December 12, 2012 |
Mother Nature has been a fickle manager of snowfall lately, sending an avalanche of powder to ski resorts across the country two years ago, followed by the least amount of snowfall in decades last winter. A scattering of storms has already swept through the West this winter, but it's too early to tell if this season will be a snowy success or another dry disappointment. But ski resort managers are losing less sleep over erratic weather conditions after making a flurry of investments over the last few years in ultra-efficient, computerized snow-making equipment.
November 17, 2012 |
Ken Burns, public television's signature chronicler of great American moments, pastimes and inventions, has turned his Ken Burns Effect loose upon "The Dust Bowl. " One would say it was almost inevitable that two things so huge were bound to meet. The four-hour film premieres Sunday and Monday on PBS and tells the story of the great drought that befell the Southern plains in the 1930s and the poor farming practices that made it into something far worse. Though it has the pokey pace and flat affect of his other films - for Burns, history is elegy - it is also one of his best works: more tightly focused than usual in time and place, with a clear shape, dramatic arcs and a conclusion that is at once cautionary and moving, topical and timeless.
November 16, 2012 |
In a sense, Ken Burns' new documentary is the photographic negative of the one he delivered in 2009: Instead of swooning full-color shots of azure lakes and soaring mountains, his new film is made of images that could come from the dark side of the moon. In some of them, the parched land tells its own silent story. In others, we see bleached-out shots of people, in overalls, scowling. Or children in gas masks, looking like humanoid visitors from another world. And while "The National Parks," from 2009, recounted the tale of triumph, his new film is not nearly so life-affirming.
November 15, 2012 |
Andrew Luck might have the NFL on a string, but that doesn't mean he has the Internet at his fingertips. Smart quarterback? Without question. Smartphone? Slow down there, Wozniak. "I still have a flip phone," Luck told The Times this week, calling from that digital dinosaur. "It served me well and continues to serve me well. If it worked the past four years since high school, why change it now?" It's a fittingly retro device for a guy who's making it feel like the late 1990s all over again in Indianapolis.
November 1, 2012
Is global warming to blame for Sandy the "Frankenstorm"? Pundits and politicians were arguing about that even before the massive storm struck the Atlantic coast; now that it has moved on, after killing 50, flooding the New York subway system, ripping away chunks of New Jersey's coastline and causing myriad other damage that will place Sandy among the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history, it's a more pressing question. After all, if the storm were an act of man rather than an act of God, we might be able to prevent such disasters from recurring.
June 27, 2012 |
Physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have smashed gold ions together to produce a quark-gluon plasma like that which existed in the first instant after the Big Bang that created the universe, and in doing so have produced what Guinness World Records says is the highest man-made temperature ever, 7.2 trillion degrees. That is about 250,000 times hotter than the temperature at the core of the sun. Quarks are the elementary particles from which all other particles, including protons, neutrons and electrons, are made.