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Scientific eye candy

July 24, 2012

Two pieces of eye candy for your viewing pleasure today:

Over the past 40 years the US Geological Survey and NASA have teamed up on the LANDSAT mission, a series of imaging satellites that have taken some breathtaking photos of our planet. They recently posted a series of images and got the public to vote on the top 5. Those 5 can be seen in the video below, and the full gallery can be seen on the USGS website.

Secondly, I came across this set of amazing weather photos by photographer Camille Seaman last week. Feast your eyes on these simultaneously gorgeous and terrifying views of storm clouds over the great plains.

(Credit: Camille Seaman) Click through to view the full gallery.

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The above image was taken just as our Sun belched a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) in our direction on sunday night. This blob of charged particles are already beginning to interact with the earth’s magentosphere, and will likely result in some spectacular aurorae for the northern latitudes as the brunt of it arrives tonight and tomorrow morning. This is the first large scale activity the Sun has seen in several years, as it has been at the low-point of its 11-year cycle of sunspot activity. Events like this will slowly become more common over the next 3 or 4 years as the sun reaches its next peak in activity around 2012-2013. This is NOT any kind of major disaster, though it may cause a few glitches with satellites, as any CME event is prone to do. Unfortunately TN is way too far south to see any of the auroral activity, but if you’re in the northern US you might be able to see it. It is possible for aurorae to be seen this far south, but it’s very rare and requires a very powerful solar storm, such as the one from April 2001 (the last solar maximum) which made aurorae visible as far south as Texas. Such an event is possible as we head toward this next solar maximum, but I wouldn’t count on it. This upcoming maximum is expected to be about half as intense as the last one. (Via Space.com and Universe Today.

Here’s a video of the current CME when it first erupted sunday night.

Foxes… dinosaurs… robots.

February 19, 2009

Science first today. Then we’ll get to the funny stuff.

In some really depressing news, the Space Shuttle Mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope one last time may be in serious jeopardy. That satellite collision last week, which you’ve undoubtedly heard about by now, was in the same general orbit level of Hubble, and the debris from the collision significantly increases the likelihood of a debris strike during the servicing mission to unacceptable odds. NASA estimates that the chance for a debris impact will be about 1 in 185, which is over their threshold of 1 in 200. Even a tiny piece of metal the size of a pea or even smaller could do serious damage to an astronaut’s space suit during a spacewalk, and since there were 5 spacewalks planned to service Hubble, well… you can see where this is going. The good news is, they’re pretty sure the International Space Station is not at much risk for impact from the debris, because its orbit is much lower than that of satellites. It’s just beyond the outer edges of earth’s atmosphere, which means there are just enough air molecules floating around to put a slight drag on any space junk at that orbit level, thus said space junk burns up relatively faster than junk at higher orbits. Thus, low earth orbit stays comparatively clear of debris.

Space.com reports on how the discovery of alien life could impact society. According to the article, a panel of scientists sponsored by the SETI Institute and the NASA Astrobiology Institute recently met over 3 days to discuss this and come up with a basic outline of what impacts they thought such discovery could have on human society.

Very good news for Hummer-haters (myself included!): The Tennessean reports that GM has announced that it will discontinue or sell the Hummer brand by March 31st. Let’s hope it’s the former, not the latter. In my opinion, there is no greater symbol of the wasteful and inefficient extravangance that helped get us into this economic shitstorm than the Hummer. Good riddance!

Remember my post about the movie Coraline from a week or two ago? At the time I was unclear as to the extent of They Might Be Giants’ contribution to the soundtrack. Well, turns out that 28-second jingle that plays through one of the TV trailers is it. Stereogum reports that they did some other material for the movie that got canned, because in the end it turned out not to be “dark” enough.

Dinosaurs fucking robots. Via iO9.

Foxes jumping on a trampoline. Via Yewknee.

Need I say anything else?

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.

Tatally tatts!

Totally tatts!

Like, TOTES OMG!
I think Hipster Runoff is my favorite new thing. I’ve linked to them a lot lately but it’s really worth it. Today they make fun of people obsessed with myspace, or “myspacers.” And who do they choose to pick on? None other than TRACE CYRUS. Let me explain why this is exceptionally hilarious for me. While in college I had a great friend named Blake Healy. We even lived together for a year. After graduation in the spring of 04, he moved to LA. A couple of years later, he joined this new band called Metro Station with, you guessed it, Trace Cyrus (and his friend Mason Musso). Now they’re getting pretty big. So yes, this is exceptionally funny because one of my best friends is in this guy’s band. They are becoming quite the synthpop tweenage sensation, and Trace is totally playing into that crowd with emo hair, tatoos, and being a “myspacer,” so I can’t really blame them. They know how to make make a lot of money and have fun and get famous while doing it. Wouldn’t we all love to be able to do that? Maybe not the famous part, but the money+fun.. hell yes!

More from the music world:

Ryan Adams is engaged to Mandy Moore. I didn’t even know they were dating. Shows you how much I care about Ryan Adams.

So we all know Conan is heading to LA to take over Jay Leno’s place on the Tonight Show. Pitchfork reports that he’s tapped his red & white buddies The White Stripes to play on his last edition of Late Night. Check the article, as they have a lot of good links to old WS performances on Conan.

I’m proud to announce the launch of my new photography website! The extremely talented Michael Eades (aka Yewknee) put it together for me. He also posted a blurb about it on his blog so make sure to head over and check that out, in addition to my website! www.stevecrossphotography.com

From the department of WTF?!? in the science world, apparently a breed of cattle exists in Belgium which has a mutation of the gene associated with Myostatin, a protein that limits muscle growth in some mammals, resulting in this:
Researchers are attempting to use this protein to treat muscular dystrophy. Via Kottke.org.

A U.S. communications satellite collided with a dead Russian military satellite yesterday, creating a huge debris field, further cluttering up the already dangerously crowded low-earth orbit sector of space. Scientists say that it shouldn’t pose a major threat to the International Space Station, and that the ISS can always execute evasive maneuvers to avoid a deadly impact. The military has sophisticated radar techniques that can track almost every little piece of space junk, so if the ISS or Space Shuttle is on a collision course with an object, they can let them know and the ship can avoid the object. You wouldn’t think tiny pieces of junk floating around would pose a major threat, but you have to remember that in order to be in orbit, that piece of debris has to be traveling at around 17,000 mph. That’s many, many times the speed of sound, and when even a piece of dust hits you at those speeds, it can cause serious damage. Thanks to Matt Sullivan for the tip.

Get the destop background here.

Even the Wikipedia page has been updated. I’m still in awe of the idea of liking my president. I just have this refreshing feeling… like I’ve been working underground in a hot coal mine, getting utterly filthy for the last 8 years, and now I’ve just taken a nice cool shower and come out totally clean, rested, and refreshed. Ok, maybe that was a cheesy analogy but I don’t care. Part of that feeling is pride… which is something I haven’t felt about my country in a looooong time. A year ago, if I were to go to a foreign country I would’ve been embarassed about my country, ashamed of what we’ve done for the last 8 years. But now I think if I were to go abroad, I would definitely not feel ashamed, and I would probably even brag about how our nation came to its senses and got its head out of its ass. Keep your optimism in check, however. He’s only one man. He’s now a very powerful man, but he’s still only one man. It remains to be seen just how much good he can do. We can’t expect him to perform miracles every day. He’s probably got the hardest job in the history of this nation. Good luck, Mr. President.

Here’s the image of the inauguration captured by the GeoEye-1 satellite: (click image to make it bigger) Via Universe Today.

TN’s own Those Darlins got blogged about AGAIN by Brooklynvegan. They must be doing something right…. or they’re just too darned cute…

Star Wars Yoga postions:

Total eye-gasm. In fact… multiple eye-gasms. The Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” comes through as always with another set of amazing imagery. This is a collection of images from satellites. Click the image to get to the site.

Anamalia: Mikel Uribetxeberria. Not sure what country this guy is from, but his images are amazing. These images of different animals in completely odd places make me very happy and yet uneasy at the same time… and I’m not really sure how this was pulled off technically.

In music news, Devo is playing this year’s SXSW, and Pavement is heavliy rumored to be re-uniting to play ATP NY. I’m contemplating joining my friend and bandmate Seth on an adventure to SXSW this year. I’ve been talking about it for a few years now, and now it’s time to just DO IT.

Nashvillians are stupid sometimes. Metro schools are closed today because of the cold. Come on people, because of the cold? Seriously? Apparently a lot of kids walk to school… but why can’t you just bundle the hell up? Layers, people, it’s all about layers! You people are bunch of of pansies! Via Nashvillest.

Remember that scene in A Christmas Story where the kid is dared to put his tongue on a metal lightpost and ends up with his tongue frozen to it? Well, I guess kids still actually do that.

A tutorial video from a xhardcorex kid on how to do a xone-stepx and xtwo-stepx xwall flipx. That’s sooo xhardcorex dude.

A US Airways plane taking off from LaGuardia airport in NYC had to abort and land in the Hudson river yesterday, which I’m sure you’ve seen in the news by now. Apparently it was caused by a bird flying into one of the engines. Thankfully no one was hurt. A quick youtube search for water plane landings yielded this terrifying video of a plane barely missing some buildings near a beach, then landing in the water.

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