Blood Red Skies Over China 300 Years Ago – Here’s Why

Imagine that you are living in China (or even Korea or Japan) three hundred years ago, and suddenly you see the skies turn a chilling blood red. Understandably, this could have caused a great deal of fear and trepidation from those living there at the time. And the fear from the blood red skies wasn’t to dissipate anytime soon – it remained a threatening shade of crimson for eight more nights.

Blood Red Skies

The September 10, 1770, event was recorded in palace diaries and other such historical documents, preserving the event for generations to come. Now, 300 years later, researchers have been digging through all the records in an attempt to explain what exactly happened on that dark day. The attempt was not done in vain because the researchers believe they have it solved. The cause for the historic event – a massive magnetic storm.

Magnetic Storm Caused the Blood Red Skies

Of course, to have the reach to satisfy the conditions reported, it would have to be one of the largest ever recorded in human history. That is exactly what the researchers have come up with as their solution, a magnetic storm so large that it rivals the most powerful one on record, the Carrington Event of 1859.

Similar Geomagnetic Storms

The Carrington Event, so named because it was first explained and observed by astronomer Richard C. Carrington, was epic in its scale. Induced auroras were seen as far south as the Caribbean, and miners in the Rocky Mountains experienced a glow so bright that they assumed it was morning. The telegraph systems of the day were heavily hit, with the pylons throwing off sparks, starting fires, and shocking operators. Some operators even reported being able to send and receive telegraphs even though their power had been blown out by the storms.

These magnetic storms are known as Geomagnetic Storms, and they are caused by the Earth’s magnetosphere (and its collection of electrically charged particles) being disrupted and charged by solar eruptions from our sun. There was another such solar storm recorded in 2012, but luckily it passed the Earth’s orbit without actually striking the planet. But it would seem that we were not so lucky in 1770.

Sunspot Drawings Back Up The Storm Theory

The researchers also searched for drawings of sunspots, which usually accompany such a solar event (as well as ultraviolet activity). The evidence found indicates that sunspot areas were twice as large for that period of time as it was noted for the Carrington Event. This would suggest that the 1770 storm was the more powerful of the two. The dates involved would also back up this claim since the 1770 event was recorded over nine nights while the Carrington Event only lasted four nights.

Modern Day Disaster

If a geomagnetic storm the size of the Carrington Event were to be encountered today, the estimated cost of damage in the U.S. alone could be as high 2.6 trillion dollars. If the event was the size of the 1770 storm, the damage would be even larger, potentially setting back progress and requiring years of rebuilding to fully recover.

It is amazing to think that blood red skies from 300 years ago would give us a warning that we should heed today, but that appears to be the case. The records from that time serve to help scientists build a pattern of solar activity, even though our written records are far too short in length to fully predict the next cataclysmic solar storm. We may have a warning, but too much is already in place that is susceptible to the effects. Maybe that saying, “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”, has a lot of wisdom to it when it comes to magnetic storms as well.


China Launches Its Own GPS System

It looks like the space technology wars between the US and China are continuing to heat up. China has announced that their GPS alternative is now available to the public. The system, known as Beidou (named for the "Big Dipper" constellation) Compass, has been in development for over a decade.

In the past, China was dependent on the American GPS system for both domestic and military use. But now they can operate independently of that requirement, removing an advantage the US had in case of a conflict. Beidou Compas is also expected to have a huge impact on domestic and commercial GPS technology in China.

The system offers civilian geolocation accuracy of 10 meters with speed measurements up to .2 meters per second. Naturally the military will have greater accuracy, but the details have not been released. The Beidou Compass system incorporates 10 satellites, and will be gradually expanded to  35 satellites for a globe coverage target in 2020.

Global Positioning System

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. It is maintained by the United States government and is freely accessible by anyone with a GPS receiver with some technical limitations[clarification needed] which are only removed for authorized users.



DIY Charging iPhone Dock Is Made From Paper


credit Julien Madérou

So, you want an iPhone dock, but you really don't want to spend the $30 to buy one yourself – what are you options? Well, if you are French designer Julien Madérou you fold one up out of paper and put it to use. The end product is so handy that he is selling the plans for $5 a pop on Fiverr. The design incorporates the standard USB cord, so your device can charge while it is on the stand.

You will need some fairly heavy paper stock to make the stand from, but the good news is that you can make it any color you want. You could even print out a picture (overlaying the template on the design beforehand) or get creative with the labeling, anything you see fit. But TreeHugger (where I saw this design) will give you kudos if you can repurpose some previously used paper. And that itself could be interesting, especially if that paper has some significance to you. So, those of you with iPhones lying limp on desktops everywhere – what are you waiting on? Download the template and fold up a stand today.

iPhone Paper Dock / Stand from Dessine moi un objet on Vimeo.

via treehugger


Paper, and the pulp papermaking process, was said to be developed in China during the early 2nd century AD by the Han court eunuch Cai Lun, although the earliest archaeological fragments of paper derive from the 2nd century BC in China.



Talk Bubble Shaped Comic and Animation Museum Coming to China


The largest Comic and Animation Museum in China (CCAM) will break ground in Hangzhou early next year. The museum’s design stays true to its subject matter, consisting of eight cartoon speech bubbles. Each of the eight bubbles will be interconnected, allowing for a circular tour of the entire space. The core attraction of the space will be a gigantic 3D zoetrope, but the museum will also accommodate three movie theaters and an enormous library

If comic and animation is you r thing, then it might interest you to know that China is planning on soon breaking ground on its largest Comic and Animation Museum (CCAM). The structure is designed to mimic those cordon speech bubbles we have all seen, with a total of eight interconnected "bubbles" comprising the entire structure.

One of the main features of the CCAM will be a gigantic 3d cinema and three other lesser movie theaters. But it stays true to the subject matter at hand with an enormous library featuring comics and other art works.

History of Comics

Comics as an art form established itself in the late 19th and early 20th century, alongside the similar forms of film and animation. The three forms share certain conventions, most noticeably the mixing of words and pictures, and all three owe parts of their conventions to the technological leaps made through the industrial revolution. Though newspapers and magazines first established and popularized comics in the late 1890s, narrative illustration has existed for many centuries.



Electrically focusing liquid lens technology makes web cams better and cheaper

 The ideal of a liquid lens to replace glass lenses is not new, and have been used in a static mode (non-focusing) for some time.  Even in some projection televisions you will often find a liquid lens, and some reflector telescopes use a mercury based liquid lens.  However, to have a liquid lens that changes shape when you apply an electric charge is pretty cool. 

The concept is that the lens could focus faster than a mechanical glass lens since there are no moving parts outside of the lens itself – there are no mechanisms needed to move the glass to a new focal point.   Instead electricity would focus the lens as required, and a feedback system coupled to a microprocessor could fine tune the adjustment to a fine degree.

Not only could it be faster, but the technology could also be cheaper.  The need for a highly processed and polished glass lens is removed, since the liquid itself acts as the lens.  Also removed is the need for the focusing mechanism which would physically move the glass.  Faster AND cheaper – they could be on to something here.

The technology is not just theory, it is already trickling out in products found on the market.  The Akkord SnakeCam, a webcam sold in China, incorporates just such technology. Recent testing has shown that the SnakeCam can indeed focus quickly and dynamically (even if it lacks the overall streaming speed of a higher priced webcam).

With the fact that dynamically focusing liquid lenses are already available on lower priced web cams, it seems that there may be such technology in everyone's future at some point.  I can see it easily being incorporated in such items as camera phones and "point and shoot" video cameras in the near future.  In other words, a lot of the places where fixed lenses are currently being used.




Philips Fluid Focus System

In the Philips dynamic liquid lens, called Fluid Focus,  a conductive fluid is combined with an insulating fluid.  These fluids, which do mix (think oil and water, for example) are then shaped by electric current.

Before electric current is applied, the lens is in its natural shape as determined by surface tension of the liquid


After current is applied.  Note that the light rays are now being influenced differently by the new shape.


Diagram Source: Philips