Monthly Archives: June 2011

  • Tribute to the NAI’s First Director Tomorrow, 7 PM EDT

    No countdown tonight. Instead, I’m going to use this space to advertise an important event for the astrobiology community.

    Tomorrow, there will be a a tribute to Baruch “Barry” Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg discovered the Hepatitis B virus, developed its vaccine, won a Nobel Prize, acted as president of the American Philosophical Society, and was the first director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). He passed away on April 5th while delivering the keynote lecture at the International Lunar Research Park Exploratory Workshop.

    Dr. Blumberg was a friend to many, an inspiration to a new field, and a savior to millions. On every

  • Better Late than Never Weekend Theater

    … because I know you all watch videos at work, anyways. Well, here’s one you won’t feel guilty for watching at work: the PBS documentary “Earth: The Operators’ Manual. The show is narrated by a former professor of mine, Dr. Richard Alley. I’ll let Dr. Alley introduce himself with his introduction to the show:

    “I’m Richard Alley. I’m a geologist at Penn State University, but my research has taken me round the planet from Greenland to Antarctica… I’m a registered Republican, play soccer on Saturdays, and go to church on Sundays. I’m a parent and a professor.

  • The Countdown: 6/16/2011

    Posting in the dark tonight. The rest of my house is asleep, there’s a huge storm rolling into DC, and I’m not sure how long my power/internet will be on for.. Hopefully long enough to get through…

    3… We’ll have more on the Dawn mission as it approaches Vesta. For now we’ll have to live with this fantastic video of Vesta spinning under Dawn on its approach. For those aren’t familiar with Vesta, it’s the 2nd-biggest object in the asteroid belt. It’s so big, we think we have chunks of it here on Earth that rained down after an impact carved

  • Countdown catchup…

    Hey everyone! Sorry for the brief hiatus. Between AbGradCon, a workshop I was co-organizing this week, and a move to a new apartment, things have been very hectic around here.

    The good news is I have a backup of material from the last week to post on countdowns. Let’s start with…

    3. NASA released this video late last week of a huge solar flare. Not much to say here, other than that the video is awesome in the “awesome to behold” sense of the word.

    2. Congratulations to Myrtani Pieri, winner of the 2011 FameLab International Finals!

    1. Toot my own horn time! My

  • Where is Everybody

    Weekend Theater: “Where is Everybody”
    Here’s another regular content idea. I’ll try to post a video we can all watch over the weekend.

    This week, we’ll feature something I show at the opening of an astrobiology course I (used to) teach – the very first episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m not going to tell you the reason I show this, except to say there is an important lesson here for all astrobiologists.

  • FameLab International Final Tomorrow!

    This year’s FameLab International Finals will be held tomorrow at the Cheltenham Science Festival. The competition will take place at 8:30 PM if you’re in town… if not, you can stream it live! (It’ll be on at 3:30 PM EDT). For those that don’t know what this competition is, I can most easily explain it as “American Idol for Scientists.” The rules of the competition are that each speaker has a few minutes, no slides, and only the props they can carry with them onto the stage. Their talks are to be of a scientific nature, and directed at a