Thursday, July 31, 2008

quicksand jesus

just a couple highway exits north of where i grew up in ohio, you'll find this recently-built 60 foot statue right next to the interstate:

the names i've heard for this... tribute (?)... include:

touch down jesus
king of kings
big J.
drowning jesus
"high five"-ing the lord, jesus
worlds largest christ (W.L. christ)
quicksand jesus (as my little sister calls him)
and finally, big butter jesus...

as described in this hilarious song by comedian heywood banks:

don't forget to "spread" the word!

scenes of ohio

yellow springs...

(more knit grafitti here and here.)


(quicksand jesus)


(rock and roll hall of fame)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

partial solar eclipse: august 1, 2008

while millions of people will get to see the total solar eclipse this friday, billions of people will get to experience a partial solar eclipse at the same time! larry koehn at shadows and substance has a fantastic series of animations to show the level of partiality seen from various places around the globe: go check them out: here!!!!

total solar eclipse: august 1, 2008

this friday, august 1st, 2008, us earthlings will be treated to one of my favorite solar system shows: a total solar eclipse! lucky viewers in parts of canada, northern greenland, the arctic, central russia, mongolia and china will see this memorable event firsthand. the rest of us can sit comfortably in our jealousy as we watch the solar eclipse in real time, on NASA tv!! the peak is at 7:09 EDT, but tune in earlier to see the buildup to the event!

above is an image from the eclipse of oct. 24, 1995, taken in dundlod, india by NASA's fred espenak (aka mr. eclipse). below is an image of the shadow of the moon on earth as seen by the international space station 230 miles above earth's surface, during a solar eclipse in 2006!

many people have commented to me over the years about the suspicious fact that we experience eclipses on the surface of the earth, implying there is some other significance to the alignment of our moon, the earth, and sun.

eclipses occur because the sun and the moon have the same angular size in our sky, even thought their physical sizes and distances from us differ greatly. the angular size of an object is how big it appears to be when we view it, which is dependent on the physical size of he object and its distance to us. a tall tree 10 meters away appears way taller than it does when we are standing 100 meters away from it.... but the tree is physically the same height! the phenomenon encompassed by the expression "angular size" is why cool tricks like "crush your head" work!

when the moon passes right in front of the sun from earth's point of view, the moon blocks the sun because the two have the same angular size! we call this a solar eclipse. for me, the purely coincidental accident for the object orbiting around us to have the same angular size in the sky as the object that we are orbiting around... is so soo fascinating and beautiful and simple, that its existence alone satisfies my cosmic curiosity without having to attach some other mysterious significance to the event. i appreciate it for what it is and try not to attach a more complicated and frivolous meaning that, in my opinion, distracts from its original beauty.

sometimes the simplicity of acknowledging how things physically came to exist is more fascinating and satisfying than attempting to create and apply a synthetic significance to them.

enjoy the solar eclipse!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

binbrook milky way image

here's a nice scenic night in binbrook, from Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn's astrophotography collection at weather and sky photography.

she took a series of images then digitally added them together to create the detailed milky way image across the sky and the delicate reflection of both stars and the galaxy in the lake. the bright object toward the left is the planet jupiter. you can also see the orange glow of a town on the horizon.

NASA and google

this morning google reminded me that today is NASA's birthday!

the last 50 years of space science at NASA have truly changed our fundamental ways of thinking about our universe. no organization can always be perfect, but i think NASA has provided exceptional insight into our universe, not to mention introducing an incredibly iconic logo into our daily lives. happy future explorations NASA!

astropixie on the radio!

last week, i was interviewed for a radio show on WAIF 88.3 in cincinnati. the interview went really well (i thought) and i had tons of fun! a blog reader was kind enough to record the show and send me a copy and here's my attempt to post it for all to hear!

i havent had a chance to listen to the whole thing yet, but i dont remember saying anything terribly incorrect! i think at one point i talked about the sun becoming a black hole if it were all smashed down into a small volume of less than 3 km in radius (the schwarzschild radius for the sun). i may have quoted the units wrong there, but i meant 3 km! ;)

if the interview is not embedded above, then click HERE for the mp3 file. if anyone has better audio embedding options, let me know! thanks steveJ and davin!

Monday, July 28, 2008

another of murphy's laws

... according to

An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

visualizing music: claire de lune

here's a cool visualization of one of the most wonderful songs ever written: claire de lune from claude debussy's suite bergamasque. while it's a mesmerizing accompaniment to the beautiful music, somehow it doesnt represent what i intuitively feel when playing the piece. i find that the visuals are upside-down, because i experience the high pitched keys to be on the right, which should be on the bottom of the screen. but i imagine it might be awkward for the lowest of the horizontal lines to represent the highest notes. anyway... enjoy!

created by stephen malinowski using the music animation machine

created by myself

Friday, July 25, 2008

carnival of space #64

the beatles fan at music of the spheres is celebrating the fact that the carnival of space is turning 64 this week... by hosting! there are some great astonomy articles over there if you're looking for a little reading.

young me - now me

ze frank introduced a fun contest called youngme - nowme. i picked out a picture to recreate a while ago, but was a little busy and then i forgot to stage the photoshoot when my sister came to town! but today.... we finally did it!

here's cori's collection!

i highly recommend trying out this project... it's fun!! or you can check out the official winners of the youngme - nowme contest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

cincinnati radio show!

my trip to UC last week was very nice. they kindly took me to an indian restaurant for lunch and then i sat in a room with the astronomy undergraduate students and talked about their research projects until the time came to give my talk. it's neat to see so many undergrad students interested in astronomy at UC: when i was there, i was the only one! here's a picture from way back then...

the talk went well i thought. i received a lot of questions from the physicists who have more recently become interested in astronomy. i tried to skip some of the details of methodology i use to derive quantities, like morphologies of galaxies, but of course attentive listeners jump right on what you don't tell them and ask anyway!

after the talk, one of the newer astronomy students, davin, mentioned to me that he's read this blog before! i was surprised and flattered and even more excited to find out that he hosts a science-y radio show on a local station - WAIF 88.3! i gladly accepted his invitation to do an hour interview this wednesday from 1-2pm EST, so tune in if you have the time and interest!

Monday, July 21, 2008

cycle the grass away!

exercise, a nice yard, and no ridiculously loud or wasteful motor.... brilliance!

unfortunately, the creator is unknown :(

Saturday, July 19, 2008

simon's cat

as a cat person, i find this hilarious! i imagine it's pretty funny for non-cat people as well! meet simon's cat, created by tandem films:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

periodic table - sodium

theres a brand new video series about each element in the periodic table up on youtube! the folks creating these entertaining and informative tidbits are located at my future academic affiliation: the university of nottingham!!

my favorite video so far is about sodium...

one guy in the science team can certainly be inducted into the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists!

vegan zombie


link to t-shirt.

jupiter by the moon - july 2008

here are a couple pictures of bright jupiter next to the moon tonight from my mom's porch in ohio!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

cassini continues...

the cassini space craft that is floating around saturn has finished its 4 year mission. many fantastic images have come from this mission, and luckily for us, cassini started an extended 2-year mission on july 1, 2008!!

here are a couple anniversary shots recently released....

in this picture you can see the moon, mimas, in the top left and you can see the shadow of the moon, enceladus, on the surface of saturn.

in both images you can see the shadows of the rings on the northern hemisphere of the planet. over the next year, we will see less and less of the ring shadows, both from cassini and from earth, as the plane of the rings lines up with the sun. the ring shadows line up exactly with saturn's horizon during saturns vernal equinox on august 11, 2009! afterwards, the shadows will appear on the southern hemisphere of the planet.

you can still see saturn in the western horizon at sunset, with mars nearby!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

jupiter in july

jupiter rises in the southest at sunset these days. it's the brightest thing in the night sky, other than the moon! this wednesday night, jupiter rises just to the upper leeft of the early-full moon, and remains close in the sky thursday night as well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

mercury's caloris basin

another cool image of mercury taken in january from the messenger space craft. this enhanced color image shows the caloris basin.

found at APOD.

Friday, July 11, 2008

blast to the past

i'm off to my old undergraduate institution today to give a talk for the physics department - all my old professors! i'm a little nervous about it because i have a vivid memory of them ripping apart the research of the only astronomer i remember visiting the department. its amazing how differently the details of the two fields are, even though all the phenomena are based on the same fundamental properties. it has been interesting to write this talk for a physics audience, since they don't have the astronomical intuition i have assumed in previous professional talks. but at the same time, i feel like they are a bunch of proud parents, so i'm not really that worried!

i'll try to track down a picture of myself during my undergrad physics days to share (i'll have to scan a picture because those were pre-digi-cam days!). i sort of satisfied the "hippy" stereotype: with super long hair, tie-dye t-shirts, listening to the grateful dead and lots of bluegrass, camping constantly, etc... i spent my days in the physics department working thru homework problems with a few of the guys in my class, and spent my evenings thinking about other things entirely. i'm curious to hear what impressions my old professors had of me at that time! should be interesting! i hope i remember my way around campus! haha.

the hoop is on fire

more skills from the soul fire tribe. here's lara rocking the fire flying hula hoop! the move near the end with her arm up and her head sideways under the hoop blows me away every time!

and here's ari spinning his fire staff! the way the music lines up with his moves in this video is pretty amazing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tattoo possibility

i might very well get a tattoo (very) soon. i have a tentative plan, but i'm open for suggestions (i know, i hear my mother saying "but why?"). send ideas for... anything.