Friday, July 31, 2009

bento box

i need someone to make me bento box lunches everyday! yum!

eclipse 2009 - 6m 42s

many people opt to jump on a cruise ship to view total solar eclipses since the mobile boats can, ideally, move quickly over the water to find clear patches of sky! unfortunately, reports i received from friends on boats last week were not all positive.

yesterday, APOD featured the panoramic image below, captured by babak tafreshi, as he cruised along on the deck of a boat at the point of maximum eclipse!

notice how the horizon, in every direction, resembles a sunset, as photons from the sun still scatter thru the atmosphere a hundred miles away!

there are some other artistic eclipse photos at i particularly like this one by alan dyer:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

eclipse 2009 - behind the scenes

brady has put together a behind the scenes video series from our china trip to see the total solar eclipse. you can view the uncut totality footage from the 4m 21s event, some of the extra footage we recorded that didnt make it into the final cut, and of course, the full video.

click here to view, and enjoy!

yes, we landed on the moon.

will the moon landing conspiracy ever be officially defeated? i freaking hope so, because its quite annoying in my line of work to constantly encounter people who assume that humans faking the moon landing is a valid possibility. ugh. can we please stop instilling this nonsensical doubt into the minds of our children? humans landed on the moon... be proud, not asinine!

rant completed; now for informative humor!

to help people on the internet move in a positive direction, provides a handy 'People Who Would Have to Be Full of Shit' conspiracy theory chart...

spotted by mike's meandering mind.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

rubik's cubewich

introducing the deliciously creative rubik's cubewich, spotted under the headline... "Finally, a Rubik's Cube I Can 'Solve' in Under a Minute!"

trying to think of the best non-meat version... suggestions?

link via erin o'brien.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

total solar eclipse 2009 - photos!

here are a few still shots from the total solar eclipse last week!

while riding in the taxi to ningbo, brady and i feared we were seeing our only glimpse of the sun for the rest of the week :(

the morning of the eclipse! the crazy-looking building is china's first zero-emissions building, which houses the center for sustainable energy technologies at the university of nottingham.

ready to go!

people slowly gathered around us and looked thru the glasses. our first visitor was from the campus's security department. the guy looked very serious and not at all happy to see us with video cameras! but as soon as we handed him the eclipse glasses and had him look at the sun, he got a huge grin on his face and went off to gather some friends to bring back!

all credit for the success of the video goes to this guy - brady haran! i was just happy (and giggly) to be along for the ride :)

getting closer...

almost there...

self portrait during totality!

i didnt get any good still shots of the sun itself amid my excitement, but you can watch our video of the whole event if you want! cosmos4u also has a nice summary of eclipse coverage to browse.

here's my quote from the university of nottingham press release:

Dr Amanda Bauer, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, who also travelled to China to see the eclipse said: “A total solar eclipse is the most spectacular astronomical event you can see with the naked eye. After travelling all the way from Nottingham to Ningbo, it looked like we might be thwarted by the weather. But the clouds cleared in time, and I was stunned by how spectacular it was. I'd seen pictures and video before, but I was not prepared for how big it looked and how dark and cool it became. For four minutes it felt like we were on a different planet.”

total solar eclipse 2009 - video!!

i just returned from the dark side!! i couldnt access this blog, facebook, twitter, or youtube while in china, so sorry for the delay!

without further ado, here is the video of the solar eclipse that i actually (and very surprisingly considering the weather) got to see from ningbo, china on july 22, 2009!!!!

the experience felt like i was on another planet for 4 minutes and 21 seconds! i completely understand now why people regularly travel around the world to experience a few minutes of surreal science non-fiction!

thanks a billion to the university of nottingham, the sixty symbols project, and especially brady haran, for inviting me to come along on this wild adventure and for brilliantly capturing and editing the footage!

see more photos here!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

cat chillin

i travel entirely too much these days to have a pet, but this picture really makes me miss having cats around! so cute.

Friday, July 24, 2009

a bubble nebula collage

this is an image of the bubble nebula (NGC 7635) created by the hubble heritage team.

from the above image, jayanne english, an astronomer and member of the heritage team, created this spectacular collage:

i think she demonstrates a gorgeous way to utilize images created for science, as art. apparently, there has been some controversy though, as scientists worry that the public might see such images and assume they are real objects floating around in the universe.

i think it is the responsibility of the media outlets that might choose to use one of these images to properly site the source and maintain the artist's and/or scientist's original caption!

anyway, these images are just plain cool - even if i'm relieved that i never have to think about calculating gravitational potential wells or stellar orbits around these ridiculously complicated fictional structures! ha!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

solar ecliptic poetry

Archilochus describing a solar eclipse of April 6, 648 B.C.

Nothing there is beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear came upon men.

"The Eclipse of the Sun, 1820"
- William Wordsworth

High on her speculative tower
Stood Science waiting for the hour
When Sol was destined to endure
That darkening of his radiant face
Which Superstition strove to chase,
Erewhile, with rites impure.

Paradise Lost
- John Milton

As when the Sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air,
Shorn of his beams,or from behind the Moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

the moon's shadow on earth

i'm off to china this morning - to go stand on the earth where the moon's shadow will quickly pass over on wednesday! i have 15 hours in the air and many more in between to look forward to. i'm excited and nervous... and exhausted! i'll keep you up-to-date as much as i can about the solar eclipse and surrounding events!

here are a few images of what the moon's shadow looks like from above earth's surface! astronauts on the MIR space station captured this photo of the august 11th, 1999 solar eclipse!

the dark spot shows the area on earth where one sees a total solar eclipse. the shadow is only about 100 miles wide and moves across the earth at a few times the speed of sound!

here is an image taken from the international space station on march 29, 2006:

may the clouds not be with us!

carnival of space #112

the 112th carnival of space is up at out of the cradle.


Friday, July 17, 2009

astronaut mike massimino

astronaut mike massimino was on the recent shuttle mission to repair the hubble space telescope, he twitters, and he was on the late show with craig ferguson!

mission to the moon

NASA has a fancy new logo in honor of the apollo rocket successes the 1960s. the main accomplishment was the apollo 11 mission carrying the first human beings to ever step foot on the moon. today, july 16th, was the day the apollo rocket launched 40 years ago with three excited astronauts on board: neil armstrong (left), michael collins (center), and buzz aldrin (right).

those three lucky and persevering men landed on the moon on july 21st, 1969. i'd love to hear stories from people about their memories of this date. did you watch the event in the living room of a neighbor? with your family? did you hear stories from your parents or grandparents about their memories of the historic moment? were you or your family not aware of it at the time?

the photo below comes from a wonderful set of 40 pictures featured in the big picture series from the washington post. neil armstrong took the photo while being reflected in buzz aldrin's helmet.

michael collins remained in the command module while the other two took the lunar module to the surface of the moon. when asked to describe his strongest memory of the Apollo 11 mission, he said:

"Looking back at Earth from a great distance.

I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified fa├žade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.

Small, shiny, serene, blue and white, FRAGILE."

congratulations humanity on your 40th anniversary of landing on the moon - almost 400,000km away!!!

as far as our future endeavors go, i dont personally see a reason to bother going back to the moon and think we should set our sights a bit higher (and farther). but i'm thoroughly pleased to sit back, remember, and celebrate the amazing reality that human beings successfully explored our nearest neighbor in the universe, our moon, 40 years ago!

neil armstrong, just hours after 1st walking on the moon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

feynman lecture from 1964

i really enjoy listening to richard feynman talk about physics! luckily for us, a website was just launched by microsoft research and bill gates that shows a series of lectures given by feynman at cornell university in 1964! this was the year before he won the nobel prize in physics and he was as lively and energetic as ever!!

i love watching him speak because he doesnt use unnecessary jargon, he's relaxed, he's understandable, he speaks comfortably, and his voice reminds me of the older generations of my family who i am very far away from right now.

when you have some extra time, go enjoy listening to some feynman lectures!!

ballerina galactica

universe today is hosting a creative astronomy art project! apply your photo editing skills to astronomy images and submit them to nancy atkins (and/or share them here!)!

here's the contribution they share from alan lipkin with the fantastic title "ballerina galactica":

notice the star cluster back drop, the star, sirius, as the earring and star she's delicately reaching for, and the sombrero galaxy as her tutu!

very nice and fun project! thanks for the tip, lab lemming!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

bubbles: a consideration

bubbles are fun and photogenic, no matter what age you are!

last month, there was a gathering in times square of people playing with bubbles. edward champion created a nice little video about the event.

anyone know the song? i love it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

total solar eclipse of the heart (in china!)

a long laboring title for the post, i know, but i have some great news to share!

first, my sister sent me the literal version of that super cheesy song that i remember belting out in the car with my mom: total eclipse of the heart (view at your own risk, but parts are funny)!

second, in a little over a week i will be going here... see and record one of these!!!!!

i've been invited to china to comment on and help film the total solar eclipse that is occurring on july 22nd, 2009! wwoohhhooooo!!!! i've never seen a total eclipse before, only a partial one, so i'm super excited!

a solar eclipse occurs when the (new) moon passes directly in front of the sun in our sky! the full eclipse is only visible over narrow path along the earth, seen as the blue area on the map below...

i'll be in the eastern city of ningbo and then spending a few days in shanghai afterwards. i've never been to china before and am currently working quickly to get my visa in time! if anyone has recommendations on what to do or see in and around shanghai, let me know! also, if there are any words i should absolutely know (hello, how much?, yes, no) that you can phonetically teach me, please share in the comments! thank you!!!

photo credits: shanghai, china by flickrgao; solar eclipse by stefan seip

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

approaching jupiter

this excellent animation was created by adding images taken by one of the voyager space crafts, as it approached the planet jupiter in 1979!

notice how the gas from different horizontal layers moves in *different* directions creating amazing vortices in the atmosphere!! the 66 images used to create this animation were some of the first close-up shots humans collected of jupiter!

the voyager space crafts continue to travel away from the earth and beyond our solar system! as of may 2009, voyager 1 had traveled 16.4 billion kilometers (110 astronomical units) from the sun. 1 astronomical unit is the distance between the earth and the sun, so this little chunk of synthetic machinery is 110 times farther from the sun than we are, and it is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.6 astronomical units per year!

voyager 1 remains the most distant human-made object in space!

rain rain go away

this is what it feels like in england this week...

of course, its not really flooding, but i think it's a great photo! my guess is that it was taken in italy!

Monday, July 6, 2009


if you are looking for a fun and simple little telescope for yourself, or someone you know, i would like to recommend the galileoscope! this little refracting telescope has a 2-in diameter lens and is modeled after the first telescope galileo built 400 years ago to look at night sky objects for the first time! the only accessory you really need is a tripod to mount the telescope on, and i think any simple one will do.

the telescope at the top of the image below is a replica of one of galileo's original telescopes.

the cute little galileoscope is only $15 and will allow you to see great features on the moon, the phases of venus, the rings of saturn, the moons of jupiter, and much more! find out more here. enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

42 meter diameter telescope

sometimes telescopes are named after famous scientists, or people who donate loads of money to build them, or an acronym relating to the type of science it will do, etc... as this sixty symbols episode on the diameter of telescopes illustrates, we are severely lacking in creative new telescope names, considering the big one they talk about is the ELT which stands for "extremely large telescope!"

so on twitter, a friend suggested that if we name the ELT something a bit more attention-grabbing for current times, maybe we could guarantee funding! he suggested OBAMA, and like any good scientific name, we have been trying to turn OBAMA into an acronym!! mine is OBAMA: Overwhelmingly Big Aperture Measures All!

NASA recently had a contest to name a new Mars rover. the winner was a 12-year-old girl from kansas who suggested possibly my favorite name for any tool of astronomy: curiosity.

can you think of any good names for telescopes or other universe explorers?

Friday, July 3, 2009

electromagnetic leaks from earth

how far do our electromagnetic (EM) signals reach in to outer space? lets estimate that we started transmitting EM signals with the first radios about 100 years ago... which means we have been sending weak signals in every direction for 100 years, and the first signals have reached a maximal distance of 100 light years away from earth! there are about 130 stars within a radius of 20 light years from us and probably several thousand stars within 100 light years.

a recent abstruse goose cartoon puts this into perspective for us earthlings, by showing what TV shows are currently being broadcast to stars at various distances from earth! (click image for larger view)

there are ~400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and hundreds of billions of galaxies in our universe... just remember that our synthetic radiation hasnt really traveled very far! (aka. to know who yoda is, closer than pollux a civilization must be!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

have a giraffe-themed art party!

yes, modern technology is loads of fun to play with, but nothing beats using your imagination to create art with your hands - especially with friends! a norwegian person has challenged the people of the world to create one million giraffes by 2011 using any technique possible, except on a computer. of course, you'll probably eventually capture your creation with a digital camera and upload the photo to the one million giraffes website, but thats not the point! the point is to take a break from digital media for a little while and create something with your hands!

i like this idea, and i might make a big dinner for some friends this weekend to celebrate the 4th of july, and then insist we make some giraffes ;)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

mercury - sixty symbols

here's my latest contribution to the sixty symbols of physics and astronomy project: the closest planet to the sun... mercury!