Archives for December, 2009

Blue Moons: Fact or Fiction?

Blue Moon You knew just what I was there for You heard me saying a prayer for Someone I really could care for… -Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart Tonight is the last night of 2009, there’s a full Moon, there’s a sliver of a partial lunar eclipse, and it’s the second full Moon this month.…

Snow Day! Powdery, sticky, icy or slushy?

Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we’ve no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! -Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne Yesterday in the late afternoon (and yes, it’s dark by late afternoon here in Portland, OR), I looked out the window and…

The Perils of Planet-Hopping

Watch me as I gravitate (hahahahaha). -Gorillaz Gravity — unbelievably — is the weakest force of all. But if you get enough mass together, gravity will overwhelm even the strongest outside influence. A simple case-in-point? You take a rock that’s massive enough, and gravity will crush it into a spherical shape, like it was nothing…

Weekend Diversion: Orion

I discerned huge Orion, driving wild beasts together over the field of asphodel, the very ones that he once had killed on lonely mountains, he grasped in his hands a mace of bronze, never to be broken. -Odysseus, in the Underworld, The Odyssey With a reputation as the greatest hunter ever and as one of…

Celebrating Saturnalia

I have come not to make war on the Italians, but to aid the Italians against Rome. -Hannibal of Carthage Today is Christmas Day, but did you know that this holiday, in addition to being a solstice celebration, has its origins in the second Punic War? Beginning in 218 B.C., the Romans suffered a number…

The Physics of Santa Claus!

089:32:50 Mattingly: Apollo 8, Houston. [No answer.] 089:33:38 Mattingly: Apollo 8, Houston. 089:34:16 Lovell: Houston, Apollo 8, over. 089:34:19 Mattingly: Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear. 089:34:25 Lovell: Roger. Please be informed there is a Santa Claus. 089:34:31 Mattingly: That’s affirmative. You’re the best ones to know. -NASA The world is an awfully big place…

Our Record-Setting Snowstorm from Space!

Thanks to NASA’s Terra satellite for providing this image: That tiny little white bar on the lower left, by the way? That’s the scale of this image: 50 km (31 miles). You know, as opposed to how it normally looks, when it isn’t covered in snow: Happy Holidays again! And a special thanks to Universe…

Happy Solstice!

Kenneth: These are my all inclusive holiday decorations. Here’s a little Christmas tree. Tracy: Ok. Kenneth: A menorah. Tracy: Dig. Kenneth: A picture of President Obama for the Muslims. Tracy: I’m gonna let that one slide. Kenneth: And a bowl of meat cubes with a picture of Jimmy Connors sticking out in the tradition of…

Weekend Diversion: Thinking about Food

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. -Luciano Pavarotti I’m not going to lie to you; I think Pavarotti’s totally got it right. It’s not only a necessity for living, it’s one of the greatest…

“A Tantalizing Hint of Dark Matter?” No.

One of the reasons I write here on ScienceBlogs is because of our associations with the New York Times, a journalistic news source that I’m proud of on most days. Today is not one of those days. It isn’t just the Times, either, the BBC is busy botching this story, so is the Telegraph, the…