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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)

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DeadWeather073008WarMem17First of all, please go check out the Nashville Cream review of last night’s Dead Weather show at War Memorial Auditorium. And look at my photos. I’m kinda proud of a few of them. Honestly, though, I did enjoy the show more than I thought I would. It was cool seeing 2/3 of Green Day walking around in the crowd. I may actually get the Dead Weather album now… I’d only heard “Treat Me Like Your Mother” up until the show. I think I just enjoyed the performance more than the songs though. Allison Mosshart is one of the best frontwomen I’ve ever seen and she really knows how to sell the show. Obviously she did a lot of limbo-ing when she was a kid, because she executed the steepest backbend of anyone I’ve ever seen. Go to the Cream review- they used the pic of her backbend to head up the post.

This is kind of old news now, but in case you’ve been away from the interwebs for a few days, Those Darlins are considered a “breaking band” by Rolling Stone. Way to go girls! If they keep going on their current track, they’ll be world-famous in another year or so.

Time Magazine is trying to define and pinpoint something that is undefinable and infinitely elusive: hipsterdom. When will people learn? (Via Brooklyn Vegan)

Local Honey owner Shea Steele has been kicking ass and doing all kinds of cool stuff lately, and she pretty much sums it all up in a blog post from yesterday. She and Amanda Valentine were both potential contestants on Project Runway, but they didn’t quite make the final cut to be on the show. Though when asked about it, they say they were just relieved to have the pressure off their chest. While it would have been really cool to see one or two Nashville local designers on the show, it would have probably consumed at least 6 months of their lives, and they have other things they’d probably rather be doing.

On the books for this weekend:

Photographing Green Day at Sommet Center tonight. Kinda wish I got to stay for the whole thing, but they don’t usually let photogs back in after shooting the first 2-3 songs. After that we’ll probaby just watch Eureka and chill for the rest of the night.

Saturday night I’m taking photos at the Annual Davidson County Democratic Party Honors Dinner, and after that I have no idea what to do.

The most important thing is that Monday is my 3rd 8 off 8th, and you should come. As always, it’s FREE, 21+, and starts at 9pm SHARP.

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.

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