Sunday Starlinks

June 3rd, 2012

Let’s get started…

Eight Modern Astronomy Mysteries Science Still Can’t Explain.  It isn’t a bad list, but it needs revisions, in my opinion.  Like instead of asking “How hot is dark matter?” which is a question I think we have a clue about, let’s just go with “What is Dark Matter?”  Nice parallel to dark energy then.  And “How do stars explode?” is dealing with details, in my opinion, which may or may not be that important to the universe at large — more importantly, we do already know why, when, and how much.  We also know how in the broadest outline, and just don’t at a very detailed level.  And who says the solar system is “bizarre?”  Exoplanet detection is plagued by strong selection effects and I actually expect that when those are corrected for, our solar system will be pretty normal, except for perhaps the issue of life.  Reionization is a serious area of research, although the answer is almost certainly some combination of stars and quasars.  The sun’s hot corona is likely heated by magnetic field effects, although the details remain uncertain.   Otherwise the list isn’t a bad overview of some big questions in astronomy that will keep scientists like me busy for years to come, although I guess I have dissed half the list.  Fox News — You can’t explain that!  (I should do my own version of the list soon.)

We are starting to do targeted SETI surveys of some of the exoplanets out there.  Another take from the BBC.  Expect more of these soon, and more non-detections given the statistics.

How detectable is our civilization by aliens?  Not as much as some people think, I think…but if you’re reading this, you’ve detected me.

Site(s) selected for the Square Kilometer Array, to be the kick-ass radio telescope of this century.  Not in the U.S.

Wyoming professor (not me!) about his new near-infrared camera to study galaxies.

On grade inflation in colleges, which is apparently severe, especially in private universities, but not at Wyoming.

The effects of sunlight on asteroid orbits.  More subtle than just radiation pressure, and important to understand to predict collision with planets we like, such as Earth.

Even if you don’t want to accept it, there are creation “scientists” out there pushing their religion as science and they have an audience.  Ignore it or accommodate it at your peril.  These people, in the U.S. and other countries, would like nothing better than to teach their nonsense in science classes to students of all faiths.  And this mainstream mixing of science and religion continues, even when the most likely explanations are that the stories are metaphor or outright fictitious.  And perhaps worse, is trying to legislate reality in the face of contradictory science (bad North Carolina).

Meanwhile, good science is mischaracterized as (perhaps) criminal fraud, also by the mainstream media.  I can’t help but feel like people trying to be fair about biased, lying religious conservative types need to just stop.  In light of that, awesome rant inspired by the quote:

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” — Hippocrates

Maybe we should head for Mars and start over there and do it right.  One way to Mars in 2023 possible?

SpaceShipTwo on target for suborbital flights.  I should have dedicated my life to getting rich so I’d have the money to spend on stuff like this.  It would be one of the ultimate vacations for scientists.  (One of the nice things about blogging is that when someone writes a nice article on a topic of interest to you, they sometimes link to your similar post, so you get added value for the original post with new ideas.)

Fake magazines from BLADE RUNNER pretty cool!  All these articles about Blade Runner and Alien recently, it’s almost like there’s a new Ridley Scott science fiction movie coming out soon.

10 most quotable geek film quotes (difficulty: no Star Wars).  Nice list, like one I’d make, with some quotes I’d include.

Nice article about my friend and brilliant writer Andy Duncan.

For those of us who speak English and Portuguese (or more importantly, for those who only speak one), D&D Book reviews in both languages.

Get ready for the new Nolan Batman film with this history of Bane.

An unbiased review of The Avengers movie, by someone who knows their Marvel.  Basically, it’s a nice idea based on the idea that Loki actually is as clever as his rep, and smarter than he came across in the movie.

A supercool infographic about every Avenger there’s ever been.  Saving this one to study more in depth.

7 Best Bigfoot Action Figures.  Unfortunately, I only own one of them.  :(

Fool the internet once, bad on the internet, fool the internet twice, won’t get fooled again.  Reddit > Wiki.

Interesting look at Malcolm Gladwell, who is a brilliant writer and master of narrative argument, but indeed it may be considered propaganda some of the time.

Finally, Welcome to Life (Singularity Mediated by Lawyers):

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