A (strange) Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes!

Art that creates an infinite reflection and contemplates the scale and structure of space and time. The two-way mirror is titled Down the Rabbit Hole (CMS Detector) by artist Adam Belt.
Art that creates an infinite reflection and contemplates the scale and structure of space and time. The two-way mirror is titled Down the Rabbit Hole (CMS Detector) by artist Adam Belt.

Do you enjoy unusual art?

There’s a cool exhibition now showing at the San Diego Central Library’s ninth floor Art Gallery called A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes. On display is the work of eight local artists: Adam Belt, Matthew Bradley, Sheena Rae Dowling, Andrew McGranahan, Arzu Ozkal, Cheryl Sorg, Jones von Jonestein, and Melissa Walter.

Some of the artwork is quite cosmic and trippy, while other pieces take a curious look at science fiction and our popular culture’s obsession with space travel, UFOs and extraterrestrial visitation.

If the exhibition’s name seems familiar, that’s because A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes was the title of a 1919 monograph by Robert H. Goddard, the founding father of modern rocketry.

After examining this artwork one might wonder: Exactly how did Goddard come up with plans to build a rocket? Was he actually a visitor from outer space? Is it possible? Maybe?

The fun exhibition will continue through September 16, 2018!

Inside the Art Gallery of the San Diego Central Library, where an exhibition explores A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes.
Inside the Art Gallery of the San Diego Central Library, where an exhibition explores A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes.
Visitors view artwork that concerns space travel and its effect on modern life, culture and human imagination.
Visitors view artwork that concerns space travel and its effect on modern life, culture and human imagination.
Artist Melissa Walter, science illustrator for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, explores the threat of orbital debris by casting geometric shadows.
Artist Melissa Walter, science illustrator for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, explores the threat of orbital debris by casting geometric shadows.
This multimedia installation by Jones von Jonestein is titled The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, after a novel by science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein.
This multimedia installation by Jones von Jonestein is titled The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, after a novel by science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein.
The collage-like artwork pokes gentle fun at the notion the moon landing was a hoax, and that governments conspire to suppress evidence of extraterrestrials.
The collage-like artwork pokes gentle fun at the assertion the moon landing was a hoax, and that governments conspire to suppress evidence of extraterrestrials.
Amateurs! A dog on the sound stage! A cameraman's reflection! Wind on the moon!
Amateurs! A dog on the sound stage! A cameraman’s reflection! Wind on the moon!
Space art depicting vast clouds of glowing dust and gas. The One that Got Away, by artist Sheena Rae Dowling.
Space art depicting vast clouds of glowing dust and gas. The One that Got Away, by artist Sheena Rae Dowling.
One of several collages exhibited by artist Andrew McGranahan. His retro-futurism embraces both utopian and dystopian imagery.
One of several collages exhibited by artist Andrew McGranahan. His retro-futurism embraces both utopian and dystopian imagery.
A cool digital print by artist Arzu Ozkal. She explores how humans are guests in a universe of microbes.
A cool digital print by artist Arzu Ozkal. She explores how humans are guests in a living universe of microbes.
A flying saucer above a Lucky supermarket! Artist Matthew Bradley has fun with the popular imagination in the Space Age.
A flying saucer above a Lucky supermarket! Artist Matthew Bradley has fun with popular imagination in the Space Age.
Bright UFOs painted in the night sky above the United States Capitol dome!
Bright UFOs painted in the night sky above the United States Capitol dome!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Searching for bats in Balboa Park!

As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.
As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

This evening I joined a small group of people by the Lily Pond in Balboa Park searching for bats!

The San Diego Natural History Museum held the dusk event as part of the 2018 City Nature Challenge. The worldwide challenge–which is being held in almost 70 cities– encourages ordinary citizens to use their smartphones to record as many local flora and fauna as they can over a 4-day period. Images are submitted via the iNaturalist APP for identification! (If you want to see San Diego County’s totals thus far, here’s the link.)

Anyway, I arrived at the Lily Pond before sunset and was greeted by a couple of friendly experts representing the San Diego Natural History Museum. I was shown some cool equipment, videos and specimens, then stood by as a super sensitive microphone was turned on in order to detect the high frequency ultrasonic chirp-like noises produced by echolocating bats!

While we waited and the sky darkened, I learned a few fascinating facts. I learned that the bats most common in Balboa Park are the Mexican free-tailed bat, the hoary bat, and the western red bat. I learned some bats are solitary, and feed where insects aren’t abundant enough to support large colonies of bats. I learned bats drink by rapidly skimming above a body of water– which has been observed at the park’s lily pond. I learned some bats can fly as fast as a hundred miles per hour and as high as 10,000 feet! I also learned bats often feed around lights where flying insects gather, often live in the dead fronds of palm trees, and absolutely love hanging out under bridges.

Did we see or detect any bats? None were seen in the darkness, but the microphone did record the acoustic signature of a nearby Mexican free-tail!

When bats fly about and utilize echolocation, a microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bats can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
When bats fly about and use echolocation, a sensitive microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bat species can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several preserved specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but it must have been too chilly this evening for much activity.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but apparently it was too cold this evening for much bat activity.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Cool poster designs at SDSU Downtown Gallery!

Some of the coolest posters you’re likely to ever see are now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery! Take a look at a few examples!

The exhibition is titled Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell. Thirty-four awesome posters by the husband and wife team leap out from the walls and make the viewer feel they’ve entered dazzling, conceptually complex three-dimensional puzzles.

In their posters the two artists have created a unique fusion of analog and digital technology. Skolos is a graphic designer and Wedell is a photographer. Many of the posters were brainstormed and carefully worked out by collaging bits of colored paper and images cut from magazines. The posters in the gallery were produced between 1980 (many years before the advent of high quality digital design) and 2017.

Skolos-Wedell posters have been collected by the likes of the Smithsonian Design Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

This very special exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through July 22, 2018. Admission is free!

Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Do smartphones make people more shallow?

I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.

Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.

About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.

Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.

Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.

I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.

But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.

And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.

I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their whole selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own calculated making.

If it feels good, why fight it?

San Diego students learn STEM through aviation!

Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.
Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.

Today I headed to Gillespie Field in El Cajon and checked out an Expo organized by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force. As I walked among all sorts of restored World War II aircraft and a wide variety of fascinating exhibits, I made a very cool discovery!

Students in San Diego are invited by Air Group One to participate in a special aviation-themed STEM educational program! The special program is designed for middle and high school aged youth. Ricardo Sevilla, the friendly A-STEM Educational Officer, walked over to introduce himself to me, and I learned a little bit about this truly amazing opportunity.

S.T.E.M subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) can be taught to students in San Diego classrooms or at Air Group One’s super cool Gillespie Field headquarters, where there are a variety of potential hands-on activities. Topics that are featured include how to become a pilot, how to operate a drone, how to build a rocket, and the aerodynamics and design concepts that enable an airplane to fly. Potential careers in aviation and the aerospace industry are also introduced. Sounds like lots of fun!

Are you a teacher in San Diego who’d like to learn more? Wouldn’t your students be thrilled to visit an actual airfield? Check out this page of the Air Group One website!

Banner promotes Air Group One's Aviation Educational Programs.
Banner promotes Air Group One’s Aviation Educational Programs.
Air Group One's historic 1943 SNJ-5 "Sassy" on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.
Air Group One’s historic 1943 SNJ-5 “Sassy” on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.
Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.
Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.
If you're interested, use the email shown in this photograph.
If you’re interested, use the email shown in this photograph.
Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!
Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!

I’ll be blogging about today’s fantastic event at Gillespie Field as soon as I get my photographs together!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Science questions that curious kids can ask.

How was Earth made. How many skin cells do we have.
How was the Earth made? How many skin cells do we have?

Thousands of kids attended the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering EXPO Day event today at Petco Park. The annual festival of STEM learning features all sorts of fun activities and demonstrations presented by dozens of local schools, universities, businesses and organizations.

Kids wandering from booth to booth were encouraged to ask a variety of fascinating questions. Young minds learned about physics, medical research, information technology, space exploration, environmental science . . . The number of scientific subjects seemed unlimited.

Fun experiments were performed. Conclusions resulted. More questions arose.

That’s how science works!

As I wandered about the festival I discovered some questions that curious kids might ask…

Thousands of curious kids attend EXPO Day at Petco Park during the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering.
Thousands of curious kids attended EXPO Day at Petco Park during the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering.
To help support STEM learning in San Diego and the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, read this banner.
To help support STEM learning in San Diego and the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, read this banner.
How is curiosity a driving force behind human progress and development.
How is curiosity a driving force behind human progress and development?
What is in snot. How does mucus neutralize an invading virus.
What is in snot? How does mucus neutralize an invading virus?
How does a snake move.
How does a snake move?
Why is math important. Why are puzzles so much fun.
Why is math important? Why are puzzles so stimulating?
What are amino acids.
What are amino acids?
What is symmetry. Why is it found in plants and animals.
What is symmetry? Why is it found in plants and animals?
Can creative people and scientists be superheroes
Can creative people and scientists be real superheroes?
Can science be fun. Can you make a rap song about something scientific.
Can science be entertaining? Can you invent a rap song about something scientific?
What is a molecule.
What is a molecule? What is an atom? Is anything smaller than an atom?
What is oobleck. Where did the word come from. How do you make it.
What is oobleck? What Dr. Seuss book did the word come from?
How do you make a secret code. How do you decipher a code.
How do you make a secret code? How do you decipher a code?
Can little robots destroy cancer. Why do earthquakes become so strong in some cases.
Can little robots destroy cancer? Why do earthquakes become so strong in some cases?
What is light.
What is light?
How does a flamingo become pink.
How does a flamingo become pink?
What is static electricity.
What is static electricity?
What are comets made of.
What are comets made of?
How was the first cell created. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
How was the first cell created? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
What is the extracellular matrix.
What is the extracellular matrix?
How does your heart work. How do you keep it healthy.
How does your heart work? How do you keep it healthy?
How do we stop pollution.
How do we stop pollution?
Is fusion the energy for the future of mankind.
Is fusion the energy for the future of mankind?
How can we remember many things like language. Why are some people so tall when their parents are so short.
How can we remember many things like language? Why are some people so tall when their parents are so short?
Why does a jellyfish glow.
Why does a jellyfish glow?
Why is this silly guy acting like a jellyfish.
Why is this silly guy acting like a jellyfish?
How does the Earth stay in orbit. How can people help the Earth stay healthy.
How does the Earth stay in orbit? How can people help the Earth stay healthy?
What is it like to be in space. How do you become an astronaut.
What does it feel like to be in outer space? How do you become an astronaut?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

SpaceX rocket rises above world’s oldest active ship!

A barely visible SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 rises above Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship!
A barely visible SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 rises above Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship!

My plan this cold, partly cloudy morning was to head down to San Diego’s Embarcadero to hopefully photograph today’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch.

I did manage to catch an image of the rocket’s flight, but it’s so tiny you can barely make it out! I suppose I should get a fancier, more powerful camera. Can you see the faint white streak in the above photo?

The Falcon 9 launch was from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, about 280 miles from San Diego. To my naked eye, for a few seconds, I could see the minuscule rocket soar into the sky, through the rigging of the world’s oldest active sailing ship, Star of India!

Star of India, originally named Euterpe, is an iron-hulled merchant ship that was built in 1863. Driven by capricious winds, the tall ship circumnavigated the globe 21 times during her storied history.

Falcon 9 is a technologically impressive space launch vehicle. During today’s mission a reused Falcon 9 lifted Spain’s advanced radar satellite Paz into a Sun-synchronous orbit of Earth.

As the satellite effortlessly orbits our planet, it will track ships that ply the ocean–ships that trace their own proud history back to the Age of Sail, when brave vessels like Star of India pushed forward to new horizons.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!