• a planet of oceans


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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

    PopUp Astronomy Club: Woodberry Wetlands


    Wednesday 2 May 2018

    join super/collider’s PopUp Astronomy Club for a special event as part of the ‘Wild London Lates’ series. taking place at the Coal House at Woodberry Wetlands, experts will share their knowledge about various wildlife and natural world topics, and the importance of protecting these fragile green spaces in London

    the night sky on May 2 will be dominated by two solar system giants. Venus, which has been shining brightly in the evening sky for a couple of months now, and Jupiter – which comes to opposition (its closest position to Earth) on May 9. this will provide a fantastic opportunity to see Jupiter’s cloud belts as well as the four main ‘Galilean’ moons: Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.

    join us for an unforgettable night of star gazing with astronomer Paul Hill in an oasis of natural darkness within the city

    The Coal House at Woodberry Wetlands West Entrance
    via New River Path
    Accessed via Lordship Road, Coal House, N16 5HQ
    tickets here

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    staring into space


    Saturday 12 May 2018

    join super/collider for an evening of astronomy and 
    astrophysics at Second Home’s newly opened top floor and roof terrace just off Brick Lane

    Dr. Victoria Grinberg is an astrophysicist at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands. in this talk, she’ll discuss the groundbreaking approaches that are allowing her and colleagues to observe some of the most mysterious objects in our universe: neutron stars and black holes. as the remnants of dead stars and the engines at the centres of entire galaxies, these objects are key to our understanding of the universe. but on cosmic scale they’re tiny and also absorb light, which makes them impossible to see through an optical telescope. so how can astrophysicists observe something that is, on the first glance, invisible?

    following Victoria’s talk, astronomer Paul Hill will open up a world of celestial objects from Second Home’s roof terrace. through three different telescopes, you’ll get a guided tour of the heavens, explaining our mythical and historical understandings of the different constellations. join us for a unique event mixing cutting-edge astrophysics with hands-on astronomy

    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    free for Second Home members
    £16.76 (including booking fee)  – tickets here

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    to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Sónar is broadcasting two signals towards GJ273b, a potentially habitable exoplanet located 12.4 light years from Earth in the constellation of Canis Minor. working with the Catalonia Institute of Space Studies and METI International (Messaging Extra-terrestrial Intelligence), the project involves 33 artists linked to the festival, including Laurent Garnier, The Black Madonna, Kode 9 and Daito Manabe

    the first transmission was sent in October from the parabolic steerable antenna pictured, located at the EISCAT facility in Ramfjordmoen, near Tromsø, Norway. the second will be beamed out into deep space this April, and your music could be part of it – just submit an original composition in any genre or musical style before 1 March 2018. three pieces chosen by the judging panel will be included in the broadcast and you’ll also win a pair of VIP passes to attend Sónar in Barcelona in June, which follows the festival’s second event in Hong Kong this March

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    pop culture pulsar


    fifty years ago today, astronomers working at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge discovered an unusual signal coming from deep space: a steady, rhythmic pulse unlike anything seen before. the radio signal, which repeated every 1.33 seconds, seemly oddly unnatural and was soon nicknamed LGM-1 for “Little Green Men” by its discoverers, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish, who briefly considered but then ruled out the possibility it had originated from some far-off extraterrestrial civilisation

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    luminous colour


    Tuesday 20 February 2018

    join us for an evening with Liz West – a visual artist who creates vivid environments that mix luminous colour and radiant light

    working across a variety of mediums, West’s work explores how sensory phenomena can invoke psychological and physical responses that tap into our deeply entrenched relationships to colour. her practice involves playfully refracting light through space, using translucent, transparent and reflective materials, which direct the flow of natural and artificial light provoking a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer

    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    free for Second Home members
    £3 for non-members – tickets here

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    all that glitters


    from the ancient Aztecs to Versace’s new Spring 2018 collection, gold has transcended fashion and culture to remain relevant across millennia. it’s one of humanity’s most enduring precious metals, but it’s taken science until this week to finally pin down exactly where it comes from

    the short answer is that gold and other heavy elements are formed by the explosions created by merging neutron stars – super dense suns that weigh twice as much as ours but are only about 10km across. the long version of how we figured this out is an amazing story of cutting-edge physics, astronomy and some timely international cooperation.

    read more in our new post for AnOther

    space age


    following on from two successful gallery exhibitions, the Vintage NASA Photographs project has just released a new set of photographs for sale, including this one of the Gemini-7 spacecraft as seen from Gemini-6. other highlights of the collection include orbital tests high above the Earth, various Apollo astronauts on the Moon and even some shots from the Voyager probes taken in the 70s and 80s

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    deep space


    deep down in the depths of the Earth’s oceans lies a world in many ways more mysterious than outer space. blanketed by darkness and the crushing weight of billions of tons of seawater, this alien abyss is the focus of the Parley Deep Space Program, which we recently profiled for a special insert inside Dazed Magazine…

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    Cassini: a spectacular end

    Wednesday 22 November 2017

    after two decades in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has completed its remarkable mission to Saturn. orbiting the planet and its many moons, the probe captured incredible images and made a number of new discoveries before being deliberately plunged into the gas giant to keep its moons pristine and uncontaminated. although the spacecraft is gone, researchers will be studying the rich trove of data from the mission and its grand finale for years to come

    join us hear Professor Michele Dougherty, the Principal Investigator for the magnetometer instruments for Cassini, discuss what new discoveries came from the probe’s long journey and ‘end of mission’ science

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

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    magic mushrooms


    the complex and mutually-enriching interaction between soil, plants and fungi is similar to the fertile relationship between mushrooms, mankind and art – a dynamic explored in a new show curated by Francesca Gavin that opens tomorrow night in Paris. as she explains, “this simplest of organism has been at the core of ritual, power and ideas around immortality and strength for thousands of years. contemporary artists are continually drawn towards the mushroom for its references to nature, the psychedelic and the spiritual”

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    seeing science


    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 beautiful magazine exploring all things botanical, THE PLANT is ‘a curious observer of ordinary plants and other greenery’ put together by and featuring creative people who love plants

    Issue 9’s cover and monograph is dedicated to the humble yet irresistible geranium, with illustrations by Mélanie Dautreppe-Liermann, Ken Kagami, Jean Jullien, Mrzyk & Moriceau, Tim Lahan and Okamura Yuta. elsewhere in the issue, Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx talks gardens, designer Antoni Arola details his passion for seeds and seed pods, photographer Mark Borthwick explores the flora of Jamaica and super/collider provides text to accompany Kuba Ryniewicz’s incredible photos of the Danakil Depression – an arid, alien landscape in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia

    Issue 9 / £12

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    deep impact

    Meteor Crater by Joe King

    in the first in a series of articles, we explore some of the places we’ll be visiting on our upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Expedition this August. first up is Meteor Crater, a massive hole in the ground in Arizona that helped scientists establish techniques for identifying meteor strikes…

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    ✺ solar eclipse expedition


    14-22 August 2017

    join a small group of creative explorers as we travel across the spectacular deserts, forests and mountains of Western America to witness one of nature’s most incredible sights: a total solar eclipse

    click here to be the first to hear about upcoming fieldtrips and expeditions

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    a planet of oceans


    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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    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

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    the cosmic desert


    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

    art and sci-fi in the Atacama


    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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    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

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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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