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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 »

Planck, a European-US collaborative mission launched by ESA, has provided its first pictures. Planck is a followup to WMAP, and looks at the cosmic microwave background. But it has a host of other detectors and purposes, too. Stealing blatently from Wikipedia, Planck will do:

  1. High resolution detections of both the total intensity and polarization of the primordial CMB anisotropies

  2. Creation of a catalogue of galaxy clusters through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect

  3. Observations of the gravitational lensing of the CMB, as well as the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect
What do engineer Burt Rutan, hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, and game programmer John Carmack have in common? Answer: they've built the first private earth-to-space rocket, space station, and lunar lander in the current new space race.

Most people are familiar with Scaled Composite's X-Prize $10 million victory with SpaceShipOne, the first private reusable multi-flight manned spacecraft to succeed. But note 'first'-- they were not the only competitor. Just the first tick on the space race radar.
I'm in that awkward lull between proposals and actual cash in hand.  I call it freelancer hell.  But since I'm thinking about money, time for a look at how to fund success.

My own success record for funded projects is 100%.  When people pay me (and/or my team) for a specific project, we get it done.  This would be worth bragging about, save this is how it should be.
We have been in an anomalously long Solar Minimum.  The sun has an 11 year cycle from Minimum to Maximum.  But the cycles are (like most things in nature) not exact, and some are longer than the others.  We are coming out of Solar Minimum... or are we?

Even in the midst of our current cycle, solar physicists were predicting a long minimum, and, humorously, seemed evenly divided over whether this meant we would have a more active Maximum, or a far less active Maximum.  For example, David Hathaway in the NASA article "Solar Cycle 25 peaking around 2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries" clearly predicts the latter.
As a relaxing Friday treat, here are two science-related webtoons from occasionally NSFW  Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  Fortunately, these two are appropriate for all ages.  We are given the true shape of the universe, and learn deep truths about melding cybernetics with flesh.

Shape of universe

Cybernetic rats

Have a nice weekend and join us next week for our hard-hitting science feature articles!

Alex, The Daytime Astronomer

This here, "The Sky By Day", is my science writing column.  I write about current news and cultural issues in space and computer science.  Very simple, very journalistic:

    See Alex write.  Write, Alex, write!

I have started a new project, to launch a satellite into space.  It's called Project Calliope, and myself and my team will write about it here at SB here in the new column, Satellite Diaries:

  See Alex do science.  Sciencify, Alex, sciencify!