Manhattan Beach sunset.
He who keeps cool will collect (photons): Christian Ready on the JWST instrument package
Sports Illustrated quoted this Japanese proverb back in 1975 in conjunction with Cal’s championship men’s gymnastic team of that era. The adage abides with the James Webb Space Telescope now in its halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L2 point, its optics and instruments slowly cooling to their ultimate cryogenic temperatures, the better to collect the faint signs of heat from the early universe. Little has been said to the public about the instruments nestled in the big box behind the 6.5-m primary mirror. This is perhaps not surprising. There are no secrets here, just that the real science goals and the optical engineering to meet them are fiendishly complex. Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer Christian Ready tackles the challenge, explaining where the precious photons will go and what will happen to them once they arrive. The comment section clamors for more detail on the MIRI cryocooler which will take the mid-Infrared Instrument’s focal plane array below 7K. Here’s to hoping for a full video on this beast, built across the hall from me, and on which I spent a couple of weeks when the team was shorthanded.
Youtube Channel: Launchpad Astronomy
An All-Indian Super Bowl?
Four color process: Old Holland and the Zorn Palette
Anders Zorn is the most famous painter I’ve never heard of. Active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his portraiture earned him fame and fortune all over the world. He is equally known for using only four colors in his eponymous palette: White, black, yellow ochre, and vermilion.
The Old Holland paint company pays tribute to Zorn in a series of videos exploring how their oils and his methods work together. Each video is a hypnotic few minutes of a person mixing four paints with a Bob Ross-style narration by artist Lennaert Koorman. The color arrays at the end are little works of art that would look good on any wall. The company offers a staggering number of colors but deserves credit for showing how a limited palette and a painterly eye can capture a universe of shade and shape. Start with the reds and explore the rest.
Youtube Channel: Old Holland Classic Colours
Bird Up: JWST completes major deployments
As the man said after the Eagle landed: “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
The James Webb Space Telescope, largely designed, built, and tested at Space Park in Redondo Beach, has launched, raised itself from the spacecraft, deployed its 5 layer sunshield, and put its primary and secondary mirrors into place. It will take another few months for the telescope to cool in the shade and then to commission the instruments before science measurements can begin.
It has been a long and contentious wait but the magnitude of this accomplishment is worth celebrating.
Youtube Channel: Northrop Grumman
Still better than opera
…or musicals. Sometimes the algorithm gets it right and recommends a good channel. Canadian pet groomer Vanessa De Prophetis aka Girl With the Dogs posts frequent videos of her clients along with deadpan commentary about the service in progress. Here she has compiled some of her more promising singers some of whom have La Scala or Broadway in their future.
Youtube Channel: Girl With the Dogs
Shakesperean Dunk Contest
Wayne and Schuster set a standard, Andy Griffith provided commentary. Now, Key&Peele and Nolke&Nolke face off in the Posterize William contest. Be sure to vote in the comments (Jeez, I kill me.)
Youtube Channel: Julie Nolke
Youtube Channel: Key&Peele
20 years on
and we haven’t learned a damn thing.
The pulse of artistic LA is in NYC
From the Sad-but-True department. Leave it to the NYT to highlight the problems LA theatres face in the aftermath of COVID and bearing the brunt of the ills of the gig economy. Uber and Lyft skate while tiny arts orgs have to conform to new wage laws while trying to reopen. Whatever Dr. Soon-Shiong may have done for the LA Times, his inaction on the sacks of filth at his arts and culture desks is unpardonable.
Revel in Unrivaled Ravel: The Sitkovetsky Trio and Pavel Hudec
This animation is making the rounds of the classical music world. Pavel Hudec adds gorgeous visuals to a sparkling performance of the spiky 2nd movement of Ravel‘s A minor Piano Trio. “Journey of the Pantoum” evokes some highborn traveler from distant land but, the pantoum is no potentate, panjandrum, or padishah, only a type of poem that informs the piece.
The Sitkovetsky Trio‘s playing is otherworldly. The video coincided with the release of the album on BIS featuring the full work along with the Saint-Saëns Trio No. 2 in E minor. It is (surprisingly) available in “hardcopy” as a compact disc or as a digital download from eClassical.com in high quality formats with PDF liner notes and cover for under $10.
YouTube Channel: Pavel Hudec