Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

Over at Galileo’s Pendulum, Matthew Francis expresses an opinion that’s sure to get him in trouble with the Inquisition and placed under house arrest: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos isn’t all that: However, even taking into account the differences in TV between 1980 and 2013, the show is very slow-paced at times. I’m not talking about the…

Gravity’s Engines by Caleb Scharf

The last week or so of silence on the blog has been due to my trip to Ohio (which was very enjoyable), and a lack of child care for the early part of this week. A day and a half home with both kids was just exhausting, but the trip was useful in that it…

One final thought on the Big Science/ Space Chronicles stuff from last week. One of the things I found really frustrating about the book, and the whole argument that we ought to be sinking lots of money into manned space missions is that the terms of the argument are so nebulous. This is most obvious…

I was tremendously disappointed and frustrated by this book. This is largely my own fault, because I went into it expecting it to be something it’s not. Had I read the description more carefully, I might not have had such a strong negative reaction (which was exacerbated by some outside stress when I first started…

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…