06/28/16

Big Imagination’s 747 Project for Burning Man

The Desert Wizards of Mars are supporting the build of Big Imagination’s 747 Project for Burning Man. Many Desert Wizards are currently on the build site at the Mojave Airport working on the Boeing 747-400 aircraft that once flew for Yarig Airlines (a Brazilian carrier), then converted to a cargo aircraft. Presently, it is being converted into the largest art car to ever attend Burning Man.

Big Imagination IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign Video from Big Imagination on Vimeo.

The lead of Big Imagination, Ken Feldman, and the founder of the Desert Wizards of Mars, Charles White, share a common history in the building of the popular Charlie the Unicorn Art Car that has attended Burning Man since 2011 under the management of Camp Charlie. In 2013 Charles White set out on his own to build the Mars Rover Art Car and in 2014, Ken Feldman also set out to begin the preliminary work on the 747 by founding the Big Imagination non-profit organization.

The Desert Wizards of Mars seeks to intermix science and art together in ways that people can understand and participate with. With the addition in 2014 of the Black Rock Observatory and the 2015 Interstellar Emissary, our goal to create exciting venues for science and art have inspired not just Burning Man attendees, but also the general public and several school programs in what we call ‘the default world’.

Big Imagination is leading the way with the huge airplane that will feature talks by thought leaders and a venue for outrageous fun. How could the Desert Wizards not be a part of this bold audacious project to inspire imaginations? “No dream is out of reach”, said Ken Feldman — and the Desert Wizards fully support this message.

Take a look at The 747 Project’s fundraiser. Help support this awesome project if you can. And come find us on the playa!

 

05/29/16

Our Mission: Make a Positive Impact on Science Literacy

The Desert Wizards of Mars came together because a group of individuals – artists, scientists, builders, and makers – wanted to make an impact on science literacy. As seen all over the internet, the anti-science groups have taken hold and it is difficult for some people to separate fact from fiction. The Desert Wizards want to inspire everyone – adults and children from all backgrounds and from all socioeconomic groups – we want to inspire people to study the sciences and become more scientifically literate. To that end, we’ve built space-themed art that is designed to inspire awe and to encourage people to ask questions. We want you to fall in love with the heavens; to discover space; and to learn even a little bit more about the universe. We want you to Dare Mighty Things with us.

Desert Wizard Pat Rapp recently gave a talk at TEDxAllendaleColumbia, showing how YOU can help make an impact on science literacy, and why it’s so important. The theme of the TEDx event was “Dare to Defy.” The Desert Wizards of Mars defy stereotypes while encouraging everyone to learn and have fun.

12/9/15

DWOM Charitable Gifting: Help Us Help Our Community!

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A message from the Desert Wizards of Mars, Black Rock Observatory, and Burners without Borders…

The holiday season is upon us and the playa dust is gone from the last of our things but the burn is still present in our thoughts. We may be far away from our beloved city but we should always remember who we are and the principles we believe in and follow. The most powerful principle in our community is unconditional gifting and we all have fond memories and unforgettable experiences of receiving a gift from another. There are few greater joys than receiving what you need, at the moment you need it, from an intention of genuine love. These memories can be a powerful tool to inspire us to think of others less fortunate or in need during a crisis especially during the holidays.

There are Burners and others who are in need this holiday and every one of us deserves to experience festivities, have a special meal, and spend quality time together with the people we care about and love. The Desert Wizards of Mars and Black Rock Observatory, in collaboration with Burners without Borders, are on a mission. Our mission objective is to give back to the community in need during the holidays. The Burning Man census data indicates 21.9% of our community have zero income or report an income below poverty level, and Los Angeles county statistics report similar economic figures.

We are collecting contributions from our organizations and donations from you to give back to our community. If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time this holiday then message us and let us know.

IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DONATE WE ARE ACCEPTING MONEY DONATIONS THROUGH OUR PAYPAL ACCOUNT >> DonationsBRO@gmail.com << PLEASE GIVE WHATEVER YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH HOWEVER BIG OR SMALL. We will use all of the contributions to make gift card purchases for the holidays and help in any way we can. If you donate please give us your contact information and we will send you some surprise Desert Wizards of Mars, Black Rock Observatory, and Burners without Borders swag!

Use the Paypal account listed above or use this handy button:

It is said that those who are crazy enough to try and change the world usually do and we Burners are just crazy enough to succeed. Join us on this mission to promote our principles and make our default world a better place.

Your friends,

The Desert Wizards of Mars and Black Rock Observatory & Burners without Borders

02/21/15

The Interstellar Emissary

Interstellar Emissary is our newest art project! It’s an homage to the Voyager Spacecraft’s Golden Record. We’re building this as a way to entice people to think about space, future humans and other life in the universe, and our place in the vast cosmos. We’re bringing it to Burning Man 2015, but that’s not all. It’s our latest educational piece, so once we return from the desert we will be taking it “on the road” to other events, schools, science fairs, and maybe even a Maker Faire or two.

Please help us get this art built so we can share Science with the world! DONATE to the Interstellar Emissary!

Our fundraising campaign is here: http://igg.me/at/ie101010

We’re all travelers in an interstellar Carnival of Mirrors. As you venture out into deep Playa, the Interstellar Emissary will be there to make contact.

Interstellar Emissary

Coming to the Playa in 2015, the Interstellar Emissary will not only be a beacon guiding travelers to the Black Rock Observatory, it will also be a message to spacefaring civilizations.

07/6/14

What’s the big deal with the Black Rock Observatory?

by Anthony Lanni

 

Like many of us in the Desert Wizards, I’ve been talking about the Black Rock Observatory a lot lately; posting about the kickstarter, asking people to share, etc. At the height of it, one of my friends asked me why I’m so excited about it.

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Well, where do I begin. Oh, yes… when I was 7 or 8, and I fell in love with space.

I wanted to be an astronaut.

I got a subscription to a NASA publicity junket that sent me patches and pictures from Voyagers 1&2, SpaceLab, and the great telescopes.

I learned all the Greek myths, and the names of the constellations.

I had a glow in the dark map of the sky on my ceiling, with all the names of stars and constellations, where I could look at it before I fell asleep.

I watched Star Wars.

I started reading science fiction: Bradbury, and Asimov, and E.E. Doc Smith, and Jose Farmer, and Niven, and countless others.

I watched Star Trek: TOS with my father, 5pm on channel 5 every Saturday and Sunday.

I toured a mock-up of the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and got to watch the beginnings of the shuttle program, both triumphs and tragedies.

I watched Star Trek: TNG with my friends in college.

I still read every bit of science fiction I can get my hands on. I write it, too.

I subscribe to 9 different channels on YouTube about science.

I am, now and always, a space and science and science fiction geek. I love this stuff. And I’m really excited to share it with people that share my interest, and with those that are just learning to love it, and even those with only a passing interest.

So yeah, I’m talking about this project a lot; it’s important to me, as all the things we love are important to us. And holy cow is it cool.

06/18/14

Kickstarter Launch for Black Rock Observatory


We’re building an astronomical observatory for Burning Man 2014 and beyond, complete with giant telescope and science exhibits! The Black Rock Observatory will be a mobile observatory dedicated to the celebration of art and science and built to show the public the joy, immediacy and beauty of our solar system and universe.

The observatory consists of two 21’ domes designed by 2013 temple architect Gregg Fleishman and built by the Desert Wizards of Mars. At night, participants will be invited from miles away by high powered lasers pointing out planets and distant targets from an open sky planetarium. Our 20″ telescope will resolve the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and five of its moons, Martian polar ice caps, outer planets, and distant galaxies and nebulae! We also have an extensive daytime program in store including meteorites, white light and h-alpha solar telescopes, pinhole viewers and a radio telescope.

Our planetarium will be a place where travelers can rest their weary feet and dazzle the brain. An outpost for the curious and intrepid, we want to give the sky back to those who have forgotten it belongs to them. We want to give them views of the night sky they can explore again after Exodus by simply looking up and connecting.

Please check out and share our Kickstarter – funding ends July 17th!

05/28/14

First BRO Fundraising Event Held at Mount Wilson Observatory

by Scott Kelley

 
If you are not a hiker or a science geek, you may not know that one of our local Los Angeles peaks holds a number of prominent astronomical observatories. I’m talking about Mt. Wilson. You know, the one above Pasadena with all the antennas sprouting off of it.

Photo from summitpost.org

Mount Wilson

Back in 1904 when LA was just a little town of about 250,000, our skies were very dark and an our inversion layer (that traps the smog) made it an ideal place for an observatory. These days most of the real science is done with the solar and interferometry scopes. But the big 60″ and 100″ scopes are still there. And get this, YOU CAN RENT THEM OUT!

Photo by Tom Varden

Photo by Tom Varden

So our intrepid leader somehow scored a Saturday night with no moon for Black Rock Observatory crew and supporters. We met at the gate and were escorted under the strict watch of our session director. After walking up the stairs to instrument level, there it is, BOOM, a giant telescope.

Photo by Scott Kelley

Photo by Scott Kelley

We had about five hours total with the 60″ scope and the close by 16″ scope that is used for educational outreach. The smaller scope seemed to me to have better images of the planets, but not the nebula.

Photo by Cathleen Cotter

Photo by Cathleen Cotter

Some folks were a little surprised that the images don’t look like those giant super saturated pics from a book. But you are also looking directly at the light from that distant object. No computers or other funny business. Straight from the stars, across hundreds of light years, into the scope, into your pupil, down the optic nerve to be burned into your brain forever. Or at least until your puny carbon based life body crumbles back to star dust.

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05/14/14

What makes us Wizards?

by Charles White

 

Arthur C. Clark once said, “Any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

This one sentence has done much to define who we are, because today we have so much advanced technology that we are able to open doors, turn on lights, start music, and do many other things from very far away at the simple push of a button.

Yet there is more to being a wizard than just technology… there is wisdom.

The author J. R. R. Tolkien wrote of five wizards whom the Elves considered “the Wise Ones.”

But wait, there is more… kindness.

In Gandalf the Grey we see his great kindness towards the Hobbits, the Elves, and the Humans in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Author L. Frank Baum wrote about a fellow with a very long name of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (which was shortened to “Wizard of Oz”).  The Wizard of Oz was a kind and simple man from Nebraska, who had no magical powers except for his knowledge of technology, and his kindness was shown throughout the movie and the books.

But wait, there is more still…

In many cases throughout fiction, most every wizard ends up in a situation where they are at the limits of their powers. They must suddenly devise a solution on the spot and in the nick of time.  They invent solutions using methods in magic, or technology.

If you consider all these traits I have talked about above, then you can understand why the “Desert Wizards of Mars” is so appropriate a title for those who participate on the three projects to date; the Human Spirit, the Mars Rover Art Car, and the Black Rock Observatory.

I have seen amazing uses of technology, and devised inventions as well, among all the people who volunteer on these projects.  But the most important and touching aspect of the Desert Wizards is their unabashed use of kindness.

People are willing to help not just in building these projects, but also in helping clean up, fix things, and do projects that are not even related to the project at hand.  The Wizards prepare food and cook for each other.  We laugh together, we cry together.  We care for the welfare of each of us.

This is what truly makes the Desert Wizard of Mars such a great bunch of people to be surrounded by during these events.  And to me, it is funny to note that the Desert Wizards of Mars does not really exist when we are all apart.  It is only when we gather, put our minds together, raise our power tool magic wands and build things, that our sorcery is apparent.

We are Desert Wizards! …and Mars awaits us.

05/5/14

Interactive Art and Science

by Phoenix della Mare

 

I’ve always found it interesting watching children play, particularly the ways they move and manipulate the world to understand it. A few years ago, I worked at a children’s museum that would teach science through interactive exhibits. I loved seeing their faces light up as they would spend hours playing with the various exhibits. I worked at a smaller museum, but there are museums that do the same thing on a larger scale. The best example that I know of is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Spending a day in this museum, you can see children of all ages delight and learn through manipulation. More importantly this is about how interactive art, and specifically the Mars Rover Art Car, can engage children and excite them in STEM disciplines.

It’s hard to get most children excited about abstract concepts. It’s something that children don’t necessarily understand at a young age. Children start learning the ability to understand abstracts between the ages of 7-12, most falling in the median age of 9.5. Before that, most children start to understand the world through manipulation. How can they move this or touch that.

It’s during these early years that interactive art with a STEM bent can stoke a young child’s imagination. They’re capable of seeing concepts that you learn about in the hard sciences. Dropping a ball down the stairs, for instance, then doing the same with balls of two different sizes, to start teaching a rudimentary understanding of gravity. Playing with a Rube Goldberg machine at an interactive science museum… these are things that can engage younger children.

If a child can go up to something and see it, play with it, it can go a long way in getting a child to understand the hard sciences. It starts a child’s brain to begin to understand the physical principles that govern the world. In an era where some people still believe we live in a geocentric universe, making science more digestible to children is an ideal way to get them interested.

So, where do pieces like the Mars Rover Art Car come in?

It can easily act as an intermediary to showing children what engineering and science can create. They can appreciate in a real and physical sense what the hard sciences have to teach them. It’s part of what museums like the Exploratorium have done for many years.

The more that we create interactive art with a science bent, the more we can get children enthused about science.

04/21/14

The Sweat Lodge and the Ten Principles

by Anthony Lanni

 

This weekend Mark Donovan and I were fortunate enough to be invited by Charles White to join him for a Sweat Lodge ceremony led by Charles’ uncle, Robertjohn. For those of you who weren’t aware, the Admiral has a strong Native American heritage, and as I ruminated on the experience yesterday I realized just why Charles has such an affinity for Burning Man culture, and why he has become the Admiral for all of us in the Desert Wizards.

I’m not going to talk very much about the ceremony itself; suffice it to say that I have been looking forward to participating in a sweat lodge ceremony since I was a late teenager. What I do want to talk about is the amazing crossover of ideals that I experienced, particularly with regard for the 10 Principles of Burning Man.

First off, I would like to mention that I had plans for Saturday night already laid out when Charles posted a message asking if anyone was interested in joining him. First principle I experienced: Immediacy. I knew this was not a common opportunity, and so I messaged Charles immediately. When he responded to the affirmative, I had to scramble to get my other plans shifted to Sunday night. Absolutely worth it.

Mark and I were both nervous about our Participation, since we had never done a sweat before, and didn’t know what we might do wrong or to offend. When we arrived we eagerly offered to help out wherever we could, and ended up carrying firewood. During that work we had a good conversation with a tribe member named Eddie, who told us not to worry; there would always be someone to guide us through.

When it came time to participate in the rituals of the sweat, neither of us knew what to do. As Eddie said, that was not an issue; Uncle Robertjohn and the rest of the circle, though they may not know it by name, firmly practice the principle of Radical Inclusion. They welcome outsiders, first timers, members of other tribes; anyone who has a genuine interest in participating is welcome.

Everyone formed a circle before the sweat, and Uncle Robertjohn encouraged each of us to speak out in turn, introducing ourselves and saying why were were there. He did the same thing during the sweat, asking people to express themselves, and encouraging them to dig deeper when they were hesitant. It was one of the truest forms of Radical Self-expression I’ve seen, and it was both inspirational and amazing.

Many of the other principles came out when Robertjohn spoke. He has an incredible ability to speak deep truths, and do so in a manner that is often funny and always easy to understand. In his words I heard him talk about Civic Responsibility, not just to the people in your communities but to the environment and, indeed, to the entire universe. The principle of Communal Effort was evident not only in Robertjohn’s words, but also in the actions of the people who participated, as everyone helped clean up, make sure the lodge was cared for, and contributed to the meal we had afterwards. I could point out that everyone’s contributions to the meal firmly fell into the principle of Gifting, but in reality that was only a part of it; the entire ceremony was a gift from every person to every other person, as each gave in his or her own way. They also cautioned us to Leave No Trace, to make sure that we took everything we brought with us back out again.

There is an 11th principle that Athena Demos put on the cards she handed out at Bequinox: the “Los Angeles Bonus Principle”, Gratitude. Robertjohn talked about thanks quite a bit, how we should give thanks to everything that is for being part of us, being part of our creation and our lives. I would like to express my gratitude to Charles for having me and Mark along with him. It’s no surprise that Charles loves Burning Man and us Burners so much, that he so easily lives the 10 Principles; it is the heritage of his culture, a culture that dates back thousands of years.

And I, for one, feel privileged to be a part of it. Though the Desert Wizards, through Burning Man, through the Ten Principles and our friendships and our wild ideas and practical reasoning and spirited discussions and massive, massive love, we are continuing a tradition so ancient as to be unfathomable, but so modern as to be indisputable.

As Charles said this weekend: You may not understand this, but I love you.