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Posts Tagged ‘nasa’

Awe Arousing Appearance of Aurora

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I love aurorae. Possibly one of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena to grace this planet.

Astronaut Ron Garan recently posted a fantastic photo of an aurora from Earth’s orbit on his Twitter feed:

One of the last pictures I took #FromSpace #Aurora - southern lights - dancing with #Orion 9/14/11 18:48 GMT

Makes me feel like a 9 year old kid again, wishing he could be an astronaut when he grows up.

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Ryan

Star Trek: 45 Years of Awesome!

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

It was 45 years ago today that we were first introduced to Star Trek (not counting “The Cage”; superfans know what I’m talking about).

The cultural and even scientific implications of Star Trek are incalculable. The first interracial kiss on television was shown on an episode of The Original Series between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura. Current devices like the tablet computer and catchphrases like “Beam me up, Scotty” all permeate our lives today. (Although, Kirk never actually said “Beam me up, Scotty”, but I digress.)

The Original Series, as well as the later incarnations, have been sources of inspriation and wonder for scientists, engineers, inventors, writers and countless others.

File:Enterprise free flight.jpg
The Space Shuttle “Enterprise” was named after the Starship “Enterprise”

I’m certain that my minor obsession with Star Trek led to my 6 (almost 7) years of studying physics at the University of Western Ontario. Science has always been a passion of mine, and my life is now better for it, and I owe part of that to Star Trek.

Personally, my favourite series was The Next Generation, and I think I am in good company. TNG benefited from seeing what worked for The Original Series, and giving it a good modernization.

File:TNGopeninglogo.svg

I also quite enjoyed Deep Space Nine. Opinions are quite divided on this series, but I felt the main story arc was a fresh detraction from tradional Trek that it was well worth watching.

Recently, I had a rousing game of “Star Trek: Scene It?” with some fellow nerd friends. When my team did not answer the final questions correctly (did you know that Lt. Reginald Barclay was on an episode of The A-Team?) we moved on to a discussion of what each of our favourite episodes were.

For me, the episode that sticks out the most is The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect”. The plot involves the crew of the Enterprise-D getting caught in a time loop and attempting to send messages to their “past selves” in order to break out of loop. The intensity of the episode is kept pretty high as the time loop always ended with the destruction of the Enterprise. (The episode also has a nice little cameo by Kelsey Grammar!)

So, what is YOUR favourite Trek episode? Any series, any season, lemme know!

Now, I think I will go celebrate the rest of this day by watching a few of my favourite episodes and enjoying a nice cup of tea.

Earl Grey.

Hot.

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REMINDER: This blog is moving! The new location is http://www.aquantumofknowledge.com/ 

Remember to update your subscriptions! This site will go dead on September 30, 2011. 

Thanks! 

Ryan

Last Shuttle Launch and A Comet Across the Sun’s Bow

July 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Some cool stuff happening in and around space these last couple days.

This video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a comet streaking across the face of the Sun!!

And of course, the final shuttle launch EVER happened earlier today.

Screen grab of video from NASA website.

No More Tears in Heaven

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment
File:Astronaut-EVA.jpg

Photo: NASA/JPL

Drew Feustel, an astronaut currently in space with the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, had a small problem with his spacewalk on Wednesday.

Some anti-fog solution he had rubbed onto his visor started to flake off during the spacewalk. Since the anti-fog solution is really just dish soap, it caused a problem because it flaked off into his eye.

If you have ever gotten soap in your eye, you know its terrible, terrible sting.

Aside: I used to put dish soap on my glasses when I played hockey so they wouldn’t fog up. I didn’t realize this was a “space-age” solution.

So poor Drew’s eyes started to water. But because of the lack of gravity, the tears would not fall down, they just sort of hung around on his eyeball.

“Tears in space don’t run down your face,” he said, according to lead spacewalk officer Allison Bollinger

“They actually kind of conglomerate around your eyeball,” Bollinger recounted.

Eventually, he was able to rub his eye on a device inside his helmet to release the fluid from the surface of his eye.

So disaster averted. This indeed sounds like one of the ultimate #firstworldproblems

The Great Moonbuggy Race

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA's 2011 Great Moonbuggy Race (April 1-2, 2011) - Photo: NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center

This past weekend in Huntsville, Alabama, the 18th Annual Great Moonbuggy race was held.

The fact that this has been going on for 18 years and I’ve only just learned about it, makes me sad.

The competition was inspired by the challenges which faced the designers of NASA’s first moonbuggy, which was shipped to the moon on Apollo 15.

Each Moonbuggy will be human powered and carry two students, one female and one male, over a half-mile simulated lunar terrain course including “craters”, rocks, “lava” ridges, inclines and “lunar” soil…

As a part of the competition, and prior to course testing, the un-assembled Moonbuggy entries must be carried to the course starting line, with the unassembled components contained in a volume of 4’x 4’x 4′ (dimension requirements similar to those for the original Lunar Roving Vehicle).

The College division was won for the second year in a row by racers from the University of Puerto Rico. Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School Team II of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, also won in the High School division.

More than 70 teams from 20 countries all over the world took part in the race this year; the largest turn out ever.

The Journal of Cosmology Strikes Back

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

So the Journal of Cosmology (JoC) has written a response to the criticisms of Richard Hoover’s paper claiming to have found fossilized alien bacteria in a meteorite.

They begin by stating that they are, indeed, a prestigious scientific journal.

The Journal of Cosmology is a Prestigious Scientific Journal

I dunno, but if you have to say that you are prestigious, then you probably aren’t. It’s kind of like Milhouse Van Houten saying that his mom thinks he is cool, or Ron Burgandy arguing his importance by stating he has “many leather-bound books”.

The paper itself has been very heavily criticized. Scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference this year in Texas, regard it as “a dubious controversy that will do science little good”.

Meteoriticist Edward Anders, retired from the University of Chicago in Illinois stated in Science that

Despite [Hoover’s] generous sprinkling of fancy names, these structures are in a morphological no man’s land,

The blogosphere is responding in a similar fashion (including yours truly), with the consensus being that these claims are at best premature, and at worst they are outright bogus.

So in light of the large number of scientists showing doubt over the quality of Hoover’s research, the JoC felt it was necessary to respond directly to its critics. The title of their response is “Have the Terrorists Won?”

Umm…WHAT!?

You are comparing legitimate scientific criticism to terrorist attacks!? I’m already starting to feel sick, but let’s go further.

Only a few crackpots and charlatans have denounced the Hoover study…Tremendous efforts have been made to shout down the truth, and the same crackpots, self-promoters, liars, and failures, are quoted repeatedly in the media. However, where is the evidence the Hoover study is not accurate?

To paraphrase, the JoC is saying “prove to us its NOT true!” It is becoming abundantly clear that the editors of the JoC are hell-bent on believing this paper and are not willing to listen to any one else’s opinions.

Following the publication of Richard Hoover’s paper, what ensued could be likened to a rein [sic] of terror, a witch hunt, an inquisition designed to crush all discussion of his findings. There were even calls to “hang” Richard Hoover. Three hundred years ago, they would have burned us all at the stake.

Can you say “melodramatic”? The discussions on the legitimacy of Hoover’s work are somehow similar to a reign of terror or the with trials of the 16th to 18th centuries?

The silence is deafening. What prominent scientist would dare to publicly support Hoover’s findings, when they know that raving lunatics will be unleashed to destroy their reputation?

How can science advance in this country if NASA and the media promotes frothing-at the-mouth-attacks on legitimate scientists and scientific periodicals who dare to publish new discoveries or new ideas?

The Journal of Cosmology sought to promote science and scientific debate, but the scientific community is too frightened and terrorized to speak up.

It took courage to publish the Hoover discoveries. The Journal of Cosmology will continue to publish great theories and new discoveries.

The terrorists and the lunatic fringe have lost.

These sound more like the ravings of a conspiracy theorist than the commentary of a “prestigious” journal editor.

Their use of the historical references  in which the scientific consensus was proved wrong is the kind of faulty logic that many proponents of pseudoscience fall victim to. How many times have you heard the anti-vaxxers say that “tobacco was once considered safe”? That doesn’t mean vaccines cause autism, and just because there have been times in the past when scientists were proved wrong, doesn’t mean that every article published in the JoC is right.

Calling those who oppose your views “raving lunatics” and “frothing-at-the-mouth attacks” does not improve the JoC’s credibility, and only shows that they are set to believe this paper, whether we like it or not.

If I may channel the great Ron Burgandy once again: “Stay classy JoC. Stay classy.”

 

Mars Rover ‘Opportunity’ Seen From Orbit

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I thought this was pretty cool.

The Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’ was captured in this image from the Mars Reconnasaince Orbiter while it was studying a crater.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired this color image on March 9, 2011, of "Santa Maria" crater, showing NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity perched on the southeast rim. - Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Click for High-Resolution Version - Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Opportunity has been working on Mars since 2004, even though its initial mission length was only supposed to be 3 months.

Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.