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Swimming In The (astro) Pacific

As a newly minted, 1 year old professor, this is the deep end of the astronomy edu cation pool...

The Phantom Of The Laboratory

We are fortune here at Science20 to have come across an early work by Gaston Leroux.  This...

Engineering Roleplaying

Hey, you got simulation in my roleplay! Hey, you got roleplay in my simulation! Wait, it's two...

Stars That Ring Like Bells

Time to ring in a new year with pressure waves.  We can see, but not, hear true sonic waves...

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Alex "Sandy" AntunesRSS Feed of this column.

Read more about the strange modern world of a day laborer in astronomy, plus extra space science-y goodness.... Read More »

Discussion of the rise in diagnosed autism is a controversial topic, and I applaud one company that is sidestepping the entire 'why' and 'who is at fault' issue and tackling it like good capitalists. MSNBC writes about Aspiritech's program for training autistics in comp sci -- specifically the area of software testing, bug discovery, and data accuracy.  They write:
Virgin Galactic officially debuts SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise, fast on the heels of their earlier ready for liftoff announcement in Wired.  From the Wired article, they noted
As a freelance scientist, I find my Friday to-do lists are particularly eclectic.  A little backstory: I work as a freelance a) science writer and b) programmer in order to support A) my family and B) my hobbies.

As long as, from a cash perspective,
     $a+$b > $A+$B
and, from a time perspective,
   dt(a)+dt(b)< dt(A)+dt(B)
... then I'm happy.
Two things I like are open research and seeing my tax dollars get used effectively.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) just did both in one swoop.  As reported in detail on NASW, over two decades of earlier NSF work is now available online.  The magazine Mosaic just released "An on-line archive of articles published in The National Science Foundation’s flagship magazine from 1970 to 1992."
'Many eyes' is a better approach to image recognition than algorithms.  When looking at real-universe galaxy merger remnants, and comparing them with simulations, it's better to just have lots of people look at hundreds of possible results (and match them to reality), than to use a machine method. Earlier this week I forwarded details on the Galaxy Zoo 2: Mergers project, which allows you (yes, you!  What are you waiting for?  Match some galaxies!) do this.
EMBARGOED until: 24 November 2009 00:01 GMT


A new website will give everyone the chance to contribute to science by playing a ‘cosmic slot machine’ and compare images of colliding galaxies with millions of simulated images of galactic pile-ups.

These collisions, which astronomers call ‘galactic mergers’, could be the key to finding out why the Universe contains the mix of galaxies it does -- some with trailing spiral arms, others more like compact ‘balls’ of stars.