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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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Some fantastic news from NASA today: The astoundingly successful and productive Kepler Mission has been extended through 2016! This is a huge relief for space nerds like me who eagerly watch science news blogs for the next big news item from missions such as Kepler. As you may know, Kepler is a space telescope which looks for planets in other star systems. Most specifically, the mission is looking for earth-like planets in other star systems. The mission has already racked up over 1,000 potential planets, and I have absolutely no doubt that it will find and confirm the first true earth-twin in these next 4 years. There was a lot of concern over the future of the mission due to recent NASA budget cuts- many thought the mission might not get funding to extend it even till 2014, so getting funding till 2016 was actually a pleasant surprise. The funding will, however, be up for review again in 2014. Still, this is a huge relief because Kepler has already seen what could be earth-twins, we just have to wait for a second transit to occur to confirm the initial observation. Since these are truly earth-like planets, it takes them roughly one earth year to orbit their parent star. The major worry was the mission would be ended before a second transit could be observed to confirm the planets’ existence. Thankfully we no longer have to worry about that, and it’s only a matter of time before the holy grail of planet-hunting is found.

(Via Universe Today and Bad Astronomy)

I’d forgotten that the Blendtec blender existed. Of course they had to do a demo with an iPad. Sure enough, it blends….

Be sure to check all the other blendable things on their channel.

In case you’ve been under a rock, the Eyjafjajokull (don’t even begin to try to pronounce that…) volcano has been erupting in Iceland for well over a week now. Coincidentally, the sun decided to send a rather strong geomagnetic storm our way last weekend. We all know what happens during geomagnetic storms- aurora borealis. Since Iceland is at such a high latitude, it almost always gets to see these aurorae, and when you combine that with a rather docile volcanic eruption, you get photographers hanging out there and taking eye-gasm photographs like this: (Via Live Science)

Photo by Albert Jakobsson

I haven’t posted any real mind-benders on here in quite a while, so here goes:

An Indiana University theoretical physicists is proposing that our universe might actually exist inside a wormhole, inside a black hole that exists in a much bigger universe. If that isn’t a total mind-fuck, I don’t know what is. But it’s really cool to think about if you can wrap your brain around it. The only way I can do that is to reduce our space-time to 2 dimensions and visualize like they do in all those discovery channel shows that talk about black holes and wormholes. You know- the old bowling ball on a sheet analogy. If you dare, read the full article at Universe Today. And see the 2D visualization.

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