When J.D. Salinger passed away recently, many casual fans who only remember him from tattered copies of The Catcher in the Rye lost long ago seemed shocked that he was still alive. Reclusiveness will do that. Influential comic artist Steve Ditko, the creator of the original look for seminal characters such as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, submerged into seclusion years ago and has rarely surfaced since, content to work on the fringes of the comic world rather than compromise his art or his beliefs. In The Art of Ditko, edited by Craig Yoe, Ditko’s forgotten art of the past resurfaces for a new generation of readers who may not even know that his genius lives on, or ever lived at all.
People opening this book seeking Spidey or Strange will come away sorely disappointed. Marvel holds the rights to that work in its corporate clutches. Reproductions of some original art of those characters, however, give us a tantalizing taste of what Ditko’s heyday was like. People looking for psychoanalysis of one of the most confounding figures in modern comics will find nothing as well. For those people, I direct you to Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, the most comprehensive attempt yet at unraveling the web surrounding the mysterious Ditko.
So, what does this book offer? Like a Renaissance master known best for his gargantuan frescoes but studied most deeply through smaller and more intimate works, the soul of Ditko’s art appears most nakedly in these small vignettes he worked on from the 1950s through the 1970s for smaller publishers such as Charlton. Ditko’s “work for Charlton was exceptionally innovative, experimental, and too often overlooked,” Yoe writes. A fine connoisseur of comic art history, Yoe selects the best of a vintage crop from forgotten titles such as The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves and This Magazine Is Haunted. Mining this mountain of graphic genius, Yoe plucks forgotten diamonds from Ditko’s time in the rough world of pulp fiction.
“With his great creative power, Steve Ditko has become forever revered for accepting his great responsibility: actualizing comic’s amazing potential,” Yoe enthuses. That potential leaps off the page in work such as the opening panel of “The Time Machine,” a story in a 1968 issue of Charlton Premiere. Yoe calls it “one of the premier pages of original comic art of all time!”, and I’d find it hard to argue against the superlatives when seeing just how Ditko makes a two-dimensional page transform into three and then even four dimensions—time traveling that timelessly draws in the reader. Ditko accepted low pay and low print quality in exchange for the creative freedom to create such images. Fortunately, Yoe finally gives Ditko his rightful due.
The Art of Ditko skirts the issues of the mind of Ditko for the most part. In his contribution, John Romita writes of Ditko, “He was secure in his mind and never swerved from his philosophy. It has cost him money, but never his pride.” P. Craig Russell echoes those sentiments by crediting Ditko with the “virtual invention of the political/philosophical graphic essay in 1967” with the first Mr. A stories. Anyone who witnessed the power of Watchmen to make comic readers think and think critically of the world should thank Ditko for opening those doors decades before.
Sadly, that invention led in a major way to Ditko’s disappearance. “For a short time the passion of his ideas and the passion of his art were in perfect equilibrium,” Russell remembers. Alas, Ditko’s disequilibrium and prioritizing of Randian Objectivism over visual storytelling eventually opened a chasm between Ditko and the comics world that has never been bridged. Maybe The Art of Ditko will reach across that abyss and lure the artist from the shadows into the spotlight he justly deserves. Ditko lives!
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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