I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.

Richard P. Feynman

In 1988, when Life asked Jaynes and several other thinkers to comment on the meaning of life, he responded that he had no answer. “Words have meaning, not life or persons or the universe itself,” he said. “Our search for certainty rests in our attempts at understanding the history of all individual selves and all civilizations. Beyond that, there is only awe.”

Cosmic Snowglobe

A recently released image from Hubble peers into globular cluster M13, resembling some kind of cosmic snowglobe.

New Solar Cycle Begins

A reversed-polarity sunspot was detected today, marking solar minimum and the beginning of the 24th solar cycle (since humans first recorded the undulating pattern of solar intensity nearly 400 years ago).

Solar cycles appear to last on average about 11 years, taking a few years to rise and fall between the peaks and troughs of solar activity. The next solar maximum is expected around 2011 or 2012, just in time for the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun cycle, as measured by the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. To add to the synchronicity, David Hathaway (and colleagues) of the Marshall Space Flight Center are predicting this upcoming cycle will be one of the most intense ever measured.

I’m currently sorting through gigabytes of solar satellite footage – sunspots, flares and filaments – with the hopes of rigging up a sort of VJ tool and audio visualizer using video of the sun. I should have a preliminary version ready for this year’s Southeast US regional Burn, Transformus. I posted a very short rendering test a ways back, and am posting now my proposal for an art grant I was awarded just last week, which briefly outlines my ideas for the project.

Most of my video so far has come from the STEREO and TRACE archives – if anyone knows any other good sources I’m all eyes, and would be more than grateful.

This entry was cross-posted at Space Collective.

Previously: Flirting with Blindness Redux, First 3D Images from STEREO