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Back with some science

December 30, 2009

The holidays obviously consumed my life to the point that I haven’t posted in over a week. Sorry ’bout that. I also haven’t shared any good sciencey tidbits in a while, so here you go:

I recently saw James Cameron’s latest epic Avatar. I won’t get too involved with reviewing the film as I’m no film critic by any means, but I will say this- it’s beautiful. The animation is astounding and most notably, the landscape is gorgeous. The dialogue and storyline is utterly pathetic. It’s basically the same story as Last of the Mohicans, Fern Gully, or Dances With Wolves, only this time it’s injected into a sci-fi mold. That being said, I always can enjoy that story to some degree no matter how many times it gets retold and rehashed. What is pretty cool about the movie is the science behind it. There will always be a big gap between “movie physics” and reality, but the over-arching idea of a habitable moon similar to Earth orbiting a gas giant similar to our own Jupiter in different star system is entirely plausible. The fact that the moon’s atmosphere is toxic to humans makes it slightly more realistic, along with the reduced gravity resulting in the native animal life being mostly large compared to that of Earth. Space.com has more on the science of Avatar’s Pandora.

Image via Universe Today

I’ve mentioned on here before that NASA and the European Space Agency have teamed up for the next decade or so of Mars exploration. The exact timeline and details of that effort are now beginning to come into focus, thanks to the recent discovery of a constantly replenished quantity of methane in Mars’ atmosphere The first step will be a new orbiting observatory launched in 2016 that is specifically equipped to further explore the possible sources of this methane, and map out exactly where it’s the strongest. Also on this first mission will be small lander designed to test the parachute/thruster landing system that will be used on the future missions involving the “real” landers/rovers. Those rover/lander missions will be launched in 2018, and will be specifically designed to search for signs of life. Recent developments in the theories about the possible source of the methane have started to lean more towards microbial life, probably living under the surface. That’s very exciting. More on this at Universe Today.

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t have some sort of “year-in-review” post? Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to come up with anything myself, but here are a couple of 2009 recap posts from other science blogs that you might find interesting:

Live Science: 9 stories we love, and hated, in 2009.

Space.com: The 9 top spaceflight stories of 2009.

Some of probably already know this, but I’m currently in the process of moving. Megan and I are renting a small house near Germantown, and though the house will be awesome once we get settled in, the timing really sucked. I can’t think of a worse possible time to be moving than during the holidays. So posting here will probably be limited until next week.

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Image via Yewknee'd and a million other blogs...

This image has been making the interwebz rounds for the last couple of days, but it really deserves to be spread to as many eyes as possible. It’s the best way to sum up what will likely happen if internet neutrality is not enforced. The free and open flow of information is absolutely critical to a sustainable democracy like ours.

A new trailer was just released for James Cameron’s new masterpiece Avatar. It sheds a little more light on the storyline. Check it out at i09. Am I total geek to be excited about this movie? If so… I’m guilty as charged.

JEFF the Brotherhood just keeps getting love from all sorts of media outlets. The most recent I’ve discovered is in Nylon magazine. They played about 479 shows in NYC this past weekend between CMJ day parties and showcases, and it appears to have really given them a boost.

I took photos of KISS last night at Sommet Center. Too bad photographers can’t come back in after shooting the usual first 2-3 songs. I guess I could’ve bought a ticket, but whatevs. Check out the Spin review and my pics at Nashville Cream. Speaking of photos… I must take a moment to shamelessly self-promote and mention that I have a photography exhibition going up next week at Vanderbilt. It will be in the promenade area of Sarratt Student Center from Nov. 4th to Dec. 11th, and features select live music photos that I’ve taken over the past 3-ish years. Please do stop by and check it out. Directions and more info can be found here.

I don’t really post much about sports, but as well all know, the Titans are in the worst place they’ve been in years, and the speculation about Vince Young possibly starting this Sunday against Jacksonville is rampant. Supposedly an announcement regarding that will come today. As of posting this, the announcement hasn’t been made. Keep your eye on www.titansonline.com if you care.

CREAM-BDAY_FP_081809_M1WEBAs I mentioned earlier this week, the biggest event you should be concerned about this weekend is the Nashville Cream’s 3rd birthday bash at Mercy Lounge. The Features are headlining and will be playing mostly, if not all, new songs. Also playing are Kindercastle and The Billy Goats. I’ll be doing a photobooth, there will be lots of prizes to be won, free screen-printed show posters, and there will be a limited amount of free food to be had. All this for a a measly $5? How could you possibly say no? The thing I’m most excited about is hearing new Features songs. Props to Boss Construction for the posters.

Speaking of the Scene, Tracy Moore has a cover story in this week’s issue on Caitlin Rose, Tristen, and Those Darlins. It’s a great read and I strongly suggest you pick up a copy if you haven’t.

This isn’t related to the rest of the items in this post, but definitely worth mentioning- James Cameron’s new 3D sci-fi/fantasy film Avatar will hit theaters this December, and the first trailer was released through Apple yesterday. Go watch it in HD at Apple website. Your eyes will thank you.

In some much more depressing news, I was extremely saddened Wednesday to find out that the End’s doorman Stacy Fleeman is in the hospital on life support. He was found unresponsive, then put into a medically-induced coma which he then came out of, but apparently has little to no brain activity. Stacy is one of the good ones. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve met in Nashville and is a tireless supporter of the music scene. His label Spat! Records is just now starting to become financially successful and now this… it’s absolutely tragic. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. We should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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