Credit: NASA

First of all, I must make the point that these solar flares and coronal mass ejections we’re talking about will NOT harm us. At most, these can cause disruptions with satellite communications, but nothing more. On Sunday the sun belched forth an M-class (medium) solar flare with earth in the crosshairs. The stream of charged particles from the eruption is expected to reach earth sometime late tonight, and could create auroral displays visible as far south as the great lakes area. The sun is capable of flares much more powerful, that would create auroras visible all the way down here in TN, but they’re rare. I do expect there to be one or two of that magnitude in the next few years, however, as the sun is climbing toward its next period of maximum sunspot activity, known as solar maximum. It is possible that tonight’s flare could be more powerful than expected, and the resulting aurorae visible this far south, but it’s highly unlikely. If you’re in Canada or the northern US, however, I recommend going outside and looking north tonight. You just might get a treat. (Via space.com and spaceweather.com)

UPDATE: Apparently this same sunspot region produced another, more powerful flare last night. This time it was an X-class flare, though still not powerful enough to cause aurorae visible this far south. (Via Bad Astronomy)

Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 is basically in direct opposition to the Republicans’ ideas. The biggest area of contention will no doubt be science and education spending. Obama wants to boost funding for most everything science-related, which I applaud of course. But of course, Republicans want to make huge cuts in most everything science-related. It’s incredibly sad that most Republicans these days take such anti-science, anti-reality stances on issues. These proposed budgets are simply the beginnings of what will likely be a long, knock-down drag-out battle between the White House and Congress, and I hope there can be some concessions that will allow us to continue to grow in the areas of education and technology without vastly increasing the national debt. Granted, even a modest cut in the defense budget would probably take care of all these problems, but will that ever happen? Hell no. (Via NewScientist) Also, check out this nice infographic created by LiveScience.

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It’s been a while since I got on my soapbox of how the 2012 Mayan calendar doomsday myth is, well… a myth. Let me begin by saying that there is no reason to believe that anything exceptional will happen when the Mayan long count calendar ends. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either totally full of shit, or is very gullible to fluff and hype (generated by the former). The descendants of the Mayans themselves have even said that the doomsday myth is bullshit. So, this thing is already completely blown out of the water by real science and reason, but just in case you needed another reason not to believe the doomsday hype, now the actual date of the end of the long count calendar is in question. The methods used to convert the Mayan calendar into our own Gregorian years has been shown to be unreliable, and this could throw off the date conversion by as much as 50 to 100 years. So in reality, the Mayan calendar might have already ended (and thus simply started over again)! I’ll keep an eye out for any updates and clarifications to this story, but let’s face it- the Mayan calendar doomsday hype is nothing more than fear-mongering and utter ignorance. (Via LiveScience)

Image via Wikipedia

I know I link to this blog all the time, but the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog continually showcases some of the most amazing imagery you’ll find anywhere, and what’s best about it is the content. This particular series involves the National Ignition Facility in California. This massive experiment could literally solve all the world’s energy problems. What they’re attempting to do here is essentially create a miniature star right here on earth. Just recently they completed a successful test in which they fired 192 lasers simultaneously into one tiny frozen target capsule containing deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen). The ultimate goal is to create a nuclear fusion reaction- the same process taking place in the center of our Sun. As you can easily deduce, this would release enormous amounts of energy that is completely clean- the only by-product is helium, which is the element formed when hydrogen atoms fuse. The only hurdle is that it already requires a massive amount of energy to power the lasers that start the reaction in the first place, so the reactor must produce significantly more energy than it consumes in order to truly be a viable solution to the energy crisis. Another issue could be safety. With a reaction as powerful as nuclear fusion, things can get dangerous very quickly. Thankfully though, if an explosion were to occur, it wouldn’t involve the radioactive fallout danger associated with current nuclear reactors which use a different process- nuclear fission. (AKA the reaction used in the atomic bomb.) Click here to learn more about the NIF.

As you can see from this video, NASA is joining in on the fight against junk science and stupidity in general by putting some of their scientists into the public eye to debunk the 2012 doomsday B.S. This is the manager of their Near Earth Object tracking office. I’d say he’s a pretty good one to talk about doomsday scenarios, since his office is responsible for tracking asteroids and any other objects that might slam into our pale blue dot and kill us all. DON’T BELIEVE THE SCAREMONGERS! THERE IS NO REAL, CREDIBLE SCIENCE BEHIND ANY OF THE 2012 DOOMSDAY MYTHS! (Via Universe Today)

In other science news, apparently the Vatican is officially acknowledging the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. They recently had a week-long study/discussion involving over 30 scientists and religious experts to develop an official stance/policy/statement about the subject. This is kind of surprising, because we all know that most sects of Christianity don’t always agree with science/reality. Good job, Pope. (Via Physorg)

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has been working with the Library of Congress for the past couple of years to create a huge online resource for photography info. They just launched it, and I can’t even begin to describe how awesome dpBestflow is. Find some downtime, and go check it out if you’re at all interested in photography. They’ve compiled loads of industry knowledge, standards, and general information, and it’s all in one place, for free. Basically, it’s everything you could possibly want to know about the profession of digital photography, all in one place. (Via Photo Business & News Forum)

Reuters news agency recently did a short interview with Those Darlins, Murfreesboro’s own “rough-and-tumble” all-girl alt-country trio. Their debut album is out now on vinyl in your local indie record store, and hit shelves in all other formats on July 7th. I’m proud to see these awesome ladies gaining such national attention. I’m even more proud that they are paving their own path by not signing to a major label. JT Turner and the Thirty Tigers staff have done an amazing job of managing them and timing their album release. They will be celebrating their album release this Saturday at Mercy Lounge with none other than the Black Lips. Via Nashville Cream.

My official DJ Burgers SUMMERMIXXXX 2009 is up for grabs. Download here. Tracklist:

Shoot The Mountain-Islands (Dpaul remix)
Thieves Like Us- Drugs in my Body
Evan Voytas- Getting Higher
Passion Pit- Little Secrets
Kennedy- John and Yoko
VEGA- No Reasons
Spinnerette- Sex Bomb (Adam Freeland remix)
Das Racist- Combination pizza hut/taco bell (Wallpaper remix)
Black Eyed Peas- Boom boom (Chew Fu remix)
Yuksek- Extraball (Breakbot remix)
AutoKratz- Always More (Yuksek remix)
Make girl dance- Baby baby baby
Peaches- Serpentine

Want to be totally creeped out? Go look at these images of children that have been digitally altered to make them look like talking puppets. Yea. CREEPY. Via Kottke.

This HD trailer for the upcoming Ronald Emmerich film 2012 is total eye-candy (please do watch in full screen), but the marketing for this movie really rubs me the wrong way. There is simply too much misinformation and scaremongering out there regarding the Dec. 21st, 2012 myth. I’ve always considered ridiculous disaster movies a sort of “guilty pleasure,” but this one is going a bit too far with their website/viral marketing campaign. Granted, the first thing that shows up when you Google “2012” is the actual Sony Pictures website, but this Institute for Human Continuity website that comes up when you click the middle link is just ridiculous. It’s obvious this website is meant to look as realistic as possible, with the only hint of its relation to the movie being the copyright info at the bottom of the page. And if you happen to recognize Oliver Platt in that “news feed” section. But trust me, there are plenty of extremely gullible people out there who might think this website is for real. Making an entertaining disaster movie is one thing, but intentionally misleading people is another. It’s just sad that a staggering number of Americans actually believe this hype. I’m not a scientist and I don’t have the time to do a full debunking of this hoax on this blog, so here are some good links regarding the 2012 myth:

2012 Hoax- a website dedicated to debunking the 2012 myth.

2012 is a business.

A very long, scientific explanation of why the world won’t end in 2012.

Face it, the world will not end in 2012. It’s huge scam intended to make money off people’s ignorance and gullibility.

Via Ironic Sans. Click the image to go directly to the post.

The official SXSW music schedule has been released. It’s pretty user-friendly, as you can sort by day or by alphabetical listing. As with any festival, it’s gonna be a game of saying, “ok, who do I really care the most about seeing?”

Two great links from Kottke.org, as always:

I’m officially going to attempt having people over to watch LOST and play the official LOST drinking game. Please, if you watch the show, go read this. And then do it on wednesday. Preferably at my apt. My favorite: take a drink whenever “The island jungle scenes look as if they were shot in someone’s backyard, or the oversize potted plant section of an Office Max.”

Some really cool chemistry experiment videos. HORRIBLE WEB DESIGN ALERT! Warning- this website looks like something straight out of 1997. But the videos are pretty cool nonetheless.

I saw a story on CNN.com yesterday about a fireball and corresponding sonic boom heard/seen over Texas sunday morning. While the story doesn’t say specifically that the fireball was falling debris from the satellite collision last week, it does seem to hint at it. But the Bad Astronomer doesn’t think so, mainly becuase the debris appeared to be moving too quickly. It’s more likely that it was indeed a large meteor that just happened to hit the atmosphere a few days after the satellite collision. But as you can see in the BA post, nothing is for certain just yet. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this…

Finally, an interesting clip on the Daily Galaxy from an interview with astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson on why the world will not end in 2012. I would embed the video here, but as far as I can tell, you can only embed YouTube and Google videos on WordPress blogs. Grr.

Awesoments and psychics

December 22, 2008

So New York was a blast. I’ll post a link on here to the pics once I go through them and get them uploaded. It snowed about 4 inches in the city on friday, which was beautiful. CSS rocked Webster Hall thur. night, and Prabir & the Substitutes rocked Sullivan Hall Sat. night. The Met was awesome sunday, and the American Museum of Natural History was naturally awesome on Friday.

Today I bring you pure awesomeness in the form of the Periodic Table of Awesoments. It’s a list of all things that can be described as “awesome.” The awesomeness of this awesome table cannot be overstated. I just tried to say “awesome” as many times as I could in that paragraph. Awesome.

Stereogum did some digging around and found the earliest known appearance of Zooey Deschanel in film. It’s an old Offspring music video. Classic.

In this video (1 of many… I haven’t yet watched all of them), Richard Dawkins and Derren Brown talk about the techniques used by psychics and astrologers to fool people into thinking they actually know something about their life or the problems they’re going through. Just watch. If you’re someone who even slightly believes in the so-called “powers” of psychics or palm-readers, etc… hopefully this video will help you see the light. Via Boing Boing.

Spaceport America now has clearance from the FAA to conduct spaceflight from its soon-to-be built facility in New Mexico. In a time when severe budget cuts loom for NASA, the era of commercial spaceflight can’t come soon enough. I seriously doubt we’ll ever see our government have as much interest in space exploration as it did in the 60’s, so we’re going to have to turn to the private sector to see any serious, well-funded endeavours into manned spaceflight. Hopefully NASA can eventually work out a deal with one or some of the many private spaceflight companies that are currently testing/building rockets and spacecraft. Hell, they already contract out many aspects of space shuttle maintenance and launches.

Obama has assembled a kickass team of real scientists to tackle the energy crisis, global warming, and hopefully create a lot of new, secure jobs in the process, thus helping to revitalize the economy. Jan. 20th can’t come soon enough!

Universe Today takes on the 2012 comet/distaster/end-of-the-world bullshit head-on in this article. Nothing is going to happen, people! As the article says, there is nothing more profitable than fear. This is no more evident than in the upcoming movie, 2012. These people will be making millions, even billions, off your fear. Don’t do it!