Geodesy and GOCE: Astrocast.TV with Bente Lilja Bye

In the first episode of A Green Space — A Green Earth at Astrocast.TV, my friend and astrophysicist Bente Lilja Bye gives a superb overview about the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) that was finally launched in March. It’s a captivating show, detailing the history and science behind the study of geodesy (the gravitational field, shape and rotation of the Earth).

You may not be familiar with geodesy, but it is critical to advancing our understanding of the planet we live on. For example, GOCE observations could aid prediction techniques for earthquakes, or refine GPS data; suddenly geodesy has a very real and immediate relevance to us on the ground.

Be sure to check out the video below, it’s a very slick production. Great job Bente!

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Discovery Space Gets a Facelift

discovery_space

Having been a reader of Discovery Space for a while now, I was excited to hear from the Discovery’s ace producer Dave Mosher, that the site had undergone a fairly radical face-lift. The excited the web designer inside me couldn’t wait to see what had been done, but it was also a relief that the superb space science reporting hadn’t changed, it had been re-packaged to make it easier to navigate. Also, as Dave expertly steers the site through the ocean of space journalism, blogging and reporting, I am very pleased to see his space blog, Space Disco, has pride of place right at the top of the site.

All that is needed now are some funky social options (perhaps some Twitter, Facebook and Google gadgets–you know me, I love my gadgets!) and Discovery Space will really hit my cosmic funny bone. Great job Dave, your hard work and leadership is really shining through, like a GRB on a dark night! (Sorry, I had to think up a geeky analogy.)

Higgs Boson Discovered on Doorstep

You don’t need the Large Hadron Collider to discover the Higgs boson after all…

The moment of discovery. It turns out Higgsy is a little shy.

The moment of discovery. It turns out Higgsy is a little shy.

This evening I went outside to investigate a noise. On opening the door I saw a small box lying awkwardly on its side against a flower pot. A little confused (as there was no knock on the door to say there was a delivery), I picked the small package. The box was heavy. I gave it a shake. Something was rolling around in there. It didn’t make a sound.

On opening the box I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, hiding under styrofoam packaging, neatly wrapped in a clear plastic bag, the one particle EVERYONE wants to meet… the Higgs boson!

Far from being smug, the little guy was actually pretty shy and was reluctant to leave the comfort of his box. After a brief chat I assured him that he was safe from particle physicists wanting to see him spontaneously decay…

As you might have guessed, I didn’t discover a real Higgs particle on my doorstep (although we all know that it must be full of them… theoretically anyhow). My Higgs boson plushie has just travelled from the caring hands of its creator, Particle Zookeeper Julie Peasley…
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Writing for Los Angeles Family Magazine – New Science Column!

The October 2008 edition of LA Family Magazine, where my new space column features!

The October 2008 edition of LA Family Magazine, where my new space column features!

So what does Astroengine.com and Denise Richards have in common? Well, usually not a lot, but today my writing appears in the October 2008 edition of LA Family Magazine with Denise Richards featuring in the leading article. Admittedly, there’s 36 pages separating Denise from me, so the link is a little tenuous, but great nonetheless!

I was asked to become a regular columnist in this leading parenting magazine in an effort to communicate space science topics to parents and their kids. And what better way to begin than by writing about flying to the Moon!

After writing a very popular article about “How Long Does it Take to get to the Moon?” for the Universe Today, I thought this was a good place to start. The next article will tackle a bigger project, a trip to Mars…

Have a look at this month’s edition of Los Angeles Family Magazine and have a read of “Hey, Kids! Want to Go to the Moon?” (page 54)

Particle Zoo: The Higgs Boson For Sale

Collect them all! The Standard Model of plushie particles (© Particle Zoo & Julie Peasley)

Collect them all! The Standard Model of plushie particles (© Particle Zoo & Julie Peasley)

Astroengine exclusive interview with Particle Zoo founder, Julie Peasley

The hunt for the Higgs particle may have come to grinding halt until 2009, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discover the elusive particle for yourself. In fact, it’s not just the Higgs boson that awaits discovery in the zoo of Standard Model particles. And what a zoo it is! We have protons, neutrons, the quarks that make up said hadrons; plus all the force carriers, neutrinos, photons, electrons and anti-particles. There is a delicious and varied array of subatomic particles out there, but they are too small for us to see. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what these quanta actually look like?

It seems that Particle Zookeeper Julie Peasley has an intimate connection with the tiny “beings” that make up all known matter in the Universe. She has single-handedly set up her own business putting faces to the complex particles, giving us a unique view into the quantum world we would otherwise forget in the soup of theoretical physics equations. The Particle Zoo is a Los Angeles company, where Julie brings particles to life in her “sweatshop of one,” sewing beautifully-made plushie toys of all the Standard Model particles so we can collect them all…
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Astroengine Goes to Hollywood: “Fly Me to the Moon” Premier

Legendary astronaut and second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin. A really nice chap (© Ian O'Neill & Astroengine.com)

Legendary astronaut and second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin. A really nice chap (© Ian O'Neill & Astroengine.com)

In a very fortunate chain of events, I was asked by Fraser to go to the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd. (LA) for the “Fly Me to the Moon” movie premier. I can’t review the film as yet (we have to wait until the film opens on August 15th for that), but I can give a run-down of who was at the premier and what the new animated feature is all about. Personally, I had a great day, fulfilling my dream of meeting legendary ex-astronaut Buzz Aldrin and legendary British actor Tim Curry…
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NASA and Disney-Pixar Promote Space Exploration with WALL-E

WALL-E - the very cute face of NASA public outreach (© Disney-Pixar)
As a science public outreach advocate, I am totally behind a new deal between NASA and animation experts Disney-Pixar. Using the new movie WALL-E, a story about the last robot-rover on Earth exploring space (with all the fuzzy, heart-warming Disney stuff in between), NASA has signed a deal with the film making heavyweight to promote NASA’s science and technology to school children. Too many times have I seen kids cartoons characters used to sell junk food, this move is very refreshing. Promoting science education though a cute robot is great in my books and may dispel any doubts in the younger generation that space exploration is dull.

Great move NASA, looks like a superb film Pixar! WALL-E will be released in the US on June 27th and in the UK on July 18th…
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