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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Plait’

Video Tour of the International Space Station

December 15th, 2012 12:23 admin View Comments

ISS

SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, writing at Slate: “Before she came back to Earth in a ball of fire surrounding her Russian re-entry capsule, astronaut Sunita Williams took time out of her packing for the trip home to give a nickel tour of the International Space Station. … I know the video’s long, but if you have the time I do suggest watching the whole thing. I have very mixed feelings about the space station; it cost a lot of money, and in my opinion it hasn’t lived up to the scientific potential NASA promised when it was being designed. But watching this video reminded me of the good that’s come out of it: There is science being done there; we’re learning how to design and build hardware for long-term space travel; we’re learning just how to live in space (and NASA just announced it will be sending humans into space for an entire year, an unprecedented experiment); and we’re finding new ways for nations and individuals to cooperate in space.”

Source: Video Tour of the International Space Station

Black Hole Found That Takes Up 14% of Its Galaxy’s Mass

November 30th, 2012 11:30 admin View Comments

Space

An anonymous reader sent word that astronomers have discovered an absolutely enormous black hole residing in a galaxy that seems too small for it. In a new study (PDF), researchers looked at galaxy NGC 1277 and found that its central black hole weighed in at roughly 17 billion solar masses. Quoting Phil Plait: “The problem is, that’s far more massive than the central bulge of NGC 1277 would suggest the black hole should be. It’s well over half the total mass of the bulge! In fact, the entire mass of the galaxy is about 120 billion solar masses, which means the black hole at its heart is 14 percent of the total galaxy’s mass; compare that to the Milky Way’s black hole mass of 0.01 percent and you’ll see why astronomers were shocked.”

Source: Black Hole Found That Takes Up 14% of Its Galaxy’s Mass

Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee

November 20th, 2012 11:01 admin View Comments

Earth

An article at Ars examines three members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking chairmanship of its Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in an interview, “My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won. There were a lot of scientists who were just going along with the flow on the idea that mankind was causing a change in the world’s climate. I think that after 10 years of debate, we can show that that there are hundreds if not thousands of scientists who have come over to being skeptics, and I don’t know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming.” James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has a similar record of opposing climate change, as does Lamar Smith (R-TX). Relatedly, Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, has posted an article highlighting how U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has declined to answer a question about how old the Earth is, calling it “one of the great mysteries.”

Source: Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee

Curiosity About To Arrive At Mars

August 5th, 2012 08:50 admin View Comments

Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. Curiosity, is now less than an hour from touchdown on Mars. It’s scheduled to land at 1:31 AM EST (0531 UTC). The landing will be monitored by the Odyssey orbiter, which will be the data relay between Curiosity and Earth. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be listening to Curiosity as well (yes — two of our probes orbiting another world will be watching a third). While Odyssey will be giving us close to real-time updates (as close as possible, given the 14-minute time delay), MRO’s data will take a bit longer to be processed and evaluated. NASA is broadcasting from the JPL mission room right now. If you’d like to watch a pretty awesome graphical visualization of the mission, check out eyes.nasa.gov. If you’d like to play around with a Java app showing Mars-local times and seasons, check out Mars24. If you’d like to watch unofficial coverage, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait and a bunch of other astronomers are hosting a public Google Hangout. If you’d like to read a detailed explanation of the landing, checkout NASA’s press kit (PDF), and there’s also a post about what to expect when the rover starts sending pictures back to Earth, which will be about two hours after the rover lands. Good luck to everyone involved! We’ll update this post when we get word on the landing.

Source: Curiosity About To Arrive At Mars

Curiosity Lands On Mars

August 5th, 2012 08:50 admin View Comments

Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. Curiosity, is now less than an hour from touchdown on Mars. It’s scheduled to land at 1:31 AM EDT (0531 UTC). The landing will be monitored by the Odyssey orbiter, which will be the data relay between Curiosity and Earth. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be listening to Curiosity as well (yes — two of our probes orbiting another world will be watching a third). While Odyssey will be giving us close to real-time updates (as close as possible, given the 14-minute time delay), MRO’s data will take a bit longer to be processed and evaluated. NASA is broadcasting from the JPL mission room right now. If you’d like to watch a pretty awesome graphical visualization of the mission, check out eyes.nasa.gov. If you’d like to play around with a Java app showing Mars-local times and seasons, check out Mars24. If you’d like to watch unofficial coverage, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait and a bunch of other astronomers are hosting a public Google Hangout. If you’d like to read a detailed explanation of the landing, checkout NASA’s press kit (PDF), and there’s also a post about what to expect when the rover starts sending pictures back to Earth, which will be about two hours after the rover lands. Good luck to everyone involved! We’ll update this post when we get word on the landing.
Update: 08/06 05:33 GMT by S : Curiosity is on the ground! Everything looks nominal, and everybody at JPL is cheering. Congratulations, folks. They’re continuing to receive telemetry from Odyssey, and the connection is strong. They’ve now received the first image back from Mars of the successful landing.

Source: Curiosity Lands On Mars

The Venus Transit and Hunting For Alien Worlds

June 9th, 2012 06:53 admin View Comments

Space

astroengine writes “Forget simply detecting a slight ‘dip’ in brightness as an exoplanet transits in front of its star; soon we’ll be able to image the event. What’s more, by doing this we’ll see that exoplanetary transits look exactly like the historic Venus transit that wowed the world on Tuesday. This is according to astronomer Gerard van Belle, of Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Ariz., who hopes to use an interferometer to carry out the mind-blowing goal of capturing the silhouettes of exoplanets drifting in front of distant stars. But that’s not all: this whole effort may help us track down the first bona fide Earth-like alien world.” In case you missed it, NASA posted a bunch of great footage and pictures of the Venus transit, as did Boston.com’s The Big Picture. Phil Plait pointed out a cool shot from Thierry Legault of a transit during a transit.

Source: The Venus Transit and Hunting For Alien Worlds

Possible Supernova In Nearby Spiral Galaxy

March 20th, 2012 03:21 admin View Comments

Space

New submitter Zburatorul writes “In an electronic telegram to the IAU, an Italian astronomer reports his discovery of a possible supernova (magnitude R = 15) near spiral galaxy M95 on images taken March 16th. Many more independent and confirming observations are trickling in. The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, has a more layman-friendly article about it. The bad news: it won’t be visible with the naked eye. The good news: it’s not going to kill us.”

Source: Possible Supernova In Nearby Spiral Galaxy

‘Alternative Medicine’ Clinic Attempts To Silence Critics

November 29th, 2011 11:07 admin View Comments

Medicine

Asmodae writes “Stanislaw Burzynski runs a clinic specializing in an alternative cancer treatment called ‘antineoplaston therapy,’ and charges thousands of dollars for the privilege. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific support for such treatment, and skeptics all over the web are raising red flags and trying to warn potential patients away. This includes high-school blogger Rhys Morgan, who has received legal threats from Burzynski’s clinic for his efforts. Phil Plait summarizes the situation thus: ‘In general, it’s a little unusual, to say the least, for a team doing medical research to sue someone for criticizing them. That’s because real science thrives on criticism, since it’s only through critiques that the potential errors of a particular method can be assessed — that’s why research is supposed to be published in peer-reviewed journals as well. Suing is the antithesis of that idea. … I’ll note that the clinic has threatened to sue multiple people, including Peter Bowditch and Andy Lewis, two other bloggers who have criticized antineoplaston therapy.’”

Source: ‘Alternative Medicine’ Clinic Attempts To Silence Critics

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait Responds

November 14th, 2011 11:22 admin View Comments

NASA

You asked Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer, questions on topics ranging from debunking superstition to extraterrestrial life to funding space exploration; read on below for his answers. Thanks for taking part, Phil!

Source: Bad Astronomer Phil Plait Responds

NASA Snaps New Photo of Incoming Asteroid

November 8th, 2011 11:14 admin View Comments

Space

astroengine writes “Wider than an aircraft carrier and darker than coal, asteroid 2005 YU55 is soaring at over 11 miles a second straight towards Earth and moon on its latest path through the inner solar system. This new radar image was acquired Nov. 7 by the 70-meter radio telescope at NASA’s Deep Space Network in Goldstone, Calif., and shows the approaching space rock in unprecedented detail.” Phil Plait has posted some information from NASA about just how they’re doing the tricky job of tracking the asteroid.

Source: NASA Snaps New Photo of Incoming Asteroid

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