Monthly Archives: June 2016

Apple and NASA collaborate on short film to celebrate Juno Mission: ‘Visions of Harmony’

As an avid amateur astronomer, NASA supporter and all around science nerd I was pretty happy to read today that Apple has partnered with NASA to produce a nine minute short film to celebrate the Juno spacecraft entering Jupiter’s orbit. The film is available on iTunes and Apple Music for free and is called “Visions of Harmony.” On a personal note, as is often true for many amateur astronomers, Jupiter was one of the first things I looked at with my own telescope when I was a 9th grader working on a science fair project. The view through that little telescope was breathtaking though strangely, it didn’t quite seem real and it was a moment I’ve never forgotten.
From the NASA website:

NASA announced a collaboration with Apple that will serve to enhance the agency’s efforts to inform and excite the public about dramatic missions of exploration like Juno. “Destination: Juno” is a synergy between two seemingly disparate worlds: popular music and interplanetary exploration. The works resulting from this collaboration showcase exploratory sounds from artists who have been inspired by Juno and other NASA missions, including Brad Paisley, Corinne Bailey Rae, GZA, Jim James featuring Lydia Tyrell, QUIÑ, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Weezer and Zoé.

Apple has captured moments in this journey with a behind-the-scenes documentary spearheaded by the Juno mission’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton, and scored by Academy Award winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The content is available on various Apple platforms. Other Juno-related content, including educational opportunities with Bill Nye on and an “Interactive Guide to NASA’s Juno Mission,” will roll out over the course of a year and throughout the length of the Juno mission.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

One thing I can say from personal experience as an amateur astronomer is that music does indeed go very well with our exploration of the Cosmos. When I go out to spend an evening at the telescope observing distant galaxies or planets in our solar system I always have a bluetooth speaker with which to play my “Stargazing” playlist. While the quiet sounds of nature are always a nice soundtrack it’s usually when I have music playing that I’m most likely to have those moments which seem most otherworldly. There’s nothing quite like looking through a telescope at Jupiter or something more distant such as galaxy that has been sending its combined starlight out into the universe for 12 million years. That’s the kind of visual experience that is wonderfully enhanced by music.

To go along with the short film, Apple has created a new featured section on Apple Music called “Destination: Jupiter” that highlights the short film as well as the music that appears in it. I’ve not yet listened but it includes tracks by Trent Reznor, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Quin. The film not only includes live music by the above artists but also an interview with Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton.

NASA missions into the solar system are always exciting. Years of planning followed by years in space and then months to years of data collection. Juno, launched in August 2011, will have been traveling just shy of five years when it enters  a polar orbit on July 4. 

The spacecraft is to be placed in a polar orbit to study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. Juno will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds of 618 kilometers per hour (384 mph).

According to Apple the goal of its partnership with NASA is to educate and inspire people, while also highlighting the link between exploring space and making music. From USA Today: “The goal is to make science and technology more accessible and relatable to everyone.” – Apple vice-president Robert Kondrk.
For those that might ask, what’s the connection between space exploration and creative expression? I would answer that there’s nothing we might do that requires the imagination and creativity like space exploration does. Science, in a general way, is often rooted in a creative process. Much of what Einstein accomplished had it’s origins in creative thought experiments in which he imagined different scenarios so that he might work through. And he isn’t the only one to have used such thought experiments! Spend some time browsing around the fantastic NASA website, have a look at the many ongoing missions and past missions and consider the beautiful dance of science and creativity that goes into the designing of our space telescopes, rovers, and orbiters. NASA often exhibits the best of humanity. Okay, now I’m gushing. This is what happens when I’m allowed at the keyboard unsupervised while on the topic of NASA.

Also, in case you missed it, one last bit of NASA news. Earlier this month, NASA released an application for iOS and the fourth-gen Apple TV. The app includes live streaming NASA TV, a real-time view of the Earth from the International Space Station, as well as on-demand access to over 10,000 NASA videos and more than 15,000 photos, either individually or as a slideshow. It’s a fantastic tool for exploring our solar system from the comfort of your couch. From your Apple TV search for NASA in the App Store. Or, from your iOS device get it from the iTunes App Store.

To view the new Apple Music/NASA short film, head to Apple Music.

Help Send iPads to Barefoot College in India


Fraser Speirs, who helped set up the world’s first whole-school 1:1 iPad program at the Cedars School of Excellence, has launched a campaign to buy and ship iPads to the Barefoot College in India.

The Barefoot College is an organization in India that works with women, offering educational and advocacy programs designed to improve village life in a variety ways. The base is the development of capacity to grow their economies and standards of living through training not only in the use of appropriate technology but with a goal of trainees becoming trainers. In other words, each one teach one. In addition to the development of technological skills areas such as women’s reproductive health, sustainability and general occupational skills are also addressed.

The “Barefoot Enriche Curriculum” is designed to

“Enriche offers comprehensive training in things like basic technological skills, women’s reproductive health, environmental stewardship and occupational skills.

The programme’s founders say it is digital, viral and co-created. These three aspects are the foundation of the programme’s unique impact and success.

  1. Digital: Technological tools are developed for specific use among semi-literate and illiterate learners from various regions of the country.
  2. Viral: Each woman trained becomes a trainer, actively participating in the ongoing knowledge transfer to others.
  3. Co-Created: Enriche is developed and delivered in partnerships with local social enterprises and NGOs.”

By donating to the campaign, you’ll be helping send 100 used iPads, chargers, cables, and battery packs to the Barefoot College. Fraser is looking to raise about $15,000 by the end of August to cover the cost of buying, testing, and shipping. The iPads will help with all matters of education, advocacy, training, communication, etc.

“The Barefoot College is a place where words like inclusion, social justice and equality are not just words. They are a way of life. We have been championing ideas of capacity building within the rural poor community through solutions like water, solar and livelihood development for our entire history.”
MEAGAN FALLONE, CEO BAREFOOT COLLEGE INTERNATIONAL

An iOS Home Screen Long Press Proposal 

Seems like a simple solution?

Just a modest proposal for replacing the current 3D Touch on Home screen app icons found on the newest iPhones: why not an enhanced long touch? The current problem is that 3D Touch only works on the newest iPhones. What about older devices and iPads? Why not remove 3D Touch from the Home screen altogether and replace it with a long touch? Currently the long touch is just mapped to one function: Managing apps. Seems a waste when that function could just be added in at the bottom of the menu. Am I missing something obvious?

Illustration Fun

Just a little something for my niece!

I should say that “illustration” is not something I generally do but it is something I’ve been trying out for fun and I intend to improve. I don’t know that it’s something I would be comfortable offering as a service anytime soon but it’s certainly something I’m enjoying.

Having a bit of fun…

Where the magic happens!

Just been having a bit of fun illustrating a few scenes. Here’s one of the Beardy Guy and his fantastical pup, Cosmo, hanging out on a recent summer day.

Apple’s Spaceship

Popular Science gets a tour of the new Apple Spaceship, Campus 2

Three miles from Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters, the tech giant is building something as massive as its own global reach: Apple’s Campus 2. The Spaceship, as many have nicknamed it, is over one mile in circumference—that’s wider than the Pentagon. When it’s completed later this year it will house 13,000 employees— including design grandmaster Jony Ive, who helped sculpt the iPhone, and CEO Tim Cook, who helps keep profits in the “billions-with-a-B” territory.

Campus 2 will run entirely on clean energy, powered by renewable sources. But what’s really grabbed our attention are the thousands of panels of curved window panes—the largest pieces of structural glass ever made—that will encase Apple’s mothership. Equally cool are the 60,000 pounds of hollow concrete slabs that allow the building to “breathe,” bolstering its eco-friendly qualities. With so many futuristic features, we wanted to get a closer look. Here’s what we found.

THE NUMBERS

176: Acres the new Campus will occupy
1.23 million: Square footage of glass involved in the project
3,000: Approximate total number of glass panes used
7,000: Weight, in pounds, of the heaviest panes of vertical glass
4,300: Concrete slabs needed for the floor and ceiling
60,000: How many pounds the heaviest concrete slabs weigh
75: Percentage of renewable energy that campus itself will produce during peak daytime hours
16: Megawatts of power produced by rooftop solar panels
5 billion: Total cost, in dollars, this project is reported to approximately cost (Apple declined to comment on an official figure)

Impressive.