Space

Category archives for Space

We missed the formal presentaion at the World Science Festival stargazing event last night, and it was cloudy enough to prevent actual stargazing, but the giant mock-up of the James Webb Space Telescope is giant and cool even in the dark. More importantly, Neil deGrasse Tyson is awesome. We got there around 9:30, and he…

While I missed the controversial episode with comments about aliens, I figured I should at least take a look at the Discovery Channel’s Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, so I put it on last night after putting SteelyKid to bed. This was the big two-hour “Story of Everything” episode, starting with the Big Bang…

Voting has closed on the Laser Smackdown poll, with 772 people recording their opinion on the most amazing of the many things that have been done with lasers in the fifty years since the invention of the first working laser (see the Laserfest web site for more on the history and applications of lasers). The…

I’m a little surprised at the vehemence of some of the negative reactions to Stephen Hawking’s comments about aliens. Not so much in blogdom– Ethan’s response is pretty reasonable, for example– but there was a flurry of Twitter traffic yesterday of the form “Where does Stephen Hawking get off pontificating about aliens?” which strikes me…

As of 1:45 Monday, 217 people have cast votes in the Laser Smackdown poll. That’s not bad, but it’s currently being handily beaten by the 271 people who have voted for a favorite system of units. The nice thing about using actual poll services for this sort of thing, though, is that I can re-post…

In 1960, the first working laser was demonstrated, and promptly dubbed “a solution looking for a problem.” In the ensuing fifty years, lasers have found lots of problems to solve, but there has been no consensus about which of the many amazing applications of lasers is the most amazing. Now, in 2010, as we celebrate…

Sketchy March Meeting Notes: Monday

I’m terrible about taking notes on conference talks, especially when I’m jet-lagged and was sleep deprived even before I got on the plane. I do jot down the occasional paper reference, though, so here are the things I wrote down, and the talks they were associated with. This should give you some vague idea of…

A Lot of Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

I was looking at some polling about science over the weekend, and discovered that they helpfully provide an online quiz consisting of the factual questions asked of the general public as part of the survey. Amusingly, one of them is actually more difficult to answer correctly if you know a lot about the field than…

Where Were You When…?

I failed to write something on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall yesterday, partly because I think the other six million blog posts on the subject had it pretty well covered. Another factor, though, was the fact that I don’t have the sort of crystal-clear recollection of where I was and what…

Beyond Rocket Science

It’s not getting as much press as the “X Prize” for private rocket launches, but NASA has quietly been running a contest for work toward a “space elevator,” offering up to $2 million for a scheme to transmit power to a small robot climbing a 1km cable. Yesterday, the team from LaserMotive, including certified rocket…