Two gifs (pronounced…)

August 1, 2015 • 8:43 am

by Matthew Cobb

It’s Saturday, England whupped the Aussies in the Third Test yesterday, and I’ve just been out and bought a load of fiction to read on my holiday in a week’s time. To celebrate all that, here are two GIFs, both from science folk on Twitter. The first, via Ed Yong, shows the aurora from the ISS the second, via Adam Rutherford, shows Papal Pong (make sure you have the sound on).

View of the Aurora Borealis from the ISS - Imgur

(The gif was made by slimjones123, and was taken from this ISS video, which we featured in 2011.)


30 thoughts on “Two gifs (pronounced…)

  1. Ah the Ashes … England’s batsmen were fractionally less worse than Australia’s ! Could be an interesting couple of matches coming up!

  2. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
    Cardinal red beanie = cardinal.
    We just elevated a cardinal to Pope. Can atheists do that?

    1. Well, the first (at least) pope was probably elected by a bunch of Jews, so I don’t see why not.
      Dawkins for Cailiph!

    1. (14 seconds in) So, it’s a Star Wars (the New Trekkin’ Generation) take on things. (I may be out of date on the re-namings of the series.) And let me guess, Jar-Jar Binks – the most hated anthropoid in cinema history – takes the white smoke?
      [Resumes watching] Who on earth are the people with candles in their hats?
      There are some very peculiar people about.

    2. Oh, God. I was just watching the introductory parts of “Dune”, the movie, and the description and appearance of characters in “A New Pope” were dead-on ringers for the actors in the film. Once thing is certain, they both involve plenty of imaginative fiction.

  3. The first is indeed an image in GIF format (however you choose to pronounce it).

    The second is, like Grania’s Earth reentry example, a looped MP4 video.

    So if we’ve now reached the point where GIF is no longer just the proper name of a specific file format, but may legitimately refer to any short looped video, regardless of file format, then it seems to me we’re well beyond the scope where prescriptions on pronunciation apply. Undirected linguistic evolution has taken over, and may the fittest pronunciation survive.

          1. When I was a kid we always called it the pictures, but US influence on our culture means it’s more often called the movies these days.

            1. They were called “pictures” in the US as well until roughly 1950, when “movies” came into common usage. Recall that Jerry’s favorite movie is The Last Picture Show, set in the early ’50s.

  4. If that aurora is a sign of energetic particles hitting the atmosphere, are the crew of the ISS in any danger?

    1. ISS orbits well below the van Allen belts and is shielded by the Earth’s magnetic field. Auroras happen at the poles where the field lines are near vertical and the van Allen belts intersect the atmosphere.

      So no, these particles don’t come near ISS.

      1. Of course, there’re all sorts of other forms of danger that astronauts must be on constant guard against…kinda goes with the territory….


    2. While they do travel fairly close to the beams of electrons and protons that come down from he Van Allen Belts to form the auroras, they’re normally a good distance south of the main path. Plus, beta particles (electrons) are not particularly penetrating radiations. Protons, a bit more so, but as Bender would remind us, we’re sacks of dirty water, and all that hydrogen is pretty good at scattering protons before it gets much more than skin deep, so not a huge concern their either.
      Astronauts do have to monitor their radiation exposure, but aircrew on over-the-pole routes probably get hit worse. I believe that airlines have in the past been threatened with having to put radiation monitoring dosimeters on their regular crew, and opted to change rosters to reduce exposure rather than have the PR debacle of having staff wearing dosimeters explain to customers why it’s perfectly safe.

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