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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 »

Today's tale looks at whether ancient Sufi mystics predicted the current climate for science in the Western World.  Some see science as an ivory tower pursuit, others as a way of achieving technological advancement, still others as a path to personal glory.  But some of us see more.

A quick look at the top ScientificBlogging stories this week gives us titles seemingly ripped from summer blockbusters and beach reading.  Shark Week, Chemistry of Love, Moral Lessons, the Indiana Jones Method of Science, Super Sexy.
Just a short anecdote today, as I'm suffering from mind erasure.  There's a rich history of ragging on management, ranging from Dilbert to The Daily WTF.  As a card-carrying contrarian, I therefore bring you a tale of good leadership and upbeat endings within NASA.

The story starts out as inevitable tragedy.  A NASA worker wins a federal award, but cannot attend the ceremony because she'll be at a different NASA center that week.  She asks her higher up to accept the award on her behalf.  And, of course, the higher up can now step in and take all the credit, eh?
Here's a short tale about scientific journal editing, to complement my lament about the lack of Editors in Web2.0.  At the risk of being a scientific pariah, I believe some works can be overedited.

After much polishing at my home institute, I submitted a paper for consideration to a scientific journal.  We then went through a quite reasonable set of 3 stages of edits before they declared the paper was accepted for publication.  It then went through one more round of editing by a different editor to match house style.  Then it went to the proofers, for one last round, and I was told it was ready and final.
Just what would time travel look like?  This question was posed to me by a movie director in L.A..  It turns out there are three parts to this question-- what physics suggests, what movies have done in the past, and what looks good.

The last is up to her and her special effects staff.  The middle one-- Hollywood traditions for time travel-- are worth examining to scope out possibilities.  I'll then conclude with what I think physics suggests is most likely.

Were I to invent categories for movie time travel effects, I'd create the following:

  1.   techno with lots of lights and whooshing (ala 2001, though that wasn't time travel)

  2.   high speed vehicle (similar to techno, but with speed lines)

On Geek Love

On Geek Love

Jul 03 2009 | comment(s)

I'm out of town today, so I'm doing a break from my usual work.  Instead, I thought I'd share these tales of geek love.  First up is a nice fluff piece by Ashley Nelson, 4 Reasons Why Women Dig Geeks. Only 4 reasons (you may ask)? There must be more than a dozen reasons why geeks rock!
Time for a job-hunting question.  Which programming languages can you work with?  It's not the same question as which languages you know, and can be a surprisingly hard question to answer, particularly when you're job-hunting and the issue comes up.  Answering 'all of them' is a bit overconfident, but listing each one can be inexact.

Being a programmer is akin to being an athlete.  You're up to speed in what you do, and easily able to perform in a variety of fields, but have better ability in some areas than others.  A middle distance runner can switch to long distance easily, less so to cycling, perhaps poorly to biathlon.