TED: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries

Adam Savage holds the position of my favorite story teller. Part of it might be that he speeds his rate of talking up to the edge of where I think he is about to stumble, but he does not. It lends to sensing his excitement. He talks about Feynman and Eratosthenes here. If the above video… Continue reading TED: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries

50 Years of Americans in Orbit

Fifty years ago today, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. For some reason, Alan Shepard, Jr. being the first American in space did not impress me as a kid. Going up and coming back down did not count. Achieving orbit was realer space. Glenn was the American response to Yuri Gagarin being the first human… Continue reading 50 Years of Americans in Orbit

TED Talk: Finding planets around other stars

How do we find planets — even habitable planets — around other stars? By looking for tiny dimming as a planet passes in front of its sun, TED Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz and the Kepler mission have found some 1,200 potential new planetary systems. With new techniques, they may even find ones with the right conditions… Continue reading TED Talk: Finding planets around other stars

Elemental Nuclear Threats

I was sequestered in a war room for a month during which the Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened as well as the meltdown of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. We projected on the wall video of the stories over and over. It just occurred to me each of the Empedocles classical elements (air, fire, earth,… Continue reading Elemental Nuclear Threats

Margin of Error

The New York Times article “Nuclear Agency Tells a Concerned Congress That U.S. Industry Remains Safe” had a curious statement from Gregory Jaczko, of the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in front of Congress. “U.S. nuclear facilities remain safe,” Mr. Jaczko told two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees, which had originally planned to consider his… Continue reading Margin of Error

Challenger

Twenty-five years ago today my teachers had us all gather in a classroom. A teacher was being sent into orbit. The intent was for us to see a historic event. Instead we got to see even bigger history being made as the Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launch. The disintegration of the vehicle was… Continue reading Challenger

Closing In On an Earth-Sized Planet

Now Kepler has found the much-anticipated first rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet. It did it by staring for months on end at the same 150,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus. Kepler’s 1-meter-diameter telescope, hooked up to a sensitive light-measuring instrument, is capable of detecting the dimming of a star as a planet orbits in front of it—even… Continue reading Closing In On an Earth-Sized Planet

TED Talk: Epic Wins

While I like video games and found Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter an entertaining ride, I am skeptical when people describe video games in all glowing terms. Like everything, they improve specific skills. Also people are attracted to games in which they have specific skills.… Continue reading TED Talk: Epic Wins

My New Home?

OnlineAthens.com | News | Taliaferro’s night life a draw for stargazers 09/17/07: “We like our darkness,” said Chris Hetlage, the developer of an unusual village taking shape on a hilltop about 40 miles southeast of Athens. “That’s really why we’re here.” Georgia’s least populous county leads the region in a tourist commodity that is as… Continue reading My New Home?