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Ziggy Marley Has a Message for The Youth of Jamaica

Question: How do you communicate Jamaica to your listeners?

Ziggy Marley: I mean, I do have ideas to kind of find some way to keep the younger generation in tuned with their past in Jamaica 'cause as a musician, there's something on my mind that I want the younger youths to know about, the generation of musicians that were before even me.  And somewhat... they don't... I'm telling you right now, they don't even know some of the greats who led the way.  I mean, you know, my father is a popular icon and they know him but there are others that who's in this generation that I don't think they even understand who they are and where the music is coming from.  So that's another... that's another kind of... another purpose that I would like to get involved with... involved with making music.  It's had nothing to do with that on this record, it's a children's record, you know, it's called "Family Time."  There's a song on it that I did called "Hold 'Em Joe" which was the first song I ever did on stage and it was a part of what I was telling your before, it was part of our cultural event where we learned Jamaican folk songs and I remember that this is the first song I ever sung so... and it was a... it's a song about a donkey and stuff like that so I think it was appropriate for a kid's record.  But it's something like that that is missing and I would like to do more to... so I can keep the culture and let the kids know the history and make the music alive, you know?

Question: What was it like working with Paul Simon?

Ziggy Marley: Yeah, with Paul, I didn't... we weren't in the studio together but it was kind of unexpected in the way that he got involved in the record 'cause I wasn't thinking of him, I wasn't... I wasn't even thinking that it was possible, it's Paul Simon, you know? His... I love him but I think he was way above my, you know, whatever, my grade or whatever you want to call it.  So I wasn't thinking of asking, you know, how Paul Simon got involved was... I got a phone call from someone saying that Paul wants to talk to me, so I said, "All right, let me talk to Paul Simon, that's great."  So we spoke and he called... he wanted to ask me about getting... if I have any suggestions for a drummer, he was working on some songs and he needed a drummer, if I had some suggestions.  So I was like, "Yeah man, let me make some calls and get back to you," so at that point in the record, we were almost at the end of the record, like you know, we had everybody and we had this one song which I wanted someone to sing and I was like, "I wonder if Paul would sing on it."  So I said... I was too shy to ask myself, you know, I'm not that... I'm very... I'm not that type of person so I was like if the person that called us could ask him if... so it worked out that way, unexpectedly but it was a great privilege and pleasure. 

With Willy... Willy, again, Paul and Willy Nelson are like... is like my father, you know, they're my father figures in my world, Willy... someone that I always wanted to do something with and who has inspired me to write songs also, Willy.  And Don who was I was working with on the record, you know, he had done some song with Willy before, so I was like, "Don, you know check Willy if he'd like to jump on the record," he said yes and we met Willy in San Diego, we went to a hotel room and we recorded in the hotel room and that was a great experience for me to finally meet Willy and just be around his vibe and energy, very special.  Jack Jensen, I didn't see him, you know, we exchanged some e-mails and it was cool but I think what really made me cool with asking other artists was that it's a children's record, I don't think I would've asked if it's just a regular Ziggy Marley record, that's just not my thing.  I would have never asked anyone to come and do it.  I'm not like that but because it's for children and stuff like that, I said, "Maybe people would do it because it's a children record," and that went well for me. 

You know what it's so... there was so many things that inspired me to do this and I think one of the main things was having young kids and being exposed to this world of children, music, and what's on TV and it really started I'm having an idea, I want to do an animation series for kids that's going to teach them concepts like unity, love, charity and things like that, trying to... as I see it, put more consciousness into the children's world of entertainment and music so that's where it started and then, I've always been a part of that world anyway, I've done songs for Dora the Explorer, I've done songs for Arthur... I've been on Sesame Street so I've always been a part of it and, you know, eventually with my younger kids, I thought I could add something to that world that would be a little bit different than what's out there now and a little bit more conscious in terms of putting across my philosophies and ideas of the world and children and things like that for kids that the family could relate to as well, not just the children.  So it's not just music that children alone so it's not like The Chipmunks are, it's not like that, it's music that the whole family can enjoy but the songs were written with children in mind to get across certain ideas, you know, in a simple way that a child might understand it.  

Recorded on: May 7, 2009


On his new album, "Family Time," Jamaicans can listen to reggae with a sense of history.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
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A massive star has mysteriously vanished, confusing astronomers

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Image source: ESO/L. Calçada
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  • The massive star in the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy seems to have disappeared between 2011 and 2019.
  • It's likely that it erupted, but could it have collapsed into a black hole without a supernova?
  • Maybe it's still there, but much less luminous and/or covered by dust.

A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."


A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."