The Big Think

November 27, 2010

It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: A 3D Printing White Paper

Filed under: Maker,Telescope — jasony @ 9:04 pm

It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing…: “”

(Via .)

November 15, 2010

This just sounds Star Trek

Filed under: Science,Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:19 pm

Finding the Universe’s 500 Million Light Year Yardstick – Technology Review: “”

Using Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations. Awesome. The previous way of measuring distances larger than several parsecs was via Cepheid variable stars (if you know how bright a certain star is, you can measure its distance by measuring its relative brightness). This is a much more accurate way. Plus, it sounds cool.

And don’t miss pics of the incredible Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Inspired!

August 22, 2010

Keep Looking Up

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:07 pm

Jack Horkheimer, popular astronomer and TV guy, passes away at 72. I remember watching this guy growing up. He was always enthusiastic about astronomy and, though a bit on the hokey side, seemed to embrace that as part of the wonder. I’ll miss his charm.

August 16, 2010

Interview with a Rock Star

Filed under: Music,Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 5:40 pm

Queen’s Brian May– Rock god, guitarist, and… astrophysics PhD. (h/t Robert)

May 22, 2010

Spectacular Saturn

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:22 pm

Amazing Saturn pictures courtesy Cassini.

About Time

Filed under: Politics,Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 12:42 pm

Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave…

…After his death, his remains rested in an unmarked grave beneath the floor of the cathedral in Frombork, northern Poland, the exact location unknown.

On Saturday, his remains were blessed with holy water by some of Poland’s highest-ranking clerics before an honor guard ceremoniously carried the coffin through the imposing red brick cathedral and lowered it back into the same spot where part of his skull and other bones were found in 2005.

A black granite tombstone now identifies him as the founder of the heliocentric theory, but also a church canon, a cleric that ranks below a priest. The tombstone is decorated with a model of the solar system, a golden sun encircled by six of the planets.


March 5, 2010

Still Doing Science

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 8:55 am

During the heyday of the Apollo missions, astronauts put smallish reflectors on the surface of the moon.


About the size of a large pizza box and covered in prisms, these reflectors have been used by Earthbound scientists for scientific study of the moon ever since. These scientists fire very precise lasers at the reflectors and measure the amount of time it takes for the reflections to return. Since they know the speed of light with extreme accuracy (and have very accurate clocks), they can measure the time it takes the reflection to return and thus determine how far away the moon is.

Did you know that the moon is moving away from us? True thing. Our celestial neighbor is spiraling away at a rate of about 38mm per year, or approximately the same rate as the continents drift or your thumbnail grows. Neat, huh? Or how about this for accuracy: the laser that scientists shoot at the moon is powerful, but the reflectors on the surface are so far away that they don’t catch all of the light that hits it on the rebound. Of the 10,000,000,000,000,000 photons (10 quadrillion) that leave the laser, only one will return, and that’s on a good day. The detectors have to be very accurate to pick up the reflection.

A big mystery that scientists are trying to solve about the reflectors is just why, after over three decades, are the mirrors becoming so much less efficient? Their reflectivity has dropped by an order of magnitude (10x), and, during a full moon, they drop an additional order of magnitude. The reflectors are as much as 100x less reflective today than they were when they were placed on the surface. In addition, during a total lunar eclipse (full moon going into the shadow of the Earth), the reflectors’ efficiency returns to normal levels (which eliminates any explanation of lunar dust on the lenses). Strangely, this effect didn’t happen when the reflectors were first insalled. Why? We don’t know, but there are theories.

It’s a bizarre mystery that tells us there are still many things left for us to lear about “that boring place we’ve already been”.

December 10, 2009

Power to the People

Filed under: Telescope — jasony @ 11:01 am

Lowes in California has been stocking solar panels, but now they plan on rolling them out across the country. Hooray! With a big buyer like this, panel prices will come down even further and Home Depot will have to get into the act (which will only accelerate the drop). This is the type of great mass-market news that both greenie-weenie and free marketers can both agree on.

Our next house WILL get a big chunk (or all) power via panels and other renewable, off-the-grid type power. I’d love to see everyone move to this sort of thing. Am I a rabid Goreite? No, but five years as a wilderness guide does have an effect. Rather, I see the mass adoption of consumer-level renewable resources as a thumb in the eye of the Man, and a way for the average person to become more independent and autonomous. Isn’t it nice when both sides can work together? See that, Congress?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching the prices fall and the capacities rise. Now we just have to convince HOA’s across the country that solar panels are not visual blight.

Marfa, Eat Your Heart Out

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:03 am

Weird lights in the sky over in Norway (video at link). Freaky spiral pattern. I can’t find it right now, but earlier I saw a good computer model that convincingly showed how a leaky missile launch (where the leak caused the missile to spiral like a bullet) would have this exact effect. It’s cooler to think of it as a new Stargate opening up, though. Boring old rockets. Harumph.


December 7, 2009

Ex Libris

I may have posted this a while back, but it’s worth a re-post. The ultimate Geek Library.

November 23, 2009


Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 12:56 pm

What would the view be from Earth if our planet had rings?

November 20, 2009

Looking Up

Filed under: Space/Astronomy,Technology — jasony @ 11:01 pm

The early computer- the Astrolabe. Amazing ancient tech. Thanks to Sean for the link.

November 2, 2009


Filed under: Science,Space/Astronomy,Technology — jasony @ 6:15 pm

I posted a brief excerpt of this interview a few days ago. I finally just got around to watching the whole thing. It’s really good, and worth looking at if you’re interested in science and education (or just like cool stories well told by enthusiastic people).

October 29, 2009

Pay It Forward

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:19 pm

It’s nice when a great man also ends up being a good man.

October 22, 2009

Earth and Jupiter

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:52 am

Cool shot of Earth and Jupiter in the same frame. (h/t Scott)

October 3, 2009


Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:09 pm


The particular setup for this was sound activated. The lens was destroyed (worth it of course) but the camera survived this one despite being severed from its ratchet straps and thrown to the ground, and the sound device used for this one disconnected from the camera and thrown about 200 feet backwards into the pad perimeter fence (still worked!). All settings are preset manually. No one is allowed closer than several miles from a launch.

Unbelievably Awesome. Via Launch Photography.

September 28, 2009

How to Truck 66 200,000-Pound Antennas to 16,000 Feet | Wired Science |

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 10:07 am

How to Truck 66 200,000-Pound Antennas to 16,000 Feet: “”

(Via .)

September 22, 2009

Stranger than We Can Imagine

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:03 am

Saturn has mountains in its rings.

August 25, 2009

In Remembrance of Foresight

Filed under: Maker,Space/Astronomy,Telescope — jasony @ 1:03 pm

Today marks the 400th anniversary of the telescope. 400 years ago Galileo Galilei introduced his first telescope to the world.

August 13, 2009

Ultra Deep Field

Filed under: Space/Astronomy,Telescope — jasony @ 9:19 pm

This just brings tears to my eyes:

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