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It’s been a while since I got on my soapbox of how the 2012 Mayan calendar doomsday myth is, well… a myth. Let me begin by saying that there is no reason to believe that anything exceptional will happen when the Mayan long count calendar ends. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either totally full of shit, or is very gullible to fluff and hype (generated by the former). The descendants of the Mayans themselves have even said that the doomsday myth is bullshit. So, this thing is already completely blown out of the water by real science and reason, but just in case you needed another reason not to believe the doomsday hype, now the actual date of the end of the long count calendar is in question. The methods used to convert the Mayan calendar into our own Gregorian years has been shown to be unreliable, and this could throw off the date conversion by as much as 50 to 100 years. So in reality, the Mayan calendar might have already ended (and thus simply started over again)! I’ll keep an eye out for any updates and clarifications to this story, but let’s face it- the Mayan calendar doomsday hype is nothing more than fear-mongering and utter ignorance. (Via LiveScience)

Image via Wikipedia

I know I link to this blog all the time, but the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog continually showcases some of the most amazing imagery you’ll find anywhere, and what’s best about it is the content. This particular series involves the National Ignition Facility in California. This massive experiment could literally solve all the world’s energy problems. What they’re attempting to do here is essentially create a miniature star right here on earth. Just recently they completed a successful test in which they fired 192 lasers simultaneously into one tiny frozen target capsule containing deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen). The ultimate goal is to create a nuclear fusion reaction- the same process taking place in the center of our Sun. As you can easily deduce, this would release enormous amounts of energy that is completely clean- the only by-product is helium, which is the element formed when hydrogen atoms fuse. The only hurdle is that it already requires a massive amount of energy to power the lasers that start the reaction in the first place, so the reactor must produce significantly more energy than it consumes in order to truly be a viable solution to the energy crisis. Another issue could be safety. With a reaction as powerful as nuclear fusion, things can get dangerous very quickly. Thankfully though, if an explosion were to occur, it wouldn’t involve the radioactive fallout danger associated with current nuclear reactors which use a different process- nuclear fission. (AKA the reaction used in the atomic bomb.) Click here to learn more about the NIF.

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cnnhates

No not really. But the dissolution of their science/space/technology division is just plain stupid. CNN, why did you do this? Yes, you say that your science coverage is being absorbed into the general editorial department, but in order to keep the same quality of science coverage we’ve enjoyed, you need a dedicated team to focus on it. I don’t see how that your science coverage won’t suffer as a result of this. I found this article via this post on Bad Astronomy, and I have to agree with Dr. Plait that right now is a time when we need more science and technology coverage in the mainstream media, not less. Miles O’Brien, I will miss your coverage of the shuttle launches. Best of luck in your future Endeavors. (pun intended)

Another trailer:

This is for the new David Fincher/Brad Pitt movie, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I’m pretty excited about it, I must say… not only because they used an Arcade Fire song in the trailer, but because I’m a fan of all movies involving that director/actor combination. Via You Ain’t No Picasso.

Richard Avedon’s portraits of power. I’ve always been a big fan of his work. I can’t really put my finger on why, I just have.

According to this AP article, yellow will be the color of 2009. The Pantone Color Institute says that yellow, specifically a vibrant shade of it called Mimosa, will represent the hope and optimism that will be pervasive in the public consciousness next year. The article quotes PCI director Leatrice Eiseman as saying, “It’s invariably connected to warmth, sunshine and cheer — all the good things we’re in dire need of right now.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Remember a few years ago when people were talking about that huge tower planned for downtown Nashville? The one that was gonna be taller than anything in Atlanta… and second only to New York and Chicago? Well, fahgettaboutit. This article on WRKN explains how the current economy has caused the tower to shrink… to being smaller than the batman building. Sadness… I had been looking forward to that building for a few years. I like tall buildings.

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