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28 April 2011

SETI Funding and Carl Sagan

Just read a couple of blog entry posts from Dr. Phil Plait (aka The Bad Astronomer) that I wanted to share.

First of all, SETI is not getting any funding, and they need to raise money, or shut down the Allen Telescope Array.  Now I know that a lot of folks may not agree with the stated purpose of SETI, but one thing that they are doing that actually impacts you and many other people is signal processing.  Just because of this technology, your access to the EM spectrum is increased for applications like cell phones and WiFi.  Just based on that, you ought to donate to the cause.  Or as Dr. Plait says:
But that won’t happen for a while at least. The array costs about $2.5 million per year to run, and that money simply isn’t coming in; there are several funding agencies — including the eponymous Paul Allen — but as the SETI press release puts it:
In an April 22, 2011 email (PDF) to Allen Telescope Array stakeholder level donors, SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson described in detail the recent decision by U.C. Berkeley, our partner in the Array, to reduce operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (and thus the Allen Telescope Array) to a hibernation state effective this month. NSF University Radio Observatory funding to Berkeley for HCRO operations has been reduced to approximately one-tenth of its former level and, concurrently, growing State of California budget shortfalls have severely reduced the amount of state funds available for support of the HCRO site.
Knowing my readers, some of you will want to help. SETI has a donation page. I talked with Seth yesterday and he told me "every little bit helps".
And hey, if you happen to know a millionaire who happens to be able to look a little bit beyond the next day or two of market fluctuations, you know where to send them.
And then we have this movie from the greatest science communicator of all, Carl Sagan:

24 April 2011

How did everyone else miss this?

So today is the Jewish Zombie day.  People will celebrate it by observing the pagan rituals and holidays of Ishtar and Oaester, all the while thinking they are observing xtian rituals... How is it that these events were missed my everyone else?  If the passage quoted in the snarky picture really happened, why is it that no one noticed?  Yet one more example of how really fucked up this fairy tale is...

The total lack of evidence has been discussed quite a few times.  And the total lack of historical reference only backs up the initial statement I made about all the historians seemingly missing major events like this.

Again, you are free to believe whatever crazy shit you want to.  It's not my place to get into it if you are happy with it.  Just remember though that as soon as you put it out there for criticism, your fairy tales will get the mocking they so richly deserve.  So do us all a favour, don't get all righteous about your jewish zombie.  We don't want to hear the "good news" because it's just plan silly and it makes us feel bad for you to see you behave in such an obviously brain damaged way.  Instead, respect our rights to follow our hearts, and we'll leave you to your devices as well.

And if you happen to see any zombies today, remember that the only way to deal with them is by a headshot.  Apparently, according to your myth, some Roman muffed the handling of his zombie, only stabbed him in the side, and now his zombie is responsible for some fucked up cult that is a convenient excuse for bigotry, hate, and downright idiotic beliefs...  And speaking of idiotic beliefs, this next picture just seems to sum up how silly things are if you think about the need for jebus and all that...

20 April 2011

Where I invent a new drink for Hubble

Friday is the 21st anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space telescope.  Perhaps one of the best inventions of mankind.  On the Bad Astronomy blog, I joked about coming up with a drink to celebrate this significant "birthday" and this is what I came up with:

151 Rum floated on top (to make you blind at first?)
OJ (Launched from the Cape, FL)
Grenadine (Red Shift)
Vodka (OJ and Vodka is a screwdriver signifying all the repairs)

Each ingredient has a "theme" related to Hubble and the launch.  What would your suggestions be?

19 April 2011

Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks April 22

I just found this post over at the JREF Forums:
The annual Lyrid Meteor Shower is expected to reach its worldwide peak on 2011 APR 22 at 19 hr UT. The shower actually runs from about APR 16 through APR 26. For any particular locality observation is generally best between local midnight and dawn. A full and then waning gibbous Moon may provide a bit of a hindrance.

For a single observer the Lyrids produce roughly ten meteors per hour with a typical magnitude of +2, which is similar to the North Star (Polaris). However “Lyrid Fireballs” get bright enough to cause shadows and leave smoky trails. And occasionally as in 1982 up to 90 meteors are seen per hour.

The Lyrids are particles from Comet Thatcher and have a radiant in the constellation Lyra. The radiant is the point toward which the meteors’ tails point, but they can be seen anywhere in the sky.
In case you don't like to wait to find out about these events, and want to plan your sky viewing activities (and who doesn't?), the poster also provided this wonderful link:  It's a table that lays out all the meteor showers from now until the end of 2020 (with moon phases for even more planning).  He has several other interesting astronomical topics on his page as well.

Happy sky gazing!

18 April 2011

Bad Universe! Tell your friends.

I have often lamented about the decline of actual science programming on those TV channels that pruport to air that sort of stuff.  For a fun and accessible program, I recommend Dr. Phil Plait's Bad Universe.  It will air on the Discovery Channel tomorrow, April 19, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern (US) time (check local listings).  The reason I am encouraging people to watch it, DVR it, or just get excited about it is because the series has not (as far as we know) been picked up by the network.

I can't promise he won't say "Holy Haleakala" a million times, but these are great shows based on his book "Death From The Skies". (Yes, I have my signed copy of that book!)  Fun and engaging science!  Something we all need.

13 April 2011

The Only Home We've Ever Known

Just watch this.  That is all. 

This change in perspective brought to you by reality and Carl Sagan.

Hat tip to The Perplexed Observer.

12 April 2011

50 years ago

Today is the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin making it to space.  This was the first tentative steps by Homo Sapiens to become a space faring species.  We are still in the baby steps phase of our space faring (and sadly it seems that we will remain in the baby step phase for quite some time).

In celebration, Google has a great Google Image.  There is also a great film called First Orbit that is out.  Go to the First Orbit page and give it a look.

09 April 2011

Tim Minchin: Storm!

I figured that since I am going to get to see Tim Minchin in Boston for my birthday, I would popularize his brilliant wit a bit.  Apparently he has released a video to his beat poem "Storm".  If you don't watch this, and listen to it, you are dead to me.

08 April 2011

Preventable Diseases Making News (Weapon Grade Stupid)

I was going to put this up over at Facts, not Fantasy, but realized that I was getting rather hot under the collar, and I wanted to really let loose on these fucking assholes that want to have people dies from perfectly preventable diseases.  Oh sure, they will say they don't want people to die, and they are only doing what they think is best...  Well, shut the fuck up, and do what is right.  Your actions speak louder than your empty, hypocritical words ever will.  You don't trust "big pharma" or doctors, or any of that fancy science, until you really need it!  Not that I am one to wish ill on people, but I seriously hope that every single anti-vaxer pro-diseaser that has ever uttered the words "vaccines cause autism" or any of the other lies they spread is shown dramatically what it means to use evidence based medicine.  I want to see you all crawling on your knees to a real hospital!  All your "alternative-medicine" crap is just that, crap.  If it actually worked, it wouldn't be "alternative", it would actually be medicine...

Anyway, on to numerous stories about people getting sick because too many assholes are being irresponsible and just giant douche-nozzles...

1.) Houston has seen it's first case of measles in 6 years.  The victim is an 11 month old baby.  She caught it while traveling.  Hope there are no complications from this.

2.)  There has been an outbreak of pertussis in a northern Virginia schoolAs a matter of fact, it was severe enough to close the school.  The thing with pertussis is that while whooping cough sucks for a strong healthy adult, it will kill people.  It already has killed numerous people in the US, and I am always reminded of the Dana McCaffery tragedy.  While this is in a High School, who knows what infants the kids may come in contact with while babysitting or just visiting with friends and family.  I think the school has taken the right course of action.

3.)  There is an outbreak in Minnesota.  This I am pretty sure can be traced directly to the doorstep of the anti-vax pro-disease fuckwads...

4.)  Canada is not immune to the stupid either.  They are dealing with a mumps outbreak... What the fuck?  I thought this disease was pretty much eradicated.

5.)  Vaccine Times has even more things to report on.  I am pretty sure that if you are reality based, this shit will make you sick...  I'll just quote a small portion, you need to go to that page to read all the stuff there...

Six-week-old boy clinging to life – A 6-week-old Australian infant is clinging to life after being infected with whooping cough. The infant was too young to be vaccinated and although his parents were vaccinated, he still contracted the disease. His mom pleads with adults to get vaccinated:
“Get everyone vaccinated,” she said.
“It’s such an outbreak at the moment, people in their 20s don’t realise that they need another vaccination.
“It could have been someone in their 20s or 30s or someone older that gave my son this illness.
89 children dead of the flu in the US – No commentary is needed. As reported by the CDC Influenza Season Week 12 ending March 26, 2011 Surveillance report.

2,000 sick and 5 dead of measles in the Philippines – A measles outbreak in the Philippines has sickened 2,000 and killed 5 in the first quarter of 2011 (Jan-Mar 2011). To address this problem, the Department of Health has launched a month-long nationwide vaccination campaign targeting children aged 9 months up to 8 years old, hoping to stop the rising incidence of measles cases, which reached 6,000 in 2010. The campaign will cover 17 million children nationwide and targets to achieve a measles-free Philippines by 2012.

6.)  I am very glad to at least hear about Seth Mnookin, who wrote "The Panic Virus" an exposé of the antivax movement, has posted his thoughts on these recent news stories.  At least there is someone else out there that is with the facts instead of fantasy.  I'm sorry, reality has a scientific bias.  If you want to deny that, you can just fuck off.

This is what people have been afraid of – these little outbreaks of diseases that show the holes that exist in herd immunity. In fact, a lot of the anti-vaxers have been saying that “if herd immunity is such a big deal, why aren’t we seeing outbreaks in low-vax areas” – well, morons, guess what – you got your wish.

If you look at the Roanoke & MN outbreaks, they occurred exactly where we would expect them to be – in low vaccination areas / populations.

Not being vaccinated is equivalent to a business emitting pollution, or a person driving under the influence of alcohol — you raise the chance that those around you will suffer ill effects. Government has a role in coercing individuals who would otherwise inflict costs on others.

Thanks a lot you idiots.  You have reached a level of weapon grade stupid with this shit...