Molten Muppet Pollen Prediction

See, this is how you “rickroll” someone. Rather than just posting random stupid misdirected link, post YouTube video claiming to be Muppet bloopers which even a savvy person will want to click just in case; then, play skillfully re-edited video of Beaker and the Electric Mayhem singing “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

The funny thing about Blizzard’s “Molten Core” joke is that you can still find people writing games for the Atari 2600, though they’re almost always played on emulators. It’s quite the programming challenge to get a fun game tucked into less storage space than my LJ user icon requires.

Two days of warm weather have produced an explosion of plant sex here. My car’s turned an unhealthy yellow-green, the streets have pale stains, and there are drifts of powdered lemonade in the gutters. We’ll see if I can breathe by the end of the day!

This weekend, I found out what the “Age of Aquarius” actually means. The Earth’s axis wobbles a tiny bit (but does not fall down). Some astrologers define a “Great Year” as the time it takes the axis to perform a complete wobble, approximately 26,000 years. A Great Year is divided into 12 Ages. Astrology being the exact science that it is, the Age of Aquarius is to begin sometime between 2062 and 2680. Or maybe it began in 2000, though any way it’s supposed to take a while to get up to speed. But now I know! (Yeah, I like that song. It’s happy.)

Gonna try to finish Technicon posts today.

Brief updates

  • 10:48 Reading BadAstronomer’s live tweets of the launch of the space shuttle this morning. I love this Internets thing. #
  • 10:50 Hating the fact that, due to the early EDT changeover, I’m getting up in the dark again 🙁 #

Sent subspace radio by LoudTwitter

Because it was hard, you fools

By an odd coincidence, I’ve had to deal with the “No, we didn’t land on the Moon!” claim three times in the last few days. My views on it ought to be pretty obvious: if you really want a conspiracy theory, there are far more plausible ones than that.

My current favorite argument against the Hoax: There were thousands, if not millions, of Very Very Smart people involved in the Apollo program. Either they were in on the secret or they weren’t; if they were in on the secret, then it wasn’t much of a secret, really. It’s like the “we test unusual stuff at Groom Lake” secret – the details may be foggy, but the whole world knows that it’s a government testing base.

If they weren’t on the secret, then you have all these Smart People being well paid to develop what they honestly believe will be a moon rocket – to the tune of several billion dollars. These people all think they succeeded, and they aren’t idiots – they would have noticed things like “Hey, there’s not enough radiation shielding in our design.” So, since all these people think we have a moon rocket, and we spent the money to make it, why just go ahead and make the landing? Hmmm?

As an aside – the Soviet Union at the time definitely had the technological ability to detect whether we really went or not – they were quite close to managing it themselves. If we didn’t really go, the Russians of the late 1960’s really didn’t have much motivation to help us cover it up. Unless you believe that the One World Government was already up and running by then, and the Soviet space establishment was also ordered to lie; in which case, I will choose to bow out of the discussion at this point and move on to another World of Warcraft post of some kind. Circy’s level 60 now! Woo!

The essential Moon Hoax links:

Quick and simple:

In-depth and pretty:

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Birthday presents

Got some cool stuff from Starr for my birthday… a refractor telescope, a black tee with a handcuff graphic (“I can’t believe I’m buying you another black t-shirt”) and… this!

Can you guess what it is (besides an afghan, of course)?

Fourth Doctor Afghan

The answer’s behind the cut

Employment opportunity

If I know you, and you are interested in moving to Hampton Roads for a permanent position installing and troubleshooting Macs, Windows machines, and/or Linux boxen for NASA, NOW is the time to e-mail me your resume.

Demonstrable computer skills would be a good idea – either college education or practical experience. Polyplatformers who can handle two or all three OSes are especially encouraged.

Radio Telescope Ga-Ga

I quote the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait:

“Most people are surprised — I was when I first heard — that Brian May is actually a scientist. He had just started working on his PhD thesis when he got distracted by his guitar playing in some band or another. But he knew was gonna be a big man someday.”

His thesis is entitled Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, and it seems he now has his degree. I only hope the “Flight of the Hawkmen” theme played as he accepted the honors.

This is just… excellent.

Podcast review: Astronomy Cast

Today, as I drove to work, I plugged the iPod into the car stereo and listened to an episode of Astronomy Cast. (iTunes link)

Astronomy Cast bills itself as “your facts-based journey through the cosmos”. There are few surprises in the podcast for a hard-core space geek, but the presentation is good and the content accessible to almost anyone listening. The science expert for the show, Dr. Pamela Gay, becomes excited and passionate when talking about her fields of expertise, but seems ever so slightly impatient any other time. Overall, it’s entertaining and informative, and it’s usually one of my first listening picks.

Today I heard pretty useful advice about purchasing binoculars and telescopes for casual amateur astronomy – useful because I think there’s a telescope in my near future. (Suffolk is a short drive away and has nicely dark skies.) The previous episode, however, made *me* impatient; 30 minutes pointing out that higher dimensions, alternate universes, black holes, and FTL travel really do none of the fun things that science-fiction writers come up with. Hey, kids, human exploration will be over as soon as we land on the remaining solar planets – after that, it’s all data analysis! Check out this set of spectra!

I admit, based on what we know right now, all that’s probably true. But scientists have thought before that little remained to know, then been forced to change their minds when something new poked though the statistics. I’ll acknowledge the validity of thier statements for now, but I’m not yet ready to give up the dream of yearly trips to Alpha Centauri! In the meantime, the “serious scientists” need to stop being such bummers. Carl knew better.

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The Dream Is Alive

Last night, I heard that Virgin Galactic will be testing their SpaceShipTwo prototype this year, and expects to start its public, commercial, sub-orbital flights before the end of 2008 (possibly early 2009, depending on which part of their website you’re looking at). They expect to take several hundred people up to 100km (official Astronaut altitude) within the first year of the company’s operation.

Even after the success of SpaceShipOne, the whole thing still seemed a bit pipe-dreamy. “Maybe we can do this as a business one day.” Now, somehow, it seems real, and I hear the sound of Richard Branson buying himself a major turning point in human history. Not that I mean to be too dismissive of the man: it’s a much healthier way to establish a presence in the textbooks than trying to establish a 1000-year Reich, for example.

I cannot help but look at their promotional materials and realize that my dream of going up is about to change from “realistically impossible” to “currently impractical”. Don’t let anyone say that’s not an enormous difference. There was a time in my early 20s when it was “currently impractical” for me to walk unassisted. “Impractical” is a lot easier to change.

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