News Roundup – Feb. 28, 2014

NASAEOINorthKoreaTrimView of North Korea from Space
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station recently snapped this startling photograph of one of the most mysterious places on Earth.  As you can see, the image shows North Korea, or, more specifically, where North Korea would be if it weren’t cloaked in complete and utter darkness.  Compare the size of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, to Seoul, its South Korean counterpart.  Also, lest you forgot, it is perhaps worth repeating that North Korea now has access to nuclear weapons.  Yeah.  You can click on the image above for a larger version, and you can read what others have written about the image here and here.


NatGeoImageoftheYearFeature2013trimBest of Photojournalism, 2013
The Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbus, Missouri, recently announced the winners of its international Pictures of the Year competition.  The photograph shown above,  which was taken by John Stanmeyer on the shores of Djibouti and which first appeared in National Geographic, won first place in the Feature category (click here for a larger version).  I captured a similar phenomenon (with less stellar results) while watching fireworks on the National Mall last July 4, and Nate Silver did the same when he attended the Cellphone Super Bowl earlier this month.  You can see the complete list of winners at this link.


05-10-foot-long-bluefin-and-diver-670King of all Fish
The current issue of National Geographic magazine includes an excellent feature on the Atlantic bluefin tuna, whom Ernest Hemingway once called the “king of all fish.”  According to the article’s author, Kenneth Brower, bluefin tuna “are among the most overfished species on Earth.”  Nor are tuna the only fish disappearing.  As Brower bluntly puts it, “the oceans are dying.”  In related news, the National Geographic Channel recently began airing the third season of Wicked Tuna, irony be damned.  To be fair, the show’s creators are not to blame for a population nosedive several decades in the making, and they deserve credit for providing a surprisingly exhaustive summary of the historical and scientific issues related to bluefin tuna on their website.


LostInGlare-fulllKepler Telescope Spots 715 New Exoplanets
After sifting through reams of data obtained by the Kepler Space Telescope, NASA scientists have announced the discovery of 715 more exoplanets.  Among these newly discovered planets, four fall within the so-called habitable zone (where surface water might exist in liquid form).  The announcement bumps the number of known exoplanets up to more than 1,700.  You can find additional analysis about this story here and here.