Motivation Monday (on Tuesday): A Week Off

Most of my motivation posts this year have been about the workout goal I set myself for the year, and for good reason.  It has kept me on track, motivating me if no one else.  After six months in the gym, I am certainly happy with how I’ve done, but for some reason I expected it to get easier with time.  If anything, it’s become more difficult, and so I did something a stubborn perfectionist like myself really hates: I took a week off. My week off meant no gym time, no careful measuring of eating habits, and a later...

Measuring Dark Energy Like a BOSS

When you start to think about the most massive and extreme ‘stuff’ in the universe, you inevitably go to Dark Matter and Dark Energy.  They exist as opposites, one with incredible gravity holding the universe together, and the other a mysterious vacuum energy tearing it apart.  Studying this cosmic tug of war gives astronomers a chance to determine the past and future of the entire universe. To study the immense scale of these two quantities, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) program of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III (SDSS) constructed a 3D map of the sky, amounting to a volume...

Motivation Monday: Six Months of Workout Wisdom

After hitting the gym hard this year as my main goal for 2016, I’ve learned a heck of a lot about fitness, nutrition, and motivation.  Just over 6 months has passed and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned, especially about motivation and the expectation vs reality aspect. When I started the year, my main goal was to be consistent.  I went to the gym no matter how I felt.  Even if I sat there and stretched or walked on a treadmill, I would consider it a win.  With nutrition the goal was to eat cleanly (I’ll...

Black Holes ARE Dark Matter?

Dark matter could be almost anything.  With little data other than how much total dark matter mass exists, we can’t decode much about what individual chunks of dark matter might be made of.  I’ve talked before about Massive Compact Halo Objects (MACHOs) and Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), but these are just two possibilities.  Other theorists have talked about Modified Newtonian Gravity (MNG), where gravity may work differently on the grand scale than it does on our small Earth scales.  Or perhaps it’s something I haven’t seen before.  Maybe what we call dark matter is just a large population of ancient black holes....

Motivation Monday (on Tuesday): Rest and Recovery

When I was younger, I could get away with pulling an all-nighter, eating like garbage, and never taking a break.  As I get older, I find it’s much easier to burn out.  I feel the effects of a poor diet or a late night, and I need the extra time to recover at the end of a long week. Over the past few months, I’ve been getting used to waking up at 5am, going to the gym, and then going to work for the day.  I watch what I eat, generally avoid alcohol, and enjoy a few cups of delicious coffee...

How Life on Earth Began

One of the most important questions our species has tackled is the origin of life on Earth.  If we can figure out the conditions and catalyst for the beginning of life, we can look elsewhere in the universe for those same conditions, and zero in on the potential for finding extraterrestrial life.  We know the universe is old enough for the painstakingly slow evolutionary process, but what started it? In the famous 1952 Miller-Urey experiment, a flask containing the basic natural elements water (H20), methane (CH4), Ammonia (NH4), and Hydrogen (H2), all present on the early Earth, was subjected to...

New England Fireball

Space dust hits the Earth every day in the form of meteorites. As much as 300 tonnes of the stuff falls to the Earth each day.  Of course, most of it is dust or small rocks, and goes unnoticed by the majority of people.  But every so often, a larger rock plummets to Earth, and if it’s big enough, it will make it’s presence known.  One such meteor flew through the atmosphere less than 48 hours ago in the Northeast USA. The bright flashes occur when a space rock, called a meteoroid, hits the atmosphere of the Earth, which rapidly...

Motivation Monday: Consistency or Change?

You’ve heard the advice before.  Be consistent to be successful over the long term.  Do the same basic things, eat less, move more, and don’t expect quick results.  It takes time to lose fat and gain muscle, and you won’t see the quick progress that you expect. On the flip side, it’s important to change it up to keep yourself interested.  Vary your exercises to keep your muscles guessing.  Your body gets used to a routine and doesn’t need to adjust after awhile, so keep changing it up and shock your system. Be consistent but change it up –  Two completely contradictory pieces of...

Mercury Transit with Bonus ISS

Mercury crossed the face of the Sun this past Monday, a relatively rare event that occurs only a dozen (give or take) times a century.  Being able to see it in real time was excellent, but seeing the photos taken by professionals and amateurs alike made the event truly memorable. And look! The International Space Station flew by. Compare this to 2012’s transit of Venus and you get a sense of how much closer to Venus the Earth is than Mercury. In both cases, the most beautiful thing is that you get a sense of just how immense and powerful...

Motivation Monday: Seasonal Downside

I am still here.  It’s been more than a week since I’ve written a word on the digital page, meaning there is a lot to catch up on for a guy who is trying to write a blog post every day.  But it happens, sometimes there are vacations, busy weeks at work, and crises to manage.  Life happens, yet still I continue.   Today’s motivation post will talk about part of the reason for my shift, and how I may be the only person who sees a changing season as a frustration, even if it is the long-awaited Spring. If you...