Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano has had all the attention lately, but a much bigger and meaner eruption might be around the corner from its cousin, Katla. This beast almost always erupts around the same time as Eyjafjallajokull, and geologists don’t expect this eruption to be any different. Katla is actually connected to Eyjafjallajokull underground via a common magma chamber, thus the connected eruptions. The main concern is that the ash plume will be even bigger than Eyjafjallajokull’s and will cause even more air travel problems. Another major concern is the fact that Katla is underneath a huge glacier. When 2,000 degree lava comes into contact with that much ice, you’re bound to have major flooding, and history has shown that indeed Katla’s eruptions have caused flooding problems for Icelanders. In fact, I’d say the only thing Katla has on Eyjafjallajokull is that its name is hella shorter and easier to pronounce/spell. (Via Daily Galaxy)

I’m sure you’ve already seen plenty of Iceland volcano photos since it’s been so prevalent in the news lately, but I must share this link: Live Science has a really nice gallery of volcanic lightning images that are simply breathtaking. All of them are of the recent Eyjafjallajokull eruption.

The US Military is not generally known for being environmentally-friendly… let’s face it, they blow up things, destroying not only buildings but also the land, not to mention releasing tons of toxic smoke and gases from the explosives. However, the Navy is trying to at least make a dent in their carbon footprint by adopting renewable fuels for their fighter jets, and eventually all other fuel-consuming vehicles/ships/aircraft as well. They’re about to test a new Camelina-based biofuel for the first time in an F/A 18 Hornet fighter. These are the same types of jets flown by the famous aerobatics demo team the Blue Angels. It’s pleasantly surprising to see the military taking such important steps in the right direction. (Via EcoGeek/National Geographic)

In other news- I now have more homebrew for your drinking pleasure, if interested. It’s a hefeweizen from an ingredient kit. I plan for this this be my last kit brew. I feel confident enough now to start using/tweaking online recipes, buying the ingredients separately and creating some brews that can be truly called “my own creations.” I’m actually about to start on a Belgian blonde ale. This hefeweizen, though, is just a simple straight-up wheat beer. It’s not a Belgian style (no orange peels or corriander) so it won’t taste like Blue Moon, and it doesn’t use any funky yeast strains or spicing to produce fruity flavors (such as Yazoo’s hefe, which has a distinct banana nose to it). It’s actually a very middle-of-the-road, normal-tasting wheat beer. If you want any, you know how to get in touch with me.

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Just about everyone hates WalMart for various reasons. At least everyone with half a brain. BUT they’re beginning to redeem theirselves in my eyes with this new initiative to instate a universal carbon footprint rating for all retail stores to use. Different environmental groups have attempted to do this for years but failed repeatedly because it’s such a an enormous undertaking. But hopefully not too enormous for WalMart. If anyone has the power to get this kind of research done, it’s WalMart. Let’s hope this is a case of the giant with superpowers using them for good, not evil. This could have a huge effect if successful, because it will put real pressure on manufacturers to “green” their processes and products. More at the New York Times. (Via EcoGeek)

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Credit: NASA TV

Space Shuttle Endeavour did a fly-around of the ISS today and then successfully docked. They took many detailed photographs of the heat shields and will inspect them in the days to come. The shuttle engineers are intrigued by the 12-ish pieces of foam seen falling off the external fuel tank late in the launch footage. This is mainly because of how late it occurred. It happened at a time/height when atmospheric pressure is very low and thus there’s much less stress on the foam to cause it to fall off, so they aren’t really sure why it happened. Nonetheless, initial opinion is that the heat shield did not suffer any major damage that would threaten safety of the crew on re-entry, but that opinion can always change. (Via Space.com)

Today I found a smattering of random links worth posting.

Google announced that they’re going to be developing a “Google Chrome OS”… basically a whole new open-source operating system for notebooks. As a Mac user I’ve yet to experience the Google Chrome web browser (it’s not available for Mac), so I don’t really know what to expect here. (Via Yewknee)

yazoologo02Nashville brewers Yazoo are going to be re-locating to the Gulch neighborhood next year. The new facility will allow the company to produce 4 times as much beer, which means they’ll be able to expand distribution to several neighboring states. They’ll also have a taproom at the new location, with the same hours they have now plus the possibility of opening a full-on pub if the demand is there. I must say I’ll miss the charm of the current taproom in the old Marathon Motor Works building, but it’s good to see a local brewery doing so well. (Via Bites/Nashville Scene)

In other local news, Nashvillest has a sexy new look to their website. Go check it out. I also found some disturbing news while exploring said new look- even though GM rid itself of Hummer, the brand still exists and it was bought by a Chinese machinery manufacturing company, and thus the Hummer executives need a new HQ. Unfortunately it looks like Franklin could be it. Honestly though, they’d fit right in, what with Nissan HQ there and the GM plant just down the road in Spring Hill. Why won’t these things just die? More at the Tennessean article.

Science is getting closer and closer to making invisibility possible. A new breakthrough in metamaterial technology may soon allow one to see through solid steel, or even become invisible. Furthermore, one could make one object look like another. The example they use is making a cup look like a spoon. The cup is sitting there, but when you look at it through a layer of the special metamaterial, you would see a spoon. One of the biggest applications that I can see with this technology would be in spaceships. The scientists behind this research say that it would be possible to make an otherwise opaque material transparent. This would eliminate the need for traditional windows on a spaceship- you could just install one of these devices made of metamaterials on a solid aluminum (or other metal) hull, which is much safer than cutting a hole in the hull to install a glass window, which is much more susceptible to the inevitable impacts from micro-meteors and other space junk. (Via NewScientist)

It’s pretty obvious that hydrogen is fuel of the future. It’s the most abundant element in the universe, and when it’s burned the only byproduct is pure water. Even though it’s abundant, it’s still hard to make here on earth. Up until now the best way was through electrolysis of water, but that’s very expensive, so unfortunately most of it today is made from fossil fuels, which kind of defeats the whole purpose (to get away from fossil fuels!). But that may be changing. Researchers at Ohio University found a way to make it from urea, which is the main compound in urine. Crazy eh? It’s not the most practical idea, but it could be made practical eventually… (Via EcoGeek)

This is really one of the most random/bizarre things I’ve seen in a while. Apparently Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin joined with Snoop Dogg and some other rappers on a song called “Rocket Experience.” No, that’s not a typo. Buzz Aldrin collaborated with Snoop. On a song in which he actually raps. Well… I guess you could call it rapping… The video is up on Funny or Die. Be sure to watch the “making of” video too. I don’t even know what to make of it, but it’s entertaining to say the least. Grab the song off iTunes, because they’re donating part of the sales to the ShareSpace Foundation. Today’s kids need a lot more science in their lives. Via Universe Today.

Of Montreal does a lot of cover songs live, but this time they’ve taken it to the studio covering Prince’s “Computer Blue.” Grab it over at You Ain’t No Picasso.

The future of architecture is here. It’s extremely hard to believe, but bendable concrete has indeed been invented. Not only is the stuff bendable, but it heals its own cracks too! Basically it’s all in the chemistry- when a crack occurs, the newly exposed dry concrete then reacts with the CO2 and moisture in the air to create calcium carbonate which acts just like scar tissue on skin, and the crack fills. I can see this being used in earthquake-prone areas and literally making the buildings almost completely quake-proof. Absolutely ridiculous. Via EcoGeek.

Mountaintop removal mining is literally a crime. I applaud the 100’s of dedicated citizens who have made their way to the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains to stage civil disobedience sit-ins. Yesterday NASA climate scientist James Hansen was arrested in one of the sit-ins, along with actress Daryl Hannah. I hope more celebrity and other high-profile people are willing to be arrested to help save these beautiful mountains and the planet. This is only one small part of the over-arching coal problem. The sooner we can stop using coal to generate power, the better. It’s absolutely filthy and despite what the commercials tell you, there’s no such thing as “clean coal.” It’s an oxymoron and here’s why. That’s probably the only thing on which I disagree with Obama. No coal-burning plant in America is “clean,” even though lots of research has been done on the technology. That’s because it’s expensive and impractical. Coal is not renewable. We’ll eventually run out of it just like we’ll eventually run out of oil (it’s all dead dinosaurs afterall!), so why the hell waste money and time trying to make it “clean?” We need to be putting ALL of our efforts toward 100% renewable sources of energy NOW, and say goodbye to fossil fuels FOREVER.

Today Theory 8 Records released the new self-titled EP from Shoot the Mountain. So far I’ve only listened the 1st track “Invitation,” and so far so good. Actually, so far so AWESOME. I can’t wait to have time to check out the rest of it. Head on over to their Bandcamp page and purchase it for a measley $5. Yet another Nashville indie rock gem recorded and produced by Jeremy Ferguson at Battletapes.

In other release news, Those Darlins have announced the release date and album art for their debut self-titled full-length album. The vinyl version hits shelves on June 23rd, followed by those “other” formats on July 7th. They’ll be celebrating the album release on June 27th at Mercy Lounge with….. the Black Lips. Fuck yes. More details at We Own This Town.

Thank you to everyone who came out to my 8 off 8th last night. It was most definitely a success, at least as good as the last one I did. All the bands played great sets, and I was especially happy to hear some new stuff from The Nobility and Carter Administration. Mean Tambos killed it, and Ryan was really getting crazy on stage because my friend/bandmate/videographer Seth was taping the performance for their EPK. Hopefully I’ll do another one late summer/early fall. And who knows? Maybe I’ll book a full-on show.

It was really nice to have today off from work at Vandy. When you host an 8 off 8th you gotta stay till the end, and even a little after, so it was nice to be able to sleep in today. I’ve been sitting around with the doors open listening to the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Association on vinyl. It also gave me a chance to take the new kittens to the vet, where we discovered that Sebastian is actually a Sebina. But they’re in pretty good health, main concern was a little bit conjunctivitis in Sebina’s eye, which should be easy taken care of with some meds.

EcoGeek reported on an amazing new company that aims to create a Second Life-esque “video game” interface that will allow homeowners to control every energy-consuming device through a 3D animated program. The “game” uses avatars to control lights/AC/etc… So you would login and make your avatar turn down the AC, and in real-life your AC would be turned down by a computer that controls your house. Whatever you do, just don’t name your house’s computer H.A.L….

Space Shuttle Atlantis is now on its way to Hubble. They’ve completed the heat shield inspection with the shuttle’s robotic arm. There were a few dings found, but the initial opinion is that they’re very minor and not a threat. Detailed analysis is underway, however, to be certain. I’ll keep you updated daily. In the meantime, watch this kickass HD video of yesterday’s launch. If you have your computer hooked up to a sound system, I highly suggest turning the volume and bass waaaay up.

squirrelGot an itch? Ever wondered exactly what the hell an itch is, and why the hell scratching relieves it? Apparently even the best doctors didn’t even know why and how of itch vs. scratch until recently. Science Daily has an interesting report on research that was done to answer this very question. I think it’s funny how the simplest things sometimes are still medical mysteries.

Speaking of medical mysteries, I’ve got one for you- WHY THE HELL IS EVERYONE FREAKING OUT OVER SWINE FLU? I guess it’s actually a media mystery because they’re the ones responsible for the unnecessary freak-out. Chill the fuck out people! From what I can gather, this strain of the flu has caused about 160 deaths, and 2,500 illnesses in Mexico. Guess what? The NORMAL flu kills 36,000 people just in the U.S. every year! Do we see scaremongering about the normal flu? Nope. This is exactly the same kind of bullshit that surrounded the bird-flu. This swine-flu isn’t any more dangerous than the regular flu- basically the same symptoms and same risk of dying (you’ll only die if you have a weakened immune system due to being really old or really young, or have AIDS or other autoimmune disorder). Want more facts about the regular flu? Go to this CNN.com article.

On a happier note… if this doesn’t make you smile then you should have your head examined. A group called Playing For Change recorded the base track of the Ben E. King classic, Stand By Me, then had members of their group from all around the world hit the streets to get random musicians to add tracks to the recording.

I don’t post enough news about green technology and environmental issues on here… which is why I’m linking to this. As usual Europe is way ahead of the rest of the world in environmental legistalation and regulation. According to this report, there’s a proposal in Norway to ban the sale of any new gas-only cars starting in 2015. Even though the proposal is likely to fail because it has very little support, it’s a step in the right direction.

Image via Space.com

The Kepler spacecraft took its first few images earlier this week, and NASA has released them. The one shown here is zoomed in on a small cluster of stars about 13,000 light years from Earth. Kepler has a 95 megapixel camera to take these images. 95 megapixels. Fuck.

An awesome new concept is emerging in some of the world’s largest cities- green rooftops. It’s a concept that I sincerely hope catches on quickly. Typical building rooftops are dark and dry; they absorb and then release much more heat than a natural plant-covered surface would, and the result is what’s called the “heat-island effect.” This phenomenon is what causes some large cities to be a few degrees hotter than the surrounding areas, and it’s a growing problem. But if we cover most of the city rooftops with gardens and grass, this problem would be virtually eliminated. Please check out this National Geographic article on the subject… not only for the story but for the awesome photography.

Will humans ever be able to travel beyond our solar system? Or will we just resort to armchair astronomy and send an army of intelligent robots to other worlds to explore them for us? The question is tackled in this great article by Luke McKinney from the Daily Galaxy. It’s a short and entertaining read, as all of McKinney’s witty posts tend to be.

The new Harry Potter movie comes out July 15th, and the trailer has just hit the interwebs. I first saw it on this io9 post.

Carles of Hipster Runoff had an encounter with the now somewhat-famous hipster grifter, who brought her cancer/pregnant/sex fraud scheme from Salt Lake City to Brooklyn scammed quite a few hipsters out of a lot of money.

As I said yesterday, I’ll be photographing Rites of Spring this weekend, but there’s also a TON of other great stuff going down, most notably National Record Store Day on Saturday, for which Grimey’s is hosting their Big Ass Outdoor Sale. Be sure to stop by between 10am-8pm and check out the great record deals and live music out in the parking lot. A list of some other stuff happening can be found at Nashvillest. Have a great weekend!