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Glow-in-the-dark Solar System underwear

Because why not, right? Portland-based Etsy shop Make It Good makes these handmade glow-in-the-dark Solar System undies for both men and women. The kid in me digs them. I’d wear the hell out ‘em (just like I did with my Wonder Woman Underoos when I was around 8 years old).

They’re reasonably priced at $18.00 for women’s and $28.00 for men’s.

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
So, you want to be an Astronaut?
07:08 pm



So you want to be an astronaut?

Well, here’s your chance as the people over at NASA are currently seeking candidates for “astronaut positions”:

If you have dreamed of joining the Astronaut Corps, now is the time to apply. NASA is continuing space exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit.

NASA, the world’s leader in space and aeronautics is always seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That’s what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program and future deep space exploration activities.

It was in 1959 that NASA selected the 7 military personnel who became the first astronauts. Since then, 330 have been chose from diverse backgrounds, who all passed the strict physical, technical and academic requirements. The backgrounds of NASA’s latest group of Astronaut Candidates include schoolteachers, doctors, scientist, and engineers. According to Geek Sugar, you could now be one too if you have:

US citizenship

Height between 62 and 72-inches, as well as a resting blood pressure not to exceed 140/90.

20/20 vision, though corrective eye surgeries like LASIK are allowed.

Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. Despite the space flight factor, aviation degrees do not qualify.

3 years of relevant professional experience or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in a jet aircraft.

Of course, qualifying doesn’t mean you’ll end up floating in a tin can, but you will have as much chance as everyone else who applies - and the pay’s pretty neat at $64,000-141,000 per year - so, why the hell not?

Check here for details.

Via Geek Sugar

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Has Armchair Astronomer Discovered Evidence of Life on Mars?

A structure, said to be neither “rock nor mountain” nor “fabricated structure”, has been discovered on Mars by “armchair astronomer” David Martines, [who] discovered “a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet - by looking on Google earth,” reports the Daily Mail:

David Martines, whose YouTube video of the ‘station’ has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day.

Describing the ‘structure’ as a living quarters with red and blue stripes on it, to the untrained eye it looks nothing more than a white splodge on an otherwise unblemished red landscape.

He even lists the co-ordinates 49’19.73"N 29 33’06.53"W so others can go see the anomaly for themselves.

In a pre recorded ‘fly by’ video of the object, Mr Martines describes what he thinks the station might be. He said: ‘This is a video of something I discovered on Google Mars quite by accident.

‘I call it Bio-station Alpha, because I’m just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it.

It’s very unusual in that it’s quite large, it’s over 700 feet long and 150 feet wide, it looks like it’s a cylinder or made up of cylinders.

‘It could be a power station or it could be a biological containment or it could be a glorified garage - hope it’s not a weapon.

‘Whoever put it up there had a purpose I’m sure. I couldn’t imagine what the purpose was. I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want to live on Mars.

‘It could be a way station for weary space travellers. It could also belong to NASA, I don’t know that they would admit that.

‘I don’t know if they could pull off such a project without all the people seeing all the material going up there. I sort of doubt NASA has anything to do with this.

‘I don’t know if NASA even knows about this.’

image reports:

Martines calls the apparent structure, Biostation Alpha but planetary geologist Alfred McEwen from the University of Arizona says not so fast. McEwen thinks Biostation Alpha is simply a glitch in the image caused by cosmic energy interfering with the camera.
McEwen says, “with space images that are taken outside our magnetosphere, such as those taken by orbiting telescopes, it’s very common to see these cosmic ray hits.”

Martines says he’s not an astronomy expert and doesn’t know what the image is but isn’t sold on McEwen’s explanation.

“He says that it’s a glitch caused by the reflection of the sun, but even he doesn’t know what camera took the picture and even he doesn’t know where the raw data exists” says Martines.

While Reno Berkeley at technology.gather suggests more possible answers:

A man who believes he’s discovered proof of life on Mars has named the cylindrical structure he claims to have found on the planet as Bio Station Alpha. The video of his discovery, found via Google Mars, has received nearly a million views. But, is it really an artificial structure? Scientists say, ‘no.’

Martines, who uploaded his video to YouTube on May 28, pondered the supposed structure’s purpose. “It could be a power station,” he said in his video, “or it could be a biological containment or it could be a glorified garage—hope it’s not a weapon.” Oh, dear, please spare the world from idiotic alien invasion conspiracy theories!

Anyway, Alfred McEwen claims that the “bio station” is actually nothing more than a “linear streak artifact created by a cosmic ray.” McEwan is the lead scientist in the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), which is a powerful telescope orbiting Mars. The rays are energetic particles emanated by the sun and other stars. When orbiting telescopes take photos of Mars or other things in space, the images go through a compressing process in the camera, making the rays look as if they’re cylindrical. McEwan couldn’t tell which orbiting telescope took the photo, so he wasn’t sure what the raw data showed.

Clearly miffed at this, he said, “The people at Google need to document what the heck they’re doing. They should be able to identify what the source of their information is, and let people know so they can go back and look at the raw data.”

Another critic of Martines’ Bio Station Alpha theory is another YouTube user who goes by the name of buzzology1990. Buzzology1990 posted his own video of screen caps, showing how the image Martines claims is a structure is actually just a mineral or salt deposit. Others think it is a dry ice deposit, as this image is near one of the poles on Mars.

Whatever it is, David Martines and his YouTube video have generated a lot of interest and speculation about life on Mars and on other worlds.

On YouTube Martines writes:

This could be the most important discovery on Mars yet! This structure is 700’ x 150’, and is colored white with blue and red stripes against the red Martian soil.

This is not a rock or mountain. It is a manufactured structure. This is not something that I created, this is something that is currently on Google Mars. NASA wont talk to me about it. I’ve sent them a few emails, and no reply.

Go see for yourself.

The coordinates are: 71 49’19.73"N 29 33’06.53"W



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Who’s Out There?’: Orson Welles explores the possibility of Extraterrestrial Life in 1975

In 1975, a year before NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft orbited Mars, Orson Welles presented Who’s Out There?, a NASA produced documentary examining the “likely existence of non-Earthly life in the universe.”

Thirty-six years on, this is a fascinating piece of archive, and rather timely with the news that NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is due to be launched in November in a bid to make the first precision landing on Mars in August 2012.

Starting with H G Wells novel, and his own infamous radio production of The War of the Worlds, Welles, together with Carl Sagan, George Wald, Richard Berendzen and Philip Morrison, explore what was then “the new view of extraterrestrial life now emerging from the results of probes to the planets,” and conclude that “other intelligent civilizations exist in the universe.”

Carl Sagan:  The most optimistic estimates, in the view of many, about the number of civilizations that there might be in the galaxy is of the order of a million, which means that only one in a few hundred thousand stars has such civilizations.
George Wald:  That would mean a billion such places just in our own galaxy that might contain life.
Philip Morrison:  As I believe there’s a society of these groups, not just one, there’re probably very many.  There’s only one, we have no hope of finding them; there’re probably thousands, maybe as many as a million.  They probably already have had long history of this same experience, of finding new ones and bringing them into the network.
Carl Sagan:  And I would imagine, an advanced civilization wanted to talk to us, they would say “Oh, look, those guys must be extremely backwards, go into some ancient museum and pull out one of those – what are they called – radio telescopes and beam it at them.”

In summation, Welles says:

In 1976 we’re going to be able to explore Mars for perhaps not so humble microorganisms.  Before and after that, we’ll be searching the planets and the galaxies for clues to fill in the new patterns we’re discovering, the evolution of evolutions that has produced us and the possible millions of other civilizations….
...The difference between the spacecrafts of NASA and the lurid flying saucery of that old radio War of the Worlds is the difference between science and science fiction and, yes, between war and peace.  It’s our own world which has turned out to be the interplanetary visitor; we’re the ones who are moving out there, not with death rays but with cameras, not to conquer but simply to learn. We are in fact behaving ourselves far better out there than we ever have back here at home on our own planet.


Bonus - Orson Welles directs The Mercury Theater’s radio production of The War of the Worlds


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Space Storm Slams Earth
05:03 pm




A gigantic space storm (the biggest in three years) slammed Earth yesterday. Good lord, no wonder everything was so wonked.

The most powerful geomagnetic storm since December 2006 struck the Earth on Monday, a day earlier than expected.

On 3 April, the SOHO spacecraft spotted a cloud of charged particles called a coronal mass ejection (CME) shooting from the sun at 500 kilometres per second. This velocity suggested the front would reach Earth in roughly three days.

“It hit earlier and harder than forecast,” says Doug Biesecker of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Fortunately, the storm was not intense enough to interfere strongly with power grids or satellite navigation, but it did trigger dazzling auroras in places like Iceland.

(New Scientist: Earth struck by most powerful space storm in three years)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
Waterworld Discovered
08:01 pm




We’ve just discovered Planet GJ 1214b, a watery, Earth-like planet in the constellation Ophiucius. I plan to leave for there as soon as Branson lowers his space flight prices. Sarah Palin can stay on Earth. Or maybe we should just ship her there. Or into the sun.

A giant waterworld that is wet to its core has been spotted in orbit around a dim but not too distant star, improving the odds that habitable planets may exist in our cosmic neighbourhood.

The planet is nearly three times as large as Earth and made almost entirely of water, forming a global ocean more than 15,000km deep.

Astronomers detected the alien world as it passed in front of its sun, a red dwarf star 40 light years away in a constellation called Ophiuchus, after the Greek for “snake holder”.

The discovery, made with a network of amateur telescopes, is being hailed as a major step forward in the search for planets beyond our solar system that are hospitable to life as we know it.

(Guardian: Waterworld planet is more Earth-like than any discovered before)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
How We Discovered the Cosmos
07:56 pm




A. C. Grayling at the Barnes and Noble Review contributes an essay about Paul Murdin’s new book Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos. Great capture of the spirit of pre-Enlightenment science and astronomy.

Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend William Crabtree were ecstatic when they observed the transit of Venus on 24 November 1639. Horrocks had predicted the date of the transit by carefully applying Kepler’s Rudolphine Tables of planetary motion, published twelve years before. The two amateur astronomers watched the black dot of Venus inch its way across the burning image of the sun projected onto a card in Crabtree’s attic. Horrocks described his friend as standing ‘rapt in contemplation’ for a long time, unable to move, ‘scarcely trusting his senses, through excess of joy.’ The emotion he and Crabtree felt is one well known to science: the exhilaration of securing empirical proof of theory.

The anecdote is recounted in the first chapter of Paul Murdin’s richly illustrated and even more richly fascinating history of astronomy, Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos. Entitled ‘Discoveries before the telescope,’ the chapter describes the origins of astronomical observation in early mankind’s admiration for the stars and the heavenly ‘wanderers’ (the Greek name gives us our word ‘planets’) which then numbered seven—sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The earliest evidence for systematic astronomy is the 25,000 year old Ishango bone found at the source of the Nile, incised with markings corresponding to the phases of the moon. By the time of Babylon 22,000 years later, star charts were copiously detailed, recording the efforts of many centuries of sky-gazing and careful annotation. The Mesopotamian charts were detailed because they formed the basis of astrological divination, but when Thales and, half a millennium after him, Ptolemy used the information thus acquired, it was for purposes of nascently genuine science, not prophecy.

(The Thinking Read: Secrets of the Universe)

(Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
Space, You So Crazy
05:38 pm


Nikola Tesla
Buzz Aldrin


In honor of the announcement of the UK’s new ahem Ministry of Space, here’s a picture of a half million galaxies.

Fit that into a 140-word Tweet, puny mortals, and remember what we were SUPPOSED to be doing with the 21st Century!

Note: Every dot in above picture is a galaxy, not a star. Discover’s Bad Astronomer says:

Whoa. That?

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
California Greenlights Space Solar
04:19 pm


Solar Power


California just got something right?

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
Astronauts on Drugs!
03:34 pm




Discovery reports on the drug cocktail that our brave men and women in outer space indulge in on a regular basis to stay focused and sane. Personally, I have only one feeling about this, and it’s the same one I have about sex in space. [Waits for Branson-flights to drop in price…]

Outer space, at least as we encounter it in science fiction, is basically a drug free-for-all. If character’s aren?

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment