Homework for people in cold climates

Homework for people in cold climates

I heard the coolest thing today. One of my students, who wintered in North Dakota, reported than at temperatures below zero F, when you blow soap bubbles, they freeze and crumple. If you are some where cold, can you please go out with a little kids thing of soap bubbles and see what happens? The physics is straight forward – the soapy water is so so thin that it freezes almost instantly. At the same time, as the air inside (initially warm from your breath) cools, it shrinks. Since the soap bubble has now frozen, it can’t just shrink, but instead crumples. I really want to see this, but its just above freezing here 🙁 EDIT: Steve sent me the most amazing photo. It is strangely beautiful. I’ve included it big for you to...

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The (Galaxy Zoo) Keepers of the Data

The (Galaxy Zoo) Keepers of the Data

Last week I had a fabulous opportunity to sit down and talk with Galaxy Zookeepers Jordan Raddick and Chris Lintott. Here is the audio from our conversation – Enjoy! Star Stryder: An Interview with Zookeepers [Mp3 – 13.8 Mb] As you may have periodically read in this blog, I’m currently working on a project that is going to require a lot of work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS – the online catalogue users of Galaxy Zoo are working with). Getting at the data I want is going to require me to get better at jumping through the web forms on SDSS than I am right now, but while I’m still learning, I want share a few of the tricks I’ve learned. Trick 1: So, you want a pretty picture of the field around your favorite obscure...

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Post Conference Minutia

The crash after a conference is something that always surprises me. All of last week was a rush of meeting, greeting, blogging, talking, and planning a bright new scientific and new media future. In the company of colleagues like Fraser, Phil, Chris, Doug, and Lars, it is possible to imagine a world in which everyone regularly has astronomy inflicted on their digital lives on a regular basis. IYA anyone? In 2009, we will invade. The reconnaissance troops have already been sent in. It is a brave new world, and the stars will shine brightly in the Internet. It is hard to maintain momentum as we each return to our own separate homes that are spread a quarter globe apart. Today for me was all about the minutia – writing a syllabus for the classes that start...

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Cocktails and Gray Hairs Dancing

Cocktails and Gray Hairs Dancing

Better pictures will come later. Last night was the semi-official AAS after hours party. Held in Lance Armstrong’s SIX lounge on 4th street, the party promised good drinks, good times, and a chance to see your peers with their hair down. The party pretty much delivered, and thanks to the efforts of Gina, Jake, and the wonderful singing Emilie about 1000 astronomers of all levels – from baby undergrads to the most senior gray haired researchers – got their groove on. This is actually a really important activity. It is extremely easy to get lost in our profession. We are people who spend vast amounts of time alone. We isolate ourselves on mountains in domes. We sit quiet behind our computers coding. When we collaborate we are intense, and...

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The International Year of Astronomy

The International Year of Astronomy

The avid reader may have noticed my posting hasn’t be quite as fevered as powerhouse writers Phil Plait or Fraser Cain. This is because I’ve been plotting to take over the world, and sadly that takes time to plan. 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy and has received the blessings of the United Nations, UNESCO, and the International Astronomical Union. Here in the United State, IYA planning is being spearheaded by the American Astronomical Society and being that this is an AAS meeting, all of us have been here spreading the world. Come Celebrate in 2009: The Universe is yours to Discover. Yesterday we had a poster session and a town hall meeting, I’ve attended so many meetings I lost count. I’m excited. I’ll be...

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