Gravitational Waves Detected After a Century of Searching

Gravitational Waves, Smithsonian

A supercomputer simulation shows the gravitational waves produced as two black holes merge. (Henze, NASA)
Two merging black holes sent out a signal 1.3 billion years ago that now confirms a key prediction of Einstein’s relativity.  As two black holes spiraled toward each other and merged, they created ripples in the fabric of the cosmos in exactly the form physicists have predicted for a century: gravitational waves. Unveiled today during a suite of international press conferences, the signal paves the way for a whole new understanding of the universe.

“This is the first time the universe has spoken to us through gravitational waves. Up until now we have been deaf,” LIGO Laboratory Director David Reitze, of the University of Florida, said today at a press event in Washington, D.C.

At the root of gravitational waves is Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, which says that anything with mass warps the very fabric of space-time. When massive objects move, they create distortions in the cosmic fabric, generating gravitational waves. These waves ripple through the universe like sound waves pulsing through the air.

Einstein’s theory predicts that the universe is teeming with gravitational waves, but until now we hadn’t been able to detect them, in part because the waves are exceptionally faint. But even before its upgraded instruments came officially online last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) picked up a clear signal from the powerful collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years away.

“To have a gravitational wave signal detected while LIGO is still not near design sensitivity in the first science run is astonishing, it’s jaw-dropping, in a good way” says Joan Centrella, who headed up the Gravitational Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before becoming the deputy director of the Astrophysics Science Division at Goddard.

That exhilaration rippled through LIGO’s Livingston, Louisiana, observatory and through the rest of the world as the team made their announcement. Nearly everything that astronomers have learned about the cosmos has come from different forms of light, such as visible, radio waves and X-rays. But just as seismic waves can reveal hidden structures deep inside Earth, gravitational waves carry with them information about hidden properties of the universe that even light can’t reveal.

“We began with a high-risk job with a very high potential payoff,” Kip Thorne, a LIGO co-founder and a gravitational physicist at the California Institute of Technology, said during the press event. “And we are here today with a great triumph—a whole new way to observe the universe.” …  read more, see video —>

Rare White Giraffe Makes 1st Birthday

Giraffe, White, smithsonianmag_com

Rare White Giraffe Survived Her First Year.  The 15-month old calf has so far survived possible predation from lions, leopards, hyenas and human poachers.

Almost one year after her first sighting, wildlife biologists were thrilled to spot a beautiful giraffe calf with unusual coloring in Tarangire National Park, according to the Wild Nature Institute’s blog

The calf, called Omo after a popular brand of detergent, is leucistic, meaning she lacks much of the pigment carried by a typically-colored giraffe. Unlike albino animals, Omo does have some color: her mane is rusty-red, the tuft of her tail black and her eyes are the dark pools of most giraffes, fringed by long, pale lashes. Albinism, caused by complete pigment loss, is marked by very pale eyes that appear pink or red because of blood vessels showing through, writes Liz Boatman for Berkely Science Review. Leucism is low pigment, which is why Omo’s eyes are still dark, and the faint pattern of a giraffe’s spots still speckles her sides. 

“Omo appears to get along with the other giraffes, she has always been seen with a large group of normally colored giraffe, they don’t seem to mind her different coloring,” ecologist Derek Lee, founder of the Wild Nature Institute, tells Mark Molloy at The Telegraph

Already the strikingly-colored creature has survived her first 15 months—the most dangerous time for young giraffes that can fall prey to lions, leopards and hyenas. Now she faces a new danger that may dog her for the rest of her life: human poachers. 

Unusually colored animals can become a target for poachers and hunters simply because of their appearance. An albino roe deer, living in the U.K. allegedly prompted one German hunter to offer more than £5,400 (roughly $7,655 at the time) for the animal, The Independent reported in 2009.

Albino corn snakes fetch a higher price than their typically colored peers and seven albino alligators were stolen from a zoo in Brazil, according to The IndependentHorrifically, some poachers have even attacked human children with albinism for body parts they can sell to witch doctors, writes Andrew Malone for The Daily Mail.

Omo is only the second white giraffe spotted in Tarangire over the last 20 years, Lee tells Sam Wood of If she can survive to maturity, at four years of age, there is a chance that she would pass her unique coloring on to her offspring.

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Hearts of Homes In Kitchens Around The World – Surinam

Kitchens may differ drastically around the world, but their role as the center of a home is universal. Whether makeshift or filled with modern appliances, kitchens are a space for family bonding, holiday traditions and child rearing.

kitchens_Netherlands, Amsterdam












Family Recipe

A woman watches as her granddaughter prepares a traditional Surinamese cake in the kitchen of a retirement home in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Photograph by Gerd Ludwig, National Geographic

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Great Foodie Destinations 2016 – New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

Eats, New Orleans, Louisiana, NatGeo

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

Photograph by Peter Frank Edwards, Redux

With its distinct cuisine, New Orleans has always been an American food destination. The rich and soulful cuisine was shaped largely by the American-born descendants of French settlers, as well as by Spanish and African-American cultures. Another influx of immigrants left their mark in the form of German sausages, Caribbean peppers, and seafood harvested by Croatian fishermen. Classic New Orleans restaurants like Arnaud’s and Galatoire’s are still in operation today. Ten years ago, this gastronomically inclined city was heavily damaged after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters inundated the city. Today there are actually 75 percent more restaurants in the city than there were before the disaster.

What to Eat: The newest addition to acclaimed chef John Besh’s family of restaurants is a surprising one. Try chef Alon Shaya’s Israeli cuisine at Shaya. There’s ikra (paddlefish caviar spread with shallots) and hummus with lamb ragù. Next, indulge in a hot roast beef and gravy po’boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern. Go to Commander’s Palace, a Garden District classic, for its rich bread pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce. It’s their most popular dessert and is always made to order.

What to Drink: The Vieux Carré cocktail, a combination of rye whiskey, cognac, vermouth, and bitters, was supposedly invented by bartender Walter Bergeron in New Orleans in 1938. Order one where it was first mixed—at the bar at the Hotel Monteleone. Grab one of the 25 seats at the spinning Carousel Bar if one is available.

Edible Souvenir: New Orleans’ other famous sandwich, the giant muffuletta, is a legacy of Italian immigration to New Orleans in the 19th century. It’s comprised of a round loaf of bread sliced in half and filled with cold cuts, cheese, and an oily salad of green and black olives, carrots, peppers, and herbs. You can buy jars of the salad to take home at Central Grocery, the originator and most famous maker of the sandwich.

Food Experience: At Langlois Culinary Crossroads, chef and cookbook author Amy Sins offers classes on gumbo, seafood boils, and other Louisiana favorites at her facility in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.

Cultural Tip: The Gulf Coast is home to some of the largest Vietnamese-American communities in the country. Bánh mì sandwiches are easy to find in New Orleans, but they’re often called “Vietnamese po’boys.”

Fun Fact: The Choctaw introduced filé (sassafras powder) to the Louisiana Creole cooks. It’s now a vital ingredient in gumbo and valued for its thickening properties.

Staff Tip: For a more homegrown and low-key version of Mardi Gras, skip the French Quarter and search out one of the smaller neighborhood celebrations, like the Society of St. Anne parade in the Bywater. My friends Janelle and Krista did that, writing about their experience for Traveler magazine. Be sure to wear a costume, because you can’t just watch the St. Anne parade—you have to dance in it, too. For non-Mardi Gras things to do, read “The New New Orleans” by Traveler contributing editor Andrew Nelson, who lives in the city.

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African American History: A Rebellion INTENTIONALLY LOST TO HISTORY

Slave Revolt, Destrehan Plantation, Smithsonian(Image from the Destrehan Plantation’s Facebook Page)

A trial at the Destrehan Plantation sentenced 45 men from the uprising to death or to go to New Orleans for future trials.  Two hundred and five years ago, on the night of January 8, 1811, more than 500 enslaved people took up arms in one of the largest slave rebellions in U.S. history.  More than 500 slaves fought for their freedom in this oft-overlooked rebellion.  However on the 200th anniversary of the revolt, area museums and historical sights in Louisiana organized a year-long commemoration of the event. In time, the uprising may gain the recognition it deserves, thanks to the efforts of historians willing to sort the fiction from the reality.

They carried cane knives (used to harvest sugar cane), hoes, clubs and some guns as they marched toward New Orleans chanting “Freedom or Death,” writes Leon A. Waters for the Zinn Education Project.

The uprising began on the grounds of a plantation owned by Manuel Andry on the east side of the Mississippi, in a region called the German Coast of Louisiana. There, a slave driver named Charles Deslondes of Haitian descent, led a small band of slaves into the mansion of the plantation owners, where they wounded Andry and killed his son Gilbert. The group then armed themselves with muskets and ammunition from the plantation’s basement. Some donned Andry’s militia uniforms.

“Charles knew that the uniforms would lend the revolt authority, wedding their struggle with the imagery of the Haitian Revolution, whose leaders had famously adopted European military garb,” reports historian Daniel Rasmussen in his book American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revoltexcerpted by NPR. Charles was inspired by the Haitian Revolution, which had succeeded less than a decade before and brought encouragement to those revolting in Louisiana that night.

After the attack on the Andry mansion, the group of revolutionaries started a two day march down River Road to New Orleans. Along the way they burned other plantations. The plan was to join with other revolutionaries in the city.

Official accounts at the time spun the fiction that the revolt was nearly a band of “‘brigands’ out to pillage and plunder,” writes Wendell Hassan Marsh for The Root. But this was the story of the victors— Rasmussen found through the course of his research, not the story of what happened. In reality, the revolt was carefully organized and it threatened to destabilize the institution of slavery in Louisiana.

To uncover the real story, Rasmussen pored through court records and plantation ledgers. “I realized that the revolt had been much larger—and come much closer to succeeding—than the planters and American officials let on,” he tells Littice Bacon-Blood of the Times-Picayune. “Contrary to their letters, which are the basis for most accounts of the revolt, the slave army posed an existential threat to white control over the city of New Orleans.”

Many rebels had copies of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man hidden in slave quarters and rebels had led smaller attacks in the region for years leading up to the revolt, Marsh writes for The Root. Among the ranks of the revolters included those with experience fighting in civil wars in Ghana and Angola. The plan was to establish a black state along the banks of the Mississippi. But as the marching group’s numbers swelled to more than 500 strong, U.S. federal troops and the slave owners’ militia responded quickly.

On January 10, at Jacques Fortier’s plantation, near what is now River Town in Kenner, federal troops forced the revolt to turn back, Bacon-Blood reports for The Times-Picayune. With the militia blocking the revolutionaries’ retreat, that spelled the end of the revolt.

“It was really brutally put down,” Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, an author and historian at Michigan State University, tells Bacon-Blood. “It was incredibly bloodthirsty in the way the elite put it down, cutting people into little pieces, displaying body parts.”  The brief battle killed dozens of the fighting slaves. The surviving leaders were rounded up to face a tribunal on January 13 and many were sentenced to death by firing squad.

“Their heads were cut off and placed on poles along the river in order to frighten and intimidate the other slaves,” writes Waters for the Zinn Project. “This display of heads placed on spikes stretched over 60 miles.”

The suppression of the extent of the rebellion kept the uprising from historical attention for decades. Hall calls it a kind of “historical amnesia” in the Times-Picayune piece.

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Feb is African American History Month

Carter G Woodson, 1875-1950Founder of Black History Month, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875 – April 1950).  Launched Negro History Week in 1926, chosen in the second week of February between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, which evolved into Black History Month in 1976.  Known for writing the contributions of black Americans into the national spotlight, received a Ph.D at Harvard University. Founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915, founded the Journal of Negro History in 1916. Author of the book, “The Miseducation of the Negro”, published in 1933.

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.  The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2013 theme, At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, marks the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.

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February 1 – 28, Museum Month: Half-Off Admission

Leap into 45 museums in San Diego this February. Presented by Macy’s, this popular event allows participants to enjoy half-off entry fees at 45 San Diego Museum Council membership museums.

Time: refer to website

Price: Museum admission prices vary

Location: refer to website

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February 1 – 29, Romantic Valentines Winery Chauffeured Tour

Spoil your sweetheart with a Romantic Valentines tour of San Diego’s beautiful wineries. Enjoy romantic, panoramic vineyard views as you and your loved one taste superb local wines (about 18 pours!), paired with gourmet food, and lots of FUN!

Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Price: $149 per person

Location: call for more information

For more info:  858.551.5115 or


February 1 – 29, Beer My Valentine Beer & Food Walking Tour

SHOW THE LOVE! Take your Valentine out for some local and international craft beers and brew up some love on this ROMANTIC Valentine’s Beer and Food Walking Tour.On this exciting 3-hr guided walking tour you’ll enjoy three tour stops for award-winning beer tastings, including local craft beers, along with VIP food pairings.

Time: 2:15 PM to 5:15 PM

Price: $89 per person

Location: call for more information

For more info:  858.551.5115 or


February 3, First Wednesdays: Euphoria Brass Band

Euphoria Brass Band is a San Diego-based musical collective that serves up a contemporary mix of old school New Orleans brass band jazz, funky street beats, and new school edginess with a West Coast feeling! Their incendiary, high energy shows are guaranteed to get a crowd smiling, dancing, and having a good time. Euphoria Brass Band always leaves ‘em wanting more!

Time: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Price: General Admission – Free

Location: 340 N Escondido Blvd., Escondido, CA 92025

For more info:  800.988.4253 or


February 4 – 14, San Diego Jewish Film Festival

This year the festival will showcase a total of 60 films of the best contemporary Jewish-themed films from around the world celebrating life, human rights, and freedom of expression. The mission of the Film Festival is to offer outstanding world cinema that promotes awareness, appreciation and pride in the diversity of the Jewish people to attendees of the community at large.

Time: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Price: $13.75

Location:  4126 Executive Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037

For more info: 858.362.1347 or


February 5 – 7, Chocolate Lover’s Weekend

Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic get-away or a family of chocolate fanatics looking for a memorable weekend, join us for an indulgent stay filled with chocolate!

Time: call for more information

Price: call for more information

Location: 111 N Second Ave., Chula Vista, CA 91910

For more info: 619.427.3601 or


February 5 – 14, SDJT Presents: Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi’s classic tale is told through a clever new interpretation — a story within a story. While refurbishing an unfinished stage, a group of Italian construction workers happen upon an audience patiently awaiting the next performance of “Pinocchio.”

Time: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Price: $13-$15

Location: 3366 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92103

For more info: 619.239.8355 or visit


February 5, San Diego Brazil Carnival Mardi Gras

This spectacular brazilian mardi gras ball will feature pulsating samba beats, beautiful & sexy samba dancers, electrifying capoeira performances, and nonstop brazilian music. There will be fun, feathers, fantasy and much, much more… So come have the time of your life at one of the best brazilian carnivals on the west coast!

Time: 9:00 PM to 11:45 PM

Price: $22-$99

Location: 360 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

For more info: 619.224.4684 or


February 11, International Guitar Night

International Guitar Night (IGN) is a fiery acoustic extravaganza featuring master performer Brian Gore along with a celebrated cast of guitar luminaries including German guitar virtuoso Andre Krengel, world-renowned fingerstyle innovator Mike Dawes, and Gypsy guitar prodigy Lulo Reinhardt.

Time: 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Price: $30-$40

Location: 340 N Escondido Blvd., Escondido, CA 92025

For more info: 800.988.4253 or


February 12 – 14, Valentine’s Day Weekend Cruises

Find romance between the sea and sky with San Diego Valentine’s dinner and brunch cruises from Hornblower. You’ll enjoy spectacular Bay views with famous San Diego landmarks, wonderful food to choose from with our special Valentine’s Day menus and music for dancing.

Time: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Price: $67.95 per adult

Location: 1800 North Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

For more info:  619.686.8715 or


February 13, Monster Energy AMA Supercross

Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, is the world’s premier stadium motorcycle circuit, comprised of 17 races of heart-stopping racing action in some of the largest venues in North America.

Time: 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM

Price:  $20-$70

Location: 100 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

For more info: 619.795.5555 or


February 14, Jump Start Your Heart 5K

Join us for the 5th Annual Jump Start Your Heart 5K where you can walk, run and celebrate as you support the Children’s Heart Foundation.

Time: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Price: $40-$45

Location: 2688 E Mission Bay Dr., San Diego, CA 92109

For more info:  631.875.9895 or


February 14, Valentine’s Day Sweetheart’s Dinner Cruise

Snuggle on deck under the stars as you float by San Diego’s sparkling nighttime skyline on this 2 1/2-hour bay cruise, and see your Valentine’s eyes sparkle back.

Time: 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Price: Adult – $99.50 Children – $59.70

Location: 1990 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

For more info: 800.442.7847 or


February 19, Atomic Groove Happy Hour

Come get your dance on with Atomic Groove Happy Hour and the Atomic Groove Fly Girlz! One of North County’s best happy hour, featuring fun dance hits from the 60s to today!

Time: 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Price: $7

Location: 143 S Cedros, Suite T, Solana Beach, CA 92075

For more info:  858.481.8140 or


February 22 – 28, San Diego Theatre Week

Over 30 San Diego performing arts organizations have come together to collaborate on and promote the first annual San Diego Theatre Week, a week-long celebration of performing arts that will serve to promote the vast array of performing arts in the city.

Time: call for more information

Price: Prices and discounts vary by theatre

Location: 1317 Horton Plaza (7th Floor), San Diego, CA 92101

For more info: 858.381.5595 or


February 24 – March 20, Now You See It

The United States premiere of an outrageously funny farce by the French master of the form, Georges Feydeau, in a brilliant translation by British playwright Kenneth McLeish. Now You See It takes audiences on a dizzying escapade fueled by jealousy bordering on paranoia, a philandering husband, hypnotism, a spurned lover and a scandalous discovery. Furiously fast and clever, this visual and verbal treat is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.

Time: call for more information

Price: $34

Location: 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach, CA 92075

For more info:  858.481.1055 or


February 26, Rihanna

It’s hard to believe that Rihanna is only 27 years old. Yet within the 9 years since the start of her musical career, she’s become the youngest solo artist to score 13 no. 1 singles on the Billboard hot 100 – the fastest to do so – she’s sold more than 54 million albums and 210 million tracks worldwide.

Time: 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM

Price: $35-$165

Location: 5500 Canyon Crest Dr., San Diego, CA 92182-4210

For more info:


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IVAN SOLIS, JR.  / Sr. Sales  / (619) 804-9000

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Title 365 / 8880 Rio San Diego Drive / Suite 1100 / San Diego, CA 92108 / (619) 857-6347