Archives for November, 2009

The Big Deal about LCROSS

I thought I should consult you first before I went ahead with my plan to destroy the Moon. -Greg Angelone, via The Straight Dope Last week, scientists from LCROSS announced that they had detected “a buttload” of water on the Moon. Let’s go over what happened and what it means. The Moon is very different…

Weekend Diversion: Some Amazing Science on TV!

But I want you to know something… you and me, it’s not gonna be a one-way street. ‘Cause I don’t believe in one-way streets. Not between people, and not while I’m driving. So, here’s some advice I wish I woulda got when I was your age: Live every week like it’s Shark Week. -Tracy Jordan,…

The Physics of Touching your Toes!

Can you touch your toes? Seems like an easy thing to do for those of us who have the flexibility. Now, here’s the challenge. Stand with your back and your heels pressed up against a wall, and now try to touch your toes. You can’t do it! Not without putting your hands down on the…

Your galaxy stinks!

Professor Hubert Farnsworth: I’m sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all. Fry: Oh. What’s it called now? Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Urrectum. Here, let me locate it for you. Fry: No, no, I, I think I’ll just smell around a bit over here. Too bad that…

Dark Energy: Where did the Light go? (Part 3)

Though the Sun is gone, I have a light. -Kurt Cobain Last time we visited dark energy, we discussed its initial discovery. This came about from the fact that supernovae observed with a certain redshift (i.e., moving away from us) appear to be systematically fainter than we were able to explain. But we weren’t satisfied…

When I make an assumption…

Yesterday, I talked about why we should look for a history of life on Mars, and had an article for SEED magazine to that effect. After all, we’ve made some recent geological finds that are surefire indicators of past liquid water on Mars, and possible indicators of past life. While most of the article was…

Why Look for Life on Mars?

The Mars Polar Lander cost the average American the price of half a cheeseburger. A human lander would cost the average American more — perhaps even ten cheeseburgers! So be it. That is no great sacrifice. -JONAH GOLDBERG, National Review Online, May 3, 2000 This week, Seed Magazine is doing a special on extraterrestrial life…

We’ve got an interesting contrast this weekend between the music and the fun stuff. I’m listening to Ray Lamontagne, a wonderful acoustic guitarist and singer/songwriter. The first song I heard by him was his version of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, and I was instantly hooked. But the heartbreak of his song “Shelter” really got to me,…

It isn’t obvious…

It’s hard to believe that until 1929, we were pretty sure that the Universe consisted entirely of our galaxy, and everything else was inside of us. Hard to believe that you can look at something like this and not think it was another galaxy like our own, isn’t it? Yet when you look in the…

Dark Energy: Gaining a Foothold (Part 2)

Last time, we talked about the discovery of dark energy. How did it happen? Well, there are certain kinds of Supernovae, type Ia supernovae, that are practically identical to one another all across the Universe. In fact, we had one happen in our own galaxy in 1572; it outshone everything besides the Moon in the…