The Space Shuttle: A Science Enabler (and random)

The Space Shuttle: A Science Enabler (and random)

Earlier this morning the space Shuttle Discovery landed down in Florida. This particular mission carried the JAXA’s  Japanese Experiment Module (“Kibo” which means hope), to the International Space Station. This new addition to the ISS brings with it new opportunities for both pressured and exposed-to-space experiments. This is the third research module, after Destiny (US, 2001) and Columbus (ESA, 2008). This little module adds significant scientific capacity to the station and also provides Japan with its first foothold in manned space. The next space shuttle launch, currently scheduled for October 2008, will be the final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope These two missions are of particular note because they are enabling...

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A Dragon Singularity: The Big Bang and Quantum Gravity

One of the questions I get most often is “Do you really think there are singularities at the centers of black holes?” No. I don’t. I think we still don’t understand how gravity works on quantum scales. Last week my own thoughts where brought back to the surface as I listened to a talk given by Sean Carroll that was eloquently summarized by Chris Lintott. This post isn’t a summary of Sean’s talk, but it dovetails it. Ancient maps labeled the unexplored corners of the world with the warning, “Here be dragons.” As cosmologists look back in time to the first moments of our own universe we find ourselves journeying with our minds beyond the safe boundaries of charted land. As time winds back toward zero and densities and...

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Left Behind by those who Judged

One of my colleagues sent me a link to what is by far one of the most disturbing websites I think I have ever seen (and I had a friend who used to work very hard to try and creep me out). It’s safe for work, but your reaction may or may not be. The web site is You’ve Been Left Behind. It is a for-fee “service” that stores up to 250 MB of files and then offers to send out those files to up to 62 email addresses 6 days after Rapture. This website bothers me on so many different levels that I am having trouble expressing myself. It all starts with the premise that those subscribing are saved and going to heaven and that the 62 people they are leaving email for are not, and are destined to go to hell. It is a good business model – take...

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AAS New Media Resources

AAS New Media Resources

I’d like to start this post by publicly saying I couldn’t be prouder of how well everyone did in the workshops and sessions on new media. From handling random technical messes to giving presentations to remotely, from ad libbing demos to answer questions to just wiring computers and manning cameras – they did it all, they did it well, and I think we took turns making one another laugh as we worked our collective asses off. Here is to (in alphabetical order): Adrienne Gauthier, Chris Lintott, Emily Lakdawalla, Georgia Bracey, Jordan Raddick, Lance Walters, Lars Christensen, Michael Koppelman, Nancy Atkinson, Pedro Russo, Phil Plait, Preston Gibson, Robert Hurt, and Scott Miller. I would also be remiss if I didn’t say that Chris and Scott...

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Language of Virtual Communications

I’m coming to realize more and more than I live equally in virtual space and in real space. I collaborate with wonderful people spread around the world and I gab with them over Skype as we read one another’s blogs to see into one another’s worlds. Thursday, I even had a “Dang – these jeans don’t fit right” conversation with Adrienne, the IYA New Media Second Life lead about virtual jeans (I managed to make an IYA T-Shirt look, um, like something that shouldn’t be worn in real or virtual public thanks to jeans that were cut a bit low). This second reality of virtual friendships sometimes leads to fascinating turns of phrase. Imagine hearing the words, “You still seem to be my friend,” in real life. Can...

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