Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

Science at Bedtime

“Daddy? How do you make water?” “You mean, what is it made of?” “Yeah, what’s water made of?” “Hydrogen and oxygen.” “Oh. And what’s hydrogen and oxygen?” “They’re chemical elements.” “So, when we drink water, we’re drinking chemicals?” “Well, yeah. In a sense, everything is chemicals. Water’s a chemical, air is made of chemicals. ”…

Cosmos Reboot, Episode 2

This week’s Cosmos was all about the evolution of life, and was viewed by millions of people outside of Oklahoma, where they presumably got an hour-long local news promo, or analysis of the Oklahoma State’s chances in the NCAA Tournament. As such, it was a bit outside my area of expertise, but that never stopped…

“So, that’s the science show with space pictures. What did you think of it, honey?” “Science. Space pictures. Awesome!” Our umpteenth winter storm of the season delayed school two hours this morning, which is kind of the worst of all possible worlds from a parenting perspective– when the schools are closed, there’s (usually) a snow-day…

Obligatory Cosmos Commentary

It says here in the fine print that my blogging license could be revoked if I fail to offer a public opinion on the Cosmos reboot, which premiered last night. I missed the first couple of minutes– I had The Pip for bedtime, and he didn’t start snoring until 8:58– but saw most of it…

SteelyKid and the Big Telescope

SteelyKid’s class at her after-school day care has been learning about space for the last month or two (the program is very flexible– the teachers ask the kids what they want to learn about, and then they spend however long on that topic the kids like), so we’ve been getting a lot of tidbits about…

It’s taken me a disgracefully long time to finish the review copy of Lee Billings’s Five Billion Years of Solitude I was sent back in the fall, mostly because I didn’t read anything not immediately related to the book-in-progress for most of November and all of December. Which is to say, the long delay is…

Work-Life Juggling, Then and Now

A couple of Mondays ago, I was at work and got the dreaded phone call from day care. “[The Pip]‘s got conjunctivitis again. It’s really bad, and he needs to go home right away.” Admittedly, this isn’t the very worst phone call a parent could receive, but it’s very much Not Good. Conjunctivitis means a…

My trip into the office today was for the express purpose of posting this job ad: We invite applications for Visiting Assistant Professor starting in September 2014. This position is available for up to three years, contingent on satisfactory performance. Applicants should have some teaching experience and a strong commitment to undergraduate education. Union is…

The Ultimate Alien Message

In January of 1990, a friend and I designed the ultimate message to an alien civilization. Okay, admittedly, this wan’t a recognized scientific accomplishment. After all, in January of 1990, I was a freshman at Williams. The alien message we designed was part of a first-year Winter Study seminar class. Winter Study, for those not…

Finding That There’s Nothing to Find

In 1967, a team of scientists hauled a big pile of gear– electronics, particle detectors, a giant slab of iron– into the burial chamber at the base of one of the pyramids at Giza. This sounds like a scene from a science fiction or fantasy novel– throw in the fact that their first attempt was…