Friday, June 26, 2009

US men's soccer team surprises all!

congratulations to the US men's national soccer team, who have made it into their first ever FIFA international tournament final!! the confederations cup is currently happening in south africa in preparation for next year's world cup! the US succeeded in pulling off one of the most incredible upsets in recent history by defeating the current european champions, spain, 2-0 in the semi-final wednesday night! as you can imagine - i'm thrilled!!

there has been some controversy about holding the world cup in south africa: doubt as to whether they could construct all the necessary stadiums, handle the massive number of people who will come to watch the games, manage the violence reported around the region, etc... but it seems at this point as though everything is coming together successfully!

the big picture has a nice series of photos from south africa over the recent weeks in honor of the confederations cup!




the final of the confederations cup will be played this sunday: the US against Brasil!!!

a quote for today

“the art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change, for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.”

- charles morgan

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

jupiter and the speed of light

in this sixty symbols video about jupiter, professor mike merrifield and i talk about how the first measurement of the speed of light were taken using jupiter's moons, how to remember the names of the galilean moons, the crashing of comet shoemaker-levy 9 into jupiter, and more!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

what did you have for breakfast?

the US supplies all sorts of silly types of cereal: lucky charms, cinnamon toast crunch, count chocula, etc... most of these cereals have a ridiculous amount of sugar in them, but i got reminiscent the other day thinking about them.

then i received this video from brady, the guy making the sixty symbols videos, and i realize that a lot of scientists in nottingham eat corn flakes for breakfast!?



today i had strawberries and a piece of toast. what did you have for breakfast?

carnival of space #108

head over to starts with a bang for this week's plethora of space reading at the 108th carnival of space!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

burning bananas

from the test tube video series comes a very interesting short video about research being conducted on bananas! there's an excess of banana peels available in several african countries that are just going to waste. could these banana peels be used as an efficient energy source when burned?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

long days and short nights

england is known for its rainy weather and dreary days, but one thing i forgot to consider before i moved here is just how far north it lies on the earth! nottingham sits at a latitude of almost 53° north of the equator. due to the tilt of earth on its axis, when the north pole is facing towards the sun (summer in the northern hemisphere), the sky doesnt really get dark until well after 10pm and the begins to get light again before 4am!



i realize places even farther north get less, or no dark time, but i've never lived in a place where i experience this and i have to say - it's weird! when i wake up and feel light pouring in my system and think to myself - oh, it must be about time to wake up - but then open my eyes and see that's its only 4:30 am!?! maybe it should make me happy that i have so many more hours to continue sleeping, but i've been having a hard time getting back to sleep in such brightness (even with my eye cover, but that does help).

anyway, all this complaining is mostly to say that i'm very excited to celebrate the solstice tonight because that means the nights will start getting longer again in the northern hemisphere. yay!!

some friends are having a party and our goal is to watch the sun sloooowly set and then stay awake to watch it rise again!

happy solstice!

Friday, June 19, 2009

the whirlpool galaxy in the far-infrared!

last month we watched the successful launch of the herschel and planck telescopes aboard an ariane 5 rocket! they have since been traveling to their destination at L2 orbit (about 4 times farther from the earth than the moon). while traveling, scientists have been remotely calibrating the various systems inside the telescopes, and today they released the "first light" image from Herschel!!

this is one of my favorite galaxies, the whirlpool galaxy (M51), seen in far infrared light (160 microns, 100 microns and 70 microns) at higher resolution than ever before!


at these wavelengths, we are looking at the radiation from warm and cold dust and gas that live in the galaxy. the redder regions show colder material. from this gas and dust, new stars will eventually form!!

click here to view a little movie that combines the optical and new far-infrared images of M51! its interesting to me that the central region glows so bright with stars in the optical, but is still unresolved in the far-infrared that only sees dust and gas.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

sarah jarosz

while living in austin, texas, the self proclaimed "live music capital of the world," i enjoyed quite a wide variety of bands in the plentiful venues around town and also at loads of great festivals!

one musician who i really enjoyed listening to over the years is sarah jarosz. i first heard her play the mandolin when she was maybe 12 or 13 years old and i was absolutely blown away! she always played at the local bluegrass/folk/americana festivals, both big and small, and managed to play as a guest with the biggest names headlining!

one of my favorite musical memories was at the 2004 old settler's music festival when i weasled my way to the front of the david grisman quintet show. to my delight, they invited sarah to play with them - some of the bluegrass greats!! pictured below from L to R are billy bright, david grisman, 13-year-old sarah, vassar clements, joe craven, and tim o'brien.



i mention this now because sarah just turned 18, graduated from high school, and released her first album with 11 original songs! i'm glad people didnt pressure her to rush into creating albums, because from the tracks i've heard so far, she's really matured into a fantastic song writer! i remember that her vocals many years ago were a little course and sounded... well... young! but her sound on these songs is really fantastic and i cant wait to hear them all!

you can listen to a brief interview with some live music in this NPR interview that aired this week!

i chose to highlight the video below from last year's OSMF which shows a trio of youngins, all teenagers, and all amazing musicians!! sarah jarosz on the mandolin, alex hargreaves on the fiddle, and samson grisman on the stand up bass (yes, he's david's son)... they look like they're having so much fun! enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

angkor temples of cambodia

exploring the ancient temple complexes around angkor, cambodia was an amazing experience! angkor is said to be the largest religious monument/complex in the entire world as there are hundreds of temples surrounding angkor wat, covering something like 1000 square miles! the pictures i share here are spread throughout the temple complexes that we explored over three days!

the ankorian period of khmer rule started in the 9th century A.D. by the khmer hindu monarch, jayavarman II. the main temples began construction in the 1100's and the khmer ruled the region until the mid 1400's when the thai forces conquered, forcing the khmer to move their capitol to the present location of phnom pehn.

[sorry if this takes a while to load, i added the big pictures to show the details...]

must start the day with a solid cambodian breakfast!


the most famous temple of the bunch: angkor wat (with monks!).


a huge statue of buddha as you enter angkor wat.


monkey crossing.








the traditional peacock hats were fantastic!


the tourists were sometimes goofy ;)


conservationists have struggled to decide whether to restore all the temples to their original forms or let the trees continue to grow throughout. i'm glad they left some trees!






i love the details of the carvings, even though these structures are SO old!! i cant imagine what they looked like in their prime! the colors of the stones are amazing as well.




a decorated elephant!


some temples required serious(ly sweaty) climbs up steep stairs!




i loved the temple of faces, bayon!!









peace out!



more photos here!!

sixty symbols - schrödinger's cat

several new videos of the sixty symbols: videos about the symbols of physics and astronomy are appearing each week!


here are several scientists talking about a modern icon of physics and quantum mechanics: schrödinger's cat. what does the thought experiment involve exactly...? watch to find out!

carnival of space #107!

the 107th installment of the carnival of space is up at innumerable worlds!

enjoy your weekly space reading!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the summer triangle

its summertime in the northern hemisphere which means its a good time to look for the summer triangle asterism! if you go outside as the sun sets and face east, most likely the three brightest stars you see make up what we call the summer triangle.


each star in the summer triangle belongs to its own unique constellation. altair lives in the constellation aquila (the eagle), vega is part of the constellation lyra (the harp), and deneb acts as the head of the constellation cygnus (the swan). a "constellation" is one of 88 stellar groupings officially adopted by the international astronomical union based on ancient identifications, while "asterisms" are more modern associations of stars.



happy hunting!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

mouse bread

um - yuck! a man found a dead mouse in his loaf of bread in 2007. the company said they grease the pans over night then fill them with dough in the morning. somehow the mouse snuck in the pan and stayed between these two processes. i'm only posting this because they included the photo in the article!



ps. sorry if i've ruined anyone's breakfast with this post (especially if it happens to be their birthday) --go look at something uber cute, quick!!! toof cleaning!!

western spaghetti

i've seen many interpretations of the spaghetti western, but this is one o the more creative ones!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

have you shared your hole with anyone today?

in these hard times, its nice that someone like ze frank reminds us to share with each other simple pleasures... like our hole ;)

accessible science reading

someone asked in the comments a while back if i could recommend some popular science books that are good for enthusiasts of many ages and backgrounds! i will only recommend books from the collection i've read, but i welcome people to leave suggestions and short reviews in the comments!

A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking

i read this book soon after i started studying physics, so i didnt have a lot of technical background at the time. i thoroughly enjoyed most of the book, but the last part gets a bit more complex. its ok if you dont understand the last few chapters of most of these books.... the point is to get basic introductions, learn the lingo, and see how much deeper your understanding goes than it ever has before. if you make it all the way to the end feeling like you really get everything - then congratulations!!!


Black Holes and Time Warps
by Kip S. Thorne

i've gushed about this book before, but still completely recommend it for the sci-fi-story introduction and clear description of time, space, spacetime, and relativity on attainable levels.


Surely you are Joking, Mr Feynman
by Richard Feynman

feynman was an entertaining genius who enjoyed starting serious shenanigans wherever he went! in this book he shares some very interesting and often hilarious adventures that occurred as his curiosities about the way things worked got him into physics, and into trouble (like when he kept figuring out how to break the high security locks at los alamos scientific laboratory, for example)! interesting, entertaining, thought-provoking, and informative on several topics.


The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

sagan and druyan remind us how important it is to investigate problems based on evidence and think critically about issues, as they dissect pseudoscientific fantasies that seem to persist in the public's mind (silly oprah); alien abduction, channeling past lives, communal hallucinations, faith healing, etc...


Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
by Edwin Abbott Abbott (yes, thats abbott-squared)

this little gem of scientific (and mathematical) fiction was brilliantly written in 1884!!! it's short, easy to read, includes adorable illustrations by the author and describes "the journeys of A. Square, a resident of Flatland, and his adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland (no dimensions). A. Square also entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions; a revolutionary idea for which he is banished from Spaceland."


The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe
by Steven Weinberg

i took a graduate course in cosmology from steven weinberg at the university of texas. i'm happy for the experience, eventhough it was an awful class! he should stick to science and writing about science, because he's much much better at those things than he is at teaching! regardless, this book is a good read about the modern day view of the very very beginning of our universe... it might be completely wrong, but its a relatively successful working theory, and the short book is a good read!


(UPDATE: since i made this list i read and enjoyed...)

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
by Mike Brown

i really enjoyed this short, cute book. mike tells his first-hand story of how he realized pluto should lose its status as an official planet. through this scientific tale, he shares the excitement of how astronomy, and science in general, is actually done.


there are also several suggestions at cosmic variance for mathematics reading for high school students!

alan boyle at msnbc shares his recommendations for all ages.

and if youre entirely too impatient to go find a book to read, here's a great online general relativity course by stanford professor lenny susskind. you probably need several undergrad math and physics courses to fully keep up, but he's a quality lecturer and its worth a little watch i think!



enjoy and please share your recommendations!

milky way and a tree

here's a beautiful photograph of the milky way found in the flickr photostream of bobshots:

Friday, June 5, 2009

how to start a dance party

watch and witness as this solo dancer inspires people not to walk, but RUN to join his dance party! fantastic!


booty shakin' find by ze frank.

the manhattan project: an exploding drink!

everyone remembers the exciting mentos-in-coke explosion videos that circulated a while back, right? (see why the experiment works)

now some clever person has thought of a way to harness this energy long enough to shock and surprise your friends (or enemies) when it releases! introducing the other manhattan project!

the trick is to freeze mentos inside ice cubes so that when the ice melts enough for the little candies to touch the coke in the glass, the carbon bubbles rapidly created on the candy surface form a fizzy explosion in your friend's glass!


admittedly, coke in a "manhattan" might make a pretty crappy drink, but that name is better than highball or cuba libre!

i'm curious if this works though. someone should test the method and record it! would the mentos be visible enough inside the ice cubes to cause suspicion from the potential victim?? i'm not so sure i would be comfortable with white things inside of the ice in my glass, but maybe i wouldnt notice.

shadow, color, and curvature

any guesses as to where i took this photo?

educational eye candy

reviews are starting to come in for the planetarium show we are astronomers: it's "educational eye candy"! haha!

here's another trailer:

WAA Trailer 2 - 16x9 from NSC Creative on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

power and momentum

i think if i could do a small fraction of the stuff gymnasts could do, i would probably try to flip over anything i could all day long. a great example is olympic gymnast damien walters! my favorite part of this compilation video is the strip move around minute 1:00!