A Cracked Egg Moon

One of the first things you hear when learning about the states of matter is about good old H2O: Steam, Water, Ice.  Naturally you are asked “Why does Ice float?” The answer is a simple matter of density, frozen water is less dense because water expands when it freezes.  You can do a bit of an experiment by filling a balloon with water.  Paint the balloon and put it in the freezer.  When it freezes the water will expand, and so will the rubbery balloon, but the dried paint will crack at weak points. This is exactly the same thing...

Motivation Monday: Perfection

When you imagine yourself in the future, do you see yourself perfecting something? Are you a perfect spouse? A perfect athlete? A perfect musician? Do you have a perfect body? A perfect job? A perfect life? It may be fun to dream about it, but perfection just doesn’t exist.  Being a young dreamer makes the idea of things being perfect in the future an exercise in hope, but when you get to the future, things don’t become more perfect.  If anything, they become more complicated, less perfect. The world is fascinated by those who are the best, the closest to...

Cryovolcano on Pluto

Cryovolcano is a cool word, literally and figuratively.  You hear about it a lot when talking about solar system moons like Enceladus, and it’s one of those words that would make a heck of a great Hollywood disaster movie title, like ‘Sharknado’ or ‘Armageddon.’ I do not, however, endorse either of those movies, they were both terrible.  At any rate, a real cryovolcano seems like an interesting thing.  It’s a volcano in the sense that it looks a little like a mountain and spews out material when the pressure builds from beneath the surface, but it’s not your traditional Earth-like volcano...

SpaceX Back in Action

After watching the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explode shortly after launch back in June, two things were going through my head.  “How will they handle this disaster?” and “When will they return to flight?”  The first question was answered in the weeks that followed as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported that the most likely cause of the accident was a failure in a second stage strut that held a high pressure helium tank in place.  The second question could be answered this evening when the first Falcon 9 launch in six months takes place at Cape Canaveral. The last time a...

Slow Galaxies Form Stars

They may look like they are standing still, but galaxies are all spinning.  Spiral galaxies have the lovely regular spin of a disk, while elliptical galaxies are all over the place, a buzzing hive of stars.  We don’t see this rotation in real time because it takes millions of years for it to be noticeable.  The Milky Way takes 250 Million years to spin just once around it’s axis.  Looking at this rotation rate vs. distance from the galactic center was what originally led to the discovery of dark matter. Some galaxies do in fact spin slower than others, but how does...

A History and Future of the Universe

Data is beautiful.  There is elegance in the artful manipulation of data to communicate information.  I love to see new ways to communicate science to the layman and give an understanding of the collective human knowledge.  So I had to post this timeline of the universe infographic, containing events from the beginning of the universe all the way up to the death of the Sun.  This is obviously just the tip of the scientific iceberg so to speak, but some of the highlights chosen cross several disciplines of science and are truly significant events in history. Enjoy the truly beautiful...

Motivation Monday: Fear 2

Tackling fear is a tough one, but It’s too important not to cover in a motivational post. I am afraid.  I am afraid of waking up and facing the world. I am afraid of the work I have to do today, and the people I have to interact with.  I am afraid of driving in traffic.  I am afraid of being tired and not having the energy to keep the life I have, because I am afraid of losing it.  I am afraid of the past because of the hurt I’ve felt.  I am afraid of the present because I worry...

The Most Beautiful Equation

Are equations beautiful? Does a mathematician see the machine code of the universe in the complex language they use? Does a Chemist see the flow of matter? Does a Biologist see the evolution of life? Does a physicist see the probabilistic nature of electrons? Many scientists would affirm their view that the equations that dictate their respective fields are artistic, in addition to logical.  So if equations can be beautiful, what is the most beautiful equation? Naturally, the most beautiful equation should be simple.  It should be somewhat intuitive, yet surprising in it’s result.  It should explain something fundamental about the universe,...

Happy Third Anniversary to Curiosity on Mars

With all the news of the past year in the Astronomy world, Rosetta on 67P, Dawn on Ceres, New Horizons on Pluto, our old friend the Curiosity rover hasn’t had time to watch the news. Curiosity has been working hard, ‘rocking out’ (pun intended) on the red planet. Tomorrow, August 6th, marks its third anniversary since touching down on Mars and beginning science operations that would forever change our understanding of our next-door neighbor. To mark the occasion, the Mars Science Laboratory team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released an anniversary video. For its third anniversary, Curiosity has found...