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  • a planet of oceans

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    from the depths of the Marianas Trench to the remote beaches of the Chagos Archipelago, we’ve rounded up five incredible places from around the planet in honour of World Oceans Day

    Chagos Archipelago
    GPS Coordinates: 6°0′S 71°30′E

    For millennia, the coralline rock outcrops now known as the Chagos islands existed in almost total isolation – alone and geologically adrift on the empty Indian Ocean. Too far east of the Seychelles and too far south of the Maldives to be settled, they served as distant life-rafts for lost fisherman and travellers as the other territories slowly evolved into thriving cultures. Amid the archipelago’s crystal clear waters, a teeming abundance of marine life carried on as it had for eons, with coral reefs spawning annually with the full moon and slowly rising. Then, with the arrival of European explorers, things got complicated.

    The Portuguese, French and British successively named and claimed the islands, and a native population of fishermen, farmers, slaves and plantation workers emerged, composed mainly of people of Malay, Mauritian, African and Indian ancestry. In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, the UK and US set up an Air Force base on the island of Diego Garcia and forcibly expelled the entire population, first to the island of Peros Banhos and then to Mauritius, where they continue to face difficulties thanks to differences in language and skills. Today, the entire archipelago is off-limits except for visiting researchers and military personnel, creating a surreal juxtaposition as jet black American stealth bombers glide in to land above untouched, sparkling coral ecosystems.

    Below the surface, beyond the politics, life is thriving. The Chagos Archipelago is currently one of the healthiest and least polluted marine ecosystems on the planet. Half of the Indian Ocean’s healthy reefs are found there, including the world’s largest coral atoll – the Great Chagos Bank. Home to over 310 coral and a thousand fish species, it also serves as a refuge and breeding ground for endangered sharks, whales, turtles and birds. And that’s just what we know – perched atop a submarine mountain range than stretches north to form the Maldives, the archipelago is surrounded by deep trenches, seamounts and oceanic ridges that are likely home to hundreds or even thousands of undiscovered species.

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    Blue Hole, Belize
    GPS Coordinates: 17°18′N 87°32′W

    From the air, Belize’s Great Blue Hole appears as a perfectly circular void amid the speckled corals and shallow crystal waters of Lighthouse Reef. A mysterious blank in the seascape nearly a thousand feet across, it dwarfs the dive boats that meander in and out from the open sea. Gazing down, it’s impossible to see the bottom, over 400 feet below the waves. Instead, there is only deep, dark, perfect blue – like a hole in the very surface of the Earth.

    Located some forty nautical miles offshore, this stunning geological formation lies beyond Belize’s vast barrier reef system; the world’s second-longest after Australia. A Caribbean atoll stretching 28 miles from north to south, Lighthouse is home to six islands dotted with palm trees, white sand beaches, iguanas and seabirds. Near its centre lies the Great Blue Hole. Even in satellite photos, the dark circle stands out from the shallows, an unreal geometric oddity in an otherwise turquoise dream. In its dark depths, divers have discovered corals, sharks and unmistakable clues to its ancient origins.

    Marianas

    Mariana Islands
    GPS Coordinates: 16°37′N 145°37′E

    In a previous column, we looked at the deepest point in the world’s oceans: Challenger Deep. Now, we shift just a little to the West and trace a series of undersea volcanos as they rise to the surface and emerge to form the Mariana Islands. More than just a series of lush tropical paradises, these remote specks of land have revealed important clues about both humankind’s early migrations and the complex and volatile undersea geology of the western Pacific.

    Let’s start by diving back down under the ocean for a minute and plunging into the Mariana Trench. Located off the eastern side of the Marianas, this vast underwater canyon curves around in an arc, stretching over 1500 miles from north to south. It’s formed by the subduction of the Pacific tectonic plate under the Mariana plate – like two carpet edges meeting and one being pushed under the other.

    This tectonic action created the ultra-deep trench and is also driving the area’s ongoing volcanic activity, which forms a scythe-shaped string of volcanoes stretching up to meet Japan. Part of the larger Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc, this geological system is home to the most volcanically active convergent plate boundary on Earth – with trapped water being pushed under the grinding plates to drive hydrothermal activity. One site produces liquid sulphur and another almost pure liquid carbon dioxide, one of only two places on the planet this is known to occur. In other areas, scalding acidic water spews forth, giving scientists a glimpse at what may happen when acidification threatens other areas.

    Above the waves, the hellish scene is replaced by one of pure heaven. Covered in lush, untouched forests, blessed with abundant freshwater and surrounded by reefs and rich fishing grounds, the Marianas made ideal – if distant – outposts for early travellers. Archeological research on the island of Tinian reveals that people first arrived around 3500 years ago, making it the first place humans reached in Oceania. At the time, the more-than two thousand kilometre voyage from the nearest landmass meant these ancient explorers had to make the longest ocean crossing in human history. Their eventual ancestors carved immense megalithic ‘taga stones’ to support important buildings, some of which can still be seen standing.

    TunMustapha

    Tun Mustapha Marine Park
    GPS Coordinates: 7°2’N 116°56’E

    After over a decade of planning, Malaysia recently unveiled a massive new Marine Protected Area at the northern tip of Borneo. Located in the vast Coral Triangle (a vast region stretching across the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) the new park will serve as a safe haven for a staggering array of marine life – and the local people who depend on it.

    The protected area runs along the jagged north coast of Malaysia’s Sabah province, where mangroves and seagrass beds provide vital habitats for birds, dugongs and fish. Offshore, in the waters where the Sulu and South China seas meet, the vast new park covers nearly a million hectares of open ocean, coral reefs and 50 islands.

    The safeguarding of the Tun Mustapha MPA (named after the first governor of Sabah) couldn’t have come at a better time, with the ongoing dispute over the nearby Spratly Islands in the South China Sea worrying marine biologists. The offshore reefs and undersea habitats of the Spratlys have been found to play an important role in ‘reseeding’ marine life and maintaining fish stocks in the region. With the ongoing dredging, reclamation and outright destruction of these formerly-pristine habitats, protecting large areas in nearby waters could help balance the losses.

    Enewetak Atoll credit NASA:USGS

    Enewetak Atoll, South Pacific
    GPS Coordinates: 11°30′N 162°20′E

    A tiny, perfect, dazzling ring of coral surrounded by thousands of miles of open ocean, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place on Earth than Enewetak Atoll. For millions of years, waves crashed endlessly over its pristine white sand as winged dinosaurs and then shorebirds alighted on this remote speck of land. Its waters teemed with fish and the island was colonised by drifting seeds, creating a sparkling green gem. Yet over the course of the World War that raged across this part of the planet from 1942 to 1945 and the potentially much more destructive Cold War that followed, Enewetak and other little worlds like it were nearly wiped off the face of the planet.

    Part of the Marshall Islands, Enewetak is located over 2000 miles from the northernmost tip of Australia, beyond Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Sea. During the Second World War, Japanese and American forces fought their way across the Pacific, devastating many of its smaller islands in an intense battle for survival. On Enewetak, coral was bulldozed and filled in to create an airstrip, and later fighting saw further devastation on Engebi Islet and Parry Island, two islands that make up the atoll. But worse was yet to come.

    One of thousands of such South Pacific paradises, Enewetak and the other atolls that dot this otherwise empty part of the planet are similar in geological make up and biodiversity. The region is home to over 1,000 species of fish and more than 250 species of soft and hard corals. Enewetak itself formed atop a seamount in the late Cretaceous. Seamounts are underwater mountains which rise almost to the surface, providing an ideal base for coral. Over eons, the reefs rose up above the waves and were colonised by life, even as the mountain sunk deeper into ocean. Delicate, pristine and perfect, such atolls unfortunately made ideal, very remote testing grounds for the devastating nuclear weapons that emerged as the Cold War dawned.

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    At 7:15am local time on November 1st 1952, the calm of yet another peaceful tropical morning on Enewetak was shattered when the United States detonated the world’s first hydrogen bomb. Codenamed ‘Ivy Mike’, the device was actually a massive 82-ton experiment housed in a purpose-built shed on the tiny islet of Elugelab. The resulting explosion vaporised the islet’s landmass completely, leaving a crater nearly 2km wide and 15 stories deep. Blast waves and surging water stripped the islands clean of vegetation and radioactive coral rained down on ships nearly 50km away. Within minutes, a 30km high mushroom towered over Enewetak. The ‘Mike’ test was the fourth largest nuclear test ever conducted by the US and left the area heavily contaminated, but 42 others detonations followed on Enewatak alone.

    In the late 1970s, the US began a long, expensive and messy clean-up of this contaminated former paradise. Radioactive soil was treated with potassium or mixed with cement and buried a giant crater created by one of the tests, then covered with a massive concrete dome. Today, the southern and western parts of Enewatak Atoll have been declared safe and some of its exiled residents have returned – but much remains off-limits. As at sites within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, Enewetak’s isolation and reputation may in the end prove a plus for nature. Without human interference, wildlife may once again thrive undisturbed, as it did for millions of years before we arrived.

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    for more of our Where On Earth series, visit AnOther

    spectral evidence

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    Monday 10 July 2017

    join artist Amelia Crouch as she shares and discusses extracts of her recent work ‘Spectral Evidence’ with us at Second Home. this moving image artwork, exploring colour perception and colour language, combines research into the evolution of the eye, the physics of light, linguistics and semiotics

    the piece was produced for ‘The Scientific Method’ – a group exhibition of moving image works that adopt scientific, quasi-scientific or pedagogical formats in order to consider the human search for systemic, graspable or quantifiable meaning in an uncertain world. Crouch co-curated the exhibition at The Tetley, Leeds, in 2016-17 and will talk both about ‘Spectral Evidence’ and how it fits into her wider artistic research and interests

    7-9pm
    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    free for Second Home members / £3 for non-members – please RSVP here

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    seeing science

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    launched in September last year, Seeing Science is a year-long project at the University of Maryland that examines and documents the ways in which science is represented through the visual medium of photography

    with online platforms, essays, events and exhibitions, the project looks at the ways in which science is represented as an industry and as an academic subject; the people involved and its myriad interactions with our everyday life. from Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering studies of animal locomotion to NASA’s rich photography archive through to augmented reality goggles for surgeons, Seeing Science seeks to examine the various forms scientific images take, what they reveal and how they transform the disciplines they serve. Bobby Jewell spoke with the project’s curator and producer, Marvin Hieferman, to find out more

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    a planet of oceans

    biot-1920px

    from the depths of the Marianas Trench to the remote beaches of the Chagos Archipelago, we’ve rounded up five incredible places from around the planet in honour of World Oceans Day

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    Caroline Corbasson artist talk and astronomy session

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    Monday 03 July 2017

    join us for a special evening with Paris-based artist Caroline Corbasson, who will discuss her artistic practice, inspirations and new film – set at the European Southern Observatory telescopes in the Atacama Desert. her talk will be followed by session observing the Moon and planets through Ace Hotel London’s in-house 203mm Dobsonian telescope, customised by super/collider

    7-11pm
    Ace Hotel Shoreditch
    100 Shoreditch High Street
    London
    E1 6JQ
    free – but RSVP essential, as we expect this event to sell out quickly

    see exclusive images from Caroline’s film here

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    L’Indifférence Des Etoiles

    L'Indifférence Des Etoiles

    88 pages / 26 × 19 cm / hardback
    41 photographs / full colour offset
    first edition of 500

    L’Indifférence Des Etoiles (The Indifference of the Stars) is French photographer Julien Mauve’s first book. filled with juxtaposed images of deep space and our world, it is about the quest for meaning and the difficulty to live with the knowledge that we exist. somehow, the stars become a shelter for the mind and help us bear the briefness of human life

    £25
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    the cosmic desert

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    stretching more than 7000 square kilometres across the barren deserts of Western Tunisia, Chott el Djerid is a vast salt lake that extends to the stars. an ‘endorheic’ basin, it floods in winter with rainwater and run-off from the distant Atlas Mountains, with dissolved minerals forming delicate pinks, soft greens, baby blues and other subtly beautiful colours. as spring turns to summer, crystalline structures emerge as the fierce Saharan heat turns the shallow waterways into glittering desert once more…

    read more about Chott el Djerid’s cosmic connections in our latest Where On Earth column for AnOther

    SUPER/COLLIDER X BOOK B

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    to mark the Hong Kong launch of our retrospective book, super/collider presented a two week pop-up shop at Book B, located inside the new mixed use space common room & co. in Hong Kong

    following on from this, our books have been now been added to the shop’s permanent selection, and we have more in the pipeline. next time you’re in Sham Shui Po, stop by to browse a selection of publications at the intersection of art and science…

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    Time Traveller by Seana Gavin

    TimeTraveller

    34x34cm glicée print
    limited edition of 50

    our collaborative collage series with artist Seana Gavin is inspired by our mutual love of vintage science books, world encyclopaedias and other educational treasures. combing the super/collider library for inspiration, Gavin’s meticulous hand-made collages reposition and reinvent Earth and space-based objects as new forms in surreal, otherworldly landscapes – strange realms devoid of a fixed time and place

    full series here

    £50
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    art and sci-fi in the Atacama

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    in one of the highest, driest and most remote landscapes on the planet, astronomers have constructed a series of megalithic devices to peer deep into space. these complex, futuristic artefacts and the strange landscape that surrounds them are what drew French artist Caroline Corbasson to the Atacama, where she’s currently shooting a new short film. you can read more about the project in our latest article for Amuse and check out this series of exclusive location scouting photos…

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    ten

    104-page retrospective book (2006-2016)
    first edition of 1000
    170mm x 240mm
    printed with vegetable-based inks on FSC-certified paper made from 100% post-consumer waste

    in 2006 we published our first fanzine and began a journey into science and culture. from the depths of interstellar space to the limitless subatomic horizons of particle physics to the most beautiful places on our planet, we’ve been privileged to spend the past decade exploring the wonders and aesthetics of science from a creative standpoint

    full of short stories and facts, ten is more than just a retrospective of our work. it’s a visual record of where science has taken us all in the last decade – told through 100 beautiful images from the worlds of astronomy, chemistry, mineralogy, physics, ecology, biology… and beyond

    £10
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    Platular ring by Noemi Klein

    Platular ring by Noemi Klein

    inspired by the intersection of earthly geology and crystalline geometry, Noemi Klein crafts intricate pieces in a range of fine metals. in her Epoch 5 collection, geological structures in the form of precious mineral clusters crystallise the natural environment and provide a sharp physical alternative to the ethereal and sensory world of the eye

    £189
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    the in sound from way out

    GOES satellite

    researchers at Queen Mary University in London are inviting filmmakers and creatives to experiment with sounds from space, as part of a new competition launched today. to find out more about these cosmic noises, we caught up with project lead Dr Martin Archer…

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    islands of ice

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    in our latest column for AnOther we overfly the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which is about to unleash one of the largest icebergs the Earth has ever seen

    treasures

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    unearthing and meticulously photographing artwork and images from 19th and early 20th century astronomy books, Print Science are working to showcase how people used to record the heavens. beyond lunar charts, hand sketches of the solar corona and an early photograph of the Pleiades, the collection includes early impressions of Mars and a beautiful drawing of a comet over London

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    ring world

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    open up Google Maps and scroll over to Canada – then zoom in and take a look to the right of the ‘Québec’ label. notice something weird? a massive, circular lake? that’s an impact crater from a 5km wide comet or asteroid that hit the area over 200 million years ago, making it the oldest known and largest visible impact crater on Earth

    in our new column for AnOther, we look at Manicouagan Crater and other (potentially related) impact sites across the planet

    Liliane Lijn in conversation with Johanna Kieniewicz

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    6 December 2016

    in this talk, artist Liliane Lijn will share her experiences exploring light since the 1960s. beyond discussing her artistic practice, Liliane will talk about her influences and historical understandings of light from the past millennia, drawing on her readings in Tibetan Buddhism as well as her interest in physics and astronomy

    7.30-9.30pm
    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    tickets are free for Second Home members and £3 for non-members – please RSVP here

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    speaking into space

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    20 October 2016

    humanity regularly sends information from Earth out into the universe that may be picked up by potential extraterrestrial intelligence – but should we be sending such messages? and if so, how do we represent ourselves? in searching the universe, what do we find out about ourselves?

    join us as we explore these ideas with Dr Jill Stuart – an academic based at the London School of Economics who specialises in the politics, ethics and law of outer space exploration and exploitation. beyond serving as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Space Policy, Dr. Stuart is a trustee of METI International, an organisation that focuses on sending messages from Earth to potential extraterrestrial life

    7.30-9.30pm
    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    tickets are free for Second Home Members and £3 for non-members – please RSVP here

    is our universe a hologram?

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    © Mr Div

    Tuesday 20 September 2016

    join Dr. Andrew O’Bannon on a journey to the cutting edge of theoretical physics. holography is the bold idea that all the information in our 3D universe may be contained in a mysterious 2D image, like a hologram. promising not only to unite Einstein’s relativity with quantum physics, it also has the potential to provide us with cleaner energy, faster computers, and novel electronics

    7.30-9.30pm
    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    £5 | book here

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    rooftop astronomy at Ace Hotel

    with the skies getting darker earlier, our ever-popular astronomy nights are back high atop the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch. come take a close up look at the planets, the lunar surface and other wonders through the hotel’s in-house 203mm Dobsonian telescope, customised by super/collider

    the season kicked off on August 9th with a session featuring the Moon, Mars and Saturn overhead. the evening featured astronomer Jeni Millard, art installations from Isobel Church and Dario Villanueva and a talk by Louise Alexander, a planetary scientist from the University of Birkbeck

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    making plastic precious

    Studio Swine

    inspired by nautical craftsmanship and folk art, the designers at Studio Swine went in search of plastic in the ocean for their Gyrecraft project – and found a lot to choose from. sailing 1000 nautical miles from the Azores to the Canary Islands, they passed through through the North Atlantic Gyre: one of five points on the planet where swirling megacurrents concentrate vast quantities of floating debris, including plastic

    “it’s one of the biggest problems facing our civilisation,” says Studio Swine’s Alex Groves, “plastic is in every part of the ocean and the effect it’s having on plankton is only just beginning to be investigated. plankton are the base of the entire planet’s food chain, and they are responsible for producing one third of the oxygen we breath. if we lose plankton we are headed for another mass extinction. in the swirling gyre, most of the plastics have broken down into tiny fragments which are spread over massive stretches of the ocean. due to their size, they are incredibly difficult to recover in any large quantity – making this once disposable material very precious”

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