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Archive for the ‘Science!’ Category

Earth Smash!

Way to go, NASA, you did good!

NASA’s DART mission successfully crashes spacecraft into asteroid

It was a cosmic smash-up watched around the world.

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Sorry not sorry! (Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL)

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The winds are cooler, the rains no longer soft. Bird feeders empty faster and the flowers look defiant rather than content.

I love summer, of course, but there’s something special about a hot bowl of soup and a warm blanket and crisp blue days and brightly colored leaves.

It’s a wonderful time of year for just about anything, but especially for taking stock and making plans.

Welcome to Fall.

Autumn equinox is the first day of fall. How is that different from a solstice? : NPR

Fall starts at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, a day officially known as the autumn equinox.

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Twilight Surprise

The sky burns down,
A rim of coals glowing gold and red,
Limned with orange again
And kissed with hints of pink.
The clouds reflect tangerine and plum,
Overshadowing the silent glory.
Darkness and light,
Balanced upon this equinox,
Dance together like old lovers …
… and beget beauty.

― Elizabeth Barrette, From Nature’s Patient Hands

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Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

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And now, a brief promo for Canada’s national animal.

An unlikely ally in the face of wildfires and droughts: the humble beaver

In the face of increasing wildfires and droughts, scientists are looking to a highly skilled “environmental engineer” to help fight climate change: the industrious beaver.

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Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

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I’ve always enjoyed Mary Roach’s science writing (especially Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal). I also have family in Colorado, spent many of my formative mountain-biking and blueberry-picking years trying not to encounter bears*, and passed a conservation truck with a (reassuringly sturdy) bear cage in the back just the other day. 

All of this means that Roach’s essay caught my attention, and so today’s fun bit of reading is about the perils, and promise, of life with bears. It’s an excerpt from her latest book, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.

Black bears are back and in your back yard | New Scientist

With a growing percentage of Fat Alberts, will coexistence eventually become a possibility? Or even a policy? Could we live with bears in the backyard the way we live with raccoons and skunks?

* I grew up around black bears like those in this article. Large and potentially dangerous, sure (the rule was never get between a bear and her cub, because yeah, just no), but they’re not grizzlies or polar bears. They can be a very different kind of story. (One that starts with “nom” and ends with… you may not be around for the end.)

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Would you be this chill with all those mosquitoes on you? I would not. Photo by John Thomas on Unsplash

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You may have heard that NASA scrubbed the Artemis moon launch for technical reasons. The good news is that the launch will be rescheduled. 

NASA could again try to launch Artemis moon mission as soon as late September : NPR

Until then, we wait.

Why Is NASA’s Hold Music So Catchy? – The Atlantic

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Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

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This morning at 8:33 a.m. EDT (12:33 GMT), NASA’s Artemis rocket is set to launch for the moon. 

Watch NASA’s Artemis 1 moon launch online today | Space

The space agency will host Artemis 1 launch webcast on Aug. 29 to showcase the uncrewed launch on NASA’s first Space Launch System megarocket from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

As of this writing, live updates have begun. Weather forecasts are good but there is an engine issue. Engineers are working the problem but some delays are expected. 

The fact that humanity has been going into space, and to the moon, for decades doesn’t mean it’s easy. And that’s ok.

“I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

Katie Bone, 16-year old nationally-ranked athlete and Type 1 diabetic

Follow launch live updates or watch it on NASA’s livestream now.

Update: Today’s launch has been scrubbed. More later!

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Photo by Riley on Unsplash

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Lieutenant Uhura is now with the stars.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ dead at 89
Nichols was one of the first Black women featured in a major television series, and her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original TV series was groundbreaking: an African American woman whose name came from Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.”

“For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., Star Trek’s Uhura Reflects On MLK Encounter

Nichelle Nichols showed us all that the future belonged to more than just white men, and then she helped NASA build that future.

“After Apollo 11, Nichelle made it her mission to inspire women and people of color to join this agency, change the face of STEM and explore the cosmos. Nichelle’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, as we work to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under Artemis, NASA is guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols.”

— NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

She demonstrated, with talent, conviction, determination and grace, that the future is brighter when all of us are in it.

“If they let me in the door, I will open it so wide that they will see the world.”

— Woman in Motion tells story of how Star Trek’s Uhura changed NASA forever | Ars Technica

She did. We did. And humanity is so much better for it.

“If you can see it, you can be it,” the saying goes. Nichelle Nichols gave millions of people the opportunity to see themselves on the frontiers of science and exploration, boldly expanding human understanding.

She inspired so many of us to reach for the stars. What a legacy.

— Hillary Clinton

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(NASA/Bill Ingalls) NASA Identifier: nasahqphoto-5161637425

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Yesterday’s drabble was fiction, but this article is not. There really are Martians, and they’re living among us!

NASA engineer Nagin Cox on Mars rover time

This comic, illustrated by Anuj Shrestha, is inspired by an interview with NASA engineer Nagin Cox from TED Radio Hour’s episode It Takes Time.

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First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope | NASA

The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope…

NASA has begun to roll out new images from the Webb Telescope. They are (insert understatement here) impressive. This is one example, of the Carina Nebula:

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

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Would you like to know more?

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Welcome to Monday, brought to you by an AI’s idea of a “cat in the style of Vincent van Gogh.”

Not bad, actually.

Running through different versions using the same root prompt (“cat in the style of”) made the artistic differences (and any deficiencies) clear. A lot of the images produced by the DALL-E mini system are a bit odd, particularly when faces are involved. (The site even has a FAQ on “Why are faces so weird?”)

Even so, it was interesting to see what an AI considers the essential style of an artist or technique, and there were a number of attempts I found fun.

Rather than upload all images I made a slideshow. It’s lower-resolution (I shrunk it down to 16MB instead of 80MB+) but you should still get the picture.

Cat in the Style of

(Did I leave out the truly disturbing results? Yes. I don’t know what this AI has against Vermeer but I want no part of it!)

Thanks, Craiyon!

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