Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

saturn birthday cake

happy 30th birthday to regular reader john! his wife made him a very nice saturn birthday cake!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

munich - around town

here are a few photos from around munich over the last couple weeks.

an artichoke flower

ahhh... oktoberfest!

inside a tent...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

lost in translation

i'm currently in munich, germany. after an adventurous day walking around the city, we stopped at a pizza bar for dinner (we were ready for a break from the heavy bavarian food!). i ordered the "spinat pizza mit pepperoni" thinking that pepperoni was what i had in mind as meaty pepperoni. yet again, my assumption was wrong:

ah... i love traveling and eating :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

dynamite with a laser beam

found at planet fabulon.


i just returned to nottingham at the end of last week, but i'm leaving again tomorrow for munich, germany. it was a productive stint at home, and i'm very excited to visit munich again, but i admit that i could use a little more relaxation time at home before jumping into continuous-travel-alert mode again. oh well.

i'm looking forward to doing some work at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, having some family come visit, seeing a surprisingly large number of old friends, exploring a great city...

and, of course, i planned the trip to coincide with oktoberfest! ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

new supernova discovery record!

amateur astronomer, tom boles, has found 125 stars just after they've exploded... which means he has found more supernovae than any other human being!

congrats tom! and good work all you amateur astronomers out there!

Friday, September 11, 2009

science is REAL!

they might be giants have produced amazingly good music over the years, including one of my favorite kid's albums, NO! their new album is called here comes science and unsurprisingly, it's awesome! here's the video for the song, science is real.

and dont forget - science, it works bitches!

tip of the mic to the bad astronomer.

save the planet! why, you ask?

i love austin! and this bar has A LOT of beer to choose from!

via dark roasted blend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

carnival of space #119

i leave ohio and the US tomorrow. back to england.

in the meantime, enjoy this week's carnival of space, hosted at the planetary society!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

explosion of choice

psychologist barry schwartz argues in this TED video that some choice is better than no choice, but it doesnt follow that more choice is better than some. i heartily agree!

for example, when i walk into a store, i do not need 54 different types of toothpaste to choose from. its overwhelming, and i dont know how to make the "right" choice. having more and more choices increases our expectations about the product, and thus lowers our satisfaction if our final choice is not "perfect!"

simplification is the way to go.

this video is about 20 minutes, and well worth it in my opinion.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

real life super heroes!

this purely awesome image was captured by __//-/__ at flickr.

scenes from mauna kea

i have one more night left on the top of mauna kea for this observing run with UKIRT, so i thought i'd share some photos from the week.

across the cinder cone valley from where our telescope is located, sits the suburu telescope (left), the kecks (center), then NASA's infrared telescope facility (IRTF):

on UKIRT's side of the cinder cone are (L to R) the canada france hawaii telescope (CFHT), the gemini-north observatory, and the university of hawaii's 88-inch telescope.

UKIRT pointing towards the zenith inside its dome:

UKIRT's 3.8 meter diameter primary mirror.

inside the control room.

a quirk of high altitude - inflated potato chip bags!

air pressure lowers as you go higher and higher in altitude. the pressure is still high inside the sealed bag, so the air inside pushes out as usual, but feels no resistance from the low-pressure air outside. so the bag puffs up! (this is also why its a good idea to put any bottled liquids in bags when flying!)

using the night vision goggles you can even more clearly see the gemini telescope's AO laser shooting up to the sky!

here's a view of the UKIRT telescope, the milky way galaxy (a bit saturated), and glowing lava!

i never get tired of the views of this 14000 ft mountain and its shadow in the distance.

and some fun with panoramas. the scope on the left is UKIRT.

lake waiau on mauna kea is the 7th highest lake in the US at 13000 ft. its a short, but exhausting walk from the summit to get there.

more photos here!