Of Comic Books and Christmas Stockings

Of Comic Books and Christmas Stockings

Next week, all across America, we will go through a ritual holiday weekend. There is Thanksgiving Thursday; Back Friday, Bloated Saturday, and self-hating (still bloated) Sunday. For many, this is the weekend of eating way the [expletive] too much, watching football, putting up a Christmas Tree and starting Christmas shopping. For me, it means I’m not going anywhere near a shopping mall at anytime between next Wednesday and after New Years. For me, Christmas shopping is something happening right now. While clicking randomly through Etsy & ThinkGeek, it occurred to me that I’m not the only one already looking for a stocking stuffer or two, and maybe we can help each other out in this search. (I keep typing “stalking stuffer”, which...

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A Morning of Phoenix

A Morning of Phoenix

(disclosure: I left my cellular internet dongle in my room, so I’m twittering sessions live and posting blog entries on a semi random basis when I can go out and find internet) I’m leaning against the back wall of a packed ballroom filled with the brim with silent and attentive geophysicists who are absorbing all they can about the Mars Phoenix Lander. This fairly large (5,5m or 18 ft long) and heavy (350kg or 770lb) spacecraft parachuted to the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008 and poked, prodded and dug into the surface until it froze to death on November 10. While this seems like a short period, the original plan was to wind up operations in August, so the craft had been living on borrowed time. While it is unexpected that the craft will be able to...

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Your Place in Space

Your Place in Space

It is very difficult to get a three dimensional perspective on our galaxy. Stuck as we are inside it, it took us a long long time to figure out how far we are from the center, and how far we are from the outer edge. It is hard to figure out which is up and out toward Andromeda when we don’t exactly have a perspective on which way is down out of the galaxy. It is all just a three dimensional mental mess. But there is software to help. Keith Ebbeke send me a link to some neat software called “Where is M13?” This straightforward software allows you to see side-by-side views of the galaxy from the top down and edge on and see where things are located from both perspectives at the same time. You can also switch to a sky view, and see where things are...

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Of Superheros and Conservation of Energy

Of Superheros and Conservation of Energy

So it is premier week and my husband’s Window’s Media Center (his, not mine), is jubilantly happy at all the new material it has to record. We just finished watching the first new episode of one of our favorite shows, Heroes (no spoilers ahead), and I have to say that this voice in the back of my head keeps yelling – Where’d all the energy come from? – every time someone does something extraordinary. I know, I know, how can I set aside my disbelief and get caught up in shape shifting, alchemy, flying, regeneration and all the like and get upset about energy. Well, um… The voices in my head aren’t consistent, ok? Seriously though, I can sorta kinda get on board with things like regeneration and electric pulses, where the...

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The Universe tours the solar system

It’s time to leave the Universe behind. The History Channel’s the Universe series is out of new episodes, and their sponsorship is about to drop off this blog and Astronomy Cast. If the Universe was your favorite space series of all time, have no fear, it will be showing in reruns, and you can purchase the complete series on DVD. Looking over the past summer’s series, we can see 13 episodes laid on in a steady march through the solar system, with occasional field trips to the outer cosmos. The episodes were: Secrets of the Sun; Mars: The Red Planet; The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats To Our Planet; Jupiter: The Giant Planet; The Moon; Spaceship Earth; The Inner Planets: Mercury & Venus; Saturn: Lord of the Rings; Alien Galaxies; Life...

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Panspermia is in the Air

Panspermia is in the Air

Tonight I watched the latest installment of The History Channel’s “The Universe.” The week’s episode focused on Spaceship Earth (which re airs Sunday night). This episode addressed many different aspects of the Earth’s formation, how it gained a moon, and how the Earth+Moon system was able to support the formation and evolution of life. Along the way, the touched on some of my favorite elements of Earth science, specifically: how comets have carried water to Earth, the sharing of rocks (and possibly life) between planets, and global warming.

For some strange reason, the ideas of moving life around the solar system on rocks / comets / other random objects and alien life have been coming up a lot with me this week. First blogged on the probabilities of finding radio signals from aliens (hat tip to Fraser on that one), then Fraser and I talked with Swoopy about the new National Research Academies Report on things we need to think about in trying to find life on off of this world. And now… The Universe is jumping in and bringing up alien life as well.

And when talking about alien life in the solar system, I always thing about panspermia.

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