Archive for May, 2009

Star charts for mobile phones

Posted in Astronomy, Technology on 2009/05/30 by iyokobat


Google has announced development of a handy tool for stargazers, navigators, and anyone with an interest in the night sky. Using the phone’s GPS and the camera view finder, the new service would essentially turn your phone into a star chart for your current location and time.

Graham Bryant, chairman of the Hampshire Astronomical Group, told the newspaper: “If children are studying geology they are often happy to go out and examine rocks, but not many children seem to be able to navigate their way round the night sky.”

The application could reignite interest in planets and constellations that has been dampened by light pollution from street lamps that make the night sky hard to observe.

Google plans space exploration gadget to help mobile phone users study night skies

Also check out Seeing the light. This is a good article about light pollution.


Where’s my hovercraft?

Posted in Technology, The Future on 2009/05/30 by iyokobat


When you were a kid, thinking about the future, did you have visions of flying cars, robot maids, and transporter devices?  What happened to THAT future?

CNN writer John Blake has an article that explains some of the reasons why we haven’t fully adopted some of the futuristic technology ideas that seemed inevitable

People’s fascination with technology’s imprint on the future didn’t start, however, in the mid-20th century with shows like “The Jetsons” or “Star Trek.”

Joseph Corn, co-author of “Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future,” found an inflated optimism about technology’s impact on the future as far back as the 19th century, when writers like Jules Verne (“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”) were creating wondrous versions of the future.

Blake shows examples of technology, such as jet-packs, “Smell-o-vision”, and human washing machines, that are technically feasible, but not very practical to the society of today.

Why our ‘amazing’ science fiction future fizzled

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party

Posted in Astronomy, Video on 2009/05/18 by iyokobat


If you’ve never attended a star party, then this time-lapse video should give you some idea of how beautiful the night sky can be (if you can get away from city lights).

Night sky video

Last mission to Hubble

Posted in Astronomy, Space Exploration, Technology on 2009/05/12 by iyokobat


The Hubble Space Telescope will be getting some much needed maintenance from the shuttle Atlantis and its crew. Equipped with over 100 specialized tools, the crew will be doing extensive work on Hubble, which includes replacing the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 with the new Wide Field Camera 3. They will also be adding a new instrument called the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). In order to make room for this device, they will be removing the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) and returning COSTAR to Earth. COSTAR was installed to correct design problems with Hubble’s primary mirror, but is now obsolete due to previous Hubble upgrades.

Hubble was launched in 1990 and has been providing some of the best photographs of the universe as well as groundbreaking science and astronomy. This mission is scheduled to be the last shuttle mission to the Hubble and considered very risky. Hopefully the repairs will be successful and will give Hubble many more years of operation or at least until the next space telescope, the James Webb Telescope, is launched. The JWT is scheduled to launch in 2014, but has already had numerous delays.

I have the utmost respect for the courageous astronauts of Atlantis who are conducting this mission. I wish them success and a safe journey home.

For more on this ongoing story, check out NASA’s web site for the Hubble servicing mission.

Black hole simulation

Posted in Astronomy, Physics, Video on 2009/05/09 by iyokobat

Inside a black hole

Two scientists from the University of Colorado, Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus, have created an awesome simulation of traveling through a black hole.

Here is an excerpt from Technology Review:

Hamilton provides a commentary for this and other videos which dismisses some of the myths that have grown up around black holes, such as the notion that falling inside one would engulf you in darkness.

Not by any means. According to Hamilton and Polhemus, inside a black hole the view in the horizontal plane is highly blueshifted, but all directions other than horizontal appear highly redshifted.

To read the full story and see the video, click here.


Posted in The Future on 2009/05/06 by iyokobat

I haven’t posted much lately, and need to get back on it. But in the absence of something more interesting, here are some splendid quotations for your amusement. I promise to get more meaningful stuff here soon.

“We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it.” –Dandridge M. Cole

“Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock.” –Alvin Toffler

“The future has already happened, it just isn’t very well distributed.” –William Gibson

“I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” –Albert Einstein

“If you don’t think about the future, you cannot have one.” –John Galsworthy

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcolm X

“I’ve seen the future, brother; it is murder.” –Leonard Cohen

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” — Abraham Lincoln

“It’s hard to make predictions – especially about the future.” –Robert Storm Petersen

“The future will be better tomorrow.” –Dan Quayle

JPL Open House

Posted in Astronomy, Physics, Space Exploration, Technology with tags , , , , on 2009/05/01 by iyokobat


If you have an interest in space, science, or engineering, and you’re near Pasadena, CA this weekend, (May 2 and May 3 2009) there’s a fantastic opportunity for you:

“One weekend a year, NASA’s JPL opens its doors to space exploration enthusiasts of all ages…”

“For two days, more than 200 scientists and engineers present live demonstrations of today’s most exciting space missions.”

For more information check out JPL’s website or a video of highlights from last year’s event.

JPL Open House

Video highlights of last year’s Open House