Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘world’

24 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Through the Eyes of the Vikings: The Aerial Arctic


From fjords to humpbacks, or what 11th-century nostalgia has to do with polar bears.

We’re big fans of aerial photography and it hardly gets any better than that of National Geographic photographer Robert B. Haas.

After stunning the world with Through the Eyes of the Gods: An Aerial Vision of Africa in 2005 and Through The Eyes Of The Condor: An Aerial Vision of Latin America in 2007, Haas is now back with his coolest project yet, literally: Through the Eyes of the Vikings: An Aerial Vision of Arctic Lands — an ambitious and visually gripping exploration of the Arctic.

Bay of Bothnia, Sweden

Recycling pools beside a lumber facility near the port city of Karlsborg pock the landscape like shots through tempered glass.

Langøya Island, Norway

Industrial byproducts form a swirling palette at a waste-treatment facility on this island south of Oslo.

Manitoba, Canada

A polar bear pauses on a bed of kelp on Cape Churchill.

Lynn Canal, Alaska

Tributaries of the spectacularly deep fjord wind across a muddy plain to empty into a blue-green bay.

Whether in myth or in fact, the Vikings call to mind a hardy and adventurous spirit of exploration and enterprise. The cool stare of a Viking in the slit beneath fur-lined headgear and above a craggy length of beard betrayed a willingness to face risk, eyeball-to-eyeball, to witness sights that others had not seen before and capture bounty that might one day become the stuff of legend.” ~ Robert Haas in the book’s introduction

Clam Gulch, Alaska

A clam digger pokes around Cook Inlet.

Kiruna, Sweden

Snowmobile tracks crisscross the surface of a melting pond.

Red Glacier, Alaska

Bergs and boulders form islands of ice and rock in the basin of the glacier.

What makes the book particularly captivating is the subtle bittersweet undertone of reconciling the breathtaking romance of the Arctic with our lurking awareness of its slow demise in the grip of climate change, with a breath of irony as we come to realize these magnificent landscapes are already dramatically different from what the Vikings saw centuries ago.

Iniskin Bay, Alaska

The Iniskin River resembles a reflective ribbon of glass as it flows into its namesake bay.

Disko Bay, Greenland

Mother and calf humpback whales breach the electric-blue surface on the west coast of Greenland.

Like an ephemeral memento, Through the Eyes of the Vikings hangs in our collective conscience with equal parts retrograde nostalgia and alive appreciation, encapsulating a moment in time and space slowly severed from existence by the axe of an invisible Viking.

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22 SEPTEMBER, 2010

PICKED: The Girl Effect, The Sequel


More than two years ago, the first Girl Effect video swept the web, making a powerful case for the importance of girls’ education in solving global poverty. This week, The Girl Effect is back with an even more powerful sequel, which premiered at the Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York City. Watch, internalize and pass along — it’s important.


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31 AUGUST, 2010

Fault Line Living: The World’s Most Dangerous Landscapes to Live


Geysers, mud pots, and what Barba Papa has to do with the benefits of geothermal energy.

Fault lines are cracks in Earth’s crusts where tectonic plates converge. As you’d expect, these areas have an extraordinarily propensity for earthquakes due to the constant geodesic activity going on beneath. And yet millions of people around the world live on and around fault lines, in a constant state of alertness, with the sound of the earthquake drill alarm growing more familiar than the doorbell.

Faul Line Living is a 15,000-mile expedition from Iceland to Iran documenting the lives of people who live along the world’s most notorious fault lines. The multi-media project explores the human stories that populate these high-risk natural environments, working with school students, seismologists and citizens of each country along the way to better understand how different communities adapt to the challenges of life in fault zones.

Broken jug, damaged in the 1976 earthquake at Kopaska, belonging to Jon Halldorsson

The Blue Lagoon – despite the wind and rain, the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon provide a fillip to tourists and locals alike

Faul Line Living won the 2010 Go Beyond bursary from the UK’s Royal Geographical Society and Land Rover, a £10,000 award encouraging winners to push past their own limits as a way of promoting a wider understanding and appreciation of geography.

Fun after the rain

Steaming mud pots at Namafjall

On July 31, the UK-based team — Tamsin Davies, Serena Davies and Adam Whitaker — embarked upon their journey into these collision zones of nature and humanity. For 12 weeks, they will drive across the UK, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, learning to use a seismometer and delving into the social anthropology of fault line living through photography, interviews and real-time mapping.

Honeycomb basalt formations at Dimmuborgir

Barba Papa house at Seysdisfjordur

Explore the project’s breathtaking gallery and follow along vicariously on Twitter. Meanwhile, keep yourself grounded by appreciating the geological stability of your own locale.

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