What I do here...

So, the main purpose of this blog is to help people learn about science. I'll be taking questions from you, the readers in all areas of science, researching them, and posting an entry answering the question as best I can. I'll also be posting anything I think is really cool, and maybe a bit of news about space. Please comment, I love to hear your feedback! This site is for general audiences, please keep comments PG-13.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Asteroid Armageddon

Ah, after a long summer of computer games, D&D, time with girlfriend and general all-around laziness, It's time to come down to what really matters: how the universe is trying to kill us.

For about a year now, I've been reading the Bad Astronomy blog by Phil Plait. He is a generous, brilliant, and all-around amazing scientist and blogger. Two years ago he published a book called "Death from the Skies! These are the ways the world will end..." in which he detailed the many different ways the universe is out to get us and how likely each scenario is. First and foremost in his book is a chapter on asteroids and how they can impact (see what I did there?) our lives.

Now, Discovery channel is doing a pilot of Bad Universe: a new Mythbusters-esque show in which Phil gets to delve into the mysteries and myths of the things in outer space that can kill us and what we can do about them. Here's a trailer (there's a bit of a problem with the sound, bear with it):

The pilot episode is about none other than that mogul of movie madness, the asteroid impact. Take a peek at this preview!

I urge my girlfriend and the other 3 people who actually are still here after 3 months to watch the show this Sunday at 10:00PM on the Discovery channel. The more people that watch it, the more likely this will be a regular series!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jupiter's Pants are Falling Down!

Okay, not really. But on May 9 of this year, Jupiter came out from the other side of the sun with its Southern Equatorial Belt mysteriously absent. 
Image from acquerra.com.au (I couldn't get permission, no contact info on website)
This has happened before. Jupiter's southern belt seems to disappear on a roughly 15-year cycle, with the last disappearance being in the early 1990s. Astronomers weren't really quite sure what was going on. Amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley from Australia was the first to catch a glimpse of the belt's disappearance as it rounded the sun. 

"It is not known why the belt periodically disappears, but it may be that it sinks lower if it cools, and then the view of it is obscured by clouds pouring in over the top of it. The clouds on Jupiter are tens of thousands of kilometers deep. Wesley said the phenomenon could be linked to  that preceded the change." (Jupiter has lost one of its cloud stripes - Physorg.com)

Wow. Apparently, astronomers were suspecting that Jupiter would be going through another fading cycle as it passed behind the sun. The exact date probably never will be discovered.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bubble Trouble

Hey, this is cool:
Some researchers at Harvard have taken a closer look at how bubbles pop. Why? Don’t they just *pop* and then they’re gone?

Video coming- coder girlfriend is fixing it

Well, it turns out that’s not the case. Apparently, when you pop a bubble from the top, the film surrounding it doesn’t just disappear. A small hole appears and starts to fall towards the surface of the water as the air rushes out. The air tries to make the hole bigger, but the molecules at the edges of the hole have enough momentum to stay close together until they hit the surface. What’s left is a toroidal or doughnut-shaped bubble that quickly fractures into multiple daughter bubbles. These usually don’t last long, and pop soon after. If they’re big enough, sometimes these can repeat the process. It hasn’t been observed for more than two steps, once you pop the bubble twice the remaining daughters are too small.

Podcasting and music, oh my!

This is one of my favourite videos of all time:

Geo Video, FAR

The song is written and performed by George Hrab, an independent musician and skeptic. This is actually the theme song for the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast, a daily 5-10 minute blurb focusing on many different areas of astronomy, from the simple to the complex. It’s a great way to learn more about astronomy. You can even make your own podcast if you feel so inclined, just book a day and send in your recording and transcript. If you’d like to see more of George (Geo) Hrab’s stuff, check him out at the Geologic Podcast.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top 5 things I like about space

So I wanted to start What I Like About Space with a bang, so here is a list of my top five favourite things about space!

5. Space is Big.
Space is mind-bogglingly big. Space is so big you could travel your entire life in a spaceship going as fast as we know how to make it go and not even reach the closest star. And there are a hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone. Wow.

Space is so enormously huge that astronomers had to come up with a new measurement of distance to describe just how far away things are. They took the fastest stuff in the universe, light, (which travels at roughly 300,000,000m in a second!) and calculated how far it traveled in a year. That’s 9,460,528,405,000km (5,878,499,814,210.01miles). Our nearest neighbour, Alpha Centauri, is 4 light-years away. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how far that is. Our galaxy is an even more mind-numbing one hundred thousand light-years from side to side. The biggest galaxy close to us, Andromeda, is over two million light years from the Milky Way. And the edge of the visible universe is approximately 13.5 billion light-years away.

*pant* *pant*

Wow. The universe is huge. We’re absolutely miniscule. And I love it.

Post the First - What I Like About Space

Okay, here goes. I've never done a blog before, and I've only read a few. But I felt like I really wanted to do something to help educate people about science in general and space in particular. So, this is the result. First off, I want to be a resource for anyone out there who wants to learn about science. If you have any question whatsoever about space, biology, or whatever the hell you want to know, post it in the comments of the post or send me an email and I'll answer to the best of my abilities in a new post. My posts will probably be sporadic at first, but I hope that as the summer gets going I can work more on this project. I will do my best to source all my posts, giving credit where credit is due. Anyways, if you like what you see, follow me or save me as a favourite! Thanks for stopping by!