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Nathan Ingraham

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James Turrell is known in the art world for creating pieces that can be both spectacularly innovative and highly disorienting. Take his Perceptual Cells — a large sphere where a person can lay down and be bombarded by lights so bright you can see the biological structure of your own eye. The New York Times has just published an in-depth look at Turrell's career as the artist prepares for three huge exhibitions planned to launch simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. The extensive profile digs deep into Turrell's polarizing art, and the author is even invited to visit Roden Crater — an extinct volcano on his on massive ranch in Arizona. Turrell has spent decades excavating it in an effort to turn it into a massive art...

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Before the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, which grounded air traffic in Europe for weeks, few people were probably aware that Iceland averages an eruption once every four years. But while the spewing of hot lava is a frequent event, that doesn’t mean it’s a common one. “When we have eruptions, it’s all over the news,” photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson tells TIME. “Most Icelanders try and go and see the eruptions. We are very excited about it.”

The cover of Magma: Icelandic Volcanoes (2012)
© Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson—Arctic Images

Sigurdsson has spent much of his career photographing Iceland’s volcanic eruptions. As he explained to TIME in 2011, within minutes of an eruption, he’s in a plane to photograph the event from above. “If there would be an eruption right now, I would immediately jump into an airplane to get pictures,” he says. “Then I would go take my trusted Jeep and drive up there with my tripod and stay there. I like much better taking pictures on the ground than in the air. They are more powerful and more exciting.”

After years of recording Iceland’s volcanoes up close, Sigurdsson undertook his latest project, to collect and preserve as many photographs of Icelandic volcanoes as he could find. Along with geophysicist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson, his friend for 25 years, Sigurdsson pored over archives, scanning and preserving hundreds of photos of eruptions on the small Nordic island. They are collected in the recently published book Magma: Icelandic Volcanoes.

Many of the photos in the collection are exactly what you think a volcano should look like: searing reds and oranges spewing from the ground; black soot careening into the sky. But the book also includes old black and white photos that are equally powerful, classic depictions of geologic explosions that can pack as much power as an atomic bomb. “I’m quite fond of black and white myself,” Sigurdsson says. “Black and white volcano pictures are, maybe not all the time as powerful as the orange ones. If you have a lot of orange and blue colors, it’s a great contrast, the scenes and strong colors.”

Now that he has preserved the history of Iceland’s volcanoes, Sigurdsson is readying for the next eruption. When photographing a volcano, “you have to make decisions on the fly when you have the scene in front of you,” he says. Do you need slow shutter speed, long exposures, or do you need to freeze the action or all of the above? “You have to try everything and use all your knowledge—the key to success is you’re never done,” he says. “I was done when all of my batteries were dead. And I can’t wait for the next eruption.” Given the frequency of the country’s volcanoes, he might not have to wait long to try it out.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson has worked as a photographer since age 16. His work is available through Arctic Images. MAGMA: Icelandic Volcanoes is available directly from the publisher.

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TEDxSwarthmore - Steve Wang - 180 Degrees

Sometimes you're wrong. Sometimes you think you're right, but it turns out that you're wrong. Sometimes you're sure you're right because the answer is obvious, and yet you're still wrong anyway—maybe even dead wrong, 180 degrees wrong. This talk is about the last situation. Associate Professor of Statistics Steve Wang develops statistical methods for addressing questions in paleontology and evolutionary biology. His areas of research include the timing of mass extinctions and statistical methods in baseball research. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes around the world, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2011, active volcanoes included Chile's Puyehue, Japan's Shinmoedake, Indonesia's Lokon, Iceland's Grímsvötn, Italy's Etna, and recently Nyamulagira in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Hawaii, Kilauea continues to send lava flowing toward the sea, and the ocean floor has been erupting near the Canary Islands. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year. [36 photos]

A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5, 2011. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations as it sent up a cloud of ash that circled the globe. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images)

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Jim Seida writes

Ships and aircraft have been ordered to stay away from the bubbling waters around La Restinga, and the Port's 600 residents have been evacuated.  Read more here...

Spanish government handout / AFP - Getty Images

This image released Nov. 3, shows green and brown stains at sea off the coast of the Spanish Canary Island of El Hierro. A series of quakes including one measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale shook Hierro island in Spain's Canaries, three weeks after a nearby undersea volcanic eruption. The 4.0-magnitude quake struck at 0755 GMT in the Atlantic about five kilometres (three miles) northwest of the town of Frontera, population 4,000, said a report by the National Geographical Institute.

Spanish Institute of Oceanograph / EPA

This computer-genereated image shows the underwater volcano in the southern area of El Hierro Island, in the Canary Islands, Spain, on Oct. 31.

Canary Regional Goverment handout / EPA

This image made available on Nov. 4 shows volcanic activity on Nov. 3 from underwater volcano at El Hierro island coast, Canary Islands, Spain. The volcano has being erupting and causing the ground to shake several times a day since July 2011.

 Follow the volcano's activity blow-by-blow on Earthquake Report

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Jeff Schmaltz / NASA via AFP - Getty Images

This NASA MODIS Rapid Response Team image obtained November 4, 2011 shows dust as it blew over the Gulf of Alaska in early November 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on November 2, 2011. Blowing toward the south-southwest, the dust plume remains discernible for roughly 100 kilometers (60 miles). The dust emerges from the Copper River Valley, which zigzags through the glacier-rich Chugach Mountains. The slow movement of glaciers over bedrock grinds the rock into glacial flour. This fine sediment is easily lofted into the air by winds blowing through mountain valleys. This image also shows swirls of iridescent green in the waters along the shore. The bright green probably results from sediment and phytoplankton. Dust can fertilize phytoplankton, prompting big blooms, but the microscopic organisms also thrive in high-latitude seas especially near coastlines, without dust.

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