Archive for August, 2012

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Busy Week…

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

…and we’ll see how much I blog. It’s the first week of classes, and I’ve got two sections rather than one for a change (but none in the spring).  I’m also trying a bunch of new (to me) pedagogical techniques so I do have a lot of preparation to do, new technology and practices to […]

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Sunday Starlinks

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong.  I wish we were in position to bury him on the moon. Budget woes at the National Science Foundation leading to likely major telescope closures in the U.S.  This could mean essentially the end for many of the telescopes at Kitt Peak, the Green Bank radio telescope, and the VLBA […]

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Gadget Porn: Thermal Cameras Getting Cheap!

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Cheap is a relative term, but let us discuss it first before dealing with the sticker shock. Back about ten years ago, I spent nearly $6000 on a used FLIR thermal camera and generation 3 military night vision goggles (PVS-7B), with 3/4 of that on the thermal camera.  I spent too much on the thermal, […]

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The “Science” of the Biased and Willfully Ignorant

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

A lot of people are upset with Todd Akin’s comments about how women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”  To be fair, the popular “rape is rape” meme does throw together differing legally recognized categories of rape that can be distinguished and which are not considered equally heinous or even necessarily universally criminal (e.g. what […]

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Voting Ends Today for PhD Comics Competion for Two-Minute Thesis

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Here’s the link. The contest is about finishing PhD students being able to present their thesis to an educated layperson cogently in two minutes.  Personally, I know this is really hard to do for veteran scientists speaking with the public about broad topics, and must represent a special challenge to younger academics with less experience […]

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Sunday Starlinks

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I only do these once a week, usually, because that helps me filter.  Every day a dozen things seem really interesting, but after a few days, only a few from each day do.  Of course, after a month, or a year, probably only a few of each week’s links still seem really interesting.  Maybe I’ll […]

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I Don’t Want a Happy Medium

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

I was fond of the over-the-top, ridiculous, and funny Priceline commercials featuring William Shatner, but they killed him off earlier this year.  There have been commercials since then featuring people recalling his memory and price-saving deeds.  Maybe you’ve seen this very recent one: What I didn’t realize when I first saw this was that the […]

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Girls Get Curves and other Innovations in Math/Science Education

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I’m a big advocate of trying to find innovative ways to reach audiences for math and science more often and more effectively.  A lot of math and science books are, let’s face it, kind of boring.  A certain kind of good student plows through boring presentation and lack of context and learns the material, but […]

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10 More Classic Mistakes in Science Fiction Movies

Monday, August 13th, 2012

I came across a kindred spirit today, finding an article titled 10 Classic Mistakes in Sci-Fi Movies. His list takes some well deserved but easy potshots at some large targets, and perhaps more tv shows than movies. 1. Aliens Speak English, often without evidence of translators or any previous interaction with modern English-speaking humans.  Let’s […]

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Sunday Starlinks

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

I had a really busy week, and for better or worse, part of the business involved a lot of people leaving town for the moment or for good, so mixed up issues of celebration about moving on and sadness that they’re going.  I’ve got classes starting in a couple of weeks, an astronomy workshop at […]

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Matt Ridley is a Biased Hypocrite

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

In the past I would have called him a “stupid smart person,” but I’m moving away from that term, I think, as it’s too prejudicial, in favor of being more specific. Ridley is primarily a writer doing various sorts of science journalism, and definitely a smart guy, but also something of a provocateur.  Controversy brings […]

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Monday Starlinks

Monday, August 6th, 2012

A day late, and a lot to link… Mars Curiosity:  The Landing was a success.  Another take.  And another.  Latest News.  Bonus: a rocker designs a rover.  And, some physicists seem jealous that a mars rover is getting so much attention compared to the Higgs boson.  Wish I could say that elite, condescending physicists were […]

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