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Attack of the drunken birds/Kepler mission launch

March 2, 2009

lol birdThis past Friday I was alerted to the presence of 6 dead birds outside the Starbucks that’s located in the lobby of the building in which I work at Vanderbilt- the Student Life Center. Low and behold, there were indeed 6 dead birds of the same species lying outside the window. I’m used to finding one or two dead birds every now and then… obviously victims of a recent cleaning of the large pane windows along one of our hallways. But SIX at once? I just dismissed it as a strange coincidence and that they were just flying in a tight flock at night. But this morning I noticed a story link on Nashvillest about drunken Cedar Waxwings causing minor chaos in Memphis, and I had a slight “eureka!” moment. These Memphian birds had ingested fermented holly berries and were literally drunk from the alcohol in the pulp. The berries were fermented because of the recent roller-coaster temperatures; the warm snap caused the berries to begin to bud, then the cold snap froze the individual cells which causes them to rupture, allowing yeast to ferment the sugars in the pulp, resulting in alcoholic berries. I looked up photos of Cedar Waxwings, and sure enough the birds outside my building were all Cedar Waxwings. After a quick call to Nashville Metro Public Health, my suspicions were confirmed, and I conclude that we did indeed have a case of drunken birds in Nashville. Kind of funny in a sick, twisted way…

Copyright Steve Cross

Copyright Steve Cross

Check out the Nashville Cream/Spin review of the super-secret Features/Lambchop/Cortney Tidwell house show last friday. Sorry I couldn’t post anything about it, it was a very secret show intended mainly for the attendees of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (which apparently has no website) conference that was being hosted by Grimey’s last week. You can see the awesomeness vicariously through me via my pics in the slideshow.

As you may remember, last week NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to reach orbit after a launch malfunction, dooming it to crash into the ocean somewhere near Antarctica. Well, (thankfully) NASA is being extra careful and taking another day to inspect the Delta V rocket that is scheduled to carry the Kepler Observatory into orbit this friday. Thank GOD! The LAST thing we need is for the expensive and extremely important Kepler mission to fail. As I’ve reported before, the Kepler mission is VERY VERY likely to discover an earth-twin orbiting another star, hopefully in the next 3 or so years. Its goal is to stare at a large swath of sky with its incredibly sensitive instruments and look for the miniscule dimming caused by a planet crossing in front of one of those stars it’s looking at. This mission is IMPERATIVE to the search for an earth-like exoplanet, and eventually the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Losing it would be DEVASTATING. I applaud NASA for taking extra precautions to make sure the Kepler mission does not see the same fate of the OCO. Check my friday post for an update on the status of the launch. Happy Monday!

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One Response to “Attack of the drunken birds/Kepler mission launch”


  1. That’s cool. I didn’t know they delayed the launch of Kepler for a day just to check the engines. Friday is an even cooler day to launch. TGIF.


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