As I mentioned in the music post above, I’m splitting up the categories somewhat, so comment and let me know what you think!

Image via nasa.gov

Image via nasa.gov

Today is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, on its way to what is arguably mankind’s greatest achievement thus far- putting a man on the moon. As part of the celebration, NASA has posted mp3’s of recorded conversations inside the module. They’re certainly not the highlights of the mission, but it is interesting to hear the casual conversations between Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. They have also posted newly restored footage from the mission here. Also of interest- notice the main logo in the upper-left corner of the website. They replaced the blue sphere with an image of the moon. (Via Universe Today)

Unsurprisingly, the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog put together a collection of 40 hi-res images from the Apollo 11 mission. Check out the eyegasm here.

Endeavour FINALLY lifted off yesterday after 6 delays. Watch the video here. This is a minor milestone in space exploration, as there are now a total of 13 humans in space at the same time, the most in history. There are 6 on the ISS and 7 on Endeavour. Some debris was clearly seen falling off the external fuel tank during yesterday’s launch, and the shuttle will perform a flip maneuver to allow the ISS astronauts to take hi-res photos of the heat tiles to look for damage. We’ll know in a couple of days if the damage was significant.

The New York Times did a nice article on the future of NASA, focusing on missions to the moon, Mars and the budget constraints that may force changes in those plans.

Two good updates from space via Space.com:

Ever since last November, astronauts on the International Space Station have been working out glitches in their new urine/wastewater recycling system. Yesterday they finally were able to successfully test it and drink water made from their own urine. It’s a bit uncomfortable to think about drinking the water from your own urine, but it may eventually be necessary for people even here on Earth if the population keeps expanding exponentially. The problem isn’t that water itself is in short supply, it’s that the vast majority of it is either undrinkably saline (the oceans) or located too far away from the people who need it. So far there’s not an energy-efficient or cost-effective method of desalinization of ocean water.

The astronauts onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis are scheduled to land tomorrow at Kennedy Space Center at 10:01 AM EDT. They’ve been given the all-clear on the heat shield inspection and are currently getting the shuttle ready for re-entry. As always, nasa.gov will have live coverage and video of the landing.

In other space-related news, former astronaut Scott Parazynski finally reached the summit of Mount Everest yesterday. He’s been at it for a few years now, and last year an injury forced him to delay his climb. This time he made it, and brought along some “moon rocks and remembrances of fallen astronauts.” He was also doing research and collecting samples for various other scientific endeavors. Read more at this Universe Today article.

From NBN showcase at SXSW 2009.

Turbo Fruits: NBN showcase at SXSW 2009.

The Next Big Nashville website is still the 2008 version, but according to this post on Nashville Cream (which is about sonicbids, not NBN), NBN 2009 will feature a Friday evening of events that will take over the honky-tonks on lower Broadway, as well as an outdoor event on Saturday. This is all good news because those bars are all conveniently located close to each other, much like the bars/venues in Austin for SXSW. It makes it much easier to hop between shows, especially if bands you want to see are playing at nearly the same time, but different venues. I would hope the outdoor event on Saturday is the grand finale throwdown, like the one at Cannery last year.

Please do yourself a favor and go browse through Photos that Changed the World. These are truly magnificent images. Some are very graphic and difficult to look at, but everyone needs to see these photographs. Via Kottke.org.

The last “Road to Bonnaroo” 8 off 8th is happening tonight at Mercy Lounge. I definitely think this one will be tough to call, and could be a very close race, much like the first one in which The Features won by 1 fan vote. So be sure to come out to Mercy tonight and cast your vote. You never know, it could be the deciding vote! Nashville Cream has more on the lineup/order, etc…

Speaking of local music, the Magic Wands got another mention on RCRD LBL, this time for a Crystal Fighters remix of their breakthrough single “Black Magic.”

Remember that epic Danish band Mew from 2006? Well, they’re back in action, and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of their next album on August 25th. Leave it to them to use a whole effin’ poem as their album title… You ready? Here it is:

No more stories
Are told today
I’m sorry
They washed away

No more stories
The world is grey
I’m tired
Let’s wash away

Yep, that’s it. A whole poem. More deets at Stereogum.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

The astronauts of STS-125 have been hard at work repairing/upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope, doing a spacewalk every day since Thursday, and today was their last. Click the image or here to see more eye candy from the mission at Universe Today.

Speaking of great photography, the New York Times started a new photography & video blog called LENS. It has a great interface and allows you browse through several photo essays and great video clips.

I did a short preview of Wolfram:Alpha on here once before, and now it’s actually here. Head on over to check it out, but be sure to read about how to phrase your input before you just start typing in questions. We’re not quite to the point of a computer simply being able to correctly answer any question regardless of phrasing/syntax. But this is a damn good start… Is it better than Google? You tell me.

It should be no secret that I’m a HUGE Mythbusters fan. (In fact, the only good thing about LOST being over with is the fact that I now get to watch new episodes of Mythbusters.) Apparently I’m the last one to know this but Kari Byron, the red-headed geek-girl of the cast, is pregnant! It should also be no secret that I have a huge celebrity-crush on her (as does just about every male fan of the show). I didn’t even know she was married! What’s really cool about the whole thing is that she’s taking this opportunity to bust some common pregancy myths. She did an interview with Pregnancy Magazine in which she busts the top 5. Go Kari! Via Bad Astronomy. Also- watch this unedited clip on Discovery.com of her subtly announcing the news.

It’s pretty rare for me to instantly fall in love with a band/artist these days. I’ve just become so “Nashville” about everything- jaded/oversaturated/desensitized/insert-apathetic-synonym-here. But RCRD LBL posted some mp3’s from this dude named Evan Voytas on Friday, and I was instantly blown away. It feels good to be totally into something new. This guy’s stuff is a little bit of everything- the tracks I’ve gotten my hands on so far range from a shoegazy, fuzzed out slow pop jam to electro-driven rock with a touch of twee to a full on summery disco-pop groove. That last track I’m describing is called “Getting Higher,” and I have hereby proclaimed it to be the official jam of the summer 2009. Please, PLEASE go to RCRD LBL and download it now! Then go to the Hype Machine and you’ll be able to find several other great tracks. But “Getting Higher” is where it’s at. It’s an instantly love-able dancey track, complete with a 70’s funk bass groove, and straight-up disco beat, and uplifting sunny guitars and syths bathed in a healthy but tasteful dose of reverb.

In local news- Makeout With Violence, the locally made feature-length film starring several members of our music scene, pretty much owned the Nashville Film Festival, taking the best feature-length narrative film and best music awards, along with a few other smaller awards. It’s good to see these guys finally getting the recognition they deserve for their 3 years of hard work on this thing.

My love of science fiction is no secret. That’s why I’m quite pleased to know that one of my favorite TV series Eureka, has finally been scheduled to return to action on July 10th on the SyFy channel. (Yes, the SciFi channel is now SyFy…. go figure.) I read about this on io9, and I agree with their sentiment that moving the show to Battlestar Galactica’s old slot of Fridays at 10pm/9 central was a bad idea. That means I’ll end up watching most of it online because I’m normally out & about by that time on a Friday night…

So we all know that the dinosaurs were killed because of a giant asteriod hitting just off the Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico, right? That’s what they taught us in middle school science class, afterall…. Not so fast. As more and more new evidence is uncovered, that theory is starting to look more and more… extinct. Universe Today posted this morning about some new discoveries that date the actual impact at least 300,000 years prior to the mass extinction. At the same time comes the discovery of a supervolcano eruption (or even a series of supervolcano eruptions) called the Deccan Traps in India. Such an eruption could easily have thrown enough dust and ash into the air to block out the sun and cause a sudden massive cooling. My personal hunch is that the asteroid surely did have some degree of impact on the global climate, (pun fully intended) and obviously would’ve killed a ton of dinos in the immediate area, but ultimately it may have been the volcanic activity that dealt the lethal blow to our bird-like ancestors.

I’ll leave you today with this great image of the next space shuttle crew… I must say NASA has been doing a great job of marketing lately. First the whole C.O.L.B.E.R.T. thing, and now this:

Click to enlarge

I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s tomfoolery. Everyone seems to hate April Fool’s but I enjoy all the jokes. I always look forward to what kind of ridiculousness Google will cook up each year. Here’s the Wikipedia page with a history of their pranks.

Photo by Steve Cross

Photo by Steve Cross

Shoot the Mountain have been getting a lot of buzz lately and playing a lot of shows, but everyone’s been wondering when their first release would happen. Well, it’s finally happening on May 16th on Theory 8 Records, and it’s an EP (presumably self-titled?). A release show will happen on that date at the Basement with Totally Snake (WTF?!?) opening. They’re also playing on April 9th at the End opening for Appleseed Cast.

The Features just released details of their upcoming tour with The Dexateens. They’ll be hitting clubs all over the southeast, northeast, and midwest later this month and into May. Oh, and they’ll also be featured in the July issue of Nylon Magazine.

More comprehensive local music news coverage can be found at We Own This Town and Out The Other.

Four Russian cosmonauts and two European astronauts volunteered to be locked up together in a simulation of a spacecraft for 105 days. This is part of an experiment to study the psychological and physical effects of being stuck with 5 other people for an extended period of time in cramped quarters. The experiment will help scientists and engineers plan for an eventual manned-mission to Mars. This will be very interesting to monitor.

I’ve been reading a few different posts and articles over the last week or so regarding a recent vote on science standards for the Texas Board of Education. The board held a vote on several standards for science education and it was mostly a travesty, the biggest of which was the deletion of the statement that the universe is “roughly 14 billion years old.” Sure, there are several different numbers out there that vary by a few million years, but everyone in the entire scientific community agrees that it’s pretty damn close to 14 billion years. A variance of a few million years is NIL when you look at the big picture, and is definitely covered by term “roughly.” There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest otherwise! One faint glimmer of hope is that the board voted down a proposed change that would allow the teaching of “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. If this had passed, it would’ve been just one more way for Creationism to creep its ugly way into the scientific classroom. This article on the NewScientist blog sums it all up very well. I suggest reading it. I cannot get over the quote of board chairman Dr. Don McLeroy, who is quoted as saying, “I disagree with these experts. Someone has got to stand up to experts.” HA! Yea, you tell ’em Dr. McLeroy! Tell those experts that they don’t know what they’re talking about! Afterall, they’ve spent the majority of their lives studying REAL science, FACTS and EVIDENCE… how could they possibly know what they’re talking about? I find it amazing that this man (a dentist) was able to get through medical school with such anti-scientific beliefs. I sure as hell wouldn’t want someone that dumb working on my teeth.

Ok enough ire for one day. I’ll leave you with this hilarious video clip from a 50’s sci-fi movie. I really hope this is how they dance in the future.