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Opinion: How will development impact the racial makeup of L.A.’s final predominantly Black city?

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Living in Inglewood these days is living in tension about change. Like many other places in and around L.A., its core is being transformed by development that’s become a spectacle, something I have been watching unfold with a mix of apprehension and disbelief.

SoFi Stadium is not just a stadium, it’s become shorthand for everything else in the built world of Hollywood Park: condos, retail, and the soon-to-be-completed Intuit Dome, the new home of the Clippers, which rises at the corner of Prairie Avenue and Century Boulevard like a giant, space-age basketball.

All that glitters presses up against the neighborhoods in the last solidly Black city in the county, and while the outside world touts SoFi, etc., as progress, in Inglewood it feels very much like the reconfiguring is being done without the local population in mind.

But not entirely.

Gentrification in Inglewood has always worn a face of Black uplift, which is part of what causes the tension. Admittedly, that face can be gratifying. During Black History Month, SoFi featured a world-class Black art and historical-artifact exhibit, courtesy of the renowned collectors and philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey. This is an updated, enhanced version of the Kinsey exhibit that debuted in February 2023.

Next door to SoFi, in the walkway of a new retail development that includes a luxury movie theater, there are works by the celebrated Black sculptor Alison Saar. Last year that walkway was the site of a lively weekend festival for Black-owned businesses. On the side of a building is a striking mural of a Black woman floating in water by local artist Calida Rawles. And on other walls, ads depict Black residents enjoying the amenities of a chic, prosperous new city that attracts people of all colors from all over L.A., from all over the world, as the banners along Prairie declaring “A Global Stage” suggest.

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It’s a heady vision of the future, one I would love to believe in. Every time I hurry through that walkway on my way to a movie, I marvel at museum-quality art here in the neighborhood, out in the open. It’s an upgrade I can’t argue with.

And yet the bigger picture is not all pretty. Part of the SoFi development deal with Inglewood was a commitment to commissioning public art in and around the stadium. It’s actually required of big developments like this. The city was supposed to oversee the process, but it more or less ceded that power to the developer, just as it ceded other kinds of oversight when it fast-tracked the stadium back in 2015.

City Hall has all along been willing to trade away almost anything for development, especially sports venues. Why? Because for way too long the city languished as what I call the South-Central of South Bay — struggling to attract even modest national chain stores because its Black and brown demographics automatically made it an undesirable market. The recession of the early 1990s compounded the problem, along with the chronic inability or unwillingness of elected officials to plan for serious change.

SoFi was thus sold to and by City Hall as our great change agent, the thing that would finally take Inglewood from moribund to modern.

The stadium’s engendering change all right, but the cost feels too high, destabilizing. Art is wonderful and welcome, but what Black people really need to secure their futures are affordable housing and decent schools. SoFi and all the rest secure neither. To the degree that the stadium and associated development have taken up public land in this large small city, it is actually making more affordable housing less attainable.

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It’s not all bad, of course. Notable Black business and creative spaces have been popping up in the new Inglewood, including galleries, restaurants, and coffee hangs. Hilltop Café, for instance, on La Brea Avenue is co-owned by local-girl-made-good Issa Rae.

These are the kinds of small but significant businesses that Inglewood has always had, but just not in a critical mass. Together they express the true character and promise of the city, make it a destination — in real estate marketing speak, make it “desirable.”

Hopefully, the new desirability won’t be synonymous, as it so often is, with “white.”

Rick Garzon, whose downtown gallery Residency recently moved to the Hollywood Park retail district close to SoFi, told me he’s confident that Inglewood will beat back the usual displacement narrative of gentrification and create a new one of real Black progress. It has the goods, he says, starting with a solid base of homeowners committed to the city who aren’t going anywhere. Development may be pressing down on us, but we won’t crumble, he says. We are changing the game.

I would love to believe that too. I would love the corporate campaign painting Inglewood as Black and prospering on its terms — an equal partner in this breakneck development — to be true.

But history is against it. So is math — the economics of gentrification, intricately tied to have/have-not realities, including the racial wealth gap, virtually guarantee that new homeowners won’t be Black. The same is true of renters, who are actually the majority of Inglewood residents. The median price of a home in some Inglewood neighborhoods is nudging up to $900,000 now. That’s downright modest in L.A.’s overheated market but out of reach for the Black working-to-middle class that is the city’s foundation.

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Inglewood is a mosaic, but also one community with common needs. That fact is what makes us truly unique, a work of art — in progress. The physical art — and the art to come — accurately conveys Black power and depth. We just have to live up to the image.

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a contributing writer to Opinion and a columnist at Truthdig.

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Spacecraft Flying in Formation Could Explore the Solar System for Discovering New Physics


Formation-Flying Spacecraft Could Probe the Solar System for New Physics

Formation-Flying Spacecraft Could Probe the Solar System for New Physics

It’s an exciting time for the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. Thanks to cutting-edge observatories, instruments, and new techniques, scientists are getting closer to experimentally verifying theories that remain largely untested. These theories address some of the most pressing questions scientists have about the Universe and the physical laws governing it – like the nature of gravity, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. For decades, scientists have postulated that either there is additional physics at work or that our predominant cosmological model needs to be revised.

While the investigation into the existence and nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy is ongoing, there are also attempts to resolve these mysteries with the possible existence of new physics. In a recent paper, a team of NASA researchers proposed how spacecraft could search for evidence of additional physical within our Solar Systems. This search, they argue, would be assisted by the spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation and using interferometers. Such a mission could help resolve a cosmological mystery that has eluded scientists for over half a century.

The proposal is the work of Slava G. Turyshev, an adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and research scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was joined by Sheng-wey Chiow, an experimental physicist at NASA JPL, and Nan Yu, an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina and a senior research scientist at NASA JPL. Their research paper recently appeared online and has been accepted for publication in Physical Review D.

Turyshev’s experience includes being a Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission science team member. In previous work, Turyshev and his colleagues have investigated how a mission to the Sun’s solar gravitational lens (SGL) could revolutionize astronomy. The concept paper was awarded a Phase III grant in 2020 by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. In a previous study, he and SETI astronomer Claudio Maccone also considered how advanced civilizations could use SGLs to transmit power from one solar system to the next.

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To summarize, gravitational lensing is a phenomenon where gravitational fields alter the curvature of spacetime in their vicinity. This effect was originally predicted by Einstein in 1916 and was used by Arthur Eddington in 1919 to confirm his General Relativity (GR). However, between the 1960s and 1990s, observations of the rotational curves of galaxies and the expansion of the Universe gave rise to new theories regarding the nature of gravity over larger cosmic scales. On the one hand, scientists postulated the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy to reconcile their observations with GR.

On the other hand, scientists have advanced alternate theories of gravity (such as Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), Modified Gravity (MOG), etc.). Meanwhile, others have suggested there may be additional physics in the cosmos that we are not yet aware of. As Turyshev told Universe Today via email:

“We are eager to explore questions surrounding the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter. Despite their discovery in the last century, their underlying causes remain elusive. Should these ‘anomalies’ stem from new physics—phenomena yet to be observed in ground-based laboratories or particle accelerators—it’s possible that this novel force could manifest on a solar system scale.”

For their latest study, Turyshev and his colleagues investigated how a series of spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation could investigate the Sun’s gravitational field. These investigations, said Turyshev, would search for deviations from the predictions of general relativity at the Solar System scale, something that has not been possible to date.

“These deviations are hypothesized to manifest as nonzero elements in the gravity gradient tensor (GGT), fundamentally akin to a solution of the Poisson equation. Due to their minuscule nature, detecting these deviations demands precision far surpassing current capabilities—by at least five orders of magnitude. At such a heightened level of accuracy, numerous well-known effects will introduce significant noise. The strategy involves conducting differential measurements to negate the impact of known forces, thereby revealing the subtle, yet nonzero, contributions to the GGT.”

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The mission, said Turyshev, would employ local measurement techniques that rely on a series of interferometers. This includes interferometric laser ranging, a technique demonstrated by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a spacecraft pair that relies on laser range finding to track Earth’s oceans, glaciers, rivers, and surface water. The same technique will also be used to investigate gravitational waves by the proposed space-based Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA).

The spacecraft will also be equipped with atom interferometers, which use the wave character of atoms to measure the difference in phase between atomic matter waves along different paths. This technique will allow the spacecraft to detect the presence of non-gravitational noise (thruster activity, solar radiation pressure, thermal recoil forces, etc.) and negate them to the necessary degree. Meanwhile, flying in a tetrahedral formation will optimize the spacecraft’s ability to compare measurements.

“Laser ranging will offer us highly accurate data on the distances and relative velocities between spacecraft,” said Turyshev. “Furthermore, its exceptional precision will allow us to measure the rotation of a tetrahedron formation relative to an inertial reference frame (via Sagnac observables), a task unachievable by any other means. Consequently, this will establish a tetrahedral formation leveraging a suite of local measurements.”

Ultimately, this mission will test GR on the smallest of scales, which has been sorely lacking to date. While scientists continue to probe the effect of gravitational fields on spacetime, these have been largely confined to using galaxies and galaxy clusters as lenses. Other instances include observations of compact objects (like white dwarf stars) and supermassive black holes (SMBH) like Sagittarius A* – which resides at the center of the Milky Way.

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“We aim to enhance the precision of testing GR and alternative gravitational theories by more than five orders of magnitude. Beyond this primary objective, our mission has additional scientific goals, which we will detail in our subsequent paper. These include testing GR and other gravitational theories, detecting gravitational waves in the micro-Hertz range—a spectrum not reachable by existing or envisioned instruments— and exploring aspects of the solar system, such as the hypothetical Planet 9, among other endeavors.”

Further Reading: Physical Review D

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