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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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Plans for a “space resort” have been in the books of many commercial aerospace corporations for years and years, but now it’s actually about to happen. Space.com reports that a European company based Barcelona, Spain plans to open the first space hotel in 2012. I must admit my doubts that it will actually be ready and operational by then, but it’s a pretty cool notion nonetheless. The company even reports that 43 paying guests have booked a stay. Don’t get your hopes up though, as a 3-night trip is currently carrying a price tag of $4.4 million. Even if they don’t hit the expected opening date in 2012, it will eventually happen, almost assuredly by 2020. It’s quite possible that space vacations could eventually come down in price enough that your average Joe might be able to afford one.

The well-known Drake Equation has long been used by scientists to approximate how many intelligent might exist elsewhere in our galaxy. A major problem exists with the numbers, though, because depending on your level of optimism and reasoning to arrive at certain variable within the equation, you can get a result ranging from millions of intelligent civlizations to almost none. That’s a HUGE variability and thus the Drake Equation really isn’t very effective, at least not until we can arrive at more concrete variables to plug into it. Some new research from astronomers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette may actually give us a better idea of just how common life, and intelligent life, is in our galaxy. The research has found that Sun-like stars are the best places to look for planets with intelligent life. Not surprising at all, but what may surprise you is the fact that Sun-like stars are actually pretty rare. Our Sun is bigger and hotter than 93% of the stars in our galaxy (and presumably the universe), which means that the habitable zone around most stars is closer than the earth is to the Sun. Their research has also shown that bigger stars (like our Sun, or even bigger) are more likely to form small, rocky planets around them. Since bigger stars generally have shorter lifespans, you can see how there’s a sweet spot in star size where the star is big enough to be likely to have small, rocky planets, yet small enough that the overall lifespan of the star is longer than the time it takes for intelligent life to develop. (It took about 4.5 billion years for us to develop on earth.) We have a pretty good idea of how many stars are in the Milky Way, as well as the size distribution. That means about 10% of the stars in the Milky Way fall into that “sweet spot” category. Since there are over 100 billion stars in our galaxy overall, that means about 10 billion stars likely to have earth-like planets and live long enough for those planets to develop intelligent life. I’d say those are some pretty damn good odds of alien civilizations out there, and that’s just in our own little galaxy, which is one of BILLIONS. Most astronomers and astrobiologists agree there’s a pretty good chance we’re not alone. To me that is really exciting. (Via Astrobiology Magazine and Space.com)

Now that I’ve rambled way too much, enjoy this Time interview with one of my favorite “celebrity astronomers,” Neil deGrasse Tyson: (Via Snarkmarket)

And then enjoy watching Mythbusters’ Adam Savage give a vial containing one of his farts to Craig Ferguson as a gift. I could go on and on about how wonderful Mythbusters is. But I’ll spare you that rant. (Via Bad Astronomy)

So I had monday off this week. Hence the lack of posting yesterday. But I must say the weekend of photobooth insanity was quite a blast. The most enjoyable one was definitely the Moustache May party Saturday night. We found this absolutely ridiculous/hideous sheet to use as a backdrop and it worked perfectly. The rest of the MM pics can be found at the Moustache May website. The Bike For Branches photobooth pics can be found at the Soundforest website, and to my knowledge Johnny Kingsbury hasn’t quite gotten the Happy Valley pics up yet. But keep checking his website. They should be up in a few days. I must say though, I was getting tired of taking pictures of drunk people by the end of it all.

Former Nashvillian and ex-Be Your Own Pet singer Jemina Pearl got some blog love on Stereogum. She’s got 3 new solo tracks on her myspace. It’s really catchy, I must say.

Billboard.com reports that the Elektra Records imprint has finally been ressurected under the Atlantic umbrella. Amongst their first signings- Justice, Cee-Lo, and Little Boots.

A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence is upon us. At five minutes and six seconds after 4am on July 8th of this year, the time and date will be 04:05:06 07/08/09. Via dontstaylong.

Ever wanted to see a Blue Whale up close? They’re biggest animals in the world afterall… Well you can do just that here. And take their message to heart while you’re at it, too.

This wed. night I’ll be making an appearance as DJ Burgers at Foobar. I’ll be joining my friends Spice-J, fats, and Action Replay for their weekly series Totally DJ’s. Come on out and dance. I just might have some special surprises up my sleeve. That’s right, east side, I’m talking to YOU.

Just a few science-y tidbits today:

Launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center is now officially in the hands of the Constellation program. The last shuttle mission (the one that serviced the Hubble Space Telescope) was the last time that both launch pads would ever need to be used for space shuttles. From now on, the shuttle program will only use pad 39A. There will never be a need to have 2 shuttles ready for launch simultaneously because the few remaining shuttle missions are all to the ISS, which can be used as a lifeboat if the shuttle is severely damaged, thus alleviating the need for a 2nd shuttle to be ready for a rescue mission. Pad 39B will now be “remodeled” for tests of the new Ares rocket system.

If you were in New York City this past weekend you got a real treat at sunset. On both May 30th and 31st the sun set in perfect alignment with NYC’s cross-streets, an event nicknamed “Mahattanhenge” by astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson who calculates the events every year. The phenomenon will happen again on July 11th and 12th this summer. Via Live Science.

A London company called Solar Botanic, Ltd. has a great new idea for solar power. They want to make realistic-looking trees that are actually solar panels. This a wonderful idea and I hope it one day becomes reality. Via EcoGeek.

Via Ironic Sans. Click the image to go directly to the post.

The official SXSW music schedule has been released. It’s pretty user-friendly, as you can sort by day or by alphabetical listing. As with any festival, it’s gonna be a game of saying, “ok, who do I really care the most about seeing?”

Two great links from Kottke.org, as always:

I’m officially going to attempt having people over to watch LOST and play the official LOST drinking game. Please, if you watch the show, go read this. And then do it on wednesday. Preferably at my apt. My favorite: take a drink whenever “The island jungle scenes look as if they were shot in someone’s backyard, or the oversize potted plant section of an Office Max.”

Some really cool chemistry experiment videos. HORRIBLE WEB DESIGN ALERT! Warning- this website looks like something straight out of 1997. But the videos are pretty cool nonetheless.

I saw a story on CNN.com yesterday about a fireball and corresponding sonic boom heard/seen over Texas sunday morning. While the story doesn’t say specifically that the fireball was falling debris from the satellite collision last week, it does seem to hint at it. But the Bad Astronomer doesn’t think so, mainly becuase the debris appeared to be moving too quickly. It’s more likely that it was indeed a large meteor that just happened to hit the atmosphere a few days after the satellite collision. But as you can see in the BA post, nothing is for certain just yet. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this…

Finally, an interesting clip on the Daily Galaxy from an interview with astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson on why the world will not end in 2012. I would embed the video here, but as far as I can tell, you can only embed YouTube and Google videos on WordPress blogs. Grr.

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