Tagged: earth

Artist impression of the ESA probe Huygens, landing on Titan, largest moon of the planet Saturn, in january 2005

Space Quotes

This collection of quotes, wisecracks and oneliners was originally tweeted from the, nowadays pretty dormant, Modified MarsTwitteraccount. I felt they deserved a more permanent location; after all, colonizing the Galaxy is a long term project. Some of these quotes are funny, others are dead serious; occasionally they’re both. They all are, sometimes very obvious, in other cases rather remotely, linked to themes like Mars, spaceflight, astronomy or the universe in general. And since I call this an image blog, I illustrate this page with some space art I’ve produced over the years. “We are all in the gutter, but some of...

The Dry Earth: Reversed Terraforming

After terraforming Mars quite a few times, I’ve now done the reverse thing: martifying Earth. What would our planet look like if all the water suddenly disappeared? Like a Pale Yellow Dot, a kind of cross-over between the Moon and Mars. Warming-up No, this is not a warning about the effects of global warming. Those are worrying enough, but in the short term they mainly mean that we have to deal with more instead of less water. Speculation On the other hand: sometimes planets lose a lot of water in the course of their existence. Mars, for example, once had...

close-up of a digitally created stained glass world map, featuring Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranan and the North Atlantic

A Stained Glass World Map

I have already made quite a few special world maps, but never a version in stained glass. Our planet played a part in the virtual stained glass window that I made of the famous Earthrise photo, but that is not the same. So it was about time to fill this gap in my collection. And here’s the result! Virtual glass The map is made of 1440 pieces of colored glass. Virtual glass, of course, because this artwork was made entirely with the help of Photoshop and a tiny bit of Autocad. Despite the abstraction, the elements that make our world...

The Drowned Earth: a world map as it looks after the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have melted, around 4000 AD

The Drowned Earth: 4000 AD, After The Thaw

What would the world map look like if all the polar ice would melt? And how long does it take to get there? These are interesting questions now that climate change is – finally – on the political agenda. And as a cartographer, I could not resist the temptation to visualize the worst case scenario. Gravity When the Greenland ice sheet melts, the sea level rises 7 meters, when the ice melts in Antarctica it causes a rise of 58 meters. So together that makes 65 meters. But that is an average. Because something else plays a role: gravity. Such...

Planetary road sign in a museum-like setting showing the directions and distances to the sun, the moon and the seven planets

Building a Planetary Road Sign

There must be many of them: those funny signposts that indicate the direction and the distance to places that are usually quite far away. Tokio 9597 kilometers, Kinshasa 6379 kilometers, Mahabalipuram 8106 kilometers. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought a few weeks ago, if there was a signpost like that showing the directions and distances for the sun, the moon and the planets? Why doesn’t such a planetary road sign actually exist? Of course I immediately knew the answer. The planets all have their orbits around the sun and the moon revolves around one of those planets: the Earth. And...

A world map like a dolphin would make it: a network of oceans en seas with some terra incognita in between

A Dolphin’s World Map

Once again I have tried to imagine the point of view of one of the other species we humans share this planet with. After the penguins and the moles this time it’s the turn of the dolphins. How does a dolphin mapmaker see the world? Sympathetic and intelligent Dolphins are known as friendly animals. Are they really as sympathetic as they look or are we somewhat misled because their mouths are permanently in the smiley position? I would not dare to make any firm statements about that. Dolphins are also known as intelligent beings. But how intelligent are they exactly?...

A World Block Map, in colors that are realistic, albeit somewhat exagerated

The Block World Map Is Here At Last

Yes, my name, Blok, means Block. In fact, the family name was Block until one of my ancestors moved to Rotterdam in the late 18th century and a lazy municipality official dropped the c. In that light it’s amazing that it took so long for me to do something with the block theme. But here it finally is: a Block World Map. Grid The map consists of three grids, which are placed on top of each other. The largest blocks form a grid of 72 by 36; the attentive reader realizes immediately that each block corresponds to five degrees latitude...

World map mirrored in a reflective and slightly undulating water surface

The World in a Water Mirror

The Dutch word for water level is waterspiegel, which literally translates as water mirror.  Such a great word! Because under the right circumstances – not too many waves, but certainly not too few – water gets magical reflective properties, distorting objects until they are barely recognizable. Ideally, the waves create a kind of impressionistic oil painting that can only be captured with fast shutter speeds. Reflectifications I wrote earlier about the reflections of Rotterdam buildings in the old harbor basins. Here is another interpretation of the idea: a water level world map. 3ds Max How do you create a water...

An old and rustyCitroën Deux Chevaux, launched with a Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX, en route to Mars

Chasing Elon Musk in an old French car

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX, one of the companies owned by Elon Musk, launched the first Falcon Heavy. A giant leap for mankind, like Neil Armstrong would have said, because with this rocket, manned missions to the Moon (once again) and to Mars become possible. And those missions also become a lot cheaper than before, because large parts of the rocket return to Earth and can therefore be used again.   Starman On such a first test flight you don’t take expensive satellites. Usually a block of concrete is used as ballast, but Elon had a better idea: he sent...

Space art, showing the Earth-like planet Alice with a remarkable landscape full of islands and lakes and in the background gas giant Goliath

Alice and Goliath – two worlds out of many

How many Earth-like planets are there in the universe? In other words: how many doubles does our beautiful water world have? We’ll never get anywhere near an exact answer but “very, very much” is, most likely, pretty close to the truth. There are about 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. The number of galaxies in the universe is, coincidentally, also around 200 billion. So we are talking about roughly 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Even if only one in a million stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it, which seems like a pessimistic estimate, we still have an unimaginable number of...