Spoofing 3am Commercial

Spoofing 3am Commercial

This is from PhD Comics. Normally I wouldn’t throw the whole thing in my blog, but . . . If you don’t already subscribe, hit up their RSS Feed over here.

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With a lever, I move the Earth

With a lever, I move the Earth

The other day, Astronomy Cast listener James S. sent us this really great question: “Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum strong enough and I’ll move the world” –Archimedes No doubt both of you guys have heard the quote. My question is just how long of a lever would be needed, and where would the fulcrum need to be placed for an average human to lift the weight of the earth. If we assume that the weight of the Earth were being pulled on by a gravity equal to that of the earths gravity. This is actually a really good question, and was way harder to work through than I had originally anticipated and requires a number of assumptions along the way. First off, if the Earth is being pulled on by another Earth, where is that other Earth...

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Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

The following is a guest blog post written by Dr. Lenore Horner of SIUE (a physics professor who works down the hall from me and who has the best toys in the department.) In late October or early November of last year, eons in academic life, one of our graduate students introduced me to something that I think is going to have a dramatic impact on teaching physics and on how we interact with computers, especially in the classroom. Why do I think this is going to be so important? It’s cool, it’s powerful and flexible, it’s cheap, and a fair number of our students already have or want one. The gadget I’m referring to is the remote for the Wii gaming platform, sometimes called the Wiimote. The Wiimote measures acceleration and position in...

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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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Astronomy Education in America

At least once a month (often more often), I get an email from someone saying they really wished they’d taken astronomy in high school. I more rarely get emails from students who “wish [their] school taught astronomy.” In today’s world of “No Child Left Behind” (which my pre-service teachers lovingly refer to as All Children Left Behind), it is time to ask How many students have the opportunity to take astronomy? And of those students, how many students take astronomy? and How many take it from someone who has actually studied astronomy themselves? These questions and more were answered by almost-Dr. Lawrence Krumenaker who will be defending his PhD in the next few months. In a very brief talk he ran through all the numbers, and...

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T’was the Astronomer’s Sys Admin’s Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and clouds filled the sky Not an object was twinkling, not even Iota Tri; The telescope was parked in its dome with great care, In hopes of spying a star on which it could stare; My students were nested all snug in their beds While visions of data danced in their heads And I in my office, my Mac at my side, Was Googling for gifts – no bargain could hide. When on the network, there arose a great clatter, I popped up an xterm to ping what’s the matter Ping 74.208.25.93 “CONNECTION FAILED” was all it said back to me. The lamp on the screen of the Mac Book Pro Illuminated too many processes refusing to go. When, on what should my wandering eyes obsess, But a remote client, and eight shared processes!...

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