Archives for May, 2010

Weekend Diversion: Hey, Beardo!

“Shave off your beard and wear a dress. You would be a great female impersonator.” -Simon Cowell No, this post has nothing to do with Simon Cowell, but like American Idol, I do have a song for you. Have a listen to Almost Cut My Hair by Crosby, Stills & Nash, while you enjoy the…

The Land of Opportunity

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” -Henry David Thoreau Maybe for you, Henry. But a century and a half later, we…

How Far to the Stars?

“Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the Earth.” -Ptolemy When you look up at the stars in the night sky, perhaps the most striking thing that…

Galaxy, Galaxy on the Wall…

“Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” -the Wicked Queen For a galaxy, though, it’s really not fair to ask which one’s the fairest. It’s simply too subjective of a question. But size, now that’s something we can measure. So, I ask you — galaxies of the Universe — to step…

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson We definitely need a good song for…

How big and how far is the Moon?

“The moon’s an arrant thief, And her pale fire she snatches from the sun.” -William Shakespeare Let’s assume you lived before we walked on the Moon. Before we had ever been to space, hell, even before the invention of the telescope. Why not go all the way back to before we knew the planets went…

How to Make a Real Shooting Star!

“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” -Jack London Most of you have seen a shooting star…

Why Globular Clusters are the Smallest

“From the intrinsic evidence of his creation, the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician.” -Sir James Jeans Last time we met, I posed a mystery to you: why are globular clusters the smallest in the Universe? And what’s more than that, we never find them in isolation! We…

Weekend Diversion: Partner Acrobatics!

You see that there is no war within you. You’re on your own side, and you are your own strength. -Terri Guillemets Many of you don’t know this, but over the last couple of months, my wife and I have been taking night classes in partner acrobatics! Why? Just because it sounded like a fun,…

Globular Clusters: A minor mystery?

“I may be an old lion, but if someone puts his hand in my mouth, I can still bite it off.” -Wilhelm Steinitz When you look at a typical galaxy, you usually find a disk, a bulge, and a few dots diffusely strewn about the exterior. Like an old lion, these dots have been around…