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Grand Geyser

Grand Geyser

After way too long, I’ve finally gotten the photos from our trip to Yellowstone National Park on my flickr. We had a great time and I will never, ever tire of seeing that place. It is literally one of the most fascinating places on earth and everyone should go see it. It had been 9 years since I last saw it, and while reading some of the information plaques I realized that some major geologic changes had taken place just since the last time I was there. The place is just teeming with hydrothermal activity and is always changing. Not to mention that the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. So please go take a look at the photos. We also visited Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Grand Teton Park, and came back by driving through Colorado and New Mexico, making a quick stop at Philmont. Not only was the land beautiful, but we also got to see a pretty nice light show in the sky almost every night we were in Yellowstone. The Perseid meteor shower peaked while we were there, and with the absence of light pollution from cities, we could see them quite well. (That is, until the gibbous Moon rose around 11pm…) Literally, we could look up at any given time between sunset and Moonrise and see a meteor within a minute.

Some other random scientific tidbits:

A team of Swedish scientists, with the help of some other Chinese researchers, have discovered a very exact location and date for the birthplace of dogs. Apparently dogs originated from a group of tamed wolves about 16,000 years ago in an area of China south of the Yangtze River. Sadly, it’s also thought that those dogs met their fate in the stomachs of humans. (Via EurekAlert)

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Apple’s new OS Snow Leopard. It’s not a total upgrade, since the last major update was called Leopard, but it is a significant advance in how the computer utilizes those multiple-core processors that have become standard over the past few years. It all boils down to the OS providing a way for applications to run multiple processes in parallel, or at the same time. Gizmodo has an article that explains it quite well, and I suggest reading it. I’ll probably be upgrading to Snow Leopard pretty soon.

And now I’m simply going to leave you with this incredibly creepy video using time-lapse footage of a rotting apple. No pun on the previous paragraph intended. (Via Kottke)

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This will be my last post for about a week or more. Tomorrow right after work Megan and I are heading westward to spend some time at Yellowstone and the surrounding areas, and possibly Portland as well. Having to make the 34 hour drive back from Portland is looking less and less appealing, however. That being said, posting will be virtually non-existent for a while.

Photo via USA Today

Photo via USA Today

As I mentioned a few days ago, we saw 500 Days of Summer last weekend. Most people would agree that there’s no such thing as too much Zooey Deschanel, and thus I highly recommend watching this cute music video put together as a promotional piece for the movie. It’s for She & Him’s “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here” and features ZD dancing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I have no idea how to embed USA Today videos on WordPress, so just go watch it here. (Via Stereogum)

I know I flooded you with science nerdiness yesterday, but I have to post this. I read an article this morning on Space.com containing details on the options for the future direction of NASA that Obama’s Augustine Commission are reviewing. Basically they’ve narrowed it down to 7 generalized options. They’ve been holding public hearings to get input from citizens (which is awesome) and plan to convene to make their final decisions and present them to President Obama at the end of this month. I’ve mentioned this many times on here before, but this is the first time I’ve seen the actual options that are under review. Personally, I’m torn between the “Directly Shuttle-Derived System” and relying on commercial spaceflight. It’s obvious that the current Ares I is having issues. It’s also obvious that many companies, the leader of them being Virgin Galactic, are really close to making commercial spaceflight a simple and easy solution. NASA could just buy flights from a private company to get astronauts to and from the ISS. I definitely think the US has invested way too much time and money into the ISS to end our involvement in 2015, just 4 years after it will be completed. It will still be useful and there’s no sense in abandoning it. Then NASA could possibly use the shuttle-derived plan, along with Ares V (which hasn’t had as many setbacks as Ares I because it’s not intended to carry humans; only cargo) to get to the moon and eventually Mars. Just my two cents.

See y’all in a week!

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