Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time lapse

After I get a handle on high speed photography for shooting things that are fast I'm going to see if I can learn how to take a lot of pictures of things that are slow. This is a very nice video shot in Spain. What's going on at the horizon in the Milky Way section is a sand storm in the Sahara plus lights from the canary islands.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yuri's Night

I like listening to these three languages. The Russian is very alien to me. There are no sounds in it that make me think of a word. It's like listening to music. The Italian is more like listening to ham radio with a lot of static where you hear a word from time to time.

Ron Garan says humans are "a species" to leave the earth. That's good wording. I like how careful he was there. Neil DeGrasse Tyson must have picked up on this too because this morning he tweeted:
Just an FYI: First mammals to achieve orbit, in order: Dog, Guinea Pig, Mouse, Russian Human, Chimpanzee, American Human.
It's nice how people are celebrating these milestones in space exploration and engineering but it just makes me extra sad that 500 people just lost their jobs with NASA. (KennedySC tweet last week, "Last day on the job for more than 500 Kennedy Space Center workers; what's next?" With a bad Florida Times link. Searching their site only got a plea asking people whose last day was Friday to write them with their story. Apparently not enough of them felt like sharing with the paper to get a follow up.)

I hope other countries pick up our slack and get some good science experiments on the space station.

Meanwhile the big news today is where will the shuttles go. (Live Streaming, noon EST) Kennedy Space Center seems to be a forerunner. If they get one I hope they reorganize the management of their tourism. I refer you to my Negative Critique from last year and my rant about the creepy Snoopy with his head shoved in a bubble.
My friend who works on the space suits tells me that Snoopy is a big deal to the Apollo mission, and I acknowledge the meaning, but it still just really weirds me out.

*UPDATE: Atlantis is going to live at Kennedy Space Center. Discovery goes to Smithsonian, which we knew already. Surprise is Endeavor going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles near the Palmdale facility that built it. That's nice. The prototype, Entrepid, goes to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. That's a good geographic spread. I'm sure Seattle is crushed and Johnson Space Center is probably pretty disappointed. Sorry you guys. This whole thing is pretty sad.

Charlie Bolden, NASA director, almost cried about 10 times reading his speech. He said we should stay focused on the next few missions. That's the engineer way. Solve the problems, make it work, and deal with the demise of our own career later. It's tough when you define yourself with a career then you make it disappear.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Space Blogging

I really enjoyed this lovely blog post from Ron Garan, the NASA astronaut who rode up to orbit with two cosmonauts this week. He tells me a lot I wanted to know about how the Soyuz compares to the shuttle. Smoother at first, which I noticed in the onboard video during launch. I've been on the shuttle simulator at Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle is not smooth.

I would be untrue to my nature if I did not acknowledge that I blurted out "LYING!" when I got to the fourth sentence below:
Lying in our seats before launch was actually very peaceful. We periodically felt vibrations and valves opening and closing, and we heard fans and motors turning on and off, but through all that I felt a peaceful reassurance that everything was ready to go. The vehicle definitely felt alive and ready. Laying there strapped to the rocket I thought about all those people that are close to me that were watching there in Baikonur, on TV or online.

Ron, why did you switch from "lying" to "laying there?" Did you somehow in the middle of that paragraph cease to be the master of your own body? Actually, poetically speaking that's probably a pretty good choice of words. You had sort of put yourself in the hands of the other people at that point. When you climbed into the capsule you lay down and enjoyed lying in your custom molded seat, then maybe you listened to a little Bob Dylan on your headphones and felt like you had been placed there passively. (You said you like U2 and Dire Straits, but maybe the Dylan influence came through.)

What do you think, Mama, are we going to count off 10 points for "laying there" or call it poetic license? I say if Bob Dylan is completely forgiven then Ron Garan is too.

For anybody confused about the proper usage of lie and lay, here's a primer courtesy of my mama.
Lay is something you do to something. Lie is something you do. It gets complicated because of the past tense.

When I get in my bed, I lie down.
In a few minutes, I will lie down.
As I'm nestling right this minute, I lay my head on the pillow.

Yesterday when I went to bed, I lay down.
Last night when I went to bed, I laid my head on the pillow.

Sexually, it's doing something to her. He lays her today, he laid her yesterday. If he does it with her and not to her the above rules apply: He "lay" with her yesterday, and lies with her today.

The most notorious error (completely forgiven) is Lay Lady Lay, Lay Across My Big Brass Bed.

Rise and raise are the same complication.
#ToOrbit ^DB Liftoff! on Twitpic
You can see last Monday's Soyuz launch in high def on the NASA video gallery but it's not embeddable, sorry.

Here's a photo of liftoff Ron Garan's friend Dan Burbank tweeted for him. (to follow: @astroron)

Friday, April 8, 2011


I like the part where it zooms out into space particularly :)

There's an interview on Mad Art Lab with Minchin and the makers of the movie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011