In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream “Get Back Here You Thieving Alien!”


I’m quickly realising that the Super Bowl ad break is as eagerly awaited as the match itself. I’ve lived in the US for 3 Super Bowls, and each time there’s the buzz, “I wonder what the [insert company here] ad will be this year?” It’s funny, I’ve only watched one Super Bowl (in my first year) and I was astonished that there were more ad breaks than (American) football. (Which is no bad thing, I’m not a huge fan of the sport, give me football–soccer–any day.)

All I do know is, some of the ads are funny, some are clever but most are crap (don’t get me started on the GoDaddy marketing campaign… what in the hell are they doing?). But today, as posted on Greg Fish’s World of Weird Things, there was a glimmer of Space Age hope from a tire manufacturer…
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Carnival of Space Week 88 – The Spacewriter


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


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


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 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 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


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, 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


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, 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?)