Of course the big news about the “faster than light” neutrinos would have to break right in the middle of Soundland, when I was insanely busy running around taking literally thousands of photos for 4 days straight… but the above image pretty much sums up how I feel about it. There’s an old saying in science- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. However, in this case we’re not dealing with crackpot fringe scientists, we’re dealing with CERN scientists. In other words these people are very disciplined and have ruled out just about every other statistical anomaly, measurement inaccuracy, or other explanation for their results. So the fact that they measured neutrinos that appear to have traveled faster than light is not in question. The key word there is appear. And this is such a massively important discovery that the scientists involved are asking for comparison from the rest of the worldwide scientific community. They want others to repeat their experiments and see if they get the same result. When you’re questioning one of the most iron-clad, thoroughly proven theories of science such as General Relativity, you’d better have rock-solid, repeatable evidence to support your claim. No matter what the outcome of this, it will fascinating to sit back and watch as it unfolds. Here are a few links to interesting articles I’ve found relating to this news:

This animation shows how NASA’s next Mars rover, called Curiosity, will get to its destination. The mission is schedule to launch late this year and if all goes as planned, 8.5 months later we’ll start learning more about Mars than ever before. This rover is the first we’ve sent to specifically look for evidence of life, both past and present. This video is the first I’ve seen that shows every aspect of how the rover will arrive on the surface. Getting a probe safely on the surface of Mars is much harder than you might think- it’s actually the hardest aspect of the whole mission. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, so not only does the initial entry NOT slow the probe down nearly as much as a thicker atmosphere like Earth’s would, but also the atmosphere renders parachutes almost pointless, because in order for a parachute to slow the probe to a safe touchdown speed they’d have to impractically massive in size. In both cases, the thin air makes the slowing mechanism much less effective. For Curiosity, NASA came up with this “sky-crane” landing process that is simply amazing. The engineering and technology required to pull this off simply can’t be overstated- it’s both magnificent and terrifying at the same time. I say terrifying because one tiny glitch or mechanical failure could cause the rover to crash into the surface, land sideways, or even miss Mars altogether. Every minute detail of the mission must be executed with absolute precision and perfection. In the current economic climate, failure of a mission this expensive would be a catastrophic blow to NASA’s unmanned mission programs, and we likely wouldn’t return to Mars’ surface again for many years. But with the huge successes of 2004’s twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity and 2008’s lander Phoenix, it’s safe to say NASA is getting pretty good at this. (Via Universe Today)

Another interesting tidbit I felt compelled to share: people with blue eyes (such as myself) don’t really have blue eyes. In fact, our eyes are actually pigment-less, and the same effect that makes the sky blue makes our eyes look blue. In a nutshell, irises have 3 layers and people with brown eyes have pigment in all 3. People with blue eyes have pigment only in the back layer, while the front layers have no color. However, those front layers also have tiny particles in suspension that scatter blue light (due to its shorter wavelength) more readily than other colors. This is the same thing that happens in the atmosphere and causes the sky to appear blue. As we age, those particles tend to get larger and scatter a larger portion of the light spectrum, thus our eyes look less blue and more grayish the older we get. (Via i09)

Everyone is quite familiar with Shepard Fairey’s iconic adaptation of a photograph of Barack Obama. The photograph was taken by well-known photographer Mannie Garcia for the AP. Apparently the AP is claiming a copyright infringement, but technically the image belongs to Garcia because he was not on the AP staff, he was just a hired temporary fill-in when he took the photo. John Harrington has a great interview with Garcia on his blog Photo Business & News Forum, in which you can learn more of the gritty details of this situation. I agree that in fact the issue is not whether it is infringement, it’s whether the term “fair usage” can be applied. I also agree that the copyright owner is entitled to some sort of settlement. Fairey has made A LOT of money off of this image. I find it very honorable that Mr. Garcia is concerned more about recognition than monetary compensation.

Recently I’ve been getting into a new band from New York called The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I highly encourage fans of The Smiths, Jesus & Mary Chain, or the Raveonettes to check them out. These days it seems like the music world is completely overrun with stupid indie rock bands with beards and animals in their names, who make the same fucking album over and over again. But every now and then a new band will stick out to my ears and I’ll actually latch on and add them to my “bands I officially LIKE” list.

I officially am excited to see Coraline. They Might Be Giants did a song for the movie, which is used in one of the tv trailers, and it was directed by Henry Selick, who also directed Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s also awesome that it was done with REAL stop-motion animation, not CG. Henry Selick+Stop-motion+They Might Be Giants= Awesome. Even cooler is that the filmmakers made 50 customized homemade boxes containing unique items from the movie, and sent them to their favorite bloggers.

Ever see that crappy 90’s scifi movie Anaconda? Ok, maybe not, but it had a big ass snake. Turns out that snakes that big actually did exist a long time ago. They were as long as a school bus, and their body was “so wide that if it were moving down the hall and decided to come into my office to eat me, it would literally have to squeeze through the door.” Whoa.

A company has come up with a way to channel sunlight from a collector on your roof into a light fixture in your house or office using fiber optics. Why didn’t someone think of this a long time ago? Like, when fiber optics were first commercially viable?

And I’ll leave you with the first of three video segments of the Beatles’ last live performance- on the rooftop of the Apple Records building in London on Jan. 30th, 1969. As I said this is segment #1, and here’s segment #2 and segment #3.