Friday Starlinks

May 27th, 2011

Starlinks early, as I’m headed out of town.  I expect to rendezvous with a supertyphoon in Tokyo on Sunday, unfortunately, and be delayed, but that’s what happens when you don’t buy tickets at the last second.  I will have internet during the trip, so email me as usual and I’ll blog when I can.

Let’s start with the astronomy.

New 3D map of the universe is best yet.  Cool!

New gamma ray burst may be most distant object ever seen.  Nice story from the Bad Astronomer.

Supernovae translated into music.

Budget woes mean cutting back on astronomy projects:(  This will slow down progress and may well affect me personally.

Keck Observatory has a contest for children to make science-based Haiku.  Nice!

Are we surrounded by Dyson Spheres?  Interesting, but the short answer is no.

New SETI search based on Kepler exoplanet results.  I don’t think this strategy helps the odds much, but hey, go for it.

Say goodbye to the Mars Spirit Rover.  Way outperformed its design specs…

The challenge of putting astronauts on an asteroid.  And NASA picks deep-space ship.

Continuing essay battling about whether or not aliens will want to steal our oceans, rape our women, and enslave the rest of us…or not.  I come down on the side that they’re unlikely to, but if they have the technology to find us and come to Earth, they can have pretty much anything they want and we won’t be able to stop them.  But if they have that tech and capability, we’re very unlikely to have anything they need, let alone want, except ourselves as interesting intelligences to study.  Let’s be nice in any case.

A friend of mine just sent me a message today about how her daughter had to hide her interest in math and science in order to be part of the popular group.  That’s an ugly part of current American culture, since everyone apparently knows that some girls are too pretty to do math.  Pretty awful culture we’ve developed here.  How do we change it?  Too many segments of the population look down on school, books, math, anything intellectual, and we all suffer as a result.

Actually a really good article on The Science of Thor.  A fair amount of astronomy here.

Sean Caroll again about physics and the immortality of the soul.  (Spoiler: what soul?)

If I hear the term “militant atheist” from someone any time soon, I’m going to punch the idiot in the face.  You want militant?  This is militant, Christian style.  If only the guy would set aside his religion and go atheist, he’d have a better sex life and probably would not be running around with guns looking to murder people.

Anti-science types don’t have to be militant to kill people.  Just being willfully and loudly ignorant does it in the case of the anti-vaxxers.  OK, this story is just about the financial costs rather than deaths, but they’re high enough.

Godel’s “proof” for the existence of a god.  Not very impressive, in my opinion.  Reminds me why I think philosophy is too often a waste of time.

Would you buy an ebook card at the store as a gift?  I think I would.

Two graphs about education, from Ezra Klein, worth a look.

Evil rich people buying academic positions to promote their extreme politics.  Ugh.  Stupid Koch brothers, and stupid university for letting them do it.

Humanity hitting the resource ceiling.  This is another warning about Malthusianian disaster, which I think is unlikely to happen in global terms.  There’s evidence to suggest that population declines in prosperous societies, and technology can and does raise the ceiling regularly.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned, or that we won’t run out of this thing or drive that species extinct.  But basically the so-called experts in this article all agree because they’re making the same assumptions that may not be true.

Some speculation about villains in the Avengers movie.  Possible spoilers.  Wonder if they can make a sandwich as good as Spider-man can?

Top ten coolest weapons in sci-fi cinema.

I’m trying to believe it, but it’s hard after so many years of crap.  Anyway, Rush Limbaugh’s ratings are tumbling.  Glenn Beck’s went, too.  Sean Hannity as well.  And people actually seem to be paying more attention and realizing that the extreme right has been lying a lot and regularly, and actually caring about it.

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