Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NASA - Mars Global Surveyor

NASA - Mars Global Surveyor: "11.21.06 -- Mars Global Surveyor May Be at Mission's End NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has likely finished its operating career. The spacecraft has served the longest and been the most productive of any mission ever sent to the red planet."

Ack! How could this happen? Doom? Well, no, actually, it lasted a lot longer than scheduled and continued working even with many malfunctions. NASA is pointing the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at the spacecraft to see if they can get a picture and guess at what is wrong and try to fix it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Technology Review: Hyperlinking Reality via Phones

Technology Review: Hyperlinking Reality via Phones: "Nokia researchers are working on a system that allows physical objects to be identified and connected to the Internet through mobile-phone screens."

Interesting this. I read a Scientific American article about this system a few years ago.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fires in Far Northern Forests to Have Cooling, Not Warming, Effect

Fires in Far Northern Forests to Have Cooling, Not Warming, Effect

II just love all of this contradiction. Are we doomed or not doomed to global warming. What will more CO2 do? It was commonly thought that seeding the oceans with iron would increase production of organisms that would make the ocean a bigger CO2 sink. However, this may not be the case. See SOFeX2002
See also a National Academy of Science article here.

I am confused. Please help!

In a lighter vein, poetry from Ronald Hoffman, Nobel Laurete in Chemistry:

Below the fold, (http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2006/04/a_poetrywriting_chemist_for_na.php) Hoffman's poem "An unusual state of matter":

In the beach sands of Kerala,
abraded from the gneiss, in the stream sands of North Carolina
one finds monazite, the solitary
mineral. In its crystalline beginning
there was order, there was a lattice.
And the atoms - cerium, lanthanum,
thorium, yttrium, phosphate - danced
round their predestined sites,
tethered by the massless springs
of electrostatics
and by their neighbors' bulk.
They vibrated,
and sang
in quantized harmony.
to absent listeners, to me.

But the enemy is within.
The radioactive thorium's
nervous nuclei explode
in the random thrum
of a hammer
of no Norse god.

The invisible searchlights
of hell, gamma rays,
flash down the lattice.
Alpha particles, crazed nuclear
debris, are thrust on megavolt
missions of chance destruction.
The remnant atom, transmuted, recoils,
freeing itself from its lattice point,
cannonballs awry through
a crowded dance floor.
There are no exits to run to.
In chain collisions of disruption
neighbors are knocked from their sites.
The crystal swells from once limpid
long-range, short-range order
to yellow-brown amorphousness.
undefine the metamict state.

(From W. Carleton and C. Bond, eds., Bound, Cornell University, 1986.)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Technology Review: Charging Batteries without Wires

Nikola Tesla's ideas finally get a break! (Though I guess that Alternating Current idea did catch on!)

Technology Review: Charging Batteries without Wires

Tired of plugging in to charge your batteries. This is the Bluetooth of battery charging.

On another Science note, having the Demo's in charge in Congress might hopefully reverse the slide into the gross politicalization (a word?) of Science. One major victory in the war against superstition was the defeat of Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum. See the article summary in the magazine Science. Unfortunately, some other senators also support ID, including Arizona Senator McCain. See the article in the New York Sun newspaper. A more comprehensive discussion of the impact of the election on science can be found at: Democratic Victory and Scientific Research

Well, that's all for now, folks! Keep those cards and letters coming. Hope the deer hunting remains good in Minnesota!

Monday, November 06, 2006

SPACE.com -- Universe Might be Bigger and Older than Expected

SPACE.com -- Universe Might be Bigger and Older than Expected

Just when you thought that cosmologists had figured out the age of the universe to be about 13.7 billion years old and 156 billion light years wide, the Hubble Constant changes. What? How can it change if it is a constant? Well, the value of the constant has changed due to new and more accurate ways of measuring the distance to a binary star system in M33.

Well, in a somewhat lighter vein: "LONDON (Nov 8, 1996 1:48 p.m. EST) - Scientists searching for one of the fundamental keys to the universe found they had been beaten to the answer by the comic cult novel "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"; and the answer was 42." This is from the Humor Archives

Saturday, November 04, 2006

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sun probe sends back first data

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sun probe sends back first data

Japan is one of those countries one does not always here about in regards to space exploration. They have a number of current and planned missions, though the one they sent to Mars several years ago failed. The Hinode mission described in the article linked above is meant to observe the sun. It is in a sun-synchronous polar orbit of polar orbit is about 600 km up. The Hinode mission is in conjunction with NASA and the European Space Agency. The link to NASA talks about plans to fix the Hubble Space Telescope discussed in an earlier post. It was launched by JAXA, the Japanese space agency. The Japanese are also involved in lunar, planetary and asteroid exploration. One of their projects, HAYABUSA) is a sample return mission from an asteroid. Click this SpaceRef.com link for an article about possible Japanese manned flight.

While in Asia, you might also be interested in the Chinese manned space flight program that is already operational. This is the link to the official China National Space Administration. India also has an ambitious space program and has flown astronauts on flights launched by the U.S. and Russia. One of its astronauts was killed in the Challenger disaster. This link will take you to an article about current space missions such as communications satellites and will soon launch and unmanned lunar mission.

Who knows what set me off on this strange mission. I will leave you all with a link to international space law. That will be a topic of future babblings!


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Orbiter to Look for Lost-To-Mars Probes - Yahoo! News

Orbiter to Look for Lost-To-Mars Probes - Yahoo! News

As noted in earlier posts, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has entered its working orbit after a long series of aerobraking maneuvers that placed it in its working orbit around Mars. One of it's cameras may help find previous spacecraft that failed to call home. ( Mars Polar Lander , Beagle 2)
MRO will also look for potential landing sites for future unmanned and manned missions.

In other Mars news, the two vehicles exploring the surface of Mars (Spirit, Opportunity) are years beyond their life expectancy and still working. They are about to start their second Mars Spring. One, Opportunity, will explore the Victoria Crater (picture taken with the MRO Hi-Rise Camera). See also Google Mars.

In news that won't mean much to anyone not on the U.S. West Coast or somewhere in the middle of oceans, the planet Mercury will soon transit the sun. Telescopes will be set up at OMSI in Portland to watch this event, weather permitting.

Finally, SETI is still in business. Originally, the radio telescopes were tuned to the wavelength of hydrogen gas with the belief that any civilization would choose the frequency most likely to penetrate the fog of space. However, over time and distance, this frequency shifts. The next generation of radio telescopes will be better able to take this into account in the search for intelligent signals from other civilizations. If you wish to donate computer time to this search, go to SETI @ Home.

The U.C. Berkeley computer geeks hosting this program also run a system known as Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). Here, you can volunteer your computer time to SETI, math, biology, medicine, astronomy, physics or earth sciences. I've been a SETI @ Home participant for a number of years. However, to my knowledge, I have yet to analyze a "WOW" signal.

Well, that is all for today folks. Keep those Pink Flamingos in your yards!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006



Okay, this is a link to a new blog, Cosmopoly, that I started when the old Cosmical blog crashed. well, the old one is back. Click her for the two days you might have missed dealing with Mars and Hubble.

Today, however, is dedicated to the demise of the Pink Flamingo lawn ornament. One of my favorites, though my wife will not allow me to have one. I had Pink Flamingo shower curtains before I married.

RIP: Pink Flamingo, 1957-2006

The above story is published in a South Florida newspaper, naturally. " The pink plastic flamingo, a Florida-inspired icon that has been reviled as kitschy bad taste and revered as retro cool, is dead at age 49."

Pink Flamingo Desktop Wallpaper, click here
Warning, you will have to edit out fake desktop icons or you may confuse yourself! You might also go to a website specializing in Pink Flamingo items for sale. Click here!

Finally, you can't miss Pink Flamingos, the John Waters movie! Also see Sex Vixens From Outer Space in which the characters stay at the Pink Flamingo Hotel or the ever popular Maltese Flamingo!
However, the later does not appear to deal with flamingos at all, but, hey, it's in the title!
Well, that is all for now!

RIP: Pink Flamingo, 1957-2006: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

RIP: Pink Flamingo, 1957-2006: South Florida Sun-Sentinel