Posts Tagged ‘Moon’
Do you long to go to space? With space tourism stalled and NASA’s Mars mission years away, you probably won’t be able to get up close and personal with Earth’s neighbors any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience them, thanks to two new 360-degree views of Mars and the Moon…
* Frank Sinatra (lyric from Bart Howard’s composition, originally titled “In Other Words”)
As we sample the cheese, we might send high-flying birthday greetings to Octave Chanute; he was born on this date in 1832. A civil engineer who was a pioneer in wood preservation, primarily as applied in the railroad industry, he is better remembered for his application of these techniques first to box kites, then to the struts in the wings of gliders. Through thousands of letters, he drew geographically-isolated aviation pioneers– including Orville and Wilbur Wright– into an informal international community: he organized sessions of aeronautical papers for the professional engineering societies that he led; attracted fresh talent and new ideas into the field through his lectures; and produced important publications. At his death he was hailed as the father of aviation and the heavier-than-air flying machine.
From the silly…
The Cabana Islander holds up to 6 people. Impractical in a swimming pool, it’s really only useful in a big body of water, like an ocean, where you might fall asleep and drift out to sea.
The only good thing about this $364 piece of inflatable plastic is that when you do, inevitably, wake up somewhere over the horizon, you’ve got up to five other family members or friends to eat. Just make sure you bring someone weak when you set sail for disaster, since you’ll need to conserve as much energy as possible in the process of overpowering them to eat their body.
…through the sillier…
This computer mouse hides a digital scale inside and has a little compartment to stash a tiny amount of weed. This would be more practical if a desktop computer wasn’t a big square box with a ton of empty space where you could put a full-sized scale and several ounces of weed.
Customers who bought this also bought a plastic bic lighter that you can store an even tinier amount of weed in. Who are all these customers and what are they doing with their tiny pieces of weed?
… to the tasteless…
“I have a clean!” Thanks once again, capitalism, for reminding us that one of the greatest Americans in history can be reduced to a joke for a few thousand bucks. We laugh and destroy the few people willing to put their lives at stake to ensure a better future for the next generation. One day the sun will swallow the Earth, and the rest of the universe will breathe a sigh of relief.
…and the downright insulting…
“Unless your the worlds most fuckable man, you need Sure Fuck Cologne!” (sic) says the manufacturer. They also brag it “drives women into a Hot Sexual Frenzy!” If that’s true, it must smell an awful lot like having a full-time job.
… it’s all at The Worst Things for Sale.
As we contemplate commercial creativity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1178 that “The upper horn of the moon split in two … a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out fire, hot coals & sparks”: an asteroid or comet collided with the moon resulting in a violent explosion that created the Giordano Bruno crater.
The upper horn [of the moon] split in two. From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.– Gervase, Friar and Chronicle at Canterbury, who witnessed the event
In his 60s, having suffered a series of heart attacks, Marconi dreamed “of a device that would let him hear lost sounds, let him tap into these eternal frequencies. He would tell people that if he got it right, he could hear Jesus of Nazareth giving the Sermon on the Mount…”
At the end of his life he could sit in his piazza in Rome, and hear everything that was ever said to him or about him. He could relive every toast and testimonial. And we all could — hear everything: Hear Caesar. Hear Shakespeare give an actor a line-reading. Hear my grandmother introduce herself to my grandfather at a nightclub in Rhode Island. Hear someone tell you that they love you, that first time they told you they loved you. Hear everything, forever.
There’s more in Rebecca Rosen’s appreciation at The Atlantic, “The Museum of Lost Sounds,” where she links to the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s sound archive. You can hear the whole of DiMeo’s Marconi piece, “These Words, Forever,” here, and more of his wonderful podcasts at The Memory Palace.
After we candle our ears, we might send both birthday greetings and notes of condolence to Johannes Hevelius; he was born on this date in 1611, and died on this date in 1687. A councilor and mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk), Hevelius was an avid– and important– astronomer who worked from observatories he built across his city’s rooftops. From four years’ telescopic study of the Moon, he compiled Selenographia (“Pictures of the Moon”, 1647), an atlas of the Moon with some of the earliest detailed maps of its surface. A few of his names for lunar mountains (e.g., the Alps) are still in use, and a lunar crater is named for him. In Prodromus Astronomiae (1690), Hevelius catalogued 1564 stars, discovered four comets, described ten new constellations (seven of which are still recognized by astronomers), and was one of the first to observe the transit of Mercury.
Arguments rage as to how the U.S. sailed into the economic eddy in which we’re caught, and as to how we should navigate out. (Your correspondent’s thoughts, FWIW, are littered among the postings in his other blog.) But the situation is what it is… a situation that the folks at ProPublica have profiled, current as to data available this month.
– Annual rate at which the GDP grew this year: 1.3 percent between April and June, 0.4 percent between January and March
– Average annual GDP growth from 1998-2007: 3.02 percent
– Total jobs lost since January 2008: 8.7 million
– Total jobs recovered since January 2008: 1.8 million
– Unemployment rate in July 2011: 9.1 percent
– The “natural unemployment rate”: 5 percent
– Months that the unemployment rate has been around 9 percent or more: 28
– Number of unemployed people in July 2011: 13.9 million
– Number of long-term unemployed people in June 2011: 6.3 million, or 44.4 percent of the unemployed
– Number of long-term unemployed people in July 2011: 6.2 million, still about 44.4 percent of the unemployed
– Years it will take to get back to an unemployment rate of 5 percent: four years if we’re adding jobs at 350,000 per month; 11 years if we’re adding jobs at the 2005 rate of 210,000 per month
More at ProPublica… In an economy the fundamental premise of which is consumption, and in which employment gains demand a GDP growth rate of over 2%, it’s a sobering picture.
As we contemplating re-stuffing our mattresses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1835 that the New York Sun began a series of six articles detailing the discovery of civilized life on the moon. Now known as “The Great Moon Hoax,” the articles attributed the “discovery” to Sir John Herschel, the greatest living astronmer of the day. Herschel was initially amused, wryly noting that his own real observations could never be as exciting. But ultimately he tired of having to answer questioners who believed the story. The series was not discovered to be a hoax for several weeks after its publication and, even then, the newspaper did not issue a retraction.
The “ruby amphitheater” on the Moon, per the New York Sun (source)
“People who use big forks eat less compared with diners who use small forks…” All three courses of the explanation are at LiveScience.
As we super-size our cutlery, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that over 700 million television viewers worldwide watched Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The good folks at PopSci have poked through “the hard, dangerous and downright grody work involved in truly audacious science,” and compiled a list that, even in a time of near-10% unemployment, one might consider cautionary: “The Ten Worst Jobs in Science.”
By way of example, beware…
Bad Dance Observer
It’s no chore to watch supermodels shake it in a nightclub. But Peter J. Lovatt, a former professional dancer and a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England, must examine the often unflattering gyrations of everyone from preteens to the elderly in search of the influences and motivations behind human dancing. Lovatt and his team record videos of the dancers and then quantify their groove thang using a special movement-analysis technique and software. Other times, observers rate traits such as the overall attractiveness of the dancers’ movements on video, or the observers wear a visor that tracks what elements of the dancer they are looking at. Findings suggest that young women rate the dancing of middle-aged men as less attractive than the dance moves of younger men, perhaps an evolutionary trait that discourages women from choosing older mates—middle– aged men tend to use big, uncoordinated movements, and women typically find complex movement most attractive. But don’t lose hope. Above age 60, men dance with more complexity. They also exhibit their highest dance confidence at that age. No wonder grandpa thinks he works it so good.
Other employment opportunities one might skip at “The Ten Worst Jobs in Science.”
As we wonder what became of Mr. Wizard, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that the first American satellite to reach the Moon surface, the Ranger IV, was launched from Cape Canaveral, impacting the Moon three days later. The spacecraft was designed to drop a scientific package on the back side of the Moon that would return seismic, radar and television information to Earth. Instead, the probe had a computer failure; the solar panels did not extend, and the satellite crashed on the Moon. Still, though it failed its full mission, it was the first US object on the Moon.
Chaos drives the brain…
Have you ever experienced that eerie feeling of a thought popping into your head as if from nowhere, with no clue as to why you had that particular idea at that particular time? You may think that such fleeting thoughts, however random they seem, must be the product of predictable and rational processes. After all, the brain cannot be random, can it? Surely it processes information using ordered, logical operations, like a powerful computer?
Actually, no. In reality, your brain operates on the edge of chaos. Though much of the time it runs in an orderly and stable way, every now and again it suddenly and unpredictably lurches into a blizzard of noise.
<snip… read the rest of the New Scientist article here>
As we feel an odd but satisfying rush of reassurance, we might recall that it was exactly 40 years ago– at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969– that Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he planted his foot on the surface of the moon for the first time.
The statement prepared for Armstrong was “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”… but the astronaut accidentally dropped the “a,” from his remark, rendering the phrase a contradiction (as “man” in such use is of course synonymous with “mankind”). Armstrong later said that he “would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said – although it might actually have been.” (And to his latter point, disputed audio analyses of the tapes of the radio message suggest that Armstrong did include the “a,” but that the limitations of the broadcast masked it…)