Sunday, January 31, 2010

blast from the past

there is a nice gallery of photos on flickr that show a modern scene with an image of the location from the past superimposed - the effect is really great! here is my favorite, but be sure to check out the whole gallery.

i also like this one by jason e powell.

found via mike's meandering mind.

star wars cakes

why didnt i think to get a star wars theme cake for my 30th birthday? there's always the 31st to plan for...

see the whole set at

Friday, January 29, 2010

guinness and the mouse

Some Guinness was spilled on the bar room floor
as the pub was closed for the night.
Out from his hole crept a wee brown mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor
and back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar
"Bring on the God damn cat!!!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

hola mars

right now our neighbor mars is as physically as close as it ever gets to us, a position called opposition. mars is the bright orange speckle rising in the eastern sky.

to get ahold of mars' position in our sky for the next couple months, look up a bit after sunset on friday, the 29th of january, and see our nearly full moon sitting just next to mars in the sky for the evening.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

tethys plays peek-a-boo

saturn's moons play games with the space craft cassini in today's astronomy picture of the day. the tiny moon tethys pokes around the side of saturn's largest moon, titan.

you can see a huge crater on tethys in the image, and you can clearly see one of the most intriguing features of titan: the dense atmosphere that surrounds it! titan is the only satellite in our solar system known to have such a substantial atmosphere which places it on the top of the list of candidates to host some sort of microbial extraterrestrial life. there is currently discussion happening about future missions to explore titan more closely.

mike brown (aka - pluto killer!) wrote a great description of his team's discovery of some storms in titan's atmosphere.

you can watch a video of the entire occultation shown in the image above, or you can learn more about saturn from the sixty symbols video!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

when a cat upsets your gravity

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

i'll also take this opportunity to point you in the direction of the cat lovers version of the sartorialist: the catorialist!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

belly bump

this adorable photo is of an old friend of mine who is pregnant with twins. her little boy is excited about the growing belly!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

the known universe

todays APOD is a stunning video of the known universe created by the american museum of natural history.

the video flows from the surface of the earth out to our cosmic horizon, which is the farthest part of the universe that is available for us to view.

carnival of space #137

the 137th carnival of space is up over at one astronomer's noise. enjoy this week's summary of space reading!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

is that a rocket in your pocket?

speaking of the ambiguously pronounced planet uranus, i was just pointed to the cover of an album from mitch miller... which doesnt leave much to the imagination...

i couldnt find a recording of the music though :(

Sunday, January 17, 2010

6 day banana

of the seven days of the banana shelf life, day 6 looks perfect to me!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

rhythm and geometry

this looks fun to do, but tough to figure out!

spotted at cynical-c

hubble in 3D!

at the american astronomical society meeting last week, i watched astronaut john grunsfeld talk about his experiences during his recent mission to repair the hubble space telescope. he shared personal stories about the other astronauts on the mission, videos they took in flight, emotions he felt during the ups and downs of the mission, and general impressions of the functionality of the new and improved hubble! at the end, the (maybe 3000?) astronomers in the room gave him a much-deserved standing ovation (which i have rarely ever seen from astronomers).

an interesting piece of information shared by grunsfeld (at the right of the image above) is that the pilot of the hubble repair mission, scott altman (center in the image above), was the pilot double for tom cruise's character in the film top gun! he earned a whopping $23 per day for his efforts, but it was his middle finger shown during the infamous upside down air scene.

with all the hoopla surrounding the potential for 3D movies, thanks to the recent release of the film avatar (which i thoroughly enjoyed), i wanted to give you enough time to get excited about a film i'm certainly looking forward to seeing: hubble IMAX 3D!

the crew of STS-125 carried an IMAX camera aboard in order to film the entire 12 day mission for the movie! the film will open in march 2010 and will "chronicle the life story of the hubble space telescope." astronomers used the hubble to capture all the images in the montage below!

another random bit of info about the film - it will be narrated by leonardo dicaprio, seen here recording for the movie in a photo i got via bob jacobs.

how do you pronounce uranus?

i tell you what i think in the newest sixty symbols video (filmed when i was feeling pretty ill before the holiday season!).

Monday, January 11, 2010

impressive improv piano

the video below shows a 14 year old jennifer lin performing at TED in 2004. her whole performance is incredibly impressive, but the improv segment that begins at the 16:20 mark is amazing!

i havent been able to find any information about what she is doing now. does anyone know?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

family from the 70s

this photo shows my dad's immediate family in the mid 1970s. ha! i love it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

kepler finds 5 new exoplanets!

astronomers working with the kepler space telescope made a big announcement during the first full day of the 215th american astronomical meeting: they found 5 new planets orbiting around other stars during the kepler space telescope!! now we know of over 400 exosolar planets!!

you might remember the launch of kepler back in march.... the video was quite exciting i thought. the spacecraft had to travel to its proper orbit, then scientists performed several checks to make sure all the instruments were working properly, then data collection began. my first impressions when hearing the results of 5 new planets was that the number seemed a bit low. but these numbers come from only the first 6 weeks of data, and the team has not had any time yet to follow up the leads with observations from other telescopes. i imagine the kepler team will be announcing loads of new planets over the next few years!

brady quickly made a sixty symbols video about exoplanets and how we discover them, so watch as mike explains the process!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

from the earth to the universe

the people at chandra space telescope have teamed up with artist yann arthus-bertrand for a nice imaging project called "from the earth to the heavens." i'm always amazed at how similar shapes can appear in the very big and the very small. this project shows similarities between color images of earth and the cosmos.

the images on the right show the X-ray view of the cosmos from NASA's chandra space telescope. x-ray images show highly energetic, and usually violent phenomena in the universe. images on the left show the earth viewed from the air as captured in bertrand's beautiful "earth from above" project. enjoy!

click on each image set to read more information.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

astronomy in the DC

i'm going to washington DC today for the 215th american astronomical society (AAS) meeting. this meeting will be HUGE, if not the biggest ever meeting of professional astronomers. its always great to see old friends who work in different areas of astronomy and the meeting provides a great opportunity to talk to people offering post-doc jobs that i'll likely be in the market for considering the UK's recently announced sad state of astronomical affairs.

if you follow twitter, i'll be posting when i can about the meeting and the interesting science that i hear. also, kelle at astro better suggests that anyone tweeting from the meeting should use the hashtag #aas215, but likely many people will use #aas.

the winter AAS meeting takes place every january and rotates between 4 US cities: seattle, DC, long beach, and austin. i've packed sufficient cold weather gear, i think, but i managed to lose one glove while in ohio :(

Friday, January 1, 2010

where's wally?

i grew up in north america where one asks where's waldo? when searching for a tall man in a red and white striped shirt and hat, amid hundreds of other sketched people. but the world was first introduced to this character by martin hartford, who orginally asked where's wally? in the 1980s. i dont know why they changed the name to waldo for the north american release... i know several wally's but have never met a real life waldo. i wonder if thats because of the book?

anyway, we had a little art party this morning and made a painting called "where's what's-his-name?" can you find him? ;)

wishing you happiness in the new decade

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”

- Aristotle