Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

I’m about a week late talking about this, but I’ve mostly resigned myself to not doing really topical blogging these days. Anyway, there was a lot of excitement last week over the announcement that an all-star team of nerd billionaires is planning to do commercial asteroid mining. (The post title is a reference to the…

Assyrian Books and Quote Chasing

While reading bits of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles yesterday, I ran across this quote, attributed to “an Assyrian clay tablet from 2800 BC”: Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents;…

A Musical Interlude

Yesterday was a really grueling day, and I’m home with The Pip today, so no substantive blogging. But here’s a song about the universe, written and performed by one of my colleagues: If this becomes the next LHC Rap, remember you heard it here first. By a weird coincidence, we’ve been watching our Animaniacs DVD’s…

In a book that I read recently (either The Cloud Roads or The Serpent Sea– I finished the first and immediately started the second), as some characters are traveling from one place to another, there’s a passing mention that they weren’t able to hunt at night because the moon wasn’t out and it was too…

As I keep saying in various posts, I’m teaching a class on timekeeping this term, which has included discussion of really primitive timekeeping devices like sundials, as well as a discussion of the importance of timekeeping for navigation. To give students an idea of how this works, I arranged an experimental demonstration, coordinated with Rhett…

Critical Pronunciation Poll

I’m using Dava Sobel’s Longitude this week in my timekeeping class. The villain of the piece, as it were, is the Reverend Dr. Nevil Maskelyne, who promoted an astronomical method for finding longitude, and played a major role in delaying the payment to John Harrison for his marine chronometers. It’s a good story, with lots…

I reported on the start of this class last week, and sinc ethen, we’ve had three more class meetings. Since this whole thing is an experiment, I’ll keep reporting on it from time to time (heh). First, though, a quick answer to a request from comments: I’d like to hear more about your class on…

As mentioned a few times previously, the class I’m teaching this term is a “Scholars Research Seminar” on time and timekeeping. As this is an entirely new course, and will be consuming a lot of my mental energy, I plan to post occasional reports on what I’m doing to the blog. Today was the first…

A week and a half ago, when the advent calendar reached Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, I said that it was the first equation we had seen that wasn’t completely correct. Having done our quick swing through quantum physics, the time has come to correct that equation: If you say “Einstein equation” to a random…

I’m still getting back up to speed with the blog, as well as the huge backlog of stuff I’ve read during the past few months when I was too busy to blog. Thus, I am semi-officially proclaiming this Book Review Week. I’ll post one review a day of books I was sent by publishers looking…