Credit: NASA

First of all, I must make the point that these solar flares and coronal mass ejections we’re talking about will NOT harm us. At most, these can cause disruptions with satellite communications, but nothing more. On Sunday the sun belched forth an M-class (medium) solar flare with earth in the crosshairs. The stream of charged particles from the eruption is expected to reach earth sometime late tonight, and could create auroral displays visible as far south as the great lakes area. The sun is capable of flares much more powerful, that would create auroras visible all the way down here in TN, but they’re rare. I do expect there to be one or two of that magnitude in the next few years, however, as the sun is climbing toward its next period of maximum sunspot activity, known as solar maximum. It is possible that tonight’s flare could be more powerful than expected, and the resulting aurorae visible this far south, but it’s highly unlikely. If you’re in Canada or the northern US, however, I recommend going outside and looking north tonight. You just might get a treat. (Via and

UPDATE: Apparently this same sunspot region produced another, more powerful flare last night. This time it was an X-class flare, though still not powerful enough to cause aurorae visible this far south. (Via Bad Astronomy)

Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 is basically in direct opposition to the Republicans’ ideas. The biggest area of contention will no doubt be science and education spending. Obama wants to boost funding for most everything science-related, which I applaud of course. But of course, Republicans want to make huge cuts in most everything science-related. It’s incredibly sad that most Republicans these days take such anti-science, anti-reality stances on issues. These proposed budgets are simply the beginnings of what will likely be a long, knock-down drag-out battle between the White House and Congress, and I hope there can be some concessions that will allow us to continue to grow in the areas of education and technology without vastly increasing the national debt. Granted, even a modest cut in the defense budget would probably take care of all these problems, but will that ever happen? Hell no. (Via NewScientist) Also, check out this nice infographic created by LiveScience.

V-day/Exploding eggs

February 13, 2009

This is the cover art for the new Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album, It’s Blitz! which is coming out sometime in April. I think this is pure genius. This has to be one of the best album covers I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t normally get REALLY excited about cover art, but this is AWESOME. (And not just because it’s a photograph and I’m a photographer.) I’ve never been good at explaining in words why I really like or dislike anything…. but YES. Click the image to see a larger version on the Stereogum post about it.

Your daily dose of WTF?!?… Two German gay men who worked in a metal factory decided it would be fun for one of them to poke an unloaded air rifle up the other one’s ass and pull the trigger. The result? His intestines exploded. Via Vice Magazine.

I’m officially ashamed of my state after hearing that FOUR state representatives from TN have agreed to be plaintiffs in a future lawsuit by a California man who is challenging Obama’s citizenship. Come on, people. We understand, you’re pissed off that you lost the election AND lost majorities in the Congress and Senate, but for fuck’s sake this is PATHETIC.

Scientists have mapped 60% of the Neanderthal genome, which will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the common ancestor of them and us moden humans, and why Neanderthals died out about 28,000 years ago. Via Clusterflock.

Speaking of DNA, scientists have also mapped DNA of the common cold (aka the human rhinovirus). This could finally lead to medications that treat the actual cause of the cold rather than just the symptoms. But it’ll still be a while, because there are 99 known strains of the virus, and if a person is infected with 2 strains at once, parts of the virus’ genetic code can get swapped out, resulting a new strain. So there are potentially HUNDREDS of different versions of this thing floating around out there.

I rarely post on weekends, so here’s an early treat for you from XKCD- a Sierpinski Valentine.