Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sol Salis is a fresh green oasis in the parched desert environment of Dubai. Situated in site 2, the project takes advantage of the adjacent ocean water by proposing a solar-powered desalination plant, bringing clean water to the dry desert site, where geometric rows of green crops will cover the dry desert floor in a splash of green.

In a well-tested process developed in the 1950’s, solar humidification-dehumidification separates salt from the sea water using direct solar radiation. Since the Arabian Peninsula is blessed with sun but cursed with a lack of water, this arrangement creates a synergy of available resources.

Additionally, our research has found that The United Arab Emirates currently imports as much as 80% of its food supply; Our project therefore suggests that the water be used at the site for the irrigation of crops. In a 2008 article in UAE Interact, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Director-General of the Energy and Resources Institute in India and Nobel Peace Prize laureate suggested that resuscitation of farmland in the UAE is possible - "There are vast areas of land in the UAE that could be revived. I want to see how we can improve the quality of soil, to use science and technology, by which soil becomes productive, and then at least you can start growing vegetables and fruit on a larger scale."

In plan, the arrangement of these built elements has a focal point in the form of a sunflower. The sunflower head is one of the most cited examples of phyllotaxis (the study of plant patterns): its parastichies are based on the two consecutive Fibonacci numbers 55 for the clockwise set and 34 counterclockwise. The mathematical description for the phyllotaxis of the sunflower can also be adapted to define other examples of spiral based arrangements of plants. The sunflower area of the site is reserved for the public as a contemplative park space, its section in a dome shape, with a spiral ramp ascending to its peak.

A web of suspended cables at a height of 4 meters would carry a series of pressurized pipes, spraying a fine mist of water over the plants and visitors below. Above this layer of plumbing would be a loosely knit collection of solar panels, spaced at intervals such that the environment below would be partially shaded, though with ample sunlight for food production. The resulting shaded and misty zone gives the residents of this torturously dry and hot environment a welcome retreat. Instead of fencing the public out, as farms often do, Sol Salis would create a series of trails, weaving through the geometric patterns of plantings.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice 2010 | A Celebration

A few thoughts, images and sounds in celebration of
the shortest day of the year and
the winter peace of nature...


Ignacio Zamora Sanz, Valencia, Spain
An illustration for "Brave New World"


Daniela Bertol, New York

Walking through a few familiar places....

Central Park and snow

the sun setting in New Jersey as viewed from the Hudson

and the moon rising


Jenny Goldsmith, New York

"the air is clear, the blue is celestial, the wonder expands..."


Paolo Martegani, Roma


Rosemary Paniagua, New York

if you’ve ever prayed to God ( …or universal Power, or whatever you consider greater than us… ), you should know that peace is an answer. Peace is the response and the gift from God.


Andrea Harrison, New York

...to meditate on peace...to gaze at the setting sun.
Having taught for over twenty years, I never had the chance to cherish the alert and aware eye of a pre-schooler until I had my own child. My three year old son processes his world visually; he has an expressive language disorder, yet he does not have any disorder in understanding the nuance and beauty of the world around him. He notices everything and his receptive observations challenge me to look and see...to shed the cataract of age that has clouded my once-upon-a-time pristine perception. Reading DB's words, a contemplation of the solstice, I must share the words spoken by my son on that very passage...we happened to be in a parking lot and the sun was making its grand exit. He looked up at the sky and said, "I want to touch the night time. I want to hold a star." I saw the smile on his face and joined him in his celebration...his discovery of something beautiful...something greater than either one of us...something greater than both of us...something greater than all of us. He knew it was impossible to do, but he had to voice his whimsical wish aloud...which, for me, was nothing short of a miracle--for the fact that he articulated it and for the fact that he made me look and truly see and truly appreciate the grandeur of the world around us.


Irene Mitchell, New York

Every Bright Green Yet Uncorrupted

Camera-shy after a long day,
and desiring no shocks except a small
jolt toward early eve
when the sun is perfect in its composure,

I sense the promise
of an hour spent beside the eglantine,
hearing in that bush the persistent
of fledglings in their encumbrance.

On the brink of levity flutters an idea
pendant in the wind only yesterday,
but no matter how I spin it,
each facet remains verdant

until shadows fall
in a fabrication of labyrinths and spirals,
and moon against cypress cuts a signal
on the path.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

W i n t e r : : S o l s t i c e

winter solstice (from latin sol stitium, sun stand)
is the moment when the sun in its apparent path reaches it
s southermost point in the northern sky before reversing its course in the northern hemisphere
the winter solstice brings the shortest day and the longest night.

Ancient civilizations celebrated winter and summer solstices with monuments and rituals. Stonehenge and Newgrange were aligned to mark the sun passage during these special days of the year cycle.
Nature takes time to peacefully rest and conserve energy: birds migrate to warmer climates, several animals hibernate and plants stay dormant, waiting to awake and renew in the spring.
Let's respect this period of the year in its peaceful beauty, celebrating rest and quiet.
For several years I have celebrated the winter solstice by recording the setting of the sun during its shortest appearance on earth: by photography, video,with a a meditation or yoga practice
Join me in a celebration of winter solstice 2010. Send photographs, poems or thoughts. from wherever you are during this winter solstice to axesmundi@sky-spirals.org, if you wish to post your celebratory memories in this blog.
Or simply virtually join me in a meditation, yoga, dance practice or quiet, while observing the sun setting, in celebration of nature peaceful rest.
Om Shanti
Sun rising at Sun Farm during 2008 winter solstice
Music: Thirteen, by Andrew Shapiro

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Earth - Sun- A Biospiritual Bond

In his video Canticle to the Cosmos, cosmologist Brian Swimme emphasizes that the relationship between the Sun and the Earth is biospiritual. "The Earth is bonded with the Sun in a way that is more than just physical. " He feels that…"We need to discover this in order to enter into a completely new and original relationship with the Universe, The relationship of sunlight and molecules is one that has been worked out through all of creativity. It means that WE are the result of the activity of the many creatures that have gone before us. WE are all deeply related. WE are all involved with the same life."

So we have over 3.5 years of emergent life with an intimate relationship to the Sun. Perhaps the first life was out of chemical combinations originating in conditions similar to those around the deep ocean smoker vents but the vast majority of life forms that we are uncovering as paleontologists catalogue and examine the various epochs we know that the relationship of the Sun to the Earth nourished all life, in the sea, on land, plant, animal. Through this bond, because of this bond to the Sun the Earth has educated itself to the nature of the Sun. Through self-propagation the earth has tried untold numbers of experiments utilizing the photon for it's chemistry. The gravid, fecund earth with wave upon wave of life unfolding moment by moment. The diverse Earth trying out evolving experiments with life and rejecting the vast majority of those experiments as conditions changed through time.

In complexity and chaos theory this idea of the self-organizing system is seen as possibly a universal law or general principal. Stuart Kauffman in his book At Home in the Universe proposes that after a certain level of density and complexity is reached in a system a transformation will take place and the system will self-organize into a different entity. From the primordial soup where a complex mix of molecules reaches a critical complexity a new form may self-organize into life itself. Kauffman says "..I believe that life is an emergent phenomenon…Although life as an emergent phenomenon may be profound, it's fundamental holism and emergence are not at all mysterious. Life is not located in the property of any single molecule or in the details but it is a collective property of systems of interacting molecules. Life, in this view, is not located in the parts, but in the collective emergent properties of the whole they create This systems view supports the Gain notion that the evolution of life as it continues to unfold is holistic. As much as we are tempted to pull single fragments from the web for investigation it is necessary that we recognize the context and reflect upon the place of that fragment within the entire system."

Biospiritual implies the dimension of our relationship to the Sun. We are here, thinking,, conscious, self-aware and at breakfast a few hours ago, everything we ate was brought forth by the Sun and were products of the Sun's relationship to the Earth. The vitality of this process is wondrous and certainly dynamic but for the most part we give the gift the Sun bestows upon the Earth little thought on a daily basis and the Sun hardly enters into our awareness except as a part of the morning weather report. But we are easily distracted and have to be constantly entertained by the forces at work in our culture. TV, Movies, consumerism, and stuff , lots of stuff ; while, of course the larger majority around the world are more concerned about survival; while most of our species are paying so little attention the forces that have always been at work and will always be at work to unfold and emerge. The living Earth system, Gaia, is educating itself to the new demands that humanity is placing upon it. Self-education… Humanity has arisen over the past 40-60,000 years as a formative cultural force and has very dramatically impacted the planet in the last 2,000 years. The real impact has happened within the last 500 years and with the beginning of the industrial revolution we have profoundly begun to educate the earth about our presence. And what is the earth is noticing? It is noticing THAT WE HAVE ALL OF THE MOMENTUM OF AN EXTINCTION EVENT. Not as dramatic as the comet or asteroid that slammed into the Earth 65 million years ago where almost instantly the earth had to heal and repair, to self-educate and self-organize. We are most certainly going down the path of reducing the diversity of opportunity for life forms within the ecological system of the earth and we are failing to understand that the system is integral, holistic and that the loss of biological niches where diversity can flourish and consequently countless species that have already disappeared because we did not notice them. We can be assured that the Earth did notice and that the process of self-education is well underway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sun

The Sun is a star of spectral classification G2:
Diameter: 1,392,000 km 1.392×106 km.
Mass: 1.989e30 kg 1.988 435×1030 kg
Temperature: 5800 K (surface); 13,600,000 K (core)
Mean distance from Earth: 149.6×106 km
The Sun is the largest object in the solar system and contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System. About 74% of the Sun's mass is hydrogen, 25% is helium, and the rest is made up of trace quantities of heavier elements. This proportion changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core in a nuclear fusion; the Sun is in a state of hydrostatic balance, neither contracting nor expanding over time. Conditions at the Sun's core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun's density is more than 150 times that of water.
The Sun's energy output (3.86e33 ergs/second or 386 billion megawatts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma rays. As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower and lower temperatures so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily visible light. For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is carried more by convection than by radiation.
Energy from the Sun—in the form of insolation from sunlight—supports almost all life on Earth via photosynthesis, and is the main factor of the Earth's climate and weather.
Observed from Earth, the path of the Sun across the sky varies throughout the year. In the ancient world, interventions in the landscape were means to interpret celestial events by observation of the setting and rising of the Sun. The meaning of visual observations often went beyond their perceptional value to gain a metaphysical and religious interpretation, becoming source for myths and rituals. In ancient cosmologies the perceived landscape became an image of the universe. The Sun was personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.

In the contemporary world we constantly witness the disconnection between nature and the built environment. Recent cosmological theories have revealed themselves as mathematical equations abstracted from the physical relations with the world. This disconnection from nature has often led to disastrous consequences in the environment. In the more recent decades, attention on environmentally sensitive and sustainable design has emerged. Sustainability requires reconnecting the lost connection with nature and the Sun which makes life on Earth possible. Sun Geometries arises as a contemporary expression of our connection with land and sky. Its connection with the Sun is manifested in its shape and by its materials: photovoltaic panels collecting solar energy. It brings awareness of where we are in space and time: its section is sloped at an angle parallel to the latitude of its location pointing to the North Star while casting shadows to tell us the time of the day and day of the year.