Great - after posting a blog on alpha_strong and the new CMS measurement of its value yesterday, today I am leaving for the US. My internet connection is going to be shaky during my trip, and right now I am living on the free airport wifi in Paris, waiting to board on my flight. But fortunately, I don't need to worry about answering the comments I receive to that post  - in fact the two main commenters, Vladimir and John, are answering each other well enough that I do not need to intervene...
Undiscovered Worlds and Pale Blue Dots

May 9th 2015 will see the inauguration of Cornell University's new Institute for Pale Blue DotsDetails here.

The first image of a "pale blue dot" was sent back by Voyager 1.  The "dot" is a single pixel.

"all of human history has happened on that tiny pixel, which is our only home"
Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University, October 13th 1994
Why does the new space craft look like a capsule?  The simple fact is that between a capsule and a space plane like the shuttle, a capsule is the better vehicle for a direct return trip from interplanetary space to Earths surface. 
People my age, early-mid 30's, and younger look at a space capsule as being an artifact from a past era.  The 1960's and 1970's were the age of the capsule.  Then in the 1980's and 1990's we had the Space Shuttle Program in full swing.  The shuttle was so much more than a spacecraft.  As president Reagan put it the Shuttle was a symbol of our aspirations for freedom. 

In the below it can be said that he dedicated a Shuttle launch to people who 20 years latter would become the Taliban. 
Diet Is Over

Diet Is Over

Dec 04 2014 | 13 comment(s)

Four months ago I started a diet, as my weight had gone above my comfort zone (77kg, when my optimal weight is of about 70kg). I basically implemented a regime (which has worked in the past) of about 1300 calories a day, cutting mostly on extras (desserts, snacks, alcohol) and bread, and just eating a bit less of everything.

The holiday season is upon us and alcohol is frequently more visible and free flowing during this time.  Exactly where the line is between heavy drinking and clinical alcoholism can be vague.

Statistics on cannabis users skew perceptions of cannabis use.