The environmental cost of light pollution

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On my to-read list today is Light Pollution of the Mountain Areas in Poland by Ściężor, Kubala and Kaszowski. A quick skim sug­gests it’s about the mech­an­ics of meas­ur­ing light pol­lu­tion in Poland, but the ref­er­ences look like they could make the prob­lem more inter­est­ing. It’s not just about astro­nomy, there are meas­ur­able bio­lo­gical impacts from arti­fi­cial lighting.

It’ll be dif­fi­cult to see if there’s a sim­ilar prob­lem in the UK, because so much of it is well-lit. That means bio­lo­gical dam­age is the new nor­mal and there­fore not a prob­lem. Elsewhere this prob­lem is called the Shifting Baseline. http://​www​.ted​.com/​t​a​l​k​s​/​d​a​n​i​e​l​_​p​a​u​l​y​_​t​h​e​_​o​c​e​a​n​_​s​_​s​h​i​f​t​i​n​g​_​b​a​s​e​l​i​n​e​.​h​tml

See also: http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/JBAA./0104//0000313.000.html

#twt   #astro­nomy   #LightPollution  

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Light Pollution of the Mountain Areas in Poland / Zanieczyszczenie Świetlne W Obszarach Górskich W Polsce : Archives of Environmental Protection
Abstract. The exist­ence of extens­ive records for the impact of night sky bright­ness on the anim­als’ beha­vior in their nat­ural envir­on­ment shows the need to invest­ig­ate the level of arti­fi­cially induce…

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The Ionia Sanction by Gary Corby

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The Ionia Sanction is a sequel to The Pericles Commission. It fea­tures Nicolaos, the young Athenian who has inven­ted the job of agent in order to learn polit­ics to avoid becom­ing a sculptor like his father.

I liked The Pericles Commission and the only quibble I had was that Athens wasn’t as grim in Gary Corby’s book as I thought it might be. That’s no bad thing because I thought the ancient world could be an unpleas­ant place. Pretty much as unpleas­ant as in The Ionia Sanction, which is slightly darker and more viol­ent than the first book.

The book opens with the appar­ent sui­cide of Thorion, a prox­enos. A prox­enos was someone who would help with the interests of a for­eign city. Thorion was an Athenian cit­izen with con­nec­tions to Ephesus, so when his sui­cide note sug­gests he’s com­mit­ted treason Pericles decides someone needs to find out what has happened. He sends Nicolaos to invest­ig­ate. It quickly becomes clear Thorion was murdered, and events lead to Nicolaos leav­ing the safety of Athens and trav­el­ling to Ionia, inside the Persian empire.

Like the first book, The Ionia Sanction is based around a his­tor­ical fact. In this case it’s the life of Themistocles. Themistocles was the gen­eral respons­ible for the defeat of the Persians at Salamis. However, Themistocles was not a mod­est man and with some Spartan help he was framed for treason and ostra­cised. To flee to safety Themistocles sur­rendered him­self to the Persian king and became sat­rap of Magnesia, on the coast of what is now Turkey.

The text runs smoothly. The only jar­ring note for me is that these are edited for the American mar­ket. It means Themistocles talks about assholes, which looks odd. Assholes fea­ture in a sec­tion of the book due to a method of exe­cu­tion that uses a sharp wooden stake, tip­toes and a slow death through exhaus­tion. Gary Corby also had to find a sexual vice that a man had that could be used for black­mail. This man was an ancient Greek, so a small round of applause is due for find­ing one.

A com­mon prob­lem for any book like this is that there were some things known in ancient Greece that the reader doesn’t know. How do you get this inform­a­tion in? Fantasy authors have that well-used standby “As you know your father, the king…” before launch­ing on five pages of expos­i­tion. Here the source of know­ledge is Diotima, the (ex)girlfriend of Nicolaos who left for Ephesus a few months before and a female slave, Asia. It’s not stretch­ing cred­ib­il­ity for Nicolaos to know very little about the Persian empire, so it works without the sound of nar­rat­ive gears crunching.

Fortunately the amount of expos­i­tion needed wasn’t too much. The book is a story, not a his­tory les­son. As a story it works. Not everything was obvi­ous, I didn’t work out any of the murders before they were revealed, but there was noth­ing that seemed too contrived. 

It’s taken me a while to read it. I didn’t want to read it while work­ing on any­thing ancient because I didn’t want it to feel like work. I’ll prob­ably make a point of get­ting Sacred Games when it comes out and buy­ing an authors next book is prob­ably a pretty good indic­a­tion of how his last one went.

The thing I’ll grouch about this time is the cover. As art I like it, but it doesn’t fit well with the book. It looks a bit YA, and I think The Ionia Sanction is more 18+. The first two books will be out shortly in paper­back, with the Australian cov­ers. After a couple more books I’ll com­plain if the cov­ers aren’t in the same style, so this isn’t a major gripe.

If you enjoyed The Pericles Commission then the The Ionia Sanction is worth your money. If you’ve read neither then start­ing with the first book is the bet­ter bet.

#blog #twt #books #AncientGreece

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A hydrophobic oil absorbing marshmallow

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via +Cheryl Hurkett is this video demon­strat­ing a marshmallow-like mac­ro­por­ous gel that could be used for sep­ar­at­ing oil and water. Like the accom­pa­ny­ing press release says, this is obvi­ously use­ful for mar­ine oil spills, but there are many more applications.

http://​www​.rsc​.org/​c​h​e​m​i​s​t​r​y​w​o​r​l​d​/​2​0​1​3​/​0​1​/​m​a​r​s​h​m​a​l​l​o​w​-​a​e​r​o​g​e​l​-​m​o​p​s​-​oil

#twt   #chem­istry  

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