Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Linking time crystals, land rematriation, robots in space and more from around the web

Native Tribes Reclaim 18,000 Acres of Land in Montana

In Northwest Montana, a bison range sits on 18,000 acres of undeveloped land that the US Government stole from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in the early 1900s. In 2020, Congress passed a law that transitioned management of the land back to the Native tribes, who today celebrate the restoration of the region and its bison herds. “When our Indigenous ancestors lived on this land alongside the plethora of animals,” says US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, “they each respected their place and the balance of nature.” The rematriation of the land also comes with a corrected representation of the Native history at the bison range’s visitor center, which features new exhibitions that honor how the Confederated Salish and Kootenai peoples conserved the bisons and were later discriminated against. Learn more about this historic improvement at NPR.

Image courtesy of Freddy Monares/Montana Public Radio

Scientists Discover Ancient Cities in the Amazon

In the Llanos de Mojos region of the Bolivian Amazon, scientists recently discovered remnants of vast urban settlements, proving the existence of ancient Amazonian cities. Using a light-based remote sensing technology called lidar, scientists digitally deforested the canopy to survey the ruins beneath it. They found a stronghold of the socially complex Casarabe Culture (who existed from 500 to 1400 CE) who built urban centers, monumental platforms, pyramid architecture over 70 feet tall, raised causeways connecting suburban settlements, reservoirs, canals, a water control and distribution system and more. The highly developed structures prove that sophisticated societies existed there well before European intervention. “This is, in my mind, the clearest case of a fully urbanized Amazonian landscape,” says an anthropologist at the University of Florida, Michael Heckenberger. While scientists still do not know what happened to the Casarabe people, this striking discovery brings scientists much closer to understanding the Amazon. Learn more about it at Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of H. Prümers/DAI

NASA’s OSAM-1 Could Extend The Lifespans of Satellites

NASA’s OSAM-1 (On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1) robotic spacecraft will repair, service and upgrade satellites within Earth’s orbit. Its mission (previously known as Restore-L) can be achieved thanks to five new technologies that make it possible to “extend satellites’ lifespans—even if they were not designed to be serviced on orbit.” Not only does this mean more functional satellites transmitting more information, but it will also decrease space debris, making the future of space exploration a little more sustainable. Read more at INVERSE.

Image courtesy of NASA

Scientists Link Two Time Crystals Together for the First Time

Officially confirmed to exist in 2016, time crystals are quantum systems of particles that evade the laws of physics that govern states of matter. For example, rather than embody the fixed, three-dimensional grid structure found in regular crystals, these participles exist in a state of fluctuation (but without the loss of energy). For the first time ever, two time crystals have been linked into one evolving particle system—an advancement that could be incredibly useful to quantum computing and quantum information processing. When allowing two time crystals to touch, physicists discovered that the pair exchanged magnons (quasiparticles from the spin of electrons), creating a single system with the potential to function in two states. Learn more about this groundbreaking research and the complex ideas behind it at Science Alert.

Image courtesy of Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting/Moment/Getty Images

Lift Energy Storage System Turns Skyscrapers into Gravity Energy Batteries

Sourcing and storing energy is often unsustainable and intermittent—a problem researchers from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria seek to solve with the Lift Energy Storage System, which turns skyscrapers into giant gravity batteries. Researchers found that “excess renewable energy can be stored as potential energy by using it to lift something heavy up to a higher point,” according to New Atlas. “That energy can then be released by using gravity to drive some kind of generator.” Thus, existing skyscraper elevators could easily transform into the foundation for regenerative batteries. Not only does this solution operate with around 92% efficiency, it can also store tons of energy remarkably affordably. Read more about the simple science behind this innovative plan at New Atlas.

Image courtesy of Thyssenkrupp

Works & Process at the Guggenheim To Premiere “Third Bird” From Isaac Mizrahi, Nico Muhly and John Heginbotham

An all-ages homage to the beloved symphonic fairytale Peter and the Wolf—which has been produced as part of the Guggenheim’s performing arts series, Works & Process since 2007—Third Bird celebrates the individuality of its eight characters by way of nuanced composition and spirited writing. Works & Process will host the world premiere of the astounding 30-minute performance this weekend, which interlaces direction and a libretto by Isaac Mizrahi (who directed and narrated more than 100 performances of Peter and the Wolf for the Guggenheim) with music by composer (and CH favorite) Nico Muhly and choreography by John Heginbotham. Commissioned during the pandemic, this imaginative production presents a worthy complementary piece to Sergei Prokofiev’s original. Read more at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process website, where tickets can be acquired.

Image of Third Bird Show & Tell, Works & Process at the Guggenheim LaunchPAD
“Process as Destination” at The Church, Sag Harbor in collaboration with Guild Hall of East Hampton, 5 December 5 2021. Featuring Daniel Pettrow. Photo: Joe Brondo for Guild Hall of East Hampton

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image “Light Painting” courtesy of Alexandr Gnezdilov/Moment/Getty