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Obama’s New Plan for NASA – Some Different Sources April 18, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Politics, Science, Science & Society, Space Program.
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Whenever there is a major announcement by an American President concerning important government programs, pretty much all of the media jumps in with coverage. President Obama recently made some major changes in plans for NASA and the normal script was followed. But when it comes to some things maybe people who are a bit more interested in the subject and therefore hopefully more knowledgeable on the subject should be found. So here are some articles on the plan from lesser know outlets.



A theoretical astrophysicist’s blog on ScienceBlogs

Bad Astronomy blog

My opinion is that a lot of what President Obama laid out are very good ideas. But I still think that doing some really original research on a new approach to returning to the moon would be a very good idea.


Yes, AGW has Consequences August 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science, Science & Society.
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One of the things you’ll hear repeated all too often by those who deny the existence of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming), or “man-made” global warming is “Even if it is true, so what? What’s so bad about things being a little warmer?”. Well, here’s yet another bad thing about it. It just isn’t true that if the planet warms up a bit that it’s just going to give us warmer days in winter. Droughts. Floods. Storms. Extreme weather events will be more extreme and possibly more common. You’ll even see more snow in some places. That’s why the interior of Antarctica is seeing more snow and ice. But the coastal regions are another story entirely. It’s not all simple. It’s not all intuitive. But does have the potential to get really ugly in terms of how it will affect the human race.

Good Neighbors, Galactically Speaking That Is December 26, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Astronomy, Science.
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This is enough to make you really appreciate good quiet neighbors. Galactic neighbors, that is. Imagine something as energetic as a jet of radiation being shot out from a supermassive black hole, one of those huge monsters with the mass of as much as millions of stars. The energy involved must be enormous and even over those distances is very likely deadly to any life forms in the way.

Wishing Bad Luck on Your Neighbor December 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Astronomy, Science.
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OK. I admit it. I really hope that our neighbor has a bit of bad luck. Of course I’m not alone. There are some planetary scientists and astronomers who agree with me. Of course the neighbor is millions of miles away, our planetary neighbor Mars. If you haven’t heard about this one, Mars has a chance for a visitor next month. Normally one would feel bad about wishing something “bad” on a neighbor but if this were to happen it would be the first asteroid impact on a rocky planet that we could watch, complete with orbiter and probes on the planet. If it does happen there should be amazing images and data next month.

Yes, Green is More Than a Color November 12, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Science, Technology.
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An article on CNet news, a place that specializes in tech news, is about one of the green industries that people wouldn’t normally think about, chemistry. Yes, there is a new version of the industry that has done so much damage to the environment and it is serious about improving things. Sometimes it’s a question of new compounds that aren’t toxic and easily degradeable. In other cases ways are found to do things that don’t use chemicals at all.

Move Along. Nothing to see here. October 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science, Science & Society, Science & the Media.
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Global warming brings spring earlier in the year. There are those in the world who say that this must surely be a blessing. Well, maybe not so much. As this article on CNN points out, an earlier spring means a longer fire season in the American west. You know, that place that’s burning right now? Don’t worry, though, folks, Bjorn Lomborg has reassured us that there are worries much more pressing than global warming.

Things That Shouldn’t Go Away October 6, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Does Not Compute, Education, Geek Stuff, Government, Science, Science & Society, Technology.
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The basis of this blog is in part the idea that things change and in many cases we’re better off adapting than trying to remain stuck in the past. Or to put it in another way if you base your plans and beliefs on the way things were instead of the way things are, odds are the plans aren’t going to work out very well.

But some things really shouldn’t go away completely and instead should at least exist even if some change is necessary. A new show on PBS, Wired Science, did a segment entitled Dangerous Science about how the ability for youngsters and adult amateurs to do hands on science is almost extinct. There’s no longer any such thing as a real chemistry set, many chemicals and materials that amateur scientists and tinkerers need will set off alarms in Homeland Security and even school labs are hesitant to let their students do real hands-on experiments that some timid administrators apparently feel might get them sued if anything goes wrong. Haven’t these people ever heard of a release form?

But if you’re one of those who occasionally feel the stirrings of a desire to find out things for yourself there does exist at least one resource, United Nuclear. Believe me, you owe it to yourself to at least browse around their site.

Seeing in the Dark September 22, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Education, Science, Technology.

That is the title of a show on PBS I had DVRed and watched this afternoon. It is Timothy Ferris‘s ode to amateur astonomers and it is a wonderful show. One part of it was about the Bisque brothers, who founded a company called Software Bisque that produces astronomy software and equipment for the enthusiast. What they did in the show that I thought was so great was to set up for relatively little cost a good small scale setup that mirrors something I knew was either already out there or could be done. This was set up at a location that had electricity and a web connection in a good viewing location with minimal light pollution. Using the internet connection and a good amateur scope with special remote contol capability and a good CCD camera you have a telescope that can be used for good viewing from anywhere on the planet. I’ve always thought this would be a great thing to have. But what it would be really good for is if you could have a network of them accessible on a rental basis to people who were interested and most especially to schools. If you want to captivate the imaginations of young people nothing does it so well for so many as the kind of images you see from space. Look at how much of the public is captivated by the images from the Hubble telescope. Can you imagine the reaction of kids who could see fabulous images from space that they can have a part in creating?

This leads me to something I’ve been wondering about for a while. What kind of small telescope could be built that would survive in space? Could you build a cluster of them? and then give remote control through a center here on Earth that would distribute this control and the images to schools? How much would it cost and how many could we build to make it as widely available as possible? Think of the possibilities.

Yep, lots of things change September 22, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Science.
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Even physical characteristics of things you wouldn’t think would change over just a relatively short time. But that’s what’s happening to the object that has served as our definition of the kilogram. That object is a cylinder of platinum and iridium that was cast 118 years ago. Unfortunately if you have an insistence on the utmost accuracy that cylinder has lost approximately 50 micrograms of mass since its creation. Science Daily notes the problem here and a proposed solution.

Good News, Bad News September 2, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science.
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A new climate model with an ability to account for the effect of updrafts indicates that while there would be fewer storms, those that do successfully form would be more intense making them more likely to cause damage. It’s not definitive yet, but it does add to a building body of evidence that global warming isn’t simply going to be about the temperature being a bit more uncomfortable.