Image via Time.com

Apparently Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is on the list of TIME magazine’s candidates for the 100 most influential people. You can vote to rank each individual’s influence on a scale of 1 to 100. Seriously? Everyone’s heard of the “Pitchfork effect,” but I think it has become less relevant over the past 2 years or so. It just seems to me that people start regarding over-hyped “blog-buzz” bands as “Pitchfork bands,” and rightfully so, because most of the bands they’ve hyped over the last couple years have had little staying power. Ex.- Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio, etc… Hipster Runoff has a take on this issue.

Rapper T.I. has been confirmed as the “other” headliner for this year’s Rites of Spring, and it will probably be one of his last performances before starting his 1-year jail sentence. Kinda weird but kinda cool at the same time?

In other festival news, the 2nd All Points West lineup has been announced, and it includes Nashville/Bowling Green act Cage the Elephant. These guys have a very festival-friendly live show from what I’ve heard, so it’s really no surprise, especially since they’re also playing Coachella and Bamboozle.

It had to be invented eventually… shoes that grow with children’s feet.

President Obama signed a very important environmental bill into law yesterday called the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This protects wildnerness areas in California, West Virginia, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Utah, Virginia and Oregon. It also protects a thousand miles of rivers. This act has been in the works for many years, so one can only credit Obama with the final push to make it law. Still, a big win for our country’s natural beauty. Via the Daily Galaxy.

NASA unveiled a mock-up of the Orion Crew Vehicle yesterday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For some reason I can’t find any photos of this in the public domain, but it basically looks just like the Apollo modules from the 60’s. Technologically, though, it’s vastly more advanced than the Apollo modules. The new Constellation project (of which the Orion Crew Vehicle is a part) will carry astronauts to the ISS beginning around 2015, to the moon in the early 2020’s, and hopefully to Mars in the mid 2030’s. I really hope that I’m still around when that happens.

Finally, the National Weather Service in Nashville has completed their assesment of the storm damage from this past Saturday. As you probably know if you’re from here, a tornado warning was issued for western Davidson and eastern Cheatham Counties around 5:30pm. The storm that prompted this warning did indeed drop an EF1 twister that hit northern Cheatham County. Also, another storm that hit Rutherford County dropped an EF1 twister that hit very near downtown Murfreesboro. This tornado was orginally thought to be and EF0, but further damage assesment prompted the NWS to upgrade it to an EF1. They have very good aerial survey methods that can determine whether damage was caused by straight-line winds or a tornado. The Enhanced-Fujita scale uses damage to estimate the wind speeds in the tornado. There is still no direct way to measure the wind speeds inside the actual funnel, unless the tornado happens to directly hit a wind vane and it somehow miraculously survives. But the chances of that happening are slim to none. If you know me I’m sure you’re wondering whether I chased either of these storms, and the answer is yes, I did attempt to track down the one in Davidson County, but chasing in TN is very difficult, mainly because the roads are not laid out in nice, easy-to-navigate grids like they are in the plains, and also because the storms around here tend to be High-Precipitation Supercells, rather than Low-Precipitiation Supercells which are more common in the plains. This means that most of the tornadoes in TN are shrouded in rain and thus very difficult or impossible to spot from a distance. So no, I was unsuccessful in seeing/documenting this tornado.

Today the science is the top story! You can only imagine how giddy I was to hear about the French COROT satellite’s latest find- an exoplanet only twice the size of earth! That’s UNPRECEDENTED, people. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it besides its size. COROT looks at other stars and watches for the slight dimming by a planet transiting in front of it. It’s sensitive enough to detect the miniscule dimming caused by this comparatively tiny planet, but that’s all it can do. In order to know what it’s made of, we have to know its mass, and the only way to know that is to watch how much the planet tugs on its parent star as it orbits, and since the planet is so small, the tug is also VERY small. We just don’t have anything capable of detecting such a tiny doppler shift…. yet. This planet is also orbiting so close that it’s practically touching the surface of its parent star, so it is VERY HOT, and thus completely uninhabitable. In fact, it’s very possible that if it has a rocky or metal surface (which is almost certain given its size), then its surface is molten. All this and more info can be found on the Bad Astronomy post from which this information was taken. Dr. Plait even goes so far as to say that we might find an earth twin (a planet roughly the same size as earth, in roughly the same orbit around a sun-like star) in the next few years. But again, we won’t be able to know much about it for several more years, until we get more sensitive telescopes operational.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch got delayed until at least Feb. 19th due to issues with a control valve that regulates the flow of hydrogen from the external tank into the orbiter’s engines during liftoff.

Credit: Jared Lazarus/Miami Herald

The economic slump has claimed its first music festival victim of 2009, the Langerado Festival, which is normally held in southern Florida. (This year it was slated to take place in Miami.) According to this Billboard.com article, artists confirmed to play included Death Cab for Cutie, Broken Social Scene, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, The Faint, The Pogues, Girl Talk, Black Kids, and many others. The promoters cited poor ticket sales as the sole cause of the cancelation. I have a sick feeling this may happen to some of the other smaller festivals that have popped up in recent years. People are much more hestiant to spend money on entertainment right now. The sticker shock of $100 or more for a ticket to your favorite yearly music festival is hard to overcome in times like these. More details can be found in this Miami Herald article.

In my last post I listed the Bonnaroo lineup for 2009. Bonnaroo is arguably the nation’s biggest outdoor music festival, and I definitely don’t think it will suffer the same fate as Langerado. It’s in a different class altogether. I also think that the inclusion of Phish in the lineup pretty much makes it recession-proof. If there’s any band out there that can bring in thousands of obsessively dedicated fans who will literally scrape the bottoms of their wallets to see them, it’s Phish. If you know me, you know that I hate jam bands and can’t stand most of their fans, but I think getting Phish to headline (along with Springsteen of course) was probably the smartest thing they could’ve done to counteract the dismal economy’s influence on ticket sales. I can hear the hippies now…. “duuuude… the economy like, totally blows… but duuuude, PHISH is rockin’ two nights at the ‘roo this year! We GOTTA find the money! Even if it means buying less weed!”