Posts Tagged ‘Michael d’Estries’

by Michael d’Estries

In 1963, Col. Gordon Cooper, one of NASA’s original seven astronauts, spent a record-setting 34 hours in orbit around the planet. While the official purpose of his mission was to study the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body, the U.S. government was also interested in what his eyes could tell them. To that end, they tasked Cooper with taking thousands of photos using long-range detection equipment to search for possible Soviet nuclear sites near U.S. shores.

“Man, all I do is take pictures, pictures, pictures. I’m up to 5,245 now,” Cooper told Mission Control from space.

Long before online programs like Google Maps could give us all eyes on the planet, Cooper’s perspective on Earth afforded him an unprecedented opportunity to see objects not possible otherwise. And this is how, while cruising over the clear waters of the Caribbean, he started noticing some strange underwater anomalies. In fact, during his time in space, he photographed over a hundred of these shallow water sites, later deducing that they could only be shipwrecks.

In the decades that followed, using the notes and images from his orbital mission, Cooper created a treasure map pointing the way to some of these sites — a treasure map, that by all accounts, came from space.

Cooper, who passed away in 2004, never acted on the map he created. In the years before his death, however, he shared both his research and the map with a longtime friend, Darrell Miklos. A professional treasure hunter by trade, Miklos decided to honor the memory of his boyhood idol and hero and see if Cooper’s space map really could point the way to sunken riches. To help fund the expedition, he smartly pitched the hunt to a production company and subsequently managed to catch the attention of the Discovery Channel.

“I get to pay homage to a hero whom I considered to be my surrogate father,” he said during a television press panel. “I get to tell a story and finish a project or several projects that we were never able to finish together.”

Premiering on Discovery this month, the series “Cooper’s Treasure” follows Miklos and his team as they comb through Cooper’s documents and scour the Caribbean to reveal first-hand the locations spotted from space. According to executive producer Ari Mark, watching the puzzle pieces fall into place has been a fascinating experience.

“It starts to unravel and when you learn about who Gordon was … it starts to connect, and it did for us,” he said.

While Miklos has yet to reveal if any of wrecks on Cooper’s map have led to sunken treasure, his Gemini Marine Exploration company, founded in 2014, does mention that the firm is currently engaged with “several promising projects in the Caribbean.” Some of those wrecks, he tells ABC, could even turn out to be part of a lost fleet belonging to Christopher Columbus.

“This one wreck site right here would be worth well over $500 million,” he says in a clip.

You can tune in on April 18 on the Discovery Channel to see if the first treasure map from space delivers on potential riches.

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/astronauts-treasure-map-space-may-lead-untold-riches

Advertisements


The cultural phenomenon of ‘unhurried television’ is now available to stream in more than 190 countries.

By Michael d’Estries

Need a break from the superhero trials and tribulations of “Jessica Jones” or the dark and twisted politics of “House of Cards?” If you’re addicted to Netflix but need a cleansing respite from the drama du jour, perhaps a little Slow TV is in order.

Netflix recently became the first streaming service to tap into the “unhurried television” phenomenon that has taken Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, and Iceland by storm. The concept revolves around spotlighting a particular activity or trip through the countryside for hours on end. Examples of marathon broadcasts in the past have included a two-hour canal rides through Norway, a 24-hour car trip around Iceland, and a soul-stirring 60-hour broadcast of the “Hymn Book, minute by minute” involving more than 200 choirs and 4,000 singers.

“Slow TV is very different from the way everybody — including myself, to be honest — has always thought that TV should be made,” Norwegian broadcast producer Rune Moklebust remarked in 2014. “TV has mostly been produced the same way everywhere with just changes in subjects and themes. This is a different way of telling a story. It is more strange. The more wrong it gets, the more right it is.”

Introducing its 83 million subscribers in 190 countries to the concept, Netflix has decided to start off with a mix of programs ranging from less than an hour to about seven hours long. Among the more intriguing are Norway’s six-hour “National Firewood Night,” which covers chopping, and stacking firewood, a seven-hour beautiful “Train Ride Bergen to Oslo,” and the 3.5-hour “National Knitting Evening,” in which a group of knitting enthusiasts attempt to break the speed record for “shearing, spinning and knitting wool into a men’s sweater.”

Of course, if you’d rather just grab a cup of coffee and watch some wood burn, Netflix has you covered there too. The two-hour “National Firewood Morning” is just a bunch of logs slowly burning into glowing ash. For those who wait long enough, there’s even some marshmallow roasting. Sure, it’s no “Stranger Things,” but if you need a break from the world and can’t escape to somewhere green and quiet, Slow TV may just offer a relaxing getaway from the comfort of your couch.


While studying the ocean floor off California’s Channel Islands, researchers found this mysterious species.

By Michael d’Estries

While researching previously unmapped regions of the Channel Islands off the California coast, the research vessel Nautilus came across an unusual purple mass peeking out of a coral crevice. As the scientists zoomed in on the beautiful creature, they began wondering aloud what it could possibly be. After guesses of everything from a species of plankton to a colorful egg sack, the team decided to use their deep sea rover’s vacuum tube to grab the mystery species and bring it to the surface.

“This unidentified purple orb stumped our scientists onboard,” Nautilus posted to its website. “After sampling, it began to unfold to reveal two distinct lobes. This could possibly be a new species of nudibranch.”

Nudibranchs are a group of soft-shelled mollusk comprised of some 2,300 species and noted for their varied and striking colors. They can be found at nearly all depths and feature chemical defenses that make their bodies both distasteful to predators and, in the case of the acid-secreting variety, painful.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/beautiful-deep-sea-purple-orb-has-scientists-baffled

by Michael d’Estries

Back in 1986, during surveys for the location of a power plant near the Black Sea in Romania, construction workers digging more than 60 feet underground broke into a bizarre, previously untouched ecosystem.

Called the Movile Cave, this subterranean wonder has been sealed for an estimated 5.5 million years. The air is warm and deadly, with noxious gases and little oxygen, the tunnels narrow, the pure and utter darkness the stuff of nightmares. But what has shocked the few scientists who’ve entered this underground Middle Earth of Horrors is that the place is absolutely teeming with life.

More specifically, creepy-crawly life.

Water scorpions, worms, spiders, predatory leeches and previously unknown microbes are just a few of the creatures in Movile. In fact, of the 48 species that have been identified, a remarkable 33 are new to science.

“All the creatures we saw are completely white,” Microbiologist Rich Boden, one of only 30 people to have entered Movile, said in an interview. “None of them has any pigmentation in their body as there is no sunlight — you can see right through them.”

Most of the species also have no eyes, evolution having done away with that sense long ago in favor of longer antennae and arms.

“I thought it was odd that the spiders still spin webs down there because there are no flies, but then you see there are these little insects called spring-tails, which bounce into the air and are caught by the webs,” added Boden. “It really is the stuff of science-fiction.”

Because no organic matter from the surface makes its way into Movile, scientists were at first puzzled as to how an entire world could possibly flourish under such harsh conditions. The answer lies in vast “mats” on the surface of the cave’s waters and walls. These mats contain millions upon millions of tiny bacteria called autotrophs. Instead of photosynthesis, these autotrophs use a process called chemosynthesis, which obtains chemical energy from the oxidation of sulfur compounds and ammonia in the cave waters, explains the Murrell Lab, part of the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences. The resulting milky film of microorganisms serves as the foundation for the rest Movile’s ecosystem.

“It’s very likely that the bacteria have been there a lot longer than 5 million years, but that the insects became trapped there around that time,” microbiologist J. Colin Murrell of University of East Anglia told the BBC. “They could have simply fallen in and become trapped when the limestone cast dropped, sealing the cave until it was discovered again in 1986.”

Movile’s unique conditions for life are so alien that the Romanian press quoted one scientist as saying that “if a nuclear war swept out life on Earth, that ecosystem would be a survivor.”

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/55-million-year-old-alien-world-hiding-under-romania