Supersized Starlinks

January 14th, 2011

OK, school started this week and I’ve had other higher priorities than the blog.   Unfortunately websurfing seems to be one of those higher priorities the past week, so I’ve got a lot of links.   I think I’ll break them down by categories today.

Science (including a lot of astronomy and some technology)

This past week has been the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.   Here are two posts from Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomy, with some highlights: part 1, part 2.

Two decades of research on space sex. Not as fun as it sounds.

Possible danger issue from some cheap green laser pointers.

Extreme Planet Makeover.   A fun little applet, but doesn’t do as much as I would like.

Hubble checks out the Voorwerp.

Astronomers make largest color image of the sky ever.

I have a new internet crush.   Denise Minger is awesome, and I wish I had more students and collaborators more like her.   Recently I wrote about some disillusionment I was having with science, that it was more flawed than I liked to think, even though it is self-correcting and the best game in town.   One issue that concerned me there was in the area of diet and nutrition, and I’ve continued to read up about it as I continue to lose weight using a meat-heavy paleo diet.   I came across discussions of something called The China Study that finds meat-eating to be unhealthy.   Fine, if true.   I believe in evidence.   Except, it turns out that the evidence seems to have suffered from poor and biased interpretation from the vegetarian leading the study.   Denise Minger is a blogger who likes to crunch numbers and checked out if the claims made about the China Study were true, and she made a very convincing case that they are crap.   I’m not calling her awesome for reaching a conclusion that supports my current diet, but for the tour-de-force that is her blog entry.   Rational, quantitiative thinking like this from someone without a PhD is a rare joy to see, and it’s too rare to see from PhDs as well.   There are other posts on her site worth reading, and she links to some other numeric explorations from other bloggers like herself.   It’s just so wonderful to see science being done as a hobby, a check and balance on something in the scientific journals.   Anyway, this is the kind of analysis I do sometimes on my own data and I really loved seeing someone doing it well.   She’d be a good scientist if she wants to be.   Hmm.   That’s condescending.   She already is a scientist, and a good one.

Verizon gets the iphone.   Verizon is the only decent carrier in my neck of the mountains here, and I’ve been waiting for this.   On the other hand, Gizmodo says not to buy it and to wait for the next iphone.   Opinions?

On galaxy mergers and nuclear black hole growth…this is in my area of research.   The article needs the caveats in much bolder print.   I don’t believe that the biggest monsters out there, the quasars, can be fueled without a “cosmic smashup.”

NASA’s best space pictures of 2010.

College students failing at scientific reasoning. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I know they can learn to think better.

Not sure where to put this, but maybe here rather than it’s own category.   Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.   I have to admit that I’m somewhere between the western and Chinese extremes discussed.

Science Fiction

NASA calls 2012 the most scientifically flawed movie ever.   I avoided this one, but maybe I need to schedule a weekend triple feature of this movie back to back to back with The Core and Armageddon and decide for myself.

I really liked this SMBC comic!   Funny.

200 years to interstellar travel?

I think I have to put futurism into science fiction.   25 Predictions about 25 Years from now.   A range of experts on various subjects, and worth the read even though they’re all likely wrong about something.

Charlie Stross has gone dumpster diving for bad amazon reviews of good books, here and here.   You got to read some of these…!

OK, philosophy weenies don’t do science, and I’m skeptical of this new study that claims we should fear aliens.   Intellectual masturbation at best, a revised version of the pessimist thinking pessimism is realistic.   Another take on our love for aliens now compared to 50 years ago.

10 Movies better than the Books.   Includes a few science fiction and fantasy movies.

The science of Tron.   Really?

From GeekDad: 10 things from science fiction we did and didn’t get in 2010.

Alien motorcycle sculpture, really cool.

Science and Superstition Related-Issues (AKA links and comments dissing the Pope for the most part)

How to be an awesome crackpot!

Old news in astronomy on the Zodiac constellations. More here: Phil Plait on astrology and the Zodiac. And here.   Timely, as I’ll be covering this in my astro class in the next week or so.   Oh, the punchline is that astrology is B.S. in case you didn’t know.

The “God of the Gaps” is back.   The Pope says that God caused the Big Bang.   Ugh.   All organized religion today is still nothing more than an old guy in a funny costume saying that his god is responsible for things not yet understood.   The Pope also views sex education as an attack on religion.   Asshole.   Let’s get it straight: religion is an attack on education.   Like here in this case.   Duh.   The Pope has been busy, also making time to tell people what they should and shouldn’t name their children.   This guy is the opposite of what I think is good and rational about the world and it continues to irk me that anyone listens to him.

Captain Salvation? I don’t want religion in my life, and it’s downright a sin to use comic books like this.   Ugh!

Awe and spirituality have precious little to do with religion.   Scientists and science fiction fans/writers like myself have plenty of the former, not the latter.   I used to be a fan of Chris Mooney, but he’s more Loony to me these days.

No Atheists in Congress.   Yes, it’s folks like me putting down the Pope for being silly and unscientific that’s the real problem in society, not the fact that a lack of belief is actually discriminated against.   Until atheists are out of the closet and a rational, secular worldview isn’t seen as a negative thing to too many people, we cannot believe that we have an educated, healthy world.

Study linking vaccines to autism found to be fraudulent, but Jenny McCarthy still a moron.

God, Science, Politics, Comedy, and Astronomy:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill O’Reilly Proves God’s Existence – Neil deGrasse Tyson
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> Video Archive
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