Category Archives: Just for Fun
If you’re at all like me, you are in front of a computer for most of your waking and conscious day. Everyone has their own personal preference for computer workstations, and these days I use an 11″ Macbook Air for all of my personal and professional needs. I like its small size and portability combined with its decent operating muscle (I’m a graphic designer so I use industry-standard Adobe design software… Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) When I’m at my desk I have my Macbook plugged into a 23″ monitor, but when I want to hit the road and, say, go work at a coffee shop or take a project to a client I simply unplug and go. My entire office fits into a small backpack, and that’s awesome.
The only downside to this is that everything runs off of a lithium-ion battery. Even when plugged into the wall, power is running through the battery and, even if you are very careful to maintain your battery (running charge cycles at least once a month, keeping it within operating temperatures, etc.) it will eventually succumb to the law of entropy and, one day, die.
This happened to me this month. Last week, in fact. My computer was running terribly sluggishly, even connected to the MagSafe cable, and the battery indicator on my toolbar was saying “replace now.” Reading online I found that Macbook Airs aren’t “supposed” to have their batteries replaced by the consumer and you have to take it to the Apple store to have them do it… but you can do it yourself if you are even somewhat familiar with fixing electronics. While I’m no electronics guru I have fixed a few gadgets before so I figured I’d give it a shot, and since here I am writing this with a brand-new battery installed, I guess I did a pretty good job. Here’s how it’s done, if you want to try it yourself:
You’ve heard of the Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars, now meet the Mercury Man!
This image, obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft in July 2011, shows a portion of the floor of Caloris basin — the remnants of an enormous impact that occurred on Mercury nearly 4 billion years ago. Rising from the surface (and dramatically lit by sunlight from the west) is what appears to be a humanoid form. Is this some ancient structure built by an alien race, aimed our way in the hopes of us one day discovering it?
Nah, it’s just pareidolia.
At 11:27 pm EDT on September 6, 2013, NASA’s LADEE mission lifted off aboard a Minotaur V rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia shore, a launch visible across the entire northeast coast as it arced beautifully over the Atlantic on its way to the Moon.
Sadly, at least one frog may have been harmed in the making of this mission.
The photo above, taken by an automated camera set up near the launch site, shows Orbital Sciences Minotaur vehicle lifting off on a column of flame and steam. Silhouetted against the backlit exhaust cloud on the right is an airborne frog, likely flung from one of the small ponds near the pad.
According to Nancy Atkinson on Universe Today, Wallops spokesman Jeremy Eggers confirmed the picture is legitimate and was not altered in any way.
Perhaps in memoriam this will become the unofficial mascot of the facility, like the “space bat” that hitched a last ride on a shuttle fuel tank in 2009. He really should get a name… how about “Wally”?
I rarely ever reblog posts, but this is an excellent criticism on the term “false color” and its oft-maligned perception by the modern public, and also a support of coloration techniques used in astronomy to produce the beautiful — and scientifically valuable — space images we have all come to enjoy (and expect!) By Dr. Robert Hurt, Visualization Scientist for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope project. Check it out….
Take the lovely image of Neptune above. It shows the planet through three filters: red, green, and an infrared color that is absorbed by methane gas. That final filter is assigned to the red color of the image, so everything we see as red (or white) reveals high altitude clouds and haze that sit above Neptune’s methane layer. That’s pretty cool, and it is revealed through very real colors, just not exactly the ones our eyes see.
What is false about that? Absolutely nothing!
(HT to Whitney Clavin for the tweet!)
Physics is hard.
I’m sorry, let me elaborate: physics is really hard. The sharpest minds of our entire species have been hammering away at the fundamental rules of our Universe for the past several hundred years, and while they’ve discovered an incredible lot about the tiniest bits of things that make up… well, everything… it’s still hard. There are still a lot of questions, and a lot to learn and find out, and all of it is just terribly scientific and mathematical and counter-intuitive to anything you might think you know about how stuff works.
Thankfully, author and physicist Dave Goldberg is here to explain it all… or at least give you a working familiarity with the basics. And yes, there are basics. (Even in physics.)
UPDATE: Read on to find out how to win a free copy of the book!
That’s not a suggestion; it’s an order.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not scientifically accurate, or that asteroid fields don’t really work like that, or that you can’t “swim” through space. None of that matters with something at this level of cool. Enjoy!
Video and music by Professor Soap
Think the Milky Way is a big place? Think again — check out this graphic by Arecibo astrophysicist Rhys Taylor, which neatly illustrates the relative sizes of 25 randomly-selected galaxies using images made from NASA and ESA observation missions. It even includes a rendering of our own remarkably mundane galaxy at the center for comparison.
(Warning: this chart may adversely affect any feelings of galactic superiority you may have once held dear.)