End of Semester Carnival

I JUST FINISHED GRADING EXAMS! I JUST FINISHED GRADING EXAMS! I JUST FINISHED GRADING EXAMS! <insert random happy dance with confused dogs> Wheeeeee 🙂 Ok – now that I have that out of my system… Go visit this weeks carnival of space over at Space Cynic. SUMMER HAS BEGUN! Blog writing will move to first thing in the morning rather then last thing of the day starting Monday 🙂

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Things man will never do 1: Rebuild the Sun

There are certain themes that arise in Astronomy Cast comments and fanmail. Most of the themes are happy, good, warm fuzzies. There are also your typical cranks. There are also, in the humorous category, a regular stream of well-meaning, highly hopeful people saying my mind isn’t open enough who accuse me of not talking to the right experts. I actually laughed loudly enough to scare the dog when I read the following earlier today from here: Please! Get your facts straight, people! Your original assumption is faulty, the Sun does not need to heat up and expand in a billion years, it will not “run out of fuel” in a billion years. The reason the Sun is predicted to heat up and expand in a billion years, is not lack of fuel, but the interference of...

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Researching Ourselves: Trends in Paper Citation

While poking through arXiv, I came across a fascinating piece of community introspection. Titled “Disentangling Visibility and Self-Promotion Bias in the arXiv:astro-ph Positional Citation Effect”, this paper by J. Deitrich (accepted into the Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) asks why papers that appear at the top of daily arXiv listings tend to get referenced more often then those that fall down to the bottom of the list. (And, if my own blog is representative, the top papers get blogged more often too) First some background: arXiv is where many astronomers post their science papers prior to publication or at the time of publication so that those without subscription access can still read and comment on their results. Papers for...

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Majoring in Astronomy: Like English, but more expensive

Today while gardening my iPod got stuck on “repeat” while my hands were very very dirty for several hours. This resulted in me listening to Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick, … Boom three times before I could get my hands clean enough that I dared touch my happy little white iPod. While I was (on repeat) listening to this musical about turning 30 and trying to hold onto the non-lucrative career that you dreamed of, I had this realization that while astronomy majors do make fun of English/theater/art majors, we’re really not all that different. Sure, in grad school I got paid enough to have an apartment by myself (if I lived on processed foods), which most English/theater/art grad students can’t say, but … Well … Just...

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Caring for Students: 1 in 4 need more

I have to admit that I am a long time SNL fan. There is no good reason, other then tradition, to spend most Saturdays watching, but… It’s what I do. And sometimes their opening bit and Weekend Update give my brain something to chew on. Last night I tuned in hoping for something sharp on the Obama – Clinton race. Instead, in this encore performance, I caught a statistic that scared the shit out of me: 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD. Yes, most of them (18%) “just” have the human papillomavirus virus, which is linked to cervical cancer, but I don’t care, these girls have still had their long term health compromised by a moment of unprotected stupidity. (It should be noted that the girls were only tested for HPV, chlamydia,...

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