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Imagining Peace This Holiday Season
This holiday season, perhaps more than any other recent holiday season, the greatest gift we can ask for is peace. Thanks to Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE (photo above), a synchronized video program on 15 of the largest digital screens in New York City’s Times Square running each night through the rest of 2012 just before midnight, that dream of peace takes visible form, at least for a few fleeting moments. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” calls for a pie-in-the-sky dream of peace and harmony, but what are the holidays for if not for imagining a world better than it is right now?
Yoko Ono, who was an artist of international stature well before Lennon walked into her life, champions a worldwide initiative of anti-violence through her IMAGINE PEACE project. In the Times Square video installation, “Imagine Peace” appears in 24 languages against a blue-sky background from 11:57 pm to midnight. “Every day for three minutes we will think of world peace together, watching this blue sky,” Ono asks. “I love you!” “Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery” and the Art Production Fund partnered with Ono to turn Times Square into a nightly peace-in. On December 21st, Make Music New York organized a sing-a-long with the video, asking those gathered to sing Lennon’s “Imagine” as the film began as well as to spread the word through social media. (An amateur video of the sing-a-long can be found here.)
I’ve formed powerful associations between the Lennons and Christmas over the years. Of all the non-traditional Christmas songs, “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” is my favorite. As the holidays approached, I’d play that song for my sons in the car on the morning drive to school. I’d like to think it became their favorite song, too (but I think Bruce’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” might be more than a close second). After the Newtown Shooting, however, hearing that chorus of children singing with John and Yoko sounded as haunting as it was uplifting.
I still remember receiving for Christmas 1980 the vinyl version of Double Fantasy, just a few weeks after Lennon’s murder on December 8th by lone, crazed gunman Mark David Chapman. Listening to new songs such as “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” “Watching the Wheels,” and “Woman” after nearly memorizing the whole Beatles’ catalog was a dream come true for my 8th grade self. But just as quickly as a new generation grew to know and love Lennon, he was gone in a senseless murder—teaching that same generation the meaning of the word “assassination.” More than three decades later, senseless gun violence still teaches new forms of tragedy, and yet we seem incapable as a society of learning anything from them.
“It's Time for Action, Action is Peace,” Yoko Ono calls. “Think Peace, Act Peace, Spread Peace, IMAGINE PEACE! Together we have the power to change the world. I LOVE YOU!!” This Christmas, commit senseless acts of peace—hold open a door, smile, sign a petition, do something that adds to the positive karma in the universe. Even if you can’t make it to Times Squre to see Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE in person, you can still imagine peace in your heart.
[Image: Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE, featured nightly at 11:57 pm until midnight every night throughout December 30 as part of the Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery, a presentation of the Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts. Photo by Ka-Man Tse.]
A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.
- There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
- A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
- Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.
First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)
Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.
All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.
Image source: European Space Agency
The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.
Into and out of Earth's shadow
In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.
The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."
In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."
When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.
The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.
BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.
MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.
Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.
Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.
- There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
- Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
- "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.