Tuesday, August 24, 2010

laser cooling

did you know you could cool a gas with lasers? this sixty symbols video explains the process...

(i didnt know there was such an intricate laser system here at the university of nottingham!)

(also, the last line of this video is great ;)

this is how you lock a gate

all across england and wales, there are public footpaths that are available for walking. i felt strange at first walking across someone's meadow where sheep are eating grass just meters away, but people have even built steps to help you over fences and walls that you might come across during your walk. these footpaths only apply to walkers (and "bridleways" that also allow cyclists and people on horseback), but i was still surprised to see this heavily-locked gate as we walked through the lake district in northwest england!

what the flux?

click image to embiggen...

via buzzfeed

Saturday, August 21, 2010

UK exploration continues

it seems i'm working my way from the southwest to the north of the UK. this weekend i'm off to see how the rain feels in the lake district!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

perseids and planets: evidence

did anyone get out to see the perseid meteor shower or the planets last week? in case you were clouded out or just not lucky this time around, you can see a nice 2010 perseids photo gallery, from which i've chosen a couple to share.

this is a shot by david harvey from mount lemmon in arizona, USA on august 12, 2010:

this capture comes from amir abolfath, from the alamut castle in iran, august 14, 2010:

today's APOD shows a lovely view of the current planetary alignment from a beach in portugal.

here's a key they provide so you can keep an eye out over the next few evenings! :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

martian rock names

alexander trevi, pruned on flickr, compiled the NASA-listed names given to lots of rocks around the pathfinder's site. i think these two snapshots are interesting, but the full panorama is pretty amazing as well.

makes me wonder what i would name rocks on mars if i got the chance?

Friday, August 13, 2010

space helmet reflections

awesome collection of 35 space helmet reflections compiled at 3 ton gallery.

click the image to enbiggen. can you identify all the sources? i certainly cannot, but i think its great that each row has a color theme.

perspective and creativity

i love this little story from my milk toof.

read it: here

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

planets and the perseid meteor shower

tonight and the next few nights, the solar system treats us to the lovely sights of the perseid meteor shower. go outside and enjoy nature's display of meteors as the earth passes thru the interplanetary debris left by comet swift-tuttle.

you can also see where other people on earth have seen perseid meteors fly across the sky, or report your own sightings, via twitter, to help with the online project meteor watch.

even if you don't want to relax peacefully waiting for the meteor shower, you can pop out to see some excellent planetary alignments over the next few nights as well. venus is the super bright object in the west, and a bit to the south. mars hangs just above to the left and saturn above to the right. the sliver moon passes below this planetary triangle tomorrow night, aug 12th and to the left of the group on the 13th.

"AstroPixie Conquers Cyber Space as Advocate for Science"

that's right, according to my undergraduate alma mater, the university of cincinnati's mcmicken college of arts & sciences, i have officially conquered the entirety of cyber space! ;)

read the article titled "AstroPixie Conquers Cyber Space as Advocate for Science" here!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

chemistry in the clouds: snowdonia

i lucked out with the weather for one day of the weekend and managed to hike to some of the highest peaks in wales, without sitting inside clouds at the top!

while i thoroughly enjoyed the "scramble" to the top, i must admit i'm so sore today that it was slightly painful to drink my coffee this morning ;)

coincidentally, brady happened to be on the same mountain range this weekend shooting some footage, not for sixty symbols, but for the periodic table of videos! they chose to climb on saturday, in the rain, but still managed to make cisplatinum on top of mt. snowdon! watch this 4-minute video that captures their journey to perform probably the highest chemistry experiment ever done in wales, as they make this popular anti-cancer drug:

find out more about their anti-cancer research group and donate to the cause: here!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

dirty space news: solar mass ejections

solar scientists are reporting that the sun has recently experienced FOUR solar mass ejections and soon the earth's atmosphere will glow in the aftermath.

an aurora occurs because energetic particles coming from the sun react with a planet's magnetic field. magnetic fields naturally have directional field lines which act as "traffic lanes" that guide the electrically charged solar particles to the north and south magnetic poles.

for updates on aurora sightings, go to space weather.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


i love this graphic... mostly because it looks like the guy in the middle is jumping right into the water!

via sopitas

Monday, August 2, 2010

whitby's dracula inspiration

the north yorkshire town of whitby, which sits in northeastern england, is known for its gothic style, jet black stones, fish and chips, and for being a place that inspired bram stoker's most famous novel, dracula. i visited whitby this weekend and walked along a bit of the dracula trail. here are a few scenes:


i'm not sure how old the dish of fish 'n chips actually is, but they were likely eaten in the late 1800s when dracula was written. here's the plaice version:

it just wouldn't be right if they didn't squeeze at least one curry on the menu...

on the beach at night

On the Beach at Night
by Walt Whitman

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars
only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night,
the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden
shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons
shall shine again shine.

Then dearest child mournest thou only for jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

dirty space news goes global

about a month ago i got an email titled "space porn" which i have to admit, isnt so unusual these days as people like to point me towards pictures of things that resemble sexual organs. if this makes no sense, please read the related post: dirty space news.

what was notable about this particular space porn email was that it was from phil plait, the bad astronomer, asking if he could use the idea and some of the images for his upcoming w00tstock talk. well, of course i said yes and now we are all able to see his talk from last week.

UPDATE: i changed the video to a better quality version. thanks phil!

Friday, July 30, 2010

einstein: scientist and musician

the astronomist reminded me of a very interesting intersection between music and science: albert einstein was an avid violinist!

soon after i arrived in nottingham, i noticed a lecture advertised called "einstein's universe" that was to take place not at the university, but at the albert hall in town:

the presenters, oxford physicist brian foster and musician jack liebeck, would highlight "Einstein's science and his love of the violin." i was instantly intrigued and not disappointed one bit by the lecture and the performances! liebeck played beautifully at different points throughout the lecture and then they played a couple duets, with foster performing the parts that einstein often played with his musician friends.

here's a small video with interviews from both performers to give you an idea behind the lecture's inspiration.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

four finches - species are not immutable

i've seen many tattoo variations of darwin's four finches at the science tattoo emporium, but this one is definitely my favorite. it's subtle and artistic, beautiful and full of meaning!

while probably not the biggest influence, the finches that charles darwin found on the galapagos islands played an important role in helping him recognize the reality of the evolutionary process... that “species are not immutable.” the finches he found on different islands shared similar size, coloration, and habits, but the sizes and shapes of their beaks were so different that he originally thought they were all completely different types of birds. turns out the beaks are highly adapted to the different food sources eaten by birds in different locations.

the term Darwin's Finches was popularized in 1947 by David Lack in his book called Darwin's Finches and was first applied by Percy Lowe in 1936.

back to tattoos though, while i whole-heartedly agree with what david mitchell says in his column this week in the guardian, i still like my tattoo ;)

jane austen's fight club

well played, ladies!

found by enchiladaplate (mmmm... enchiladas)

camels at sunset

incredible photograph by symoto at flickr.