Cocktail Astronomy | Zombie Nebula Discovered

Image credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO)

Image credit: NASA, JPL, and K. Su

Here at Future-ish, we love astronomy and we love cocktails. So to prep our fans (and ourselves) for those stellar weekend cocktail conversations, we are pleased to offer our Cocktail Astronomy post each Friday.

OK, we admit it, we love zombies too. So with Halloween just around the corner, we wanted to bring a bit of our zombie crush into Cocktail Astronomy. Check out the nebula above...talk about a zombie transformation!? Discovered by Karl Ludwig prior to 1824, NGC 7293, the Helix Nebula (often referred to as the 'Eye of God)', is actually one of the most well known nebulas in astronomy and pop culture. It is a large planetary nebula located in the Aquarius constellation located about 650 light-years from Earth.

The first image from 2003 - pre-zombie - is a visible light image produced by combining data from the Hubble Telescope and NSF's .9 meter telescope at Kitt Peak. The second image - post-zombie - is an infrared image of NGC 7293 taken by the Spitzer telescope in 2007. Our newly named 'Zombie Nebula' It is a great example of how different telescopes with different spectral analysis reveal unique information about the objects being observed.

So have the bartender whip up one of those spooky Halloween cocktails (we suggest a 'brain tumor' or 'pina ghoulada') and let your friends know that zombies have invaded the cosmos. We're just happy that all the zombie dancers around the globe participating in the annual Thrill the World event that celebrates Michael Jackson's Thriller can look up into the sky and know that the big zombie eye in the sky is staring (hungrily) right back at them.

Musk Matters | SolarCity: The Bright Side of the Future

Image credit: SolarCity

Elon Musk is a man known predominantly for his work in the electric car industry, but truth is, he’s got more revolutionary projects going on than we can count. Whether it be Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, The Boring Company, or SpaceX's Hyperloop services, this eminent entrepreneur’s penchant for innovation has caught Future-Ish’s eye.
by Drue Johnson

The sun’s always on the rise, and so is solar power. Becoming more efficient each year, the widescale adoption of this increasingly affordable energy source would be a major factor in slowing the global impact of manmade climate change. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 173,000 terawatts of energy - over ten thousand times the energy usage of all humankind - coming from the sun continuously hits the Earth, making solar power one of the most readily available resources on the planet. Solar tech provides a large return while using just a little space, making it no surprise Elon Musk noted in a February 2016 Business Insider article that “if you could just took a small section of Spain, you could power all of Europe” with solar panels. Ideas like these, and the lucrative nature of an industry so untouched by private businesses later led Musk to purchase SolarCity in late 2016.

SolarCity was founded in 2006 by brothers Lydon and Peter Rive (who, as it happens, are cousins of Elon) after Musk recommended that they look into the solar energy business. Their company creates, advertises, and installs solar panels in both commercial as well as residential structures. SolarCity markets to its potential clients by making it clear that solar energy is not only an affordable option for homeowners, but a smart investment that will save them cash and provide a quick return from day one of installation.

About a year ago, Musk announced that SolarCity would begin installing solar roofing on residential homes some time before 2020. In a May 2017 CNBC article, Musk was stated
"The goal is to have... solar roofs that look better than normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation and actually have a cost, an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity."
The 4 unique variants of solar shingles offered- textured, smooth, tuscan, and slate- show that SolarCity kept style in mind when designing the roofing. The recent acquisition by Tesla has shown that SolarCity isn’t just in it for aesthetics, but aims for utility too. Now that the electric car company owns SolarCity, a convenient pairing with Tesla’s Powerwall battery helps to ensure that customers will be set with electricity, even if grids are down. Any installed Powerwalls will charge during the day using energy collected by the solar shingles and power the home during the evening, or simply serve as a backup generator should the power go out. The SolarCity site markets the shingles on the basis of affordability, long-lasting quality and savings, making it clear that the company is aiming to popularize the use of solar energy among the common consumer.

Perhaps soon we’ll have solar in our roofs, but what’s the big fuss? The integration of solar arrays into residential structures would be a huge advancement in both energy conservation efforts as well as climate change mitigation. By allowing consumers to gather their own energy from one of the most renewable and least harmful sources, energy bills will plummet along with carbon dioxide emissions. A literal power to the people, affordable solar roofs are just what the world needs to boost solar to the top of the energy game.

Four Future-ish Days | Dublin


The sights and sounds of Dublin build slowly upon arrival, giving an initial impression of a diverse and variegated city hiding its charm and wonders behind an invisible curtain. But before too long that curtain is drawn back to reveal brick facades with different colored doors, revolutionary statues marking a country’s long fight for freedom, and a pulse and atmosphere that give way to the cheerful welcome of Dublin’s people.
by Vanessa Bassett

Bonus Find: Kehoe's
Dublin is an amalgamation of culture and history that spans a river and documents its history for over a thousand years. Instead of seeking out an “old city” or a main downtown area, Dublin tells its story slowly, divulging an intricate history mixed with new ideas to reveal the character and charm that is so rewarding when exploring a new city.

Dublin can take you in many directions. Whether your scene is music, museums, historic sites, walking tours or pubs, you will find more than one thing you enjoy in Dublin. Dublin is accessible, easy to navigate, and fun to experiment with. Of all the cities in the world, this is a great one in which to take a wrong turn, to stroll down an old alley, or to get lost and ask a local for help. The Irish are friendly and welcoming, and are more than happy to steer you in the right direction. However, sometimes getting lost can be part of the fun, an essential ingredient in that grand adventure we seek. So sit back, relax, and allow Dublin to take you on a tour. You might be surprised at the unexpected delights you encounter.

Day One

Start your day off by arriving at St. Stephen’s Green on the corner at the bottom of Grafton Street. Grab a fancy new-fangled donut for breakfast on the go from Rolling Donut. Wander up Grafton Street, observing this very fashionable, forward-looking avenue, with its bright lights and techno beats. In between the trendiest stores you will see street performers setting up their guitars and microphones for a day of song and poetry.

Finish your walk up Grafton Street at Trinity College, where you can start the sightseeing portion of your day with a tour of the historic campus led by a lively and engaging member of the student body. Trinity has an interesting architectural history, which you will hear all about on your tour. When you are done learning about the many interesting features of the campus, head over to the remarkable Trinity Library to see the Book of Kells. An outstanding monument to art and culture in the dark ages, the Book of Kells transports you to ancient Ireland, prompting you to consider the thought, energy, and inspiration that the artists infused into its pages. Upstairs from the Book you will find one of the original copies of the 1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence, housed in the Long Room. Along with many historic books and documents, you will also find the oldest harp ever to be found in Ireland.

From Trinity, head over to the Science Gallery, a short walk away. Here, rotating exhibits showcase science and art in this museum/art gallery hybrid. On your way to the Gallery, stop at Lolly and Cooks for lunch. Stay and people watch in the café or head over to St. Stephen’s Green for a picnic lunch in the park.

After your visit to the Gallery, take some time to walk around this area of Georgian Dublin. Several historic Georgian style houses are in use in the area, distinguished by their brick facades and colorful front doors. Number 29 Georgian house is a well preserved house-turned-museum which you can tour and learn about the Georgian period influences in Dublin. To top off your experience, have dinner at Restaurant41.

If you haven’t quite had your fill of new experiences and exploration, plan to attend a traditional music pub crawl. Traditional music is a great introduction to Dublin nightlife, mixing old cultural traditions with diverse new crowds. Any of the tourist information offices will have crawls to choose from, and TripAdvisor has several with great reviews.

Day 2

Doors, doors, and more doors!
Start your second future-ish day in Dublin on Wicklow Street, delighting in the colorful building facades and tiny shops packed with personality. Get breakfast at Cornucopia, a vegetarian and vegan friendly establishment featuring healthy whole foods and catering to many dietary restrictions.

From Wickow Street, walk across the River Liffey on the O’Connell Street Bridge and take a self-guided walking tour of O’Connell Street. As you stroll up this historic promenade, you will see many statues dedicated to the revolutionary leaders of Ireland. You will pass the National Post Office on your left, where Patrick Pearse read the 1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence from the front steps. End your walk at the Garden of Remembrance, which honors all those who gave their lives to the cause of Irish freedom. Across the street from the Garden of Remembrance is the Dublin Writers’ Museum, which you can add onto your day’s itinerary if you wish.

Turn around and head back towards the river, taking different side streets and exploring Dublin along the way. Cross back over Ha’Penny Bridge, the original toll bridge of Dublin. Once across the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the Temple Bar district, a fun and historic area with great potential for exploration on foot. Have lunch at the Exchequer, which features sustainable Irish seafood.

From lunch, walk to Dublin Castle and Christchurch Cathedral. Visit one or both, taking advantage of the history lessons and photo ops that will unfold as you explore. This part of the city was once inhabited by Vikings: archaeological evidence of their settlements is on display at the National Museum Ireland - Archaeology.

Walk back through Temple Bar as evening starts to set in. You will soon be in the midst of Dublin’s most bustling nightspot, an engaging area for dinner and drinks. Have a traditional Irish dinner at The Quays


Today’s plans will take you out of Central Dublin. The tourist offices are great at setting you up on the right bus for your excursion. Public transportation in Dublin is quick, clean, and cost efficient. Renting your own car for the day is also an option: just be prepared to drive on the left hand side of the road.

Heading west out of Dublin, start the day with breakfast at locally owned Wuff. From there, continue heading west for a visit to Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison where many of Ireland’s revolutionaries were incarcerated. This jail and its occupants played a pivotal role in Irish history from 1796 to 1924.

After your visit, head back towards central Dublin, stopping at Third Space Smithfield for lunch along the way. Check out the community space and art exhibit while you are there.

While you are in the neighborhood, take a short walk from your lunch spot to the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History. Here you can explore everything from Irish haute couture and silver collections to military history and contemporary craft.

After your crafty museum stroll, continue on foot a few blocks further to the Jameson Distillery. Take a fully guided tour or simply attend a whiskey tasting at one of the world’s most famous distilleries.

Wrap up your day in west Dublin with dinner at The Brazen Head. After your introduction to Irish jails, armies, and revolutionaries, bring it all together in Dublin’s oldest pub. With parts of the original building dating to 1198, this pub has historically been a meeting place for many of the rebels and revolutionaries you’ve spent your day learning about. Be sure to stick around for the live traditional music, regarded by many as some of the best in Dublin.

The Campanile of Trinity College

Day 4

For your final Future-ish day, have breakfast at Queen of Tarts on Cow’s Lane. Headed by two New York trained pastry chefs, modern culinary techniques combine with local charm in this Temple Bar nook. This breakfast spot is highly rated and much visited.

After breakfast, head to the Chester Beatty Library to view an eclectic collection of manuscripts, art, and rare books. The founder, Chester Beatty, was a U.S. born mining magnate. After making his fortune in mining, he spent his years collecting art and manuscripts from around the world, maintaining their historic preservation as his utmost goal.

Bonus Cathedral: St. Andrew's
From the Library, walk a short distance to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This is the National Cathedral of Ireland and was founded in 1191. It maintains the status of both the tallest and largest cathedral in the country. Walk back in the direction of the Library and have lunch at The Long Hall.

Allow yourself some options for the afternoon. If you are intrigued by the evolution of art in Ireland, head back out towards west Dublin and check out the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The historic museum building dates to 1684 and houses multiple rotating collections. Just down the road from the IMMA is the Guinness Storehouse, which might provide a much needed respite from seeing the city’s finest sights. Alternatively, a 20 minute walk east takes you back towards Trinity College, where you can spend more time with bog mummies and the Tara Brooch at the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. Or on the way, opt for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl which traces the steps and haunts of the many internationally famed writers who called Dublin home, from pub to pub over cobbled streets. Cafes, gastropubs, restaurants and sweet shops abound in this city, heralding past, present and future as tourists and Dubliners alike enjoy this spirited metropolis.

As you wind down your stay in Dublin, keep in mind that there is always more to see. Just when an area seems mapped an explored, another colorful corner unveils itself, leading to another new journey down a winding brick lane. Dublin holds all sorts of surprises and delights for travelers of all ages. In this city, you can rest assured that there is something for everyone. Whether it be fascinating historical sites, world renowned food, friendly welcoming people, or simply the knowledge that there is still more to explore, Dublin’s farewell will only be a soft “see you later”. Odds are you will be back for more.

SeanChron | Review | PNB's Jewels

Finale from Diamonds featuring principal dancers Lesley Rausch and Karel Cruz. Image credit: PNB, YouTube Video

It is everything a ballet fan could want from ballet. Literally, exquisite EVERYTHING. Dancing, choreography, costumes, staging, orchestra, overall experience...EVERYTHING!

Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) has been "dropping the mic" on the ballet scene for several years now. Roméo et Juliette, Cendrillon, Coppélia, I could name many other performances. Well, they dropped the mic three times, no - dozens of times - in their production of George Balanchine's Jewels. The height of anticipation for this performance was probably only exceeded by the height of expectation. Without question, they were both met and surpassed.

The first of the three obvious mic drops happened as soon as they opened the curtain for the first act, Emeralds. It was love at first sight and the audience's reaction to the first glance of the dancers, staging, and costumes was quite audible. This reaction, which I an only describe as 'pure delight' occurred again at each curtain raise for Rubies and Diamonds. The mic drops just got longer and louder in the subsequent reveals. At the Diamond's review that was literally a buzz that could be heard in the hall as patrons not only oohed and awed, it was clear the exchanged a few whispers as the collective reaction lasted several seconds.

Since I don't have a ballet background, I cannot offer much in the way of a technical review of the dancing. That is also why I cannot speak to individual dancers with any sort of authority. What I can say is that, as a ballet fan, the dancing was amazing. Balanchine created Jewels to showcase the talents of his best dancers and that is exactly what happened here. PNB's principle dancers are among the best in the world so it should come as no surprise that they would excel in these roles. What also stood out to me was that the collection of works really showcased the corps as well, including the male principles and corps dancers.

Each of the acts offered unique elements. Emeralds was crisp and sublime and oddly enough evoked a connection with the northwest, particularly with the starry night background. If one was looking for a ballet that captures the beauty and grandeur of the Olympic Rain Forest, Emeralds would be it. Rubies was playful and saucy with several moments in which the male corps shined. What can I say about Daimonds? It glittered, literally and figuratively. The solo and couple moments were exquisite, the multiple times when the stage was full of dancers was sublime, and the crescendo to the amazing finale just kept getting more and more glorious.

New Planet Classification System Views Earth as an Exoplanet


An international science/design team has suggested a new planetary classification system that is quite revealing when applied to Earth.

In Earth as a Hybrid Planet: The Anthropocene in an Evolutionary Astrobiological Context, astrophysicist Adam Frank from the University of Rochester along with Axel Kleidon from the Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry and Marina Alberti from the University of Washington's Department of Urban Design and Planning, offer a unique perspective on Earth by using an exoplanet studies lens.

The new system takes a astrobiology approach and looks at how a planet's species/civilization evolves in relation to the available energy within the host planet's system. The classification system starts with planets with no biosphere at all and progresses to planets with a thick biosphere hosting an energy-intensive technological species/civilization. Previous planet classification systems, namely the Kardashev Scale published in 1964, considered the scale of a species/civilization's energy consumption and manipulation (planetary, solar, and galaxy level).

Image credit: Frank et al, 2017.

As the article's lead author puts it, "Earth’s entry into the 'Anthropocene' represents what might be, from an astrobiological perspective, a predictable planetary transition". The authors go on to suggest that Earth may be in a transitional or 'hybrid' stage from one class to another.

Additional Reading

City Rooftops are the New Back Yard


9/7/2017 | Toren Elste

Highrises are the new “cool thing”, popping up everywhere, spreading upwards not outwards. 70,000 people have moved to Seattle since 2010. The American dream has shifted from the first, small “starter” home in the suburbs to high density, high rise, urban living. David Crowe, chief economist for the national Assoc. of Homebuilders says, “The 25- to 34-year-old age group is focused on living near their peers. They want to be socially engaged and live near work. They want to reduce their automobile use. All of those things aim at high-density, urban-type living.” “This generation is more interested in the amenities of the city itself: great public spaces, walkability, diverse people and activities with which they can participate,” says Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture and urban design at Georgia Tech. But don’t leave out the empty nesters. They are also making the move into the city, attracted by cultural events, restaurants, shopping and in Seattle, no doubt the Pike Place Market.

There is an important element in this ingress to urban living. With the highrise, comes the flat, skyscraping rooftop. City rooftops are the urban backyard. They are bursting at the seams with huge potential, they’re flat, get lots of sun and you can access them from inside the building, making them private and hip places to hang out, with killer views and so many possibilities.

Developers and designers across the world are seeing major opportunity in these mostly untapped spaces. According to Steven Peck, founder and president of the Toronto based non-profit “Green Roofs for Healthy cities” rooftops account for between 15-35% of the total land area in the city. Rooftops however, offer much more than an exquisite territorial view, they provide room to grow food, create habitat, and help to decrease the heat island effect.

Here are 7 cool rooftop uses!

Green Roofs: not only do they look pretty and add a hint of greenery to often gray skylines but they’re also good for the environment. By reducing storm water runoff, lowering building cooling costs and helping minimize the urban heat island effect, green roofs are often a smart and visually stunning addition to the city. Succulents are often a great way to add greenery to a roof too, being drought tolerant and low maintenance, they’re a good, cost effective choice for a green roof.

Rooftop Farms: Similar to green roofs, are the ever larger and gaining popularity by the minute “rooftop farm”. You can catch glimpses of rooftop farms all over New York City, Chicago and even Seattle! One specific example is the Brooklyn Grange rooftop garden on Long Island, growing thousands of pounds of vegetables each year that are sold to urban grocers and local restaurants. In addition to sustainable usage of urban space, these farms also contribute positively to climate change and biodiversity, by lowering transportation costs to local metropolitan areas and by creating in-city habitats for native species of birds, butterflies and insects.

Tiny Homes: Some rooftops are being used to create “tiny homes” and offer affordable housing to residents hoping to live in the city. Berlin based architects Simon Becker and Andreas Rauch created “Cabin Spacey”; tiny homes built on rooftops to help maximize urban dwelling space usage by using rooftop square footage to create “tiny homes”. These “tiny homes” can house up to 2 people in 250 square feet and thanks to the use of solar panels, can run completely “off the grid”.

Recreation: Rooftops can also be used as, what? Recreation areas? A recent project in Tokyo, Japan boasts a state of the art soccer pavilion atop the Shibuya Hikarie skyscraper and in Osaka a 1000 foot astroturf track spans across several rooftops at the Morinomiya Q’s Mall Base shopping complex. We all have seen a rooftop pool on high end hotels and condos but try gyms, playgrounds, jogging paths and even movie theaters. A new apartment complex in Miami has taken over this trend and created several rooftop tennis courts and a track. Talk about “smart” and efficient use of space!

Rooftop Chicken Coops: Think a rooftop garden or farm is cool? How about adding a space for chickens to roam and beehives to sit. Chickens don’t need a lot of space to roam and they can produce enough eggs to sustain an entire apartment building. Rooftop chicken coops are popping up on some Seattle apartment complexes and popular hotels in New York City. In addition to chickens, beehives are also useful rooftop adornments, they provide local businesses with honey for cooking, cocktails, food and even spa treatments, how “eco-friendly” is that!

Rainwater Collection: Probably one of the most well known rooftop systems, especially in the Seattle area, are rainwater collection systems. Rooftops are prime real estate for rainwater catchment systems making reusing rainwater extremely easy. Harvesting rainwater can be an effective way to reuse millions of gallons of water each year. Harvested rainwater can be used for all non-potable uses such as toilet water, plant irrigation, and yard watering, in some cases I’ve even seen people use it for washing cars. Cool idea, huh?

Solar Panels: Most notably and all over the pop culture scene are rooftop solar panels. I know many Seattleites that live by the phrase “solar power is sexy”. Solar panels on roofs just make sense, there is unobstructed access to sunlight and plenty of space for large scale panels. Current trends suggest a shift toward downsizing panels and creating solar powered roof shingles (thanks to Tesla and other companies with a similar product). They look just like your average roof yet they can save you over $500/year. That really adds up over a lifetime!

Who knew that rooftops could be so cool, contribute to a more eco-friendly environment, produce food and energy thorough innovative uses and have killer views to boot!

This article was originally posted on Engel & Volkers.

Studio F | Drue Johnson


Drue Johnson is a senior at the University of Washington working on finishing his degree in Communications. He has an emphasis in Political Communications, and is currently working on another in Social & Cultural Communications. In his spare time he enjoys tending to his apartment garden, cooking, and writing.

>> Drue's contributions on Future-ish
>> Instagram: @drue_johnson
>> Twitter: @johnson_drue