Monday, April 30, 2012

Yet Another "Earth-Like" Planet Found... Yawn....

COOL, TOO KEWL! Earth-like planet found that MAY have been a larger hunk of rock that split up after an ugly encounter with it's star! As my Super-Hero colleague and close personal friend, The Tick, said, "Gravity is a harsh mistress..."

See: SPACE.COM for more info...

I'm still wrapping my head around CT Gov Malloy repealing the death penalty even though 67% of CT folks said it (repeal) was a bad thing... Sigh... Just when did our "representatives" become less than that...

SUPERMOON Going To Kill Us All This Weekend! AAARRRGGGHHH!

Seems there are plenty of reasons to believe that our own moon is going to [A] crash into us, or [B] cause severe tides so that Denver becomes beachfront property, or [C] get so close as to pull us off the surface of the earth and fling us all into outer space where we will all explode in a horrible frozen bloody death. Those reasons, in order, are [A] stupid people on the internet or [B] stupid people who read stupid things on the internet written by aforementioned stupid people on the internet or [C] stupid people who run blogs who report on stupid stories about stupid people who read stupid things on the internet written by aforementioned stupid people on the internet or, lastly, [D] folks who have previously claimed to have been abducted by aliens, probed in unspeakable ways, then returned to their loved ones to rattle on and on about being probed in unspeakable ways.

Compliments SPACE.COM

Now, as anyone who has ever paid attention to this hysteric type of thing, I can say demonstratively and succinctly that the moon is not, let me repeat, NOT going to kill us this weekend. Nor, is it going to drown, smite, set on fire, collide, send locusts or otherwise spell doom for mankind as set forth by the stupid "2012" subscribers. I much prefer to follow the Armageddon-ish view where Bruce Willis will save us from certain death from a rogue comet originating iron-core asteroid the size of Texas that no one saw till it was too late. [Soliloquy: I'm relatively confident I'd be able to scream to my neighbors, whom I hold no love for, "Look! Here comes Texas!" a few days before Micheal Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer decided the world need to see it...] Anyway, I digress... Which is not a bad thing...

Anyway, the Moon is at Perihelion this weekend, the closest approach to the Earth in it's sorta wide elliptical orbit. So, yeah. It's larger than normal. DURING THE MONTH! The last time it was this "large: was May 2011! OMG! That was before I was born! Wait... Maybe not...

Take a look:


So, yeah, duh.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OMG: Oh My Geosynchronous !

Check out this video from APOD! It shows a line of geosynchronous satellites as the distant stars "fly" by. These satellites must remain stationary relative to the earth's surface, so have a period of 24 hrs. SO COOL!

Geostationary satellites in the Swiss Alps from Michael Kunze on Vimeo.

Feel free to embiggenate for better viewing!

Tennessee Science Education is Lost Once Again!

I'm not very savvy on the ins and outs of the political scene. I do my best to keep abreast of what's happening and whose causing it. However, there have been a couple silly (and IMHO downright illegal) political happenings the past week or so.

First, similar to some of the other anti-science education topics I've tried to cover here, Tennessee's so-called "Monkey Bill" stands to set back science education a good century or more. We've come a long way since the Butler Act of 1925, the law that actually prohibited the teaching of evolution in classrooms in Tennessee. Yikes. However, let's keep in mind that was 1925. Unclothed savages and dinosaurs roamed the Tennessee Valley way back then. Then the (in)famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" backed by the even more (in)famous ACLU challenged this Butler Act via a school teacher named John Scopes. In a long drawn-out battle between Jennings Bryan and Darrow, but the Butler Act was actively on the Tennessee books till 1967.

Well, it seems our ID.10.T friends from Tennessee are at it again; attacking science at its core. The Monkey Bill has become State Law. What I can't comprehend, beyond even the fact that elected officials can be some dumb when it comes to even what science is, let alone how to teach it, is the fact Governor Bill Haslam didn't even sign it! Yep, that's right! He decided NOT TO SIGN THE BILL and it passed into law anyway. According to the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis TN:

In a short statement Tuesday afternoon, Haslam said that while he did not see that the bill would change the "scientific standards" taught in Tennessee schools, he also didn't see it accomplishing "anything that isn't already acceptable in our schools." He noted that while the bill passed with a three-to-one margin in the House and Senate, "good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion." "My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill, but will allow it to become law without my signature." This is the first bill in Haslam's nearly 15 months in office that he has allowed to become law without his signature. Although the governor didn't say so, a veto would likely not have killed the bill. Under the Tennessee Constitution, the legislature can override a governor's veto by simple majority votes of the total membership of each chamber -- 17 votes in the 33-member Senate and 50 votes in the 99-member House. The bill won House approval on a 70-23 vote last year, then Senate approval 25-8 last month.
Oh, My Proverbial God! That means I can now safely teach my religion in my Fizzix class! I personally subscribe and practice the Flying Spaghetti Monster as my creator.

Let me be clear here, the language of TN House Bill 368 (Senate Bill 893) states:

(a) The general assembly finds that: (1) An important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to becoming intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens; (2) The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy; and (3) Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects. (b) The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues. [Emphasis mine...]

See next post for a crime committed by my own CT Legislature just yesterday...