 2009 Permalink

More Robots

Scientists, students and corporations continue their work around the world in the field of robotics, persistently improving and redefining their capabilities, interfaces and roles in society. Unmanned vehicles fly above war zones, telerobotics give humans a broader virtual presence and humanoid robots gain more parity with humans, refining their movements and responses. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs of robotics in use around the world. [Previously on TBP: Robots] (36 photos total)

Picture of the iCub robot taken on July 1, 2009 during a presentation at the Bron research institute near Lyon, France, part of an EU-funded Robot Cub project. The iCub robots are about the size of three-year-old children, with highly dexterous hands and fully articulated heads and eyes. They have hearing and touch capabilities and are designed to be able to crawl on all fours and to sit up. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
March 20, 2009 Permalink

Scenes from 30,000 meters above

On February 28th, a team of four Spanish teenage students and their instructor from IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia launched a weather probe they designed and built themselves. Their helium-filled balloon carried a payload of electronics and a camera to take atmospheric measurements and photographs throughout the trip. After getting permission from aviation officials and getting good weather, they released the probe on a trip that took it over 30,000 meters (19 miles) above sea level, through winds gusting up to 100 kph, and temperatures reaching -54C (-65.2F), and traveling 38 kilometers overland in a time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. The Meteotek08 team has collected their images and data on both their blog and flickr page, and has kindly given me permission to share these photos here with you. (28 photos total)

The Meteotek08 probe launches from the town of Bujaraloz, in northeastern Spain on February 28, 2009. (Meteotek08 Team)
more photos
March 4, 2009 Permalink

Robots

Robotic systems continue to evolve, slowly penetrating many areas of our lives, from manufacturing, medicine and remote exploration to entertainment, security and personal assistance. Developers in Japan are currently building robots to assist the elderly, while NASA develops the next generation of space explorers, and artists are exploring new avenues of entertainment. Collected here are a handful of images of our recent robotic past, and perhaps a glimpse into the near future. (32 photos total)

Twendy-One demonstrates its ability to hold delicate objects by manipulating a drinking straw between its fingers at the Department of Mechanical Engineering laboratory in Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. The sophisticated robot has been developed by the university's team, led by Dr. Shigeki Sugano, in hope of supporting people in aging societies. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
more photos
November 24, 2008 Permalink

The International Space Station turns 10

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the first launched module of the International Space Station (ISS). The module Zarya was lifted into orbit on November 20th, 1998 by a Russian Proton rocket lifting off from Baikonur, Kazhakstan. In the decade since, 44 manned flights and 34 unmanned flights have carried further modules, solar arrays, support equipment, supplies and a total of 167 human beings from 15 countries to the ISS, and it still has a ways to go until it is done. Originally planned to be complete in 2003, the target date for completion is now 2011. Aside from time spent on construction, ISS crew members work on a good deal of research involving biology and physics in conditions of microgravity. If humans are ever to leave the Earth for extended periods, the ISS is designed to be the place where we will discover the best materials, procedures and safety measures to make it a reality. (32 photos total)

In December 1998, the crew of Space Shuttle Mission STS-88 began construction of the International Space Station - Astronaut James Newman is seen here making final connections the U.S.-built Unity node to the Russian-built Zarya module. The crew carried a large-format IMAX camera from which this picture was taken. (NASA)
more photos
November 14, 2008 Permalink

Peering into the micro world

A team of University of Michigan researchers has recently created a set of electron microscope images of carbon nanotube structures depicting images of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. John Hart, leader of the research team says it wasn't a political statement, but an attempt to draw attention to what is possible these days with nanotechnology, and imaging at the very small scale. I'll take him up on this invitation and share with you some other images of very tiny things in our world. For visualizing the scale, most measurements below are in microns - one micron is a millionth of a meter - human hair is approximately 100 microns thick. (32 photos total)

Images of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, each made with approximately 150 million tiny carbon nanotubes, are photographed using an electron microscope by University of Michigan Mechanical Engineering Department in this image released to Reuters November 10, 2008. The image, based on an original drawing by Shepard Fairey, is just wider than 500 microns and is made of approximately 150 million tiny carbon nanotubes, which is about the number of Americans who voted on November 4, according to John Hart at University of Michigan. (REUTERS/John Hart, Sameh Tawfick, Michael De Volder, and Will Walker/University of Michigan/Handout)
more photos
September 24, 2008 Permalink

The Baikonur Cosmodrome

When NASA's last scheduled Space Shuttle mission lands in June of 2010, the United States will not have the capability to get astronauts into space again until the scheduled launch of the new Orion spacecraft in 2015. Over those five years, the U.S. manned space program will be relying heavily on Russia and its Baikonur Cosmodrome facility in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is an entire Kazakh city, rented and administered by Russia. The Cosmodrome was founded in 1955, making it one of the oldest space launch facilites still in operation. Here are collected some photographs of manned and unmanned launches from Baikonur over the past several years. (26 photos total)

The Soyuz TMA-3 spacecraft and its booster rocket, transported by rail to the launch pad to be raised to a vertical launch position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on October 16, 2003, in preparation for liftoff October 18 to carry C. Michael Foale, Expedition 8 commander and NASA science officer; Alexander Kaleri, Soyuz Commander and flight engineer; and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain to the International Space Station. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
more photos
August 1, 2008 Permalink

Large Hadron Collider nearly ready

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27 kilometer (17 mile) long particle accelerator straddling the border of Switzerland and France, is nearly set to begin its first particle beam tests. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is preparing for its first small tests in early August, leading to a planned full-track test in September - and the first planned particle collisions before the end of the year. The final step before starting is the chilling of the entire collider to -271.25 C (-456.25 F). Here is a collection of photographs from CERN, showing various stages of completion of the LHC and several of its larger experiments (some over seven stories tall), over the past several years. (27 photos total)

View of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment Tracker Outer Barrel (TOB) in the cleaning room. The CMS is one of two general-purpose LHC experiments designed to explore the physics of the Terascale, the energy region where physicists believe they will find answers to the central questions at the heart of 21st-century particle physics. (Maximilien Brice, © CERN)
more photos