If it’s Thursday it’s must read Carnival Time

Yes, that was a lame title. The carnival on the other hand, is very much not lame, so go check it out on Visual Astronomy. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this many people participate. Go mingle with the astronomy crowd at the Carnival.

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Dark Energy is Real

Dark Energy is Real

This is apparently the post I wasn’t supposed to publish. I wrote it yesterday, and had it somehow utterly disappear from my HD after a crash. I then was writing it in wordpress and had Firefox crash on it before the first auto save… In a really cool press release that I got yesterday but couldn’t share (silly embargoes), it was announced that observations of distant galaxies support the idea that Dark Energy is most likely a real force or field that we don’t yet understand (as opposed to it being a side effect of us not understanding gravity – it looks like we really do understand gravity). (image left of galaxy spectra from VIRMOS) Now, at first look, this doesn’t sound that specific our exciting. In fact, the vagueness of...

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Not your (academic) Papa’s Laser Pointer

Not your (academic) Papa’s Laser Pointer

One of the cool things about my life is that I occasionally get asked to review things. Mostly, I get to read books I otherwise couldn’t afford, but sometimes some really cool technology crosses my desk too. Most recently, techlasers sent me an Infiniti 125mW Green (532nm) laser. (For reference the Federal Laser Product Performance (CDRH) Standard considers 0.385mW the max that should go into your eye! See here). This is an OM#G bright laser. This is a laser that the laser safety officer on my campus (a good friend in the office across the hall from me), made me register and agree not to ever use as a laser pointer indoors infront of students ever ever ever. (Really. Do not use this thing on a movie/overhead screen.) This is a laser I want to use to build...

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Many ramblings

I am so so annoyed at myself. I have been frantically working to find time to write between classes because I got this really really cool press release and I wanted to share its findings with you. I just about have the story done (and I’m done with students for the day, so I can think), and I just realized the story is embargoed until TOMORROW at 1pm Eastern. Grrrrrr So, I will go home and find something else to write about if I have time, but in the interim will ramble a bit to catch up on some comments. 1) I added “Bookmark” links to stories. You can use these to digg / stumble upon / del.io.us stories that you like. Feel encouraged to click! 2) If you want to order an Astronomy Cast pin, the US postal system will respect your foreign stamps,...

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Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger

Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger

Sometime this weekend I looked up at my calendar and realized, “I didn’t hear the Space Shuttle Challenger mentioned at all this weekend.” Twenty-Two years ago today, during middle school lunch block on the East coast, the Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral with a crew of 6 astronauts and one schoolteacher from New Hampshire. (Image: STS-51L, the last flight of the Challenger (NASA)) In many schools that day, teachers pulled their children into auditoriums and lined them up in rows before TVs. They were there to be inspired. This crew had a role model for everyone: African-American astronaut and physicist Ronald McNair, female astronaut and engineer Judy Resnik, Japanese-American astronaut and engineer Ellison Onizuka. And...

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