Monday, June 30, 2008

Singing of the bun engines

Absolutely cool phonetic rendering of an Indian song.

[via Althouse, via Andrew Sullivan]

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Swirling Saturn

Reminding you that some parts of space -- though small parts -- are still vast.

From the Photojournal:

Sinuous clouds and hurricane-sized vortices mingle in Saturn's northern skies.

This view looks toward a region located at 70 degrees north latitude on Saturn.

Despite the level of detail visible here, the region shown is wide enough to contain the planet Mars comfortably.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Sunday, June 22, 2008

God knows what you're saying

Dinosaur Comics demonstrates:

Well, isn't that the old paradox? Can God create a sentence with grammar so bad, even HE can't correct it?


Don't try to get one past the Big Guy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ice on Mars!

The first direct evidence of water ice existing on the Red Planet has been discovered by the Phoenix lander, as reported by Clara Moskowitz on

When the probe took photos of a ditch it had dug four days before, scientists noticed that about eight small crumbs of a bright material had disappeared. They concluded those crumbs had been water ice buried under a thin layer of dirt that vaporized when Phoenix exposed them to the air.

"It's with great pride and a lot of joy I announce today we have found proof that this hard material really is water ice and not some other substance," Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson said at a briefing Friday.

Let's hope there are giant aquifers of the stuff deep underground.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Smelling space exploration

Who knew that moon dust smelled like gunpowder?
During the Apollo missions, the astronauts donned their space suits inside the Apollo Lunar Module cabin, which was then depressurized to allow them to exit the vehicle. Upon the end of EVA, the astronauts would re-enter the cabin in their suits, bringing with them a great deal of dust which had adhered to the suits. Several astronauts reported a "gunpowder" smell and respiratory or eye irritation upon opening their helmets and being exposed to the dust.

[referenced article at, "Lunar Explorers Face Moon Dust Dilemma" by Leonard David]

I learn something new every day.

If you're not a shooter or firework afficianado, then you might not know what gunpowder smells like, but it's actually a very distinctive smell. I never thought I would hear that something smells like gunpowder other than actual gunpowder.

Platform afternoon

Nothing but a picture of an off-shore platform on a hot summer day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Picking up the sword

In Leon Valley, a suburb of San Antonio, the City Council voted to develop a system of trails in one of the few undeveloped portions of town, but "not before getting an earful from neighborhood residents who don’t want a welcome mat to the public in their backyards." [from the Northwest Weekly]

The citizens are concerned about criminal elements having easy access to their properties, but two of the councilmen assured the residents that they would protect them. And they used a phrase you might not expect in a modern confrontation between citizens and elected officials.
Councilmen Art Reyna and Jack Dean vowed to “pick up the sword” on the trail should residents’ fears become realized.
Actually, I kind of like that imagery. I only wish it were literal. Who can resist the thought of councilmen girding for battle and patroling the trails with medieval weaponry to keep the ruffians at bay?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Just another day on the job

Be careful out there.

Photo of astronaut Mike Fossum, mission STS-124 courtesy of NASA/JSC.

Doing nothing at all, and doing it in a big way

Out near Seguin, it seems some kids were getting into trouble by smashing up a bunch of mailboxes. That's not very unusual out in rural Texas, but I did get a kick out how one resident described the offenders' actions.

From KSAT-12:

More than 50 mailboxes across the county and about 15 inside Seguin were smashed or run over, much to the chagrin of the mailbox owners, and some residents believe teenagers with nothing to do are the culprits.

"I think the kids need to be structured out here, resident Bruce Trahan said. "When they get out of school, it just seems like they have nothing to do and they do it."

Mr. Trahan has a way with words.

[Cross posted from Strange in San Antonio.]