GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — My ferry was full of school groups, delivery trucks and tourists when we left the Tuscan port of Santo Stefano and headed toward the island of Giglio, 12 miles away. I sat on deck with the other foreigners, enjoying the spring sunshine: It was too cold for the Italians, who huddled downstairs drinking espressos.
And then, Giglio’s white cliffs appeared in the distance and gradually grew closer.
Except that there are no white cliffs on this granite island. I was looking at the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which ran aground Jan. 13 just outside Giglio’s harbor.
As the ferry whipped past, my eyes were drawn to the great wreck, which lay on its side with a long, rusty gash in its hull. It name was inscribed on a white bow towering above the water. The ship was so close to the tiny harbor, massive and modern and incongruous.
Giglio is known around the world because of the Concordia, but I was hoping to see a Giglio that was not defined by the disaster in which 32 passengers and crew died. Thirty-five years ago, my husband, Mike, lived on Giglio for several months, shortly after its inhabitants gave up mining granite and pyrite and abandoned self-sufficient agriculture in favor of tourism. He remembers an unspoiled family vacation island, little known outside Italy, where affluent Romans (plus a handful of foreigners such as Los Angeles political power broker Stanley Sheinbaum) spent their summers in apartments or second homes.
We’re nearly finished filming two new TV shows on Venice. Thinking back over a very productive day, I realize how much I love this work. Our scripts are about 3,400 words per half-hour show. They are split between “on-cameras,” with me talking directly to the camera, and “B-roll,” where we “cover the script” with footage that illustrates what we’re describing. While it’s been called “shooting the nouns,” we think of B-roll as more than that.
We started early, on St. Mark’s Square. While it’s littered with kitschy souvenir carts and jammed with tour groups most of the day, at 7:30, there is no tourism. The square is clean, with just a few well-dressed businesspeople walking to work, the random jogger, and very focused photographers like us marveling at how the history pops with the architecture and without the modern tourism. The Gothic is so lacy, and the Renaissance so capable. We got a few “walk-bys” to establish me in what looks like a pure, computer-generated Venetian cityscape.
At 8:30, we met our local guide, Michael, who has been instrumental in setting things up in advance for us. He is brilliantly navigating the Byzantine bureaucracy of the city and helping us open all the right doors — some of them literally pillaged from Byzantium.
We climbed the Torre dell’Orologio, or Clock Tower. This was built 500 years ago, providing the city with…
The space wars are heating up. As it stands right now, the Russians have the biggest for-hire space program, but their fleet is aging. The new players on the market, like Space X, are competing for the future of that market.
Which will look something like this. Every country rich enough to afford it, and big companies, will be sending probes, satellites, and people into space. They will pay a private company to do so and eventually the market will be the opposite of what it is now, where governments dominate and private industry supports.
Here is an example of that:
A Japanese rocket has lifted off with a South Korean satellite in Japan’s first commercial launch of a foreign probe into space.
The HII-A rocket lifted off from a remote southwestern Japan island carrying the South Korean probe and three Japanese satellites.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a private company in charge of HII-A rocket production since 2007, is hoping to compete with the U.S., Russia and Europe as a launch-vehicle provider. This was its first contract to launch a foreign probe.
The Korean satellite, KOMPSAT-3, was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute to monitor the environment. The rocket also carried Japan’s Shizuku satellite to monitor climate change and two smaller Japanese probes.
April 13, 2012 – Europe’s highest active volcano, Italy’s Mount Etna, erupted again this week. The eruption, which spewed blood-red molten lava and grey and white ash into the air, is the 24th in a series that started in January 2011.
A decade ago the volcano was at it again, this time more serious. Several thousands residents were forced to evacuate. Tom Pfeiffer was there, 800 meters away in February 2000, during one of the eruptions and described it for us.
After a few minutes, the first red spots began dancing above the crater, rising and falling back into it. The explosions grew stronger, first slowly, then with breathtaking speed, throwing bombs more than 1,000 meters above the rim. Soon the volcanic cone surrounding the crater was covered with glowing rocks. At the same time, a fountain of lava started to rise from a fracture on the flank of the cone. Several other fountains rose from the crater and formed a roaring, golden curtain that illuminated the scene like daylight. Some larger lava bombs crashed into the snow not far from us, but we felt secure in our viewing position. The fountain was nearly vertical, and a strong wind carried the mass of glowing lapilli and ash gently away from us.