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5 February 2011

Five Awesome Things about the James Webb Space Telescope

Today I received an email from my adviser containing this – dare I say – awesome video about the James Webb Space Telescope. It also has a surprisingly well-put answer to the age-old question of “Why spend money on NASA when we have so many problems here on earth?” The answer: To make the world a better place you not only have to decrease the suck, you also have to increase the awesome.

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20 January 2011

The Winds of Saturn are Blowing

Wow! That’s a big storm! And it’s even more dramatic to see a storm like this on Saturn, which is usually pretty uniform in color. This thing is really stirring up the atmosphere.

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19 December 2010

AGU 2010 – Day 2: Shoemaker Lecture and Icy Moons

My massive summary of the Day 2 AGU planetary sciences talks, starting with the Shoemaker Lecture, and then covering Titan, Enceladus and other icy moons. Hydrocarbon volcanoes and icy geysers and hidden oceans, oh my!

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9 December 2010

Hell on Earth (and Io)

If you don’t follow the Boston Globe’s photoblog The Big Picture, you’re really missing out. The topics range widely from current events to pictures of saturn, and the photos are of course always stunning. Yesterday was an especially awesome set of photos from the indonesian sulfur mine Kawah Ijen. The photos were taken at night, and sulfur has the interesting quality that it burns blue, resulting in some spectacular and otherworldly scenes of fire and brimstone.

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4 November 2010

First EPOXI Images!

The flyby of Hartley 2 was a success and the first images are coming down! Check them out at the EPOXI site. In the highest-res images so far you can see that the comet has a distinct peanut-like shape and is very smooth around the narrow point.

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24 July 2010

HP dv6t Select Edition Notebook Review: First Impressions

Please excuse me while I geek out about my new laptop… My work now involves some really significant number crunching, to the point that I was regularly using all the CPU and RAM of my previous laptop, and was then struggling to get anything else done while the calculations were running. And then they would crash. It also helps that I will soon need to renew the license on one …

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23 July 2010

The Science of Starcraft: Creepy Slime Molds

My second article is up over at my new Science of Starcraft blog! This one is about the weird substance in the game called “creep” and its similarities to real-world slime-molds. Check it out! Even if you don’t play Starcraft, slime molds are really cool/weird. (PS – I swear I’ll be posting some real Martian Chronicles content soon instead of just pointing to articles elsewhere! But I’m trying to get …

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5 July 2010

Branching Out

I have a confession to make: sometimes I don’t feel like posting about space. I know, this a shocking admission from a graduate student in Planetary Science. After all, grad students are supposed to live and breathe their topic of interest, right? Well, I still am really interested in space, but I’m also really interested in other stuff. For a long time now, I’ve struggled with the sometimes conflicting goals …

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25 June 2010

What is the Best Dinosaur?

This is the funniest, most well-informed rant about dinosaurs I have ever witnessed (warning, NSFW language). I was a dinosaur freak as a kid, and I still remember a ridiculous amount about them. Can I just say how much I loved watching him shoot down people who thought plesiosaurs and pterodactlys were dinosaurs? Everything he says is correct except for one thing: Brontosaurus was (I believe) either a diplodocus head …

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31 May 2010

Solar System Tour: Mercury

Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system. It is 4,879 kilometers across. Compare that with our moon, which is 3456 km across, and you can see that Mercury is not very big. In fact, Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto and Saturn’s moon Titan are bigger! Even though those moons are bigger, Mercury weighs a lot more than they do because it is made of mostly metal and rock. …

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