Carnival of Space Week 88 – The Spacewriter

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Want to know what’s been happening in the Universe this week? Get over to Carolyn Collins Petersen’s space and astronomy blog (a.k.a. “The Spacewriter”) for a SUPERB Carnival of Space. I’m not entirely sure where to start for week 88, there’s so much to choose from! In fact, looking at the number of entries, I’d say this is one of the largest turnouts so far. Wow, there’s a lot of science writing going on!

From Carolyn’s well-crafted peek into the space blogosphere, here’s a tiny fraction of articles that caused a derailment to my plans for getting any work done this afternoon (plus my first reaction, in a word):

21st Century Waves (Bruce Cordell): Long Waves and the Future of Human SpaceflightWow

Centauri Dreams (Paul Gilster): A Workable Fusion Starship?Whoosh!

Space Video of the Day: Announcement by Pres. Regan after the Challenger disasterMoving

Mang’s Bat Page (David Gamey): How You Could Pilot a Space Telescope (Upside Down)Shiny!

Simostronomy (Mike Simonsen): Aperture FeverObsessed!

The Martian Chronicles (Ryan Anderson): The MOC “Book”: IntroductionInsightful

Starts With A Bang! (Ethan Siegel): Supernovae and Dark Energy: Part IIAha!

There are loads more where that came from, so get your bums down to The Spacewriter and enjoy!

From Astroengine.com, I submitted my musings about the secret payload on that Delta IV Heavy… just why are clandestine launches so damned sexy?

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Stimulus Package Stimulates the Wrong Package

Porn in the workplace affects science too (SciAm)

Porn in the workplace affects science too (SciAm)

I’ve just worked out why my research proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) failed to get funded last year.

I thought it was the returned critique: “inadequate consideration of outreach activities” that was the main reason for the failure (isn’t saying: “that’s the Sun,” whilst pointing to the sky, enough “outreach”?), or perhaps it was my criticism of research councils for not funding enough solar missions (fair point)… I’m not sure.

But it might have been a crap proposal that skimmed the desks of the NSF and filed under “LOL”, or “FAIL”.

After a year of getting used to the idea that I might not get back into solar research again, today I’ve seen what must have happened. My proposal landed on the NSF proposals desk during the 20% of the time the NSF staff member was taking an unauthorized break (i.e. surfing for porn).

Phew, perhaps I’m not bad at proposals after all
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Astroengine Live Show #9: It’s a Vacuum Out There

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For today’s Astroengine Live, I’ll be talking about anything and everything. There will be the obligatory stop-over at the Carnival of Space and a peek at one (or possibly two) podcasts from the 365 Days of Astronomy and then… who knows?

In fact, it would be great if I could get some opinions about last week’s launch of the top secret US spy satellite (or, at least, that’s what we think it is). So check out “Why Are Clandestine Space Launches So Sexy?” and share your views. Do you find it a little frightening that such activities are being carried out in space? Do you think the secrecy adds to the thrill of wanting to find out more? Or do you think the government should be more transparent with things of this nature? As always, send me an email on astro@wprtradio.com or leave me a comment at the bottom of this post.

Get Involved!

Have any articles or stories you want to contribute? Have an opinion on anything in the world of space? Email me on astro@wprtradio.com and I’ll be sure to give it a mention. Eventually, I hope to have telephone call-ins, but for now, email will do.

Listen to Astroengine Live using the Paranormal Radio player. Or, pick up the podcast feed to activate your favourite audio software.

Astroengine Live Shows 7 & 8 Now Available in the Archives

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Two more Astroengine Live shows are now available for your listening pleasure via the BVRN radio/podcast archive. You can either navigate to the Astroengine Live section of Astroengine.com, selecting your choice of show from the gadgiwidgity thingy in the top right-hand corner, or you can go directly to the Black Vault itself and select which show you want to stream or download…
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The Anatomy of a Los Angeles Earthquake… on Twitter

The July earthquake in LA caused chaos in the shampoo & conditioner isles...

The July earthquake in LA caused chaos in the shampoo & conditioner aisles...

Sitting at my desk at 7:42pm (Friday), doing some research on the web (read: procrastinating), I felt something odd. It was as if somebody walked behind my chair, shunting me forward slightly. I turned, and of course no one was there. Slightly confused, I heard my wife shout from the living room, “Did you feel that?” Then I knew I wasn’t dreaming, there had been an earthquake.

That wasn’t my first experience of a quake, back in July 2008, Woodland Hills felt a seismic wave from the magnitude 5.4 earthquake epicentre near Downtown LA. That’s the only way I can describe it, a rolling wave. We were outside at the time, and I was amazed to see the water in the pool slosh over the sides. Now that was my first quake, and I found it pretty exhilarating (as I ran inside to get my video camera to take an eyewitness account of any other tremors, but there were no more to follow).

Today’s was a short and pretty wimpy magnitude 3.4, just a tiny burst of energy. However, interested to find out more, I turned to one of the best breaking news resources out there, Twitter
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Carnival of Space Week 86 – The Martian Chronicles

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After a week’s rest, the Carnival of Space is back, in force! Loads of entries this week from Ryan at The Martian Chronicles; everything from the Mars methane fuss, man in space, black holes and (lets not forget) the buzz about the possibility of a holographic Universe. This week, from Astroengine.com, I entered the great news that Peter Higgs has discovered his very own Higgs boson (you’ll have to read the post if you want to know what I’m going on about!).

So, get over to The Martian Chronicles so you can find out what’s hot and what’s not in the space blogosphere! (Did I really just say that?)

When in the Solar Cycle were You Born?

My birthday, right smack bang in the middle of solar maximum (Space Weather)

My birthday, right smack bang in the middle of solar maximum (Space Weather)

I just came across this rather nifty little tool via fellow Twitterer TaviGreiner, and I really like it. It’s yet another wish-I’d-thought-of-that moments. You input your date of birth, and a sunspot number chart appears, displaying the solar activity on your birthday…
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Morse Code Messaging with the Stars

Sirius morse code, but what does it say? (©Jimmy Westlake)

Sirius Morse code, but what does it say? (©Jimmy Westlake)

It’s another one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments. Well, at least it would have been if I knew Morse code. And if I was an astrophotographer. I have a camera, and some patience, and have worked out how to capture the Moon with my ancient SLR, so perhaps there’s some hope yet? Nah, I’ll give up on this one.

Jimmy Westlake from Colorado took this shot of star trails, with the brightest star being Sirius. Usually, star trails are continuous arcs of light after keeping the shutter of the camera open for minutes-hours at a time. You’ll notice that this picture is different, the star trails are broken. It turns out that Westlake wanted to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in his own way:

This is actually a series of 28 separate exposures on one piece of film. The ‘dots’ are 30-second exposures; the ‘dashes’ are 3-minute exposures. The ‘shutter’ creating the gaps was my shivering, gloved hand held over the lens in the 0ºF Colorado air. The entire message required just under two hours to record. Every few minutes, I had to turn on a blow dryer to keep the frost from forming on the lens–and me!

I’ll let you try to decipher the code if you can read Morse code, otherwise read on for the answer…
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Astroengine Live #8: Methane and Astroengineering

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It’s been a big week this week. It looks like a replacement for Michael Griffin has been decided, Barack Obama is now President of the United States, NASA has shown all its cards by hinting (shouting) that life on Mars might be generating all that methane* and we could be living in one giant holodeck. Just another week in the Universe I guess…

As there was no Carnival of Space this week, I’ll probably grab a few interesting blog posts from my fellow space bloggers for good measure to throw into the mix for this week’s Astroengine Live! Wedneday at 4pm EST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, 7pm EST and midnight GMT! If you’ve found any articles of interest, please feel free to drop me a line on astro@wprtradio.com.

Get Involved!

Have any articles or stories you want to contribute? Have an opinion on anything in the world of space? Email me on astro@wprtradio.com and I’ll be sure to give it a mention. Eventually, I hope to have telephone call-ins, but for now, email will do.

Listen to Astroengine Live using the Paranormal Radio player. Or, pick up the podcast feed to activate your favourite audio software.

Check out Paranormal Radio’s live streaming vidcast, Captain Jack will be airing my show on his website too.

*Actually, the methane thing might just be geological activity, but if this week’s headlines are anything to go by, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a whole alien civilization on the Red Planet! Which there probably isn’t by the way…

Peter Higgs Discovers Higgs Boson… in the Mail!

Dr Peter Higgs holds his very own Higgs boson (©Particle Zoo/Peter Higgs)

Peter Higgs holds his very own Higgs boson (©Particle Zoo/Peter Higgs)

In October, something very special happened to me. There, on the doorstep, a Higgs boson sat, waiting to be picked up and unwrapped from his packaging (and yes, I can confirm, he is a he).

Of course, he wasn’t the same Higgs boson physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) were looking for, he was a Higgs boson plushie from Julie Peason’s Particle Zoo.

Since that day, Higgsy (as I affectionately call him) has been sitting on my desk, watching me write, whilst holding down a stack of papers when I have my office window open.

Yesterday, I received some more good news via email from my friend Julie, the Particle Zookeeper. The particle physicist whom the Higgs boson is named after has also discovered his very own Higgs boson… at his home in Scotland!
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