“The most beautiful animal you’ve never seen”

RR Helm writing at Deep Sea News:

When I first saw a sea sapphire I thought I was hallucinating. The day had been anything but normal, but this part will always stand out. I’d spent the afternoon on a small dingy off the coast of Durban, South Africa. It was muggy, and I’d been working for hours–-throwing a small net out, and pulling in tiny hauls of plankton that I’d then collect in jars. As I looked through one jar, the boat rocking up and down, I saw for an instant a bright blue flash. Gone. Then again in a different place. An incredible shade of blue. Maybe I’d been in the sun too long? Maybe I was seeing things? It wasn’t until I got back to the lab that I discovered the true beauty and mystery of these radiant flashes…

The small creature I’d found was a Sapphirina copepod, or as I like to call it, a sea sapphire. Copepods are the rice of the sea, tiny shrimp-like animals at the base of the ocean food chain. And like rice, they are generally not known for their charisma. Sea sapphires are an exception. Though they are often small, a few millimeters, they are stunningly beautiful…

…The secret to the sea sapphire’s shine is in microscopic layers of crystal plates inside their cells. In the case of blue sea sapphires, these crystal layers are separated by only about four ten thousandths of a millimeter; about the same distance as a wavelength of blue light. When blue light bounces off these crystal layers, it is perfectly preserved and reflected. But for other colors of light, these small differences in distance interfere, causing the colors to cancel out. So while white light is composed of all colors, only blue light is reflected back. This type of coloration is known as structural coloration, and though resembling a gem in hue, a sea sapphire’s color has more in common with an oil sheen than a pigmented jewel. Combine this nifty trick with the sea sapphire’s impressively transparent body, and you have an animal as radiant as a star in one moment, and invisible in the next…

I think I saw something like this once in Lake Erie, but it could have been some trash wrapped in aluminum foil.

Hat tip: BadBlue Tech News

Doug Ross @ Journal

The 5 Most Beautiful Cars on Sale Today

Car and Driver listed its top 10, but I thought only five made the cut. They’re not cheap, to be sure, but a man can dream, can’t he? Unless Obama created a Bureau of Dream Management and is now regulating that too.

Audi R8

The aging, soon-to-be-replaced R8 among today’s most beautiful cars? Probably controversial. But the R8 remains every bit the design icon it was when it debuted nearly a decade ago. It’s telling that the car still looks like nothing else out there, with a semi-rounded surface theme that would probably look ridiculous on anything else. Paired with Audi’s delicate headlights and taillights, simple grillework, and that roofline, though, it makes for a gorgeous retiree.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Wheels pushed to the absolute corners; classic long-hood, short-deck proportions; and clean, graceful sheetmetal: We can only be talking about Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage, a proper sports car through and through. This fifth-place showing comes as Aston continues to introduce special-edition models, which typically signify a car’s impending doom. But as with Jennifer Aniston, this hot car shows age is just a number.

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

In the ultra-luxury realm, size matters—and it’s one of the reasons why the 2015 S-class coupe places so highly in our beauty rankings. This plus-size pinup’s use of proportion and its pervasive tapering arc design theme accentuate both its size and grace. The hood seems unbelievably long (a neat visual trick, courtesy of the upright and forward grille), and the three body-side lines add length and catch light like Tinker Bell scooping fairy dust. Did Germans really design this thing?

Ferrari 458 Italia

We like the 458 Italia because it’s everything a Ferrari should be: Race-car tech wrapped in stunning sheetmetal. In this case, the Pininfarina-penned mid-engine sports car’s aggressive and almost brutally low body suits its knife-edged personality perfectly. We could spend hours poring over the 458’s numerous and carefully designed details—and we have.

Jaguar F-type Coupe

Whether you begin with the Jaguar F-type coupe’s proportions, its muscular shape, or its amazingly purposeful stance, it is a seriously pretty kitty. What about the roadster, you say? It, too, is gorgeous, but the coupe’s plunging roofline and more-defined rear haunches give it the edge. And the experience isn’t merely visual—the F-type R Coupe’s supercharged V-8 soundtrack is pure aural ecstasy.

You can view the entire list by gently positioning your mouse cursor on this particular section of underlined area and then clicking.

Doug Ross @ Journal

BEAUTIFUL: Kathleen Sebelius Unveils the 2013 Obamacare Commemorative Stamp Collector Set

Via the invaluable People’s Cube comes this sneak peek at the 2013 Obamacare Commemorative Stamp Set.

As Twitchy reported earlier today, the Obamacare health insurance exchanges aren’t working, websites are crashing, and the entire system is le total cluster—- (as the French might say).

You can see the rest of the stamp collection here.

Hat tip: BadBlue News.

Doug Ross @ Journal

Israeli President Shimon Peres delivers historic, beautiful, brilliant speech to European leaders. Here’s the full text.

Israel's President Shimon Peres (L) thanks European Council President Hermen Van Rompuy during a joined news conference after a meeting at the EU Council. (photo credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal)

Israel’s President Shimon Peres (L) thanks European Council President Hermen Van Rompuy during a joined news conference after a meeting at the EU Council. (photo credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal)

“I stand here before you, burning memories in my heart, great hopes in my soul. I carry profound pain concerning the past. And look with confident eyes to the future.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres, 89, today addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It was powerful and personal and beautiful and brilliant. It was also historic. He spoke of being born and raised in Europe and having to leave before the Holocaust destroyed his family. He spoke of the deep and sordid historic enmity between Europe and the Jews, but also of how Europe changed after World War II and came to help Israel and the Jewish people.

“Peres’s speech was the first time a senior Israeli official addressed the European parliament in its current extended format with 754 members from 27 member states,” notes the Times of Israel. “In 1985, then-president Chaim Herzog spoke to the parliament in Strasbourg; at the time, the union had only 10 members.”

“The idea of the rebirth of Israel was born on European soil,” said Peres. “In the past thousand years, more Jews lived in Europe than in any other continent. Alas, more Jews were murdered in Europe in the last hundred years than in the preceding two thousand years. We experienced here the worst tragedy of our history. Here we dreamed an impossible rebirth. Six million, a third of our people, were murdered here by starvation, gas, rifles and fire. What remains from them is ashes. We shall not forget that the righteous among the nations carried candles of light in the darkness. They were small in number but great in heroism. Israel was born from the ashes at the end of the Second World War. If someone had stood up then and said that within three years a Jewish state would be created – he would have been considered a delirious visionary. But the dream became a reality.”

>> Peres: Iran is the greatest danger to world peace — the president, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, calls to label Hezbollah a terror organization.

The threats posed by Iran and Syria were major themes in the address, new existential threats no less dangerous than the European Holocaust. The Israeli leader “called on the international community Tuesday to limit Iran’s production of the long-range missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons, in addition to restricting the regime’s uranium enrichment program.” He also “appealed to the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization,” noted the Times. “He said he opposed Western intervention in Syria, suggesting instead that the Arab League form a provisional government in Syria that would attempt to stop the bloodshed.”

“I believe that in addition to controlling the production of highly enriched uranium there is a need to control the means of delivery, to control the production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads,” Peres told the EU leaders. “Khamenei declared that religion prohibits the production and the use of nuclear arms. Why, then, does he build missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads?” Peres asked, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. He called the regime in Tehran the “greatest danger to peace in the world,” and urged the EU to condemn Iran’s human rights violations as they condemed Soviet violations during the Cold War.

Here is the full text of the Peres speech. I commend it to your attention.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog