Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moon shadows

The Moon is a desolate, dusty rock, suitable for mining and landfills.

But it is stark, and it is scary. And so sublime.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Biting the hand that saves you

Really, does this lesson actually need to be pointed out to people?
A New Jersey man received an unpleasant surprise after trying to save a snake.

On Thursday, around 6:30 p.m., the 24-year-old man was driving on Route 679 near West Stage Road in Tuckerton, when he spotted a rattlesnake crossing the road. Officials say that the man got out of his car to prevent the snake from being hit by oncoming vehicles.

The man then tried to pin the rattlesnake down with a stick — and the snake bit his hand.

Well, I guess it does need pointing out. To New Jerseyans, at least.

(Next time, remember the scorpion and frog.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Strange headline of the day

Given the problems the U.S. has been having along the Mexican border, the following news story left me scratching my head a little.

"Mexico Asks Texas To Tone Down Travel Alerts"
SAN ANTONIO -- Mexico is asking Texas authorities to tone down travel warnings that broadly discourage tourists from crossing the border because of violence.

The head of Mexico's state-run tourism board was in Austin on Wednesday to meet with Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade and law enforcement officials. Mexico wants Texas to stop portraying the entire country as unsafe in travel bulletins.


[Tourism board boss Rodolfo] Lopez-Negrete said major resort destinations in the country remain safe.

So, travel to Mexico is dangerous because of the drug cartels and the crooked police and the silent media (and the general failure of the federal government, leaving the impression that the country is on the brink of a civil war), and -- really, for some unknown reason -- people have decided it might not be a good idea to risk their lives for a little vacation south of the border.

And Mexico wants to blame Texas for that? The Mexican government wants to blame the Texas government for their drop in tourism, attributing it to a few sensible travel warnings?

Am I reading this right, or am I wrong? Should we listen to the Mexican tourism board and actually encourage U.S. citizens to travel to Mexico? Do you think anyone down there would actually benefit from a big influx of American tourists with money to spend?

Yeah, I bet someone would.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Cassini mission

A lot of valuable scientific data has come out of the Cassini mission to Saturn, but a lot of beauty has come of it, too. Here's a bit.

CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.

(from Chris Abbas; hat tip Blogonomicon)

Friday, June 03, 2011

"Danish Team's Homemade Space Capsule Blasts Off"

Wow! This is the ballsiest thing the Danes have done since Beowulf ripped off Grendel's arm with his bare hands.
Copenhagen Suborbitals, a non-profit space venture founded by Danish inventors Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, successfully launched its handmade space capsule from a boat in the Baltic Sea Friday, June 3.

The rocket soared about 2 miles into the air -- somewhat more sideways than anticipated -- before deploying its parachute and falling back into the water, reported Danish website It suffered minor damage upon landing but was largely recovered.

The team counts the test as a complete success. And Dr. Bruce Betts, director of projects for The Planetary Society, was impressed as well, though he cautioned that homemade one-man rockets are on a far different scale from NASA's launches.


"The space industry is expanding in more and more different ways," Betts told He called the rocket "part of a larger picture of different kinds of groups entering into the space arena in different ways."

From within the Tycho Brahe capsule, the lone adventurer will see the Earth fall away beneath him through a polymer plexiglas-dome, allowing the brave soul to see and experience the entire ballistic ride.
(from Fox News)

Oh, wait. Beowulf was a Geat, wasn't he? He came to the rescue of the Danes when they were being slaughtered by Grendel. Hmm. Well, this experiment to put a man into space on a small missile is still pretty ballsy, and I think Beowulf would have been impressed.

Copenhagen Suborbitals