I don’t announce many non-music events on this blog, but this is one big exception: Neil deGrasse Tyson will be speaking at Vanderbilt University’s Langford Auditorium next Tuesday, Nov. 13th. This guy is a total badass. He is one of the few true “real science” celebrities, and he’s also one of my personal heroes. He’s been on TV countless times- hosting shows on PBS, Discovery Channel, Science Channel and more, as well as guest appearances on The Daily Show and Colbert Report many times. I have no idea what he will talk about, but mark my word it will be entertaining and informative. The guy always manages to succeed in convincing the masses that nerd stuff is cool, and is thus an invaluable ambassador of science to the public. I strongly suggest getting your ticket now via any Ticketmaster outlet. They’re only $5 for non-Vandy students, and $10 for general public. (And free if you’re a Vandy student, staff, or faculty member!)

UPDATE: I didn’t realize this event was already sold out! So, still awesome and I hope you got tickets in time!

Here’s the official Vanderbilt link for more info.

See you there!

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Rocketfest: I met Phil Plait!

September 5, 2012

SO MUCH NERD HAPPENING RIGHT HERE

This past Monday (Labor Day) I had the pleasure of meeting someone you’ve seen me reference approximately 8,956 times on this blog- the one and only Dr. Phil Plait, a.k.a. the Bad Astronomer. As I mentioned last week, the U. S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL held a fundraising event called Rocketfest for the Space Camp Foundation, an organization that creates scholarships for kids to go to Space Camp. If you don’t know what Space Camp is, then you need help. Above is photographic proof of the insane amount of nerdery that occurred. Just look at our shirts!

As a music snob of sorts, I had a hard time with the musical performances, though Molly Lewis’ anti-folk leanings reminded me of Jeffrey Lewis at times. That’s definitely a good thing. Phil Plait gave a short presentation on the Mars rover Curiosity, and while it was all stuff I’ve already seen and/or know about the mission, his passionate and charismatic delivery was the star of the show for me. He’s one of the best ambassadors of science to the general public I’ve ever seen, right up there with Adam Savage, and I sincerely hope he continues to become more of a public figure.

The whole point of the event was to raise money for Space Camp scholarships, so if you care about the future of human race, make a donation now. I say that because our future depends on the kids of today becoming more interested in STEM and thus becoming the scientists and engineers that will continue to innovate and improve our technology. Programs like Space Camp are what inspire kids to enter those fields. I wasn’t lucky enough to get to go when I was a kid, but I sure as hell want my kids to go someday. I will probably be able to afford the tuition, but some families aren’t as fortunate, and those kids deserve the chance to go just as much as the fortunate ones.

I now step down from my soapbox. :-)

NASA is making strides in their publicity and education efforts with a set of new games- Space Race Blastoff and Sector 33. Space Race Blastoff is a Facebook app that lets you compete with other players in quick, 10-question science trivia rounds. The topics range from general science to NASA missions and astronauts. Of course, I signed up immediately and became addicted for about 10 games, then I started getting repeat questions. BUT, this game is still a beta version, so I’m sure the database of questions will be ever-expanding. Also, I’d like to see a feature where you can directly compete with a friend. All in good time, I’m sure.

I haven’t tried Sector 33 yet because it’s only for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. (I’m an Android user.) But you can read all about it in this post at Universe Today. Basically, it lets you try your hand at being an air traffic controller- widely considered to be one of the most stressful jobs. If you start playing Space Race Blastoff, however, lookout- my name on there is Disco Science, and I dare say I’m a force to be reckoned with.

#nergasm

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about possible evidence of the elusive Higgs Boson, the so-called “God particle” being discovered at Fermilab’s Tevatron collider. Apparently some of the physicists have entertained the idea that an unexpected result from a recent particle collision experiment might possibly be evidence of the Higgs Boson, while others dismiss the idea. So, don’t go thinking that we’ve finally found the Higgs Boson (and not even at the LHC nonetheless) just yet. An official statement on the matter has not been released yet, and we have no clue what they found until that happens. So everyone just chill out for a minute until some official findings are released. All we know for sure now is there was an “unexpected result.” (Via Discovery News)

Now I must simply share a few things I’ve run across the past couple of days that are simply awesome:

-What the Fuck Should I Make for Dinner? Perfect for those “I don’t know what I want, what do you want?” times.

-Yazoo Brewing Co. may be switching to cans, but they want your input first. Weigh all the options before making your choice.

-Sam Kean of Slate is blogging the entire periodic table of elements. Nerd-out!

-And if this doesn’t make your day (and even week) infinitely better, then you are beyond help:

Image Via Space.com

Image Via Space.com

A European satellite observatory recently discovered a very small exoplanet that is said to be the first with a proven density similar to Earth’s. Follow-up observations were done at a telescope in Chile to determine the planet’s mass, which was then combined with its radius to calculate its density. The planet has about 5 times Earth’s mass. But don’t get too excited just yet- the planet is far from habitable. It orbits VERY close to its parent star (23 times closer than Mercury is to our Sun), which not only means it’s really effin’ hot, but it also is probably tidally locked, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star. So one side is literally boiling with molten rock, and the other side is extremely cold. There’s no way it could have any atmosphere, either. BUT this is still an important step toward finding an Earth-twin. No we know that we can find planets similar in size and density to our own. It’s just a matter of time until Kepler or CoRoT finds one orbiting in its star’s habitable zone. (Via Space.com)

Ever wondered about the difference between a nerd, a geek, a dweeb, and dork? Look no further. This pretty much nails it down perfectly. (Via Clusterflock)

nerd-venn-diagram-9420-1252236207-2-300x281

It’s been far too long since I mentioned Zooey Deschanel on this blog. Thus I bring to you a new cotton advertisement featuring the beloved actress/songstress, via Videogum:

One of the bands that literally shaped my formative years was Weezer. Subsequently, I am also a fan of former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp’s project The Rentals. They formed in 1994 and released two albums, but had a large gap in activity until about 2 years ago when they came out with a new EP and did a couple of tours with a revamped lineup. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but getting to see them live twice was totally rad. I saw them in Atlanta with Ozma, and again here in Nashville at City Hall (now Urban Outfitters). See more pics from that show on my flickr here. RCRD LBL features a download from the first installment of their new multi-media project called Songs About Time. The project also includes a photo series by Matt and a bunch of short films.

Speaking of RCRD LBL, I noticed that they also have a download/blurb about local star-tangled indie rock lady Cortney Tidwell. It’s a track called “17 Horses” from her upcoming album Boys. (The download page incorrectly states that the track is from her previous album.)

SNAKES ON A PLANE! IN REAL LIFE! Thanks Kelly.

Nashvillest posted a bunch of great links/ways to help victims of the Murfreesboro tornado that struck last Friday. Check it out.

This is both terrifying and fascinating. The stats for “since you started watching” really hit home. I’ve had the tab open for a good hour or so now- ~28,000 people born and ~11,500 people died. Population control will soon happen everywhere. It’s only a matter of time.

Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring festival is happening this weekend. I’ll be there both days taking photos. Here’s the lineup/times:

Friday:
Battle of the Bands: 3:20-3:40pm
Battle of the Bands: 4:00-4:20pm
Run With Bulls: 4:40-5:10pm
Blueskyreality: 5:30-6:00pm
K’NAAN: 6:20-7:05pm
Okkervil River: 7:25-8:10pm
Santigold: 8:30-9:10pm
Q-Tip: 9:30-10:30pm
T.I.: 11:00-12:00am

Saturday:
Pico vs. Island Trees: 3:20-3:50pm
Stardeath and White Dwarfs: 4:05-4:35pm
Erick Baker: 4:50-5:20pm
Sara Watkins: 5:40-6:10pm
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears: 6:30-7:10pm
Grand Ole Party: 7:30-8:10pm
N.E.R.D.: 8:40-9:55pm
The Flaming Lips: 10:30-12:00am

Copyright Vanderbilt University

Copyright Vanderbilt University

The initial shortlist of artists playing at this year’s Rites of Spring festival at Vanderbilt has been released. The Flaming Lips will likely be headlining friday night, with another yet-to-be-announced headliner that will likely play saturday night. The friday/saturday thing is purely an educated guess on my part. Also announced: Okkervil River, N.E.R.D., Santigold (formerly Santogold), Q-tip, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, and Grand Ole Party. Personally, aside from Flaming Lips, I’m looking forward most to Santigold and Okkervil River. Source: the Vanderbilt Hustler.

MGMT is apparently suing French President Nicolas Sarkozy because his campaign did not compensate them properly for usage of their song “Kids” as the Sarkozy campaign soundtrack.

Remember those literal music videos of “Head Over Heels” and “Take On Me?” Well they’re at it again, this time with Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” I must say, it’s really hard to top “Take On Me.” I don’t think it’ll ever be done. It’s one of those things where the humor just is never the same after the first time.

The Explorer’s Club did a session on Daytrotter. These live takes are pretty good, but I must say that these songs need the polished production that’s present on their full-length album. It’s evident that some of the vocal harmony arrangements are VERY difficult and they guys hit some odd notes on these live recordings. But the fact that they’re even able to pull off any of those harmonies is utterly amazing, and these guys deserve major kudos for even being in the ballpark. I highly reccomend seeing this band live because they are a lot of fun, and you will thoroughly enjoy it.

In the science world, some good news for NASA comes from Obama’s first budget propsal which was released yesterday. Overall, NASA will (hopefully) see a $2 billion increase in funding in 2010. I’m quite pleased to see this, even in these tough times. Cutting-edge science and research is one area that should be way down on the list of things to get cut when facing tough economic times. Don’t get too excited though; this is not the final version. It was also evident that Obama plans to go ahead with the retirement of the Space Shuttle next year, and continue with Bush’s vision of returning to the Moon by 2020. (The only thing on which I actually agreed with Bush.) Source: Universe Today.

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