June 29, 2017

2012: The Year in Science Fiction & the Look Ahead at 2013.

Katniss kicks butt in 2012!

(Credit: Lionsgate).

Ah 2013… at last, another Trek Year is upon us. And with the flip of a calendar, we realize that we’re ritualistically late for our yearly roundup of the Year in Science Fiction and a look at the year ahead. And like previous years, this list is a highly biased, highly opinionated look at what engaged our web-shortened attention span in the world of science fiction in 2012. It’s of note that not a lot of indie sci-fi flicks caught our attention in the past year… or did we simply fail to dig deep enough? Squirrel!

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Review: Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose.

A real mind-bender of a summer read!

The science of cosmology is often the study of counter-intuitives. Why are we here? Where did it all come from? Are the multiverses infinite in number, with infinite possibilities, such as intelligent tentacled canines and/or Paris Hilton as president (it does explain the bizarre reality that is our current iteration of our universe, I know). Enter one of the foremost thinkers on the subject, physicist Roger Penrose and his most recent work, Cycles of Time. Dr Penrose draws upon some of the most recent findings in cosmology as a science that has moved from one largely of philosophy to one of hard science just within the last century. [Read more...]

The Universe: You Are Here in Time & Space.

Our present understanding of our expanding universe. (Credit: NASA/WMAP).

(Editor’s Note: The essay that follows is a re-bloggified version of an essay I wrote in our quest for a science teaching degree. As that quest for knowledge has changed into a quest for employment, I thought it would be a worthy exercise to place these works out where eyeballs might fall upon them once again…)

Cosmology is one of the fastest evolving fields in astronomy today. In less than a century, our understanding of the past and future evolution of our universe has gone from one largely of conjecture to a diverse study with hard observational data. [Read more...]

Review: Black Holes & Baby Universes by Stephen Hawking.

A Hawking Classic!

Many know the man, but few have read his work… this week, we take a look at Black Holes & Baby Universes, a collection of essays, speeches and musings by the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking. Though his body may be revenged by Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, his mind is as fertile as ever. [Read more...]

March 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Ahhhh, the Ides of March are upon us. Spring is the thing, as we approach equal daylight in all lands north to south. The month of March brings with it an early onset back to Daylight Savings Time for yet another eight months, a season for Messier marathoning, Mercury spotting, and more. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on our radar this month at Astroguyz HQ:

Coming to a Sky Near You: The first week of March we feature the ternary star Beta Monocerotis. We’ll also look at what it takes to complete a Messier Marathon. Asteroid 72 Feronia completes a stellar occultation on 9th, followed by a lunar occultation of Mu Geminorum on the 13th. A rare Proxigean Spring tide and the largest Full Moon of the Year occur on 18th, followed by the Vernal Equinox marking the beginning of spring on the 20th. Another good stellar occultation by asteroid 224 Oceana occurs on the 20th, and planet Mercury makes its best evening elongation 22nd. Finally, we cap off the month with a very close Venus-Neptune 9’ conjunction on the 27th.

 This Month in Science: All eyes are on space exploration and research as Planetary Science decadal survey is planned for release sometime in March. The Orange Blossom star party, Central Florida’s premiere astro-get together occurs March 2nd-6th. Also, March continues to be a month of inner world exploration as NASA’s Messenger spacecraft enters orbit around Mercury 18th just days before the best evening apparition mentioned above. On the review radar, we look at Discoverers of the Universe and A Professor, A President, & a Meteor. Good times!

This Month in Science Fiction: This month in science fiction (we still spell it “Sci-Fi!”) we’ll take a look at Dwarf Stars 2010, with some of last year’s best in Sci-Fi short poetry. We’re also furiously reading The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, the exciting Steampunk follow up to The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack. Also out from Pyr Books, don’t forget to snag a copy of the newly released (and recently reviewed on this site) work, the Cowboy Angels. The Big Bang Theory, every science nerds favorite show about science nerds in the wild, has recently been picked up for three more seasons… and the BIG news for those of us that live in our laptops is that the show is FINALLY available to watch online!

Launches in March: Space Shuttle Discovery is in space one final time, and will land back at the Kennedy Space center March 7th. Meanwhile, Endeavour is back “at the ranch” beginning preparation for its April launch with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station. A pair of classified payloads will also break the surly bonds this month, with the follow up flight of the Air Force’s super secret X-37B space plane from Cape Canaveral Air Station on the 4th & a ULA classified launch on 11th, also from CCAS. The European Space Agency launches an Ariane 5 Yahsat 1A with the Intelsat New Dawn on 29th, and over in the world of cosmodromes, a Soyuz TMA-21 manned launch to the ISS out of Baikonur occurs 29th, & a Proton rocket with SES 3 and Kazsat 2 also departs out of Baikonur on March 31st. As this goes to cyber-press, we have no word about the delayed launch of Glory, which is to occur “sometime in March…” Follow us @astroguyz on Twitter for all the space flight updates, astro-events, and other rambling astro-musings!

Astro Bloopers: Much terrible cyber-ink astronomy has come from the whole 13th zodiacal sign non-troversy that began earlier this year. Some of the true baddies have been the idea that astronomers somehow recently discovered Ophiuchus in 2009! Then there is the long diatribe of a certain astrologer who tried to extricate herself realm from reality with a long discussion on the tropical versus the sidereal year; it’s almost as painful for an astronomer to watch as an old Space: 1999 rerun.  

This Month in Astro-History: On March 24th, 1930 Pluto was officially named after a suggestion from Mrs. Venetia Burney Phair when she was aged 11. Mrs. Phair only recently passed away in 2009, and an outstanding documentary entitled Naming Pluto was recently made by director Ginita Jimenez about her life. It’s definitely worth searching out!

Astro Quote of the Month: “However long we live, life is short, so I work… and however important man becomes, he is nothing compared to the stars. There are secrets, dear sister, and it is for us to reveal them.”

-Caroline Herschel.

Photo image of M45 by Author.

2010: The Year in Science Fiction

The Breath-taking world of Pandora… (Credit: 20th century Fox).

2010 was an odd year of sorts for science fiction; the major franchises (i.e., Star Trek, Star Wars, etc…) are on their respective “gap years,” but the odd indie gem was indeed out there, if you knew where to find them… [Read more...]

Review: The Big Bang Theory.

(All show pic credit:CBS).

(All show pics credit:CBS).

  

   In astronomical circles we’ve all met the guy who has memorized Pi to the nth degree, or can recite the periodic table backwards or knows every star in the Big Dipper by obscure Arabic name. Or perhaps you are that guy, with your atomic Green Lantern watch synchronized to both Universal and Local time and you’re reading this wondering; “so what? Everyone else I know is equally socially handicapped…” [Read more...]

March 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The Full Snow Moon that rounded off February. (Phot by Author).   

The Full Snow Moon capping off February as seen from Astroguyz HQ! (Photo by Author). 

    This month, spring and the vernal equinox are in the air in the northern hemisphere; time for warmer temps, shortening nights and hopefully, a buffer between the cold of winter and the eventual swarms of summer mosquitoes that are the bane of many an observer. What follows is a brief rundown of all things astronomical that are floating through our respective transom here at Astroguyz HQ; [Read more...]

20.10.09: Free Spirit!

Save our rover! (Credit: NASA/JPL).

Save our rover! (Credit: NASA/JPL).

The Mars spirit rover is in dire need of a tow truck. Like a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, the tiny rover has found itself stuck since earlier this year,  about two miles southeast of its original Home-plate landing site. (Was Wollowitz to blame?) Bouncing to rest in January 2004, the twin rovers of Spirit and Opportunity has been defying all expectations and have become the rovers that simply refuse to die. While ensconced in martian soil, Spirit has taken the opportunity (catch the bad pun?) to examine its new home, dubbed Troy. The area appears to contain basaltic & sulfate rich sand layered in various hydration states. Scientists at JPL can console themselves that Spirit’s sand trap home is at least scientifically interesting. In addition, Spirit has been plagued by a gimp front wheel, which has forced engineers to drive it backward, dragging the faulty wheel instead of plowing it forward. Scientists have been simulating extraction in a sandbox here on Earth, and real movement on Mars is expected to begin sometime in early November. Dust storms have cleared the solar panels of dust, so with any luck the batteries will operate at their peak. Now is a good time to start following the rovers via Twitter…Free Spirit!

Review: Blast! A Film by Paul Devlin.

BLAST...Astrophysics Indiana Jones Style!

BLAST...Astrophysics Indiana Jones Style!

Blast! Can be seen as a documentary that was 13.7 billion years in the making. Directed by Paul Devlin, Blast! follows the exploits of a group of astrophysicists as they break new ground with a unique balloon borne telescope. BLAST stands for Balloon-Borne, Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope. As reported earlier this week in our post “Antarctic Astronomy”, “Sub-millimeter” is the name loosely given to the wavelengths roughly between microwave and infra-red. [Read more...]