Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caveman remodeling...

Credit: The Wall Street Journal.

RELATED:  Caveman home decorating.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Camera lost at sea...

for more than a year returned to owner based on information on the SD card.  While the camera was a complete loss, the images were still accessible on the memory card.

This suggests to me that it's a good idea to photograph a note with your name and phone number as a first image on the memory card in your camera.  In case your camera is lost and subsequently found, a generous and honest person could then very easily contact you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This morning begins...

with a successful launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (also known as the Curiosity rover).  The Atlas 5 rocket performed flawlessly and the upper Centaur stage is now accelerating the spacecraft to a point over the Indian Ocean where it will leave Earth orbit and head to Mars.  Landing on the red planet will occur in nine months time, in August 2012.

Godspeed, Curiosity.

UPDATE:  Here's a video of today's launch.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mars-bound Atlas 5 rocket...

is rolled out to Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 pad for launch tomorrow morning at 7:02 am PST, successfully completing the first third-of-a-mile of the spacecraft's 354-million-mile voyage (click to enlarge):
There's a 70% chance of favorable weather at the time of lift-off.   Get mission updates here, and watch the launch on NASA-TV.

Photo credit: NASA-KSC.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The physics behind...

swirling wine. You can practice with your Zinfandel on this holiday.

Just don't be too overly enthusiastic in your experimentation in oenodynamics, both in volume and acceleration.

Happy Thanksgiving...

from WKRP in Cincinnati:  "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The most capable robot geologist...

ever built now heads to Mars.  And a friend of mine built one of the instruments on the Curiosity rover.  How cool is that?

Dinosaur day care...

discovered with 15 infants crowded in a nest (click image to enlarge).

Image credit: Live Science.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Liftoff rescheduled...

for the Atlas 5 rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover from Friday to Saturday, 7:02 a.m. PST.  A swap out of a battery for the rocket's launch safety system is the reason for the one-day delay.

Here's the Mission Status Center to keep up with launch preparations, and a related previous post.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I guess I'm stuck here...

Walking through doorways causes forgetting, new research shows.

Gutting gadgets...

so you don't have to:  Teardowns by iFixit.  You know, just in case you're curious about what's inside your latest high-tech device.  Warning:  Don't try this at home - it will almost certainly void your warranty.

European Union bans claim...

that water can prevent dehydration.  Seriously.

Yeah, and breathing air doesn't forestall asphyxiation.

Marching Martian sand dunes...

caught in motion (advancing up to two meters over several years) by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.  Click on the images at the link and you will see "blinked" comparisons of various dunes at two different points in time.  Very interesting.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slow motion extinction...

at the end of the Cretaceous: Massive volcanoes, meteorite impacts delivered one-two death punch to dinosaurs.

Afterwards, mammals celebrate!

Have you ever wondered...

where that plane flying over your head is going?  Smartphone or tablet required.

Very cool.  Just tried it earlier today with my Galaxy Tab, and it works.

Engineering majors...

hit the books more than business majors do.

I know. Shocking.

/end sarcasm

Friday, November 18, 2011

Asking the important questions...

How Many Sips in a Bottle of Beer?

Warning: The answer involves math and physics.

It's field work Friday...

on a snowy early morning, so I'm gearing up and leaving soon for my monthly rounds of groundwater level measurements on the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.  More snow is predicted through the day, and some local ski areas open this weekend.  Given the snowy winter forecast, I predict a good runoff next spring, which translates into good aquifer recharge.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hi-res topographic map of the Moon...

has just been released (click to enlarge):
Selenographers rejoice!  Here's more information about the new map (and the color scale) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

Holy Grail of better batteries...

has been achieved: New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries.

I'd be thrilled to have a phone that doesn't need recharging for up to a week or more, and a netbook that can run for several days of heavy use.  Faster, please.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mission to Mars set to launch...

in nine days, on 25 November 2011, according to NASA:
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft with the Curiosity rover is set to launch to the planet Mars aboard an Atlas V rocket on Nov. 25, 2011 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 10:25 a.m. to 12:08 p.m. EST (7:25 a.m. to 9:08 a.m. PST). The launch period for the mission extends through Dec. 18.
Beginning Monday, 21 November, NASA will be streaming live feeds of science and pre-launch briefings according to this schedule.  Tune into NASA-TV to catch the webcasts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NASA is now accepting applications...

for the job of astronaut.  Do you have the right stuff?

As much as I'd like to apply - it's been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid - possessing reasonable qualifications with my science/tech background and private pilot training and experience, at my now-advanced age I wouldn't have a hope of being seriously considered.  Nevertheless, I'm saving my pennies to finance a sub-orbital trip to space with Virgin Galactic.  Really.

Mark my words:  I. Will. Get. There.

Mesmerizing view from space...

More information about this compelling compilation is found here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ice Age Floods Institute lecture...

on the “Latest Pleistocene Geologic History of Upper Grand Coulee” by Dr. Patrick Spencer will occur this Thursday, November 17, at 7 pm on the Eastern Washington University, Cheney Campus, in Science Building Room 137.

Dr. Spencer is a professor of geology at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington.  He will present a summary of his recent work on fine grained sediment in Upper Grand Coulee, including analysis of grain size distribution, sedimentary structures and radiocarbon age dates on key localities, suggesting that some of the sediments accumulated in a calm-water setting, possibly in a lake behind a moraine-dam. Grand Coulee was then swept by Missoula Floods, leaving behind a record of high energy processes.

The lecture is sponsored by the Cheney-Spokane Chapter and is free and open to the public.

Really, really hot...

I would imagine: X-ray Laser to Recreate Conditions at Earth’s Core.

Eruption at El Hierro...

creeping towards the surface.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

First snow of the season...

flies in eastern Washington this blustery afternoon (click to enlarge):
I hope this is a harbinger of a good snowy winter.

You won't be able...

to outrun it when it comes to kill you, but on the other hand it makes a great bartender:

Let's just hope it knows The Three Laws.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11:11:11 on 11-11-11...

Countdown:  Only 396 days to go until 12-12-12.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why science majors...

change their minds (it’s just so darn hard).  Indeed, science curricula are difficult and challenging, and demand an innate curiosity and aptitude from those that pursue them successfully.

Reminds me of this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

400-meter diameter asteroid...

2005 YU55 will zip past Earth at 3:28 pm PST today, well within the orbit of the Moon. There's no chance of an impact on either body, and here's a good NASA video that explains the close encounter.

I think we have more to fear from defunct and out-of-control satellites falling from orbit, considering the recent re-entries of UARS and ROSAT.

Geology guest lecture next Monday...

by Dr. Frannie Skomurski from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on nuclear waste management.  The presentation is scheduled for Monday, 14 November, at 10 am in SCI 118.  Frannie will also be available at 9 am in SCI 115 to meet with students about summer internship opportunities at PNNL.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Whole lotta shakin’...

at El Hierro suggests new eruption might be imminent.

UPDATE: Quite the Jacuzzi.  Perhaps it will go Surtseyan if this eruption episode continues?