“we are our choices.”
image credit: new yorker cartoons – roz chast
Opera house performs first post-lockdown concert for an all-plant audience
Next week, Barcelona’s Liceu opera house will emerge from its lockdown-induced siesta by throwing a concert to a rather unusual audience. The attendees will not need masks or gloves, nor will they be required to follow physical distancing rules.
However, they might like to take along a nice comfy pot and some water to prevent their roots from drying out as a string quartet serenades them, fittingly, with Puccini’s Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums).
A total of 2,292 plants will occupy the venue’s seats and listen to the opera house’s first post-lockdown concert when it reopens next Monday. Non-vegetal music fans will also be able to enjoy the performance as it will be live-streamed.
According to the Liceu’s artistic director Víctor García de Gomar, the Concert for the Biocene, played the by Uceli quartet, is intended to help us ponder the current state of the human condition and how, in lockdown, we have become “an audience deprived of the possibility of being an audience”.
For Eugenio Ampudia, the conceptual artist behind the concert, the project will serve to reflect what has happened across Spain and around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to retreat from shared public areas.
“At a time when an important part of humankind has shut itself up in enclosed spaces and been obliged to relinquish movement, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded,” said Ampudia.
After the concert, the plants will find themselves in a new home, with each one of them being donated to 2,292 health workers as thank you for their efforts over recent months.
“the first rule of opera is the first rule in life:
see to everything yourself.”
photo and story credits: the optimist daily
Membership to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world takes place around a short red and white striped pole in Antarctica. Only those who endure an atmospheric difference of 300 degrees Fahrenheit are granted entry.
To join the elite 300 Club, residents at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where on winter days the outside temperature dips below -100 degrees, must bare it all. It’s an odd tradition, one that comes with a high risk of frostbite in rather sensitive, traditionally clothed areas.
To join the exclusive group, the scientists must first spend time in the station’s 200-degree sauna. Once they’re fully cooked, they dash outside (at a brisk walk, because running is dangerous) wearing nothing but shoes and an optional neck gaiter to circle the ceremonial South Pole marker, which is hundreds of feet from the station. They then get back into the steamy sauna, which helps thaw their outsides while a bit of alcohol warms them up inside. Those who complete the challenge even earn a commemorative patch.
Though the thought of a naked scientist racing across the ice in dangerously cold temperatures to circle a pole may seem simply absurd, it’s actually a beloved ritual. The temperature only gets low enough a handful of days each year, giving the wacky tradition an almost ceremonial feel. Participants are usually cheered on by bystanders who use flashlights to guide them to the pole during the perpetual winter blackness.
The marker isn’t even the true location of the South Pole. Antarctica is blanketed by massive chunks of moving ice sheets that move about 30 feet each year. The ice’s inability to sit still makes pinpointing the world’s most southern spot with permanent precision impossible.
Finding and marking the accurate geographic South Pole is an annual (fully clothed) New Year’s Day tradition for those staying at the station. Every year since 1959, South Pole residents erect a new temporary marker at the spot and retire the old one into a display case inside the station. The ceremonial South Pole remains where it is, flanked by the flags, awaiting the next group of winter scientists hoping to join one of the world’s weirdest clubs.
“we take to the breeze, we go as we please.”
― E.B. White
story credits: Atlas obscura, kerry wolf
photo credits: martin wolf – national science foundation,
craig knott – national science foundation, alan light
On an eight-day flight aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992, AAAS member Mae Carol Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space. Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!
Mae C. Jemison, born on this day in 1956, has a few firsts to her name: She was the first woman of color in space, as well as the only real astronaut to have served on the U.S.S. Enterprise, where she portrayed a lieutenant on an episode of Star Trek: TNG.
“we inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.”