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January 27, 2007


A very cute, visually inventive, fun game via Crooked Timber recently.

Nuthin. Current wallpaper is Michelangelo "The Conversion of Saul" dtl4. Picked up 100+ scans of Maurice Vlaminck paintings this month.

I have known about the Nasa site a long time. Takes me way back to Compuserve days, probably before browsers. I went to Wiki to look it up, I used Gopher, WAIS, FTP archive for a long time.

The Galaxy and Nebula pictures, well, I have landscapes of all varieties but not the NASA picures. They are certainly beautiful, but I find them awful. Not just awesome or awe-inspiring, something about the size and age and strangeness of the universe and its objects frightens me, makes me uncomfortable.
The ocean scares me, and I have only flown once. I suspect this phobia has a name.

While I've never been tempted to use the Astronomy Picture of the Day as a startup page (or ObWi either for that matter), I do use it as a favorite source of backgrounds on my computers. Another favorite is the
Internet Raytracing Competition. It's sort of the opposite of the APOD, since all the images there are computer synthesized. But inner space is as amazing as outer space.

Big fan of APOD. Another is the USGS/NASA Earth As Art
page, containg "images taken by the Landsat-7 satellite - and most recently, the Terra Satellite's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)." Fun stuff.

Especially for Bob the opposite of the NASA pictures ;)

This would be a good place to plug my wife's photoblog. She took up photography as a hobby not too long ago, and she's only recently gotten into trying to really nail down the nuts and bolts of composition, color, depth, etc. Lots of good pictures on there. Including cat pictures!

It's a wonderful site, which I and some of my friends visit on a regular basis. Here's another link for BBC's "best" pictures.

With all these amazing things out there, it makes me wonder why God would bother with humans so much. At least according to the humans...

Oops, Daily Mail, not BBC.


Something wrong with your photoblog link. It just takes me to the top of this post.

here's a long time favorite of mine, from that nasa site.

thanks mid-west!

oh, and if anyone wants a GreaseMonkey disemvoweller for WashingtonMonthly.com , i have one up on my site. it really comes in handy over there - no more Al*s!

Purty pichures. But, one has to wonder, just how do they alias the UV and IR images to the visual spectrum.

Scientists don't have to worry about that, of course. But those of us who are enamored of the purty pictures (and the night sky when we could actually see the mind of God) actually do worry about it.

Love astronomy and photography and greatly appreciate these links.

My son and I were just looking at National Geographic and their planet pictures.

Bernard: I never claimed not to be an idiot. :)

Real link.

I was told by a US official yesterday that US military spokesman Caldwell will present alleged US evidence on Iranian materiel support to militants in Iraq at a press conference in Baghdad early next week.
It's fair to say that a very many people are speculating offline that Iran may possibly have been behind the Karbala abduction and killing. The more sophisticated the operation, the more it smells of Iran, one said. We'll see. More here and here.

Posted by Laura at January 27, 2007 10:14 AM


You're forgiven. Lots of nice work there. I especially like the one of the needle dropping on the record. Very imaginitive idea and well done.

From the Orion Nebula caption:

the nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away

If only they could send Lindsay Lohan there, instead of rehab.

Multicolor images exploring the Moon's global surface composition were made in 1994 by the Clementine spacecraft.

Cool. I had a hand in that. There was some talk at the time that Clementine was supposed to prove that we could hit an asteroid with a self-guided spacecraft, but I never believed it. Anyway, that was a very cool program, and I learned a lot about spacecraft control doing it.

Awesome, Slarti!

I didn't have anything to do with the imagery, but I can take some credit for the steady pointing of the camera. Which was hard-mounted to the spacecraft, so that meant pointing the entire spacecraft at patches of the moon as you snapped a frame, and then stepping to look at (and track) the next bit of ground.

Later on in that mission, Clementine was to perform a fairly close flyby of the asteroid Geographos, but something onboard broke between leaving lunar orbit and the flyby, if memory serves. There wasn't any redundancy or fault tolerance, so if a key subsystem went bye-bye, the whole mission went down the tubes. By the time Clementine left the launch pad, I was working another program in another city.

But yes, it was awesome.

Slartibartfast: Awesome. I always thought my life’s dream would be working for NASA – then I realized I just could not afford it.

You can't fool me - we went to the Moon in the 1960s - and there was lots of acid around in the 1960s. Now, the whole moon's gone tie-dye.

And the picture was apparently taken during the Clinton Presidency!!!



Hilzoy: Hope you had a nice day in DC. At least the weather was great. As for the company you were in (Fonda, Penn, Robbins, Code Pink, the crowd cheered when John Walker Lindh was mentioned!?!) – Yikes.

Dear hilzoy,
Please contact me. I would like to use your essay on Padilla in a collection of articles I'm putting together for a book on torture and human rights. (I've tried contacting you in other ways, but to no avail.)
Thank you.
Dr. George Hunsinger
Princeton Theological Seminary
Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture

I guess nobody else is scared of galaxies.

bob, I feel the opposite of you--I occasionally seem to get close to momentarily grasping the incredible size of things like stellar distances and am profoundly moved by it, but I find my insignificance in relation to all of it to be reassuring.

Best Flickr slideshow ever: icecreamtruck!

I was leafing through a magazine the other day, and encountered this abomination, which made me think of hilzoy.

Um, because she wrote about the perpetrator, not because I think she's a heap of bad taste.

Slaribartfast: that link's busticated. Also, I think you've just been outed as a MATLAB user.

Oh, yikes. Always gotta watch what's really in your paste buffer.

Ennyway, I really meant to point you here.

Confession: Matlab, PV-Wave, and, once upon a time, MatrixX.

Only ever used the first of those -- thank ghod for academic site licenses. Along with Maple V, and various specialized codes written in elderly Fortran dialects. Scientists really need to join the brave new world of dynamic allocation.

Oh, I speak Fortran and various C-ish dialects, and have even once owned an academic copy of Maple V. And Mathcad. Never used any of the Wolfram products, though, because none of my employers have licensed them.

NSFW, sound, crass. Via unfogged.

Slarti -- that's, um, really awful. If I thought it had anything to do with Christianity, the ex-Christian in me would be appalled. As it is, the thought that Kinkade has gone three-dimiensional is quite enough for my poor psyche to process.

I'll have to meditate on APOD for several hours to get over it. And congrats on having worked on Clementine.

OCSteve: Didn't notice the speakers at the march; I couldn't hear them anyways. Just a sort of dull intermittent incomprehensible roaring noise.

Fwiw, my non-expert guess puts the crowd at 100,000-150,000. Not the half a million the organizers claim; not really the 'tens of thousands' I read in the paper either.

the crowd cheered when John Walker Lindh was mentioned!?!
Any source for that, OCSteve? Have you been hanging out at FreeRepublic.com -- the ones responsible for the lovely counterdemonstration (maybe a dozen people) with signs reading "Al Qaeda Sympathizers on Parade" and "Hippies Stink", along with a "Jane Fonda Bitch" dummy hanging from noose?

It sounds more likely to be a right-wing hallucination than anything that could happen in the real world. In any case, as Hilzoy says, the speakers were irrelevant and inaudible to 95% of the attendees.

And speaking of pictures, look what I got in the mail.

I did a little research, OCSteve. Apparently the claim comes from this C-Span video, at about 01:45. There is fairly small cheer after the name "John Walker Lindh", but it's pretty clear that they're cheering the speaker, Jesselyn Radack, who (like the lawyers you reconsidered your condemnation of a while back) was concerned that Lindh be treated properly regardless of how bad a guy he might be.

the speaker ...was concerned that Lindh be treated properly regardless of how bad a guy he might be.

because she lurvs the IslamoTerroFasciQuedas ?

due process should be reserved for law-abiding Americans; criminals don't deserve it.

Since this is an open thread:

1) I was looking for something decent on the tube the other night, and noticed that Future Weapons (Discovery Channel) had a bit on both advanced body armor and THAAD (which I have a personal interest in), so I tuned in to watch. The host is far too interested in bang-zoom, and not enough in the science for my taste, but that aside: the Dragonskin armor was put through some rather strenuous tests: being shot at from close range by AP rounds from various rifle calibers: the 7.62 round the AK-47 uses, a 9mm full-auto round and a third caliber that I don't recall. The last series was simulating a soldier fleeing from a conflict, and the host fired roughly a dozen rounds from each into the back of the vest from a range of what appeared to be about 20 feet. None penetrated. Then he decided: hey, wonder what a fragmentation grenade would do to this thing? So they took the dummy with the vest on, placed it on top of a wired fragmentation grenade, put a sandbag on top to hold it in place, backed off a couple of hundred feet and set it off. Result: the armor carrier was shredded, but the armor itself wasn't penetrated. If this were to actually have happened to a person, that person would be dead because of shrapnel wounds to the arms, legs and head, but still...looks like good stuff. The demo, though, had the look of an infomercial, which always makes me wonder.

2) The THAAD part was nothing I hadn't seen before. But speaking of which, THAAD has moved out to Hawaii (Pacific Missile Range Facility, or PMRF) and has just had its first successful, high-endo intercept. The advantage of testing out at PMRF is that the missile doesn't have to bleed off a good chunk of its energy in early maneuvers so that it can stay on the test range, so intercept velocity is full-scale. THAAD is actually not quite as far along as the ground-based system in Alaska (and other sites) ought to be, but quite a lot further along than that system actually is.

Odd. Last time I bothered to check, THAAD was going to do system-level testing out at Kwajalein. I have no idea what they're doing in Hawaii; last time I checked Hawaii had restrictions on solid-rocket boosters because of the HCl emissions.

Since this is an open thread, and all.

Dragon Skin armor here.

What now, bitches?

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