Archive for the ‘Science!’ Category

The Artemis moon mission is now underway, which means fun updates like this video flyby of the Moon.

… NASA’s Orion spacecraft performs a close approach of the lunar surface on its way to a distant retrograde orbit, a highly stable orbit thousands of miles beyond the Moon. During the Artemis I flight test, launched on Nov. 16, Orion will travel 280,000 miles (450,000 km) from Earth and 40,000 miles (64,000 km) beyond the far side of the Moon, carrying science and technology payloads to expand our understanding of lunar science, technology developments, and deep space radiation.

— Artemis I Close Flyby of the Moon – YouTube

Check out Orion’s location with the Artemis Real-time Orbit Website: NASA: Artemis I.

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Photo by Hebert Santos

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This article from 2016 highlights the terahertz spectrometer, which is a technology that can read books without opening them.  

This new machine can read book pages without cracking the cover | PBS NewsHour

The machine uses beams of radiation to creep in between pages and scan individual letters. This new tool wasn’t made to create disdain among classic readers or for those too lazy to lift a cover. Rather it may unlock the secrets of old books or ancient texts too fragile to be disturbed by human touch.

Scanning an object layer by layer and deriving meaning from the images? Cool, nifty, amazing, a breakthrough for archaeologists and antiquarians everywhere!

Also, remind me again why mammograms still require what is, in effect, a highly sophisticated panini press?*

And yes, it is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds.

* I know, I know, living tissue is not the same thing as parchment or an Italian sandwich. Still, it’s hard not to think that the gap between the current and ideal mammogram experience represents an untapped opportunity for innovation. Ladies, can I get an amen?

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Photo by Dmitry Stepanov on Unsplash

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Will the Artemis moon mission finally fly? The answer seems to be, “Probably.”* The weather has been challenging but tonight’s forecast looks good. Here’s hoping all goes well tonight!

NASA’s new Artemis moon rocket is once again being readied for its first flight : NPR

A successful launch would be a key milestone for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface. The agency has not launched a space vehicle designed to send astronauts to the moon since 1972.

* Edit from the future: the answer is yes!

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Photo by Siim Lukka on Unsplash

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I didn’t get everything done today that I’d planned. I did make apple pie, though, and that’s not nothing.

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

― Carl Sagan

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Photo by Andy Chilton on Unsplash

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Do you love Tuesdays? Want to get a head start on tomorrow? (Or hate Tuesdays and want something to make tomorrow better? Yeah, that’s more me, I’m afraid.) Or perhaps you’re just looking for an excuse to stay up late, you know, For Science? You are in luck!

A total eclipse happens this week, and it will be the last one for 3 years : NPR

The initial phase of the eclipse begins at 3:02 a.m. ET, according to NASA. The partial eclipse then begins at 4:09 a.m. ET, when to the naked eye, it looks like a bite is being taken out of the moon. The lunar disk enters totality at 5:17 a.m. ET and will last for about an hour and a half.

Want more science? Check out NASA’s page on this eclipse: What You Need to Know About the Lunar Eclipse – Moon: NASA Science.

One of my relatives is very much a night owl, so she will have no trouble catching this. The rest of us might have to set our alarms (or, let’s be honest, check out the video tomorrow; no shame either way!).


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Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli on Unsplash

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Thanks to a short night and a long workday I’m feeling sluggish. The cat is helping by following me around and randomly flopping onto his side, then purring up a storm. It’s adorable and quite soothing, the perfect foil to an otherwise deeply average day.

But what if you don’t have a cat, or the cat you do have is severely lacking in chill? Never fear! The internet is here to help.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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Never discount yourself. If you don’t go after a dream or a goal and if you don’t try, you’re never going to make it.

— Nicole Mann, NASA Crew-5 commander, Marine Corps pilot and the first Native American woman to go to space (NPR)

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Photo by Linus Sandvide on Unsplash

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It’s migration season and millions of birds are, right now, flooding the skies. I grew up noticing flocks of geese arrowing their way south but migration is much more than that.

According to BirdCast’s tool, 347 million birds are predicted to be on the move across the US tonight.

For those of us in other Western hemisphere locales, this site beautifully illustrates the interconnected flow of birds by type and pathway. 

Bird Migration Explorer

A quick search of my area shows the paths of eagles, thrushes, gulls, woodcocks, owls, scoters (had to look that one up), whip-poor-wills, hawks, sandpipers, warblers and more.

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I’ve written about bird migration before but this post has a more specific call to action. Nothing too hard, just a polite request: for the few weeks when migration is at its peak, dim your lights if you can.

Opinion | Lights Out, America! (Songbirds Are Counting on Us.) – The New York Times

Migrating birds are vulnerable to many hazards: predators, extreme weather, insufficient food and insufficient water. Glass is particularly treacherous. Expanses of glass — windows without mullions, storm doors, skyscrapers — are the worst.

Good news? When it comes to lighting and windows, there’s usually an easy fix.*

I’ve tried the UV stickers designed to show birds where not to fly but they were just so-so.

Remember those little gold stars teachers sometimes give out? I picked up a batch and have used them to give the patio doors “Bird-friendliest glass in the neighborhood” awards. The upside is that these stars are cheap and easy to replace. The downside is that they are made of paper and, while they last a surprisingly long time considering, they are still just paper. I’ve had to replace them at least once a season.

This year I upgraded to purpose-built stickers designed both for birds and the great outdoors. This is the company I used but I’m sure there are others (no affiliation, just a satisfied customer): Feather Friendly.

Easy, satisfying, and one step toward being a better neighbor to nature.

At our best as a species, this is what we do: We change our ways to protect others, and then we adjust to the new ways. Soon, we can’t remember doing things differently.

Margaret Renkl

* For more about this problem and potential fixes, including Lights Out programs and building guidelines, check out What You Should Know About Bird Migration and Light Pollution and Bird-Safe Design Guidelines.

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Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

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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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