June 27, 2011

2011 MD Passes by at 1pm EST Today

Don't forget to wave today as a big rock tumbles past the Earth at 1pm just under 8,000 miles up... that's close enough to hit our communications satellites.  Let's hope it doesn't.

June 24, 2011

RIP, Peter Falk, 83

Columbo star, Peter Falk has passed away from Alzheimer's disease. He was 83 and brought a lot of enjoyment and entertainment to many.

June 14, 2011

Fading Solar Activity

The American Astronomical Society says we may not see another solar maximum in our lifetime (if you're my age). Some believe that weakened magnetic activity and fading sunspots lead to a cooler Earth. I guess maybe we'll find out.

Woodward signs with Dodgers

Congratulations to 2007 Norwell grad Scott Woodward, who signed with the L.A. Dodgers on Saturday.

June 7, 2011

NAP: Free Books!

The National Academies Press, which is the publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council,  as of last Thursday, has released all of its books and reports for free electronic PDF downloads.

I had hoped that perhaps this would include some basic science texts, but it appears at first glance that they publish mostly social impact of science material.  For example, in looking for some basic biology texts I found "Science Medicine and Animals" is about balancing animal testing with concern for all living creatures; and the final report of the human embryonic stem cell research advisory committee, many texts on Evolution vs. Creationism, and the effects of Mankind on biodiversity, but no basic textbooks. 

The Earth Science section has many books about Man's impact on the environment, ecology, conservation, climate change, etc.  Nothing about the basic science.  The Math section had books on how to estimate health insurance coverage for children, gender studies in science careers and statistical studies about how the Department of Justice operates.

In short, though the press release sounds exciting to book lovers and science hounds... not so much.  I'm sure there's lots of interesting reading to be found there, but much of it is cultural and political in nature.

June 6, 2011

We Seven, Were Seven, Several Years Ago

That's a picture of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in the Assembly Building above, and Alan Shepard the first American in space and the launch of Mercury 1... Atlantis will be the last space shuttle that will ever blast off into space sometime around July 8th, 2011.  I like the shuttle picture.  It's a shadowy version of the shuttle in close quarters... suitable for the dirge of the last shuttle flight.  After the Atlantis launch the United States goes manned-mission dark.  For the first time since Project Mercury began, in 1959, we will have no manned space program.

I find that chilling.  I can remember, back in the 60's, I had a child's plastic slide projector.  There were 3 or 4 slides on each panel and you'd push them through to see the image projected on your wall... I had one of Alan Shepard in his silver spacesuit preparing for launch in, what was it called?  Freedom 7.  America's first man in space on May 5, 1961.

"Well Done, My Good And Faithful Servant"  Matthew 25:21