Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

a sunny thanksgiving

we cooked up a thanksgiving bbq feast for about 25 friends over the weekend.   of course sydney decided to be sunny, hot and gorgeous on the day i wanted to turn the oven up to full blast, cook on the stove and work the grill.  oh well, it was good fun and well worth the effort!

the beginning of the spread...

the beastly bird.

 she made a black forrest cake from scratch.   she wins!

songs were requested... i forgot to take my apron off before playing!

the lovely sydney harbour over the weekend.

Friday, November 23, 2012

bjork: mutual core

bjork mixes music, art and science with this interesting new song, mutual core, and official video.

her musical stylings and artistic tastes have always been about 20 years ahead of the current time, in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

science, it's YOUR thing!

remember the science, it's a girl thing debacle a few months back?? 

well, they solicited videos from the public and now they are all available for you to VOTE on to determine the winner!

i'm not endorsing any particular video, but i'll show the only australian entry here, because i know some of the scientists featured near the end :)

watch the videos and VOTE now!

drenched in light and fog

stunning photos by boguslaw strempel.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

chasing shadows

i wrote a guest post for COSMOS magazine about my total solar eclipse experience last week.   i wanted to reproduce it here so i could include photos!

Last week, I traveled to Far North Queensland to witness one of the most amazing astronomical events accessible to earthlings: a total solar eclipse. My perspective was unlike most amateur and professional astronomers who traveled from afar to feel the chill of the Moon's shadow, because I camped out at a music festival that occurred along the path of eclipse totality. From our location, the eclipse, when the Moon passes exactly in front of the Sun, was perfect.

a Can-Clipse

The energy among the crowd the night before the eclipse was intensifying. Many festivalgoers stayed up all night, listening to the continuous music from any one of six stages. I opted to wake up early, before sunlight brightened the horizon, in preparation for the 6:38 am beginning of totality. I walked to the main open area of the festival park, along with thousands of other excited people.

When the Sun finally broke above the line of distant mountains, the crowd basked in a crisp orange sunrise glow. We all cheered with the recognition that the Moon was already covering a tiny sliver of the Sun. Our anticipation grew as the Moon slowly slipped in front of the sun, and the pair rose slightly higher above the horizon.

About 40 minutes later, the light around us started to fade and grow noticeably redder. The temperature had risen with the sunrise, but dropped down several degrees as the Moon covered more and more of the Sun. We looked through our solar glasses, awaiting the big event.

And then it happened. The otherworldly moment when the Moon's shadow swept over us, and the very bright, eye-damaging yellow photosphere we recognise as our star disappeared. A dark orb hung in the sky, unrecognisable as the Moon, backlit by huge, unfamiliar, shimmering rays of white light.

The sight felt so strange, so eerie. The excited crowd settled into a stunned silence, before erupting in a collective rumble of appreciation and awe. What must ancient people who witnessed this event have thought when the sun faded to black so unexpectedly, only to pop back to normal mere minutes later?

Intellectually, I thought I knew the feeling I would be experiencing, since this would be the second total solar eclipse I would witness, after an eclipse in China in 2009, but I was completely overwhelmed. As soon as the darkness set in, the Sun's corona stretched so unbelievably far out around the tiny black moon, my mouth stuck itself in a goofy grin of pure pleasure, and tears came instantly to my eyes - much to my annoyance, because they blurred my vision!

During totality, I was overcome with a feeling that I was more unified with the universe. Despite knowing the fact that we live on a giant sphere of rock, zooming around a big ball of fire at an unfathomable pace, witnessing this event made me feel that power. For two full minutes we sat wonderstruck, staring at the surreal object hanging in the sky, yelling out insufficient adjectives while feeling the chilled air on our skin.

Solar Eclipse Totality.  Photo Credit: Alex Cherney
And then it was over. The brightness of the edge of the Sun crept around the Moon. The small black circle disappeared in a flash and we were instantly back to normalcy. How quickly the vision of the bright Sun snapped us out of our revelries. Home again, more connected to the cosmos.

Most of us sat still, watching the Moon finish its path across the Sun's face, reflecting on the experience and its unexpected intensity. After another 30 minutes, the music started playing again and many entranced witnesses began dancing in the restored morning sunlight.

dancing in the sunlight

I have not seen a single photograph or video that has captured the pure magic feeling of witnessing a total solar eclipse. It's an unexplainable life event. It's a lucky coincidence that our Moon and our Sun happen to appear as the exact same size in our sky and even cross paths once every 18 months or so. Incredibly inspiring.

reflecting after the eclipse

I'm already excited for the possibility of chasing the Moon's shadow and witnessing another eclipse, despite the knowledge that earthly weather could prevent the success of such an endeavor. The feeling is worth the effort. I'm officially hooked!

so get ready -  there will be a total solar eclipse across the center of the USA on August 21st, 2017!!   mark your calendars!

i still went for a swim :)

link for the full COSMOS article

Monday, November 19, 2012

done trying to please bullies

i think this kate or die! cartoon is great.   powerful. 

here is a link to the full size version, if it's hard to read. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

moon shadow

yes, i was in far north queensland, australia last week to see the total solar eclipse!   i'm writing up a whole post about it and will share some photos soon. 

the challenge in sharing the experience is that i have not seen a single photograph or video that can capture the pure magic feeling of witnessing a total solar eclipse. it's an unexplainable life event.

that being said, APOD has shared some great captures since the event last wednesday.  one of my favorites so far is this one by ben cooper

just imagine that backlit black orb hanging in the sky.  it's an incredible sight!  unfortunately, even the fanciest of optics and cleverest of photographers cannot capture the dynamic range our eyes witness or the otherworldly appeal of the brief phenomenon.    more soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

views from the ISS

during the total of 370 days that donald pettit lived on the international space station, he took some absolutely stunning video and photos of his unique perspective of earth, which i have previously posted here and here.  

his talk at luminance 2012 about how he took these shots is definitely worth watching:

Donald Pettit speaks at Luminance 2012 from on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

hip hip ohio!

my 2012 US presidential election experience was condensed into the last two weeks before the big vote.  i landed in the focus zone of ohio, to be bombarded with TV and radio advertisements, newspaper endorsements, active political discourse (some positive, but mostly negative), and a general feeling of excitement and importance. 

in the end, ohio went to obama, although he would have won the election without ohio's 18 electoral votes since he took 7 of the 8 "battleground" states.  

what still baffles me is just how strongly urban areas support more liberal policies while rural areas, with lower populations, are conservative.   take a look at the map of how the states voted

presidential electoral results by state.  (Credit: Huffington Post)

compared to a map that shows results from individual counties within each state.  almost all the blue counties represent the big cities inside each state.  there are a lot of red counties, but there are also very few people living in most of those counties.

US presidential votes by county.  (credit: common cents)

when i moved away from the US, i started carrying a small map of the US in my wallet.   when people ask where i'm from, and give me a confused look when i try to describe where ohio is among the states, i ask them to identify the right state on my map.  i think only two people in the last 5 years have answered correctly!   i wonder if people will guess correctly more often after this election.   (i doubt it...)

another interesting aspect of this election was the global perspective that i gained while living abroad and having many international friends on twitter and my facebook feed.  while i heard support for romney among my US-based acquaintances, essentially NO ONE that i know abroad even mentioned his name, much less showed support for him.   globally speaking, obama was the overwhelmingly obvious choice.

now, i dont talk politics on this blog very much, but i'm feeling proud of my state and country.  i'm particularly proud of the efforts of one friend who organized the heck out of obama's "get-out-the-vote" campaign in a couple key counties in the state.  her efforts were well rewarded!

i'll share two quick videos and then leave the topic to rest.  first, rachel maddow gives a concise summary of the election results and the current state of the US in 3 min and 12 sec:

second, president obama tells the story of "fired up! ready to go!"   this gives me goose bumps every time i watch it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

nikola tesla

to entertain and teach us of the electric rise and fall of nikola tesla, marco tempest made an incredible presentation at a TED conference.  enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

ohio halloween

i spent halloween in the US this year, which i havent done for a long time.  this is such a fun holiday and the people in my sister's town, certainly get into it! 

the kitty pooh was DELICIOUS!

the hamburglar and i visited the school for their halloween parade.   probably for the best, the kids had no idea who the hamburglar is/was!  one confused kid asked if i was a skunk.   i went with it, since i only just wanted to wear the wig! 

the homemade wall-e really stole the show, in my opinion.


keldan carefully rinsing pumpkin seeds for roasting.

fresh hot apple cider and apple butter.   two of my autumn favorites!

for dinner i made the kids "worms in dirt!"  (**recipe below)  everyone was skeptical at first, but then ate it right up, with my niece even asking "auntie, can i have some more worms?  i really like them!"   :) 

unfortunately, it was cold and rainy during the trick-or-treating hours, so we only made a quick trip around the neighborhood.

i was pretty amazed that she instantly found the pumpkin to color inside her sack and ripped it open before even contemplating the candy!

** worms in dirt

black beans
hot dogs
greens or sprouts

i rinsed a can of black beans then heated them with a splash of water in a pan.  i added a small bit of salt and roughly mashed them with a fork until it looked like a pile of dirt.   i cut up hot dogs in thin strips and then boiled for a couple minutes.   they curl up in the water!

Monday, November 5, 2012

watching words

there is a clever book called watching words by ivan chermayeff and tom geismar that i'd like to look all the way through.   so far i've only seen a few pages, and i like them very much!