Shared posts

10 Jan 17:51

In ongoing battle against fake news, Facebook decides to get local

by Marcus Gilmer

As Facebook continues to battle the scourge of "fake news," it's trying out a new feature that it hopes will connect users with local news, events, and announcements called "Today In."

The new feature will push local content from publishers approved by the company's News Partnership team, according to Recode. The feature is available on mobile in just six cities so far: New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, Illinois; Olympia, Washington; Binghamton, New York. 

By clicking the menu button and selecting "Today in," users who identify themselves as living in those six cities will see a selection of content. According to a Facebook spokesperson, "Today In" is intended as a place on Facebook where users can find news from vetted local news sources, community events, and even alerts from local authorities. Read more...

More about Facebook, Fake News, Tech, and Social Media Companies
16 Sep 05:20

Such a story.

12 Jul 17:38

This Guy Spent 4 Years Growing A Church From Trees

12 Jul 16:43

Old street lamps being replaced with LED's

12 Jul 16:14

Largest Pool In The world

12 Jul 16:07

Whenever I need to do something important

07 Jan 02:40

Stuff UK – February 2015-P2P

by Turtle

This article has been published at - visit our site for full content.

Stuff UK inspires and nurtures a passion for gadgets. We make them look amazing and explain in a fast, confident and unfalteringly entertaining way how they will enhance our readers’ lives. Stuff is a celebration of the new, the innovative, the shiny and the cool. It’s gadget joy.

Release name: Stuff UK – February 2015-P2P
Size: 57.4 MB
Format: PDF
Pages: 161
Link: Homepage | NTi | TPB


more at

05 Jan 05:00

My fiancée made this after I showed her an idea from this subreddit. Thanks guys!

05 Jan 03:14

The Armstrong Light Trap, a Desktop Lamp Inspired by Moon Craters

by Christopher Jobson






Inspired by the pockmarked surface of the moon, Russian designer Constantin Bolimond developed this fun concept for a ceramic desktop lamp covered with corked “craters.” The intensity of the Armstrong Light Trap can be adjusted by opening or closing individual craters to reaveal the LED light inside. You can see more over on his Behance portfolio. (via Design Milk)

04 Jan 14:58

Can't stop laughing at this.

04 Jan 04:14

That is not going to happen

24 Dec 05:45

Candyland and the Nature of the Absurd

Sartre and Camus told everyone that their falling out was over politics, but really it was mostly over Sartre evoking
24 Dec 03:05

My wife found this in an old box. Oh the memories.

24 Dec 02:14

ↀ_ↀ { ⌬ )

by Rox

24 Dec 01:21

Glowing table

23 Dec 20:04

Look, a Superfast iPhone-Powered M&M Sorting Machine

by Mario Aguilar

We have seen plenty of machines sort M&Ms or Skittle by color, but this new design posted over at Review My Life takes a clever new approach to sort the candies even quicker.


23 Dec 20:03

Spread Holiday Cheer Even Farther With This Flying RC Christmas Tree

by Andrew Liszewski

Spread Holiday Cheer Even Farther With This Flying RC Christmas Tree

Wouldn't decorating for the holidays be so much easier if you could simply have a decked-out Christmas tree delivered to your home that would then simply up and fly away on the 26th? That dream is now one step closer to reality thanks to Otto Dieffenbach from Flyguy Promotions who's created an RC flying Christmas tree that doesn't look too shabby.


16 Dec 00:59

Beautiful Photo: Polished Meteorite

by Lisa Marcus

Redditor Proteon posted this photo of a gorgeous polished meteorite sphere. Another user explained that it was a type of meteorite called pallasite, which is "a mixture of iron-nickel metal and olivine, a crystal that makes up the majority of Earth's mantle." Several posters estimated it to be worth #10,000 to $12,000 in value. Provided that information is correct, I need to add that to my Christmas gift wish list. -Via Science Dump

16 Dec 00:57


04 Dec 22:07

5 Non-Evil Ways To Get People To Do What You Want, From Dan Pink

by Eric Barker


I’ve posted about getting people to like you, winning arguments and FBI methods for negotiation — but let’s take it to the next level.

There are ways to deal with people who are difficult but brass tacks here, folks: most of the people who cause you problems aren’t going anywhere.

You work with them, you live with them, heck, in many cases you love them, but the people closest to us can still cause a lot of problems.

How do we get them to behave better over the long haul?

I decided to call an expert. Dan Pink is the bestselling author of numerous great books about human behavior, including:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

His latest project is a TV show that uses social science in fun ways to see how we can nudge people to do the right thing.

It’s called Crowd Control and it premieres November 24th on National Geographic at 9PM EST.

I wanted to see what Dan learned making the show and what we can use to get coworkers, spouses and children to behave better.

In this post you’re going to learn:

  1. The one principle all behavior change hinges on.
  2. Where guilt, shame and plane crashes fit into this.
  3. Why the best way to get one person to change might involve 10 people.
  4. Why your first instinct about how to change people is wrong.
  5. The one technique that was so effective Dan now uses it to get his son to take out the trash.

Okay, change starts now. Let’s get to it.


First, Get Their Attention

Often we try to be subtle and then we’re shocked when people don’t do what we’d like — or even what’s best for them.

People need to see what they’re doing wrong and the effects those actions have. But for that to happen they need to really be listening.

For instance, we all know we should wear sunscreen. It’s good for you. But just like eating your vegetables, many of us don’t do it.

So Dan tried an experiment to get people’s attention and really show them why it was important.

Using high tech software he showed people what their face would look like years in the future if they didn’t use sunscreen.

When people saw their own faces aged, sun-damaged and wrinkled they were aghast. Some screamed.

Here’s a clip from the show.

Here’s Dan:

We had people who would come out of the booth after seeing that and immediately start applying sunscreen.

That got their attention.

We all spend 40% of the day on autopilot. Much of what we do every day is determined by habit and context, not by choice.

If change is going to happen we need to wake people up for a second so they see the problem.

(For more on how to work with difficult people, click here.)

Okay, attention is important. So should you just tell people what to do? Actually… that’s a really bad idea.


Telling People What To Do Doesn’t Work – But Showing Them Does

Setting an example is far more powerful than telling people what to do.

These days it seems like everyone is always busy on their phone. (You might be reading this on your phone right now.)

Often they’re not paying attention to anything around them. Dan thought it might be fun if phone zombies had their own lane. Here’s Dan:

So, with permission, we spray painted two lanes onto a large downtown sidewalk. One for people with cell phones. One for people without cell phones. Then we enlisted these five actors to be marshals of sorts. They wore these orange reflective vests and directed people. “Oh, cell phone lane is over here. Oh, you don’t have a cell phone? That’s your lane over here.”

You know what happened? People didn’t play along. In fact, they got angry. Nobody likes to be told what to do.

So Dan had his team take off the vests and just pretend to be pedestrians. Half of them took out their phones and walked in the phone lane.

The ones without phones walked in the other lane. And you know what happened?

Without a word, people complied. As crazy as a “phone lane” is, they joined right in without even thinking about it. Here’s Dan:

It’s all about social norms. The way to get people to change their behavior wasn’t to direct them like originally thought, but simply to get other people doing it. We all look around for cues about how to behave. The power of those social norms is remarkable. Social proof ended up being a really big factor. One of the big takeaways is that you can change individual behavior by targeting the group.

People wouldn’t take direction for the same reason people never take your advice: it’s a status issue.

If they do what you recommend, you’re “telling them what to do.” And, hey, you’re not the boss of me.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

The source of the difficulty here lies in who comes up with the solution. Paul’s suggestion makes him look smarter, and Eric less smart. This impacts their relative status, which Eric is likely to fight against. The better Paul’s answer is, the more likely Eric might resist it. It’s bizarre… Paul’s giving out suggestions also threatens Eric’s autonomy: it’s no longer Eric’s choice to follow a specific path.

Research shows that autonomy makes us happier than money.

Leaders take note: the best way to get a bad employee to behave might be to ignore them and focus on having your good employees follow the rules.

Same is true for parents. If everyone in the house does it one way, that problem child might be more likely to fall in line.

(For more on how to win every argument, click here.)

Of course, getting a group of people to all comply can be tricky too. Is there a simpler method? Yes.


Make Them Feel Something

Engaging people emotionally can be far more effective at producing change (and easier) than trying to make them think.

People who aren’t disabled sometimes park in disabled spots. They know they shouldn’t, but they rationalize it away.

Big fines don’t stop them. But what happens when you put a face on the crime? What happens when you prime people for empathy?

Dan’s team changed the disabled parking signs so they had a photo of a person in a wheelchair on them looking right at you.

This did not reduce abuse of disabled spots –it totally eliminated it.

Cameras in the parking lot showed not a single person parked illegally while the new signs were up. What happened after the photos came down?

Here’s Dan:

Just two days after the signs came down somebody parked in a disabled spot… You can change how people act just by “putting a face on something.” In some cases, literally.

Getting people to feel something is powerful.

Research shows that guilting people works. Shame works. Even nagging works. (Sex studies show that when aroused, we’re different people.)

Lecturing people just bores them. Telling them what to do backfires. But if you make them feel what you’re feeling, you’ve got a shot. Here’s Dan:

We appeal to people’s empathy. It’s interesting and somewhat heartening that the way to change people’s behavior is to make our appeals more human and much less antiseptic and utilitarian.

(For more on how FBI hostage negotiators build empathy, click here.)

But some people are tough. What if none of this stuff works? There’s still something that can help.


When Nothing Else Works, Distract

Sometimes we can’t change people, but we can reduce problematic behavior by distracting them.

Dan and his team set out to stop jaywalkers. But that’s hard — jaywalking is so spontaneous.

Next to the button pedestrians hit to get the streetlight to change, Dan and his team set up a screen with a little video game.

You got to play a version of tug-of-war with the person on the other side of the street. This distracted people from the boring wait.

Not only did jaywalking decline, some people didn’t even cross the street because they wanted to keep playing the game. Here’s Dan:

What I loved about that one was not only did they not jaywalk, but they wanted to play again. We delayed them crossing the street and they stayed there. The research shows people actually experience time differently when they are occupied versus when they’re not occupied, or when they are distracted versus impatient.

Parents know that putting a movie on for the kids can keep them occupied. And that guy at work is less annoying when he has a deadline.

John Gottman, the relationship expert, has done research showing that 69% of a couple’s problems are perpetual.

Those issues aren’t getting resolved and fighting just makes everyone angry. Distraction can help.

Research shows distraction is great for reducing anger:

According to this theory, anger can be reduced indirectly by interfering with the feeling of anger rather than by dealing directly with the source of anger.

(To learn how you can use dog training methods — yes, dog training methods — to get people to change, click here.)

So distraction is a good weapon when nothing else works. But what strategy worked so well Dan now uses it all the time in his personal life?


Tell Them Why

Explaining to people why you need them to do something is incredibly simple — yet very effective.

Dan and his team wanted to get people to listen to the safety instructions flight attendants recite on airplanes.

So they had a whole group of people get into a test plane at a JetBlue facility. The plane never left the ground but it could simulate any part of a flight.

So after the flight attendant read the safety instructions they simulated a plane crash. Smoke, loud noises, the whole structure shook.

What happened? Here’s Dan:

The control group did terribly. They’d forgotten almost everything. The flight attendant said, “Many of these people would have died if this were a real emergency.”

So they rewrote the safety instructions explaining why each one of the things was important.

They gave explicit descriptions of the awful stuff that could happen to your body if you didn’t put your tray table up or wear your seatbelt. Here’s Dan:

“Please put your tray table up. If you don’t and you try to evacuate, it might puncture your abdomen and hurt your internal organs. Please put your bags underneath the seat in front of you. If you don’t, you risk falling, getting trampled and dying.”

With the new group they simulated the crash again. And this time everyone “lived.”

Research shows that making a request and explaining “why” has huge effects — even if the explanation is silly.

Via Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic, and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons:

At a Kinko’s, a customer asked to cut the long line for a copy machine, saying, “Can I jump the line because I need to make copies?” …Another used the phrase “Can I jump the line, please?” The result? Ninety-three percent versus 24 percent success, respectively.

Dan now uses this method to get his son to take out the trash:

I’ve got a 12-year-old son. Since we filmed that episode, I don’t say, “Saul, take out the garbage.” I’ll say, “Saul, take out the garbage, otherwise this area is gonna look really ugly.” Or, “Saul, please take out the garbage, otherwise it’s gonna start to smell.” That works half the time.

And as anyone who has dealt with a 12-year-old knows, 50% is very good.

(For more on how to deal with kids, click here.)

Okay, Dan’s given us a lot to work with. Let’s round it all up.


Sum Up

Five lessons from Dan’s experience on “Crowd Control”:

  1. First, Get Their Attention
  2. Telling People What To Do Doesn’t Work, Showing Them Does
  3. Make Them Feel Something
  4. When Nothing Else Works, Distract
  5. Tell Them Why 

One last experiment from the show: they wanted people to wipe down machines at the gym after they used them.

So the makeup team did up an actor so that he was just drenched in sweat and totally repulsive.

The machine he used was disgusting by the time he was done with it. When he went to leave without cleaning it, people were yelling at him.

And afterward, of course, nobody wanted to be a hypocrite, so they all cleaned their machines when they were done. Very effective.

So nudging others to behave better can be a good path to something we all too often neglect — correcting our own behavior.

As Mark Twain quipped, “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

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The post 5 Non-Evil Ways To Get People To Do What You Want, From Dan Pink appeared first on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

04 Dec 22:05

How To Be Successful: 6 New Shortcuts Backed By Research

by Eric Barker


We all want success. And we’d like it fast. But we can only work so long and so hard. The more-more-more ethos only goes so far. What to do?

I decided to ask someone who knows about this stuff: Shane Snow.

Shane’s the bestselling author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.

He did the research and looked at how people and companies achieve success quickly by trying new things, breaking the rules and taking shortcuts — or, as Shane calls them, smartcuts.

What’s a consistent theme throughout the book? Lateral thinking. The secret to succeeding faster isn’t working more, it’s working different.

Here’s Shane:

Lateral Thinking is the process of solving problems via different angles than you might expect. It doesn’t happen when you do more of the same thing. So just simply working harder may not accomplish a goal like rethinking the approach you’re taking. Lateral thinking is about getting in the mindset of breaking the rules that aren’t really rules; they’re just the way things have been conventionally done in the past.

The book is loaded with proven, counterintuitive strategies to help you get better faster. Shane and I talked about six of them.

Okay, you know the drill — let’s break them down.


1) Forget “Paying Your Dues”

If paying your dues was essential, there would be no child prodigies or Zuckerberg billionaires.

Looking at the research, Shane realized the best US Presidents had the least experience in politics. Here’s Shane:

The best presidents of the United States actually have less time in politics than the worst presidents of the United States. In all sorts of industries, what you see is that the fastest risers and the most successful are often not the ones with the most experience. What the patterns show is that people who tend to switch tracks, switch from different ladders or different careers, end up amassing more skills and more flexibility and more of this critical, lateral thinking that allows them to make breakthroughs and surpass their peers a lot faster than others.

And this lines up with the research of Harvard professor Gautam Mukunda: it’s the renegade outliers who make the big changes.

Often when people talk about the importance of paying dues, they’re afraid of failure or afraid of breaking rules.

Playing it safe can help you do “pretty good” — but it’s rarely the way to get to the very top or to get there fast.

(For more on what the most successful people have in common, click here.)

So you don’t have to suffer for years before you can take your shot. But you do need to learn. Where’s the best place to get help?


2) Find Your Yoda Outside The Office

The research Shane initially looked at said mentors don’t help you get ahead. And Shane reacted the same way I did…

Mr. Miyagi didn’t help? Morpheus didn’t help? Yoda was useless? HERESY.

So Shane dug deeper. Turns out formal mentorship didn’t work. That guy they assign to guide you at the office? Zero effect on your career.

But the mentors you seek out on your own? Boom. They take you to the next level in a big way. But what’s the difference between the two?

Mentors need to care about you.

Here’s Shane:

In great mentorship relationships the mentor doesn’t just care about the thing that you’re learning, they care about how your life goes. They are with you for the long haul. They are willing to say, “No,” and to tell you what you’re doing is wrong. Those kinds of relationships yield outsized results in terms of future salaries and happiness.

And caring goes both ways.

If you don’t feel a bond with your mentor and you don’t open up, you won’t get the most from them. You need to care about them too. Here’s Shane:

An organic mentorship is built around friendship and vulnerability. You need to be open about what you’re scared about and what you’re going through. Good mentors don’t just guide your practice, they guide your journey. This is the thing that you see in Star Wars and in the Karate Kid.

Forget the silly “mentor” that work or school assigned to you. Hitch a ride to the Dagobah system. Go “wax on, wax off” an old Japanese man’s cars.

Find a teacher who you care about and who cares about you and you’re not just on your way to a great career, you’re on your way to a primo life.

(For more on how to find the perfect mentor for you, click here.)

So informal mentors can really make a difference. How else can you keep improving? The answer might surprise you…


3) Watching Others Fail Helps You Succeed

Not making others fail, mind you. But seeing others screw up helps you learn.

It’s a shortcut to getting around a little known cognitive bias Shane discovered in his research.

When surgeons tried to learn a new procedure, which ones improved the most? The ones who saw others make mistakes.

Here’s Shane:

Surgeons who did successful surgeries tended to continue to improve, but surgeons that sucked at the surgery got even worse. And if you saw your buddy succeed at a surgery, it didn’t help you at all. But, paradoxically, if you saw your buddy fail at a surgery, you actually got better.

Huh? So unless you’re good from day one the only way to get better was to watch other people fail? Why?

Because your brain is trying to stop you from feeling bad about yourself. So it lies to you. 

When you screw up, you make excuses. “Not my fault. Sun was in my eyes.” When you see someone else do well, you say, “Well, of course, I’d do it just like that.”

But when you see someone else bomb you say “Whoa, better not do that.” Here’s Shane:

If you are a heart surgeon and your patient dies on the operating table, you’re gonna say, “Oh, the patient was in bad shape. Oh, there wasn’t enough time. Oh, it was hard to see. The incision wasn’t very clean…” You blame your failures on things that are outside your control. But by watching a surgery you are less personally invested in you are able to be objective. “Oh, they did that wrong. Note to self. I shouldn’t do that.”

It’s one of the fundamental differences between the beginner and the expert mindset. Beginners need encouragement so they don’t quit.

But experts love negative feedback. That’s the secret to how you keep improving. Here’s Shane:

Experts have gotten to a place where they don’t take it personally and they can take the negative feedback as feedback on the activity rather than on them as a person. And that’s what you should do.

Turn failure into feedback and then turn feedback into actionable steps.

(For more on how to have an expert mindset, click here.)

Mentors, watching others fail… so you’re learning a lot. But what if you’re just too late?


4) Forget First Movers. Be A Fast Follower.

“I had that idea but they beat me to it.” Ever said that? Okay, you’re now officially a whiner. Because you were dead wrong.

You were actually in the better spot. Research shows the guy who starts second is more likely to win.

Via Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success:

…Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis of the University of Southern California, published a study in 1993 to see if historical evidence backed the claim that market pioneers were more likely to succeed. They researched what happened to 500 brands in 50 product categories, from toothpaste to video recorders to fax machines to chewing gum. Startlingly, the research showed that 47% of the first movers failed. Only about half the companies that started selling a product first remained the market leader five years later, and only 11 percent of first movers remained market leaders over the long term. By contrast, early leaders — companies that took control of a product’s market share after the first movers pioneered them — had only an 8 percent failure rate. Fifty-three percent of the time in the Golder and Teller study, an early leader became the market leader in a category.

When you’re first you have to waste a lot of time and energy figuring out best practices. When you’re second, you can just play “follow the leader.”

Dan Coyle said the two most important words when it comes to getting better are “reach” and “stare.”

  • Reach: Keep trying to get better.
  • Stare: Study and emulate those who are better than you.

You’re not too late. You’re right on time.

(For more on the attitude that produces success, click here.)

So timing isn’t as big a deal as you thought and you can learn from those who came before you. But what about when you need original ideas?


5) Want To Be More Creative? Add Constraints.

When you have limitations you can’t take the easy route. Constraints force you to think. And often, unless forced, we don’t think much at all.

When challenged, we have to be original.

Via Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success:

Constraints make the haiku one of the world’s most moving poetic forms. They give us boundaries that direct our focus and allow us to be more creative. This is, coincidentally, why tiny startup companies frequently come up with breakthrough ideas. They start with so few resources that they’re forced to come up with simplifying solutions.

One of the most insightful DVD commentaries I’ve ever heard was Robert Rodriguez discussing his movie, El Mariachi.

He made a 90 minute film with only 7000 dollars. Such an incomprehensibly small budget forced him to rethink every part of filmmaking.

He didn’t have a dolly so he attached the camera to a wheelchair.

The critics loved his editing but the only reason he cut the film like that was because his cheap recording equipment would lose sync during long shots.

You don’t need the freedom to be creative. You need the constraints.

(To learn the four principles that will take you to breakthrough creativity, click here.)

So creativity comes from limitations but your goals, well, they need to go in the total opposite direction…


6) “It’s Easier To Make Something 10 Times Better Than To Make Something 10% Better”

That line is from Astro Teller, head of Google X. Those are the guys who build driverless cars and other supercool stuff.

When you try to make something 10% better, your brain is burdened with all the baggage that came before. You have no room to maneuver.

When you say 10 times better, you have to reinvent the whole process. It makes you think big. You toss out the old rules and start fresh. Here’s Shane:

If you’re aiming for 10% improvement you are going to work within the conventional bounds of what normally happens in your product or industry. If you say that this has to be 10 times better, then it forces you to get down to the first principle of what is most essential. This is a way to force reinvention, which is really what innovation is.

And when you dream big, people want to join you. The media wants to talk about you. Venture capitalists want to throw money at you. Ambition is a force multiplier. Here’s Shane:

If you’re working on a business that has small potential, it’s going to be hard to recruit really great talent for it. But if your mission is to get humans to Mars it’s easier to attract the world’s greatest rocket scientists. So it’s rallying the support, and not just from employees and investors, which you need if you’re doing something big, but also from customers and from press and the universe that needs to conspire around you in order to make you successful.

And, perhaps most importantly, when you think 10x instead of 10%, you behave differently.

Research shows when you set bolder, more audacious goals you work harder than when you’re reasonable. Here’s Shane:

Subconsciously, we actually push ourselves harder when we’re going after bigger, loftier, harder goals. Research shows people who set higher goals end up outperforming their peers or themselves because they push themselves harder or because they force themselves to find more creative, alternative, unconventional solutions to problems.

So dream big. No, even bigger.

(For everything you need to know about setting and achieving your goals, click here.)

These are some great ideas. Let’s round them up and finish with the one thing you absolutely need to remember.


Sum Up

Here are Shane’s tools for achieving bigger, faster success:

  1. Forget “Paying Your Dues”
  2. Find Your Yoda Outside The Office
  3. Watching Others Fail Helps You Succeed
  4. Forget First Movers. Be A Fast Follower.
  5. Want To Be More Creative? Add Constraints.
  6. “It’s Easier To Make Something 10 Times Better Than To Make Something 10% Better”

That’s a lot to remember. So if you forget everything you just read, what’s the one thing you need to keep in mind? I asked Shane that and here’s what he said:

The mistake that all of us make is we don’t step back enough to ask, “Why are we doing things this way?” In fact, we should first be asking ourselves, “Why are we doing this in the first place?” But certainly ask, “Why are we doing it this way?” Often the answer is, “Because that’s the way people have always done it in the past” — and that’s a problem if you want to make more rapid progress or if you want to get off the plateau that you’re on.

So look around today at the things that are important and ask why you’re doing them that way.

Is there a better way? A way that’s quicker, more effective, and more fun?

More often than not, I’ll bet you there is.

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Related posts:

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The post How To Be Successful: 6 New Shortcuts Backed By Research appeared first on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

02 Dec 17:37


by nigamajiga
30 Nov 20:50

"Gravity's Earth!" -- Image Our Planet from Space With Gravity Field in Effect (Thanksgiving Holiday Feature)





The "Potsdam Gravity potato", as this stunning image of terrestrial gravity has become known, can for the first time display gravity variations that change with time. The seasonal fluctuations of the water balance of continents or melting or growing ice masses, i.e. climate-related variables, are included in the modeling of the gravity field.

This gravity field model is based on measurements of the satellites LAGEOS, GRACE and GOCE. These were combined with ground-based gravity measurements and data from the satellite altimetry. EIGEN-6C has a spatial resolution of about 12 kilometres. Compared to the last version of the Potsdam potato, this is a four-fold increase.

"Of particular importance is the inclusion of measurements from the satellite GOCE, from which the GFZ did its own calculation of the gravitational field' says Dr. Christoph Foerste, who together with his colleague Dr. Frank Flechtner directs the gravitaty field work group at the GFZ.

The ESA mission GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) was launched in mid-March 2009 and since then measures the Earth's gravitational field using satellite gradiometry.

"This allows the measurement of gravity in inaccessible regions with unprecedented accuracy, for example in Central Africa and the Himalayas" adds Dr. Flechtner. In addition, the Earth's gravity field in the vastness of the oceans can be measured much more accurately with GOCE than with previous satellite missions such as GFZ-CHAMP and GRACE.

Among other advantages, this allows a more faithful determination of the so-called dynamic ocean topography, i.e. the deviation of the ocean surface from the equilibrium with the force of gravity. This ocean topography is essentially determined by ocean currents. Therefore, the gravity field models calculated with GOCE measurements are of great interest for oceanography and climate research.

Besides GOCE, long-term measurement data from the twin-satellite mission GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) of the GFZ were included in the new EIGEN-6C. GRACE allows the determination of large-scale temporal changes in the gravitational field caused for example by climate-induced mass displacements on the Earth's surface.

These include the melting of large glaciers in the Polar Regions and the seasonal variation of water stored in large river systems. Temporal gravity changes determined with GRACE are included in the EIGEN-6C model.

The Potsdamer potato is for the first time no longer a solid body, but a surface that varies over time. Particularly in order to record these climate-related processes for the long term, a follow-on mission for the GRACE mission that ends in 2015 is urgently needed.

Just four months after the final data package from the GOCE satellite mission was delivered, researchers today are laying out a rich harvest of scientific results. The GOCE satellite made 27,000 orbits between its launch in March 2009 and re-entry in November 2013, measuring tiny variations in the Earth's gravitational field that correspond to uneven distributions of mass in the oceans, continents, and deep interior. Some 800 million observations went into the computation of the final model, which is composed of more than 75,000 parameters representing the global gravitational field with a spatial resolution of around 70 kilometers.

The precision of the model improved over time, as each release incorporated more data. Centimeter accuracy has now been achieved for variations of the geoid - a gravity-derived figure of Earth's surface that serves as a global reference for sea level and heights - in a model based solely on GOCE data.

The fifth and last data release benefited from two special phases of observation. After its first three years of operation, the satellite's orbit was lowered from 255 to 225 kilometers, increasing the sensitivity of gravity measurements to reveal even more detailed structures of the gravity field. And through most of the satellite's final plunge through the atmosphere, some instruments continued to report measurements that have sparked intense interest far beyond the "gravity community" - for example, among researchers concerned with aerospace engineering, atmospheric sciences, and space debris.

Through the lens of Earth's gravitational field, scientists can image our planet in a way that is complementary to approaches that rely on light, magnetism, or seismic waves. They can determine the speed of ocean currents from space, monitor rising sea level and melting ice sheets, uncover hidden features of continental geology, even peer into the convection machine that drives plate tectonics.

This shift can be seen as well among the topics covered by researchers, such as estimates of the elastic thickness of the continents from GOCE gravity models, mass trends in Antarctica from global gravity fields, and a scientific roadmap toward worldwide unification of height systems.

The Daily Galaxy via

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