Obama picks NASA admin and judge/man-made stars/Hurley has a blog

May 26, 2009

Credit: Pete Souza/official White House flickr photostream

Credit: Pete Souza/official White House flickr photostream

Obama officially announced former astronaut Charles Bolden as his pick for the new NASA Chief Administrator. FINALLY! I’m just glad they now have a clear idea of who’s in charge, and soon will have a clear direction as well.

In case you’re under a rock, Obama also announced Sonia Sotomayer as his pick for the vacant U.S. Supreme Court Justice seat.

Space Shuttle Atlantis landed Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California after 3 scrubbed attempts to land at Cape Canaveral. The orbiter will spend a week there being prepped for the piggy-back ride on top of a modified Boeing 747 to take it back to Florida.

With the scheduled Soyuz Rocket launch tomorrow at 6:34AM, the International Space Station will have a full crew of 6 personell for the first time ever. Coincidentally, this also marks the first time that representatives from all 5 agencies involved with the ISS have been aboard it at the same time. Those agencies are NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Ok, enough space stuff already… we’ll stick to science, though, because I found lot of good science news in my reader today, and not much else worth posting.

The National Ignition Facilily (NIF) in California is about to create a tiny man-made star with deuterium, tritium, and one big-ass laser. This has to be one of the coolest-sounding descriptions I’ve ever seen. In all honesty, though, it’s not really a star. But they will create nuclear fusion, the process that occurs at the core of stars, on a very tiny scale for a fraction of a second. This is just one small step toward the solution to all of earth’s energy problems. Not only will this device help solve energy problems, it will also help physicists study what happens when a star explodes, and also the inner-workings of any nuclear explosion. Back to the energy issue, though. If we can figure out a way to contain a sustained fusion reaction, and make it yield more energy than is required to create and contain it, then humans will have solved our energy crisis. As far as I can tell, there’s no Dr. Octavius employed at the NIF, thank goodness…

Stephen Colbert interviewed Seth Shostak on The Colbert Report. Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute. (SETI stands for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.) Watch it on Colbert Nation.

Ok I have to post something not-so-serious now- Hurley has a blog! Seriously, it’s not the most interesting thing I’ve seen but it’s still way-cool to read about his real life. Besides, who doesn’t love Hurley?

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