Monthly Archives: November 2011

  • Countdown to 11/29/11

    4. Where do energetic particles come from?

    Enrico Fermi proposed a theory on how particles could be accelerated by collisions with magnetic fields in the galaxy. Here are his notes showing the calculations he did for this seminal paper. Notice the date, Dec 4 1948. I did a quick check and found it was a Saturday! He did all these calculations over the weekend! Although we now know that acceleration occurs due to collision with supernovae shocks, but the central principle still holds. Here is a new paper in Science where this acceleration has been recently observed.

    A great way to start

  • Countdown to a Real Countdown, 11/25/11

    4. Why won’t Phobos grunt? Despite a flicker of hope a couple of days ago, the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft was frustratingly silent once again last night.

    3. Climate science. While anonymous hackers take a second crack at making political mountains out of email mole hills, scientists working in the open advanced our knowledge this past week. First, a paper in Nature presented evidence that the current rate of loss of Arctic sea ice is anomalous compared to the pace of the past half century millenium. Second, a paper in Science reported a new assessment of climate sensitivity to CO2 since the Last

  • Thankful Countdown to 11/24/2011…

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here are a few things news topics in astrobiology/planetary/climate science that I’m thankful for:

    3… The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft has started phoning home! This doesn’t necessarily mean the mission is saved, and it may even be past the point where a fully functional spacecraft could reach Mars, but this is a case where “no news is BAD news.” Things have changed for the better over the last 48 hours or so.

    2… Scientists that continue to pursue the worthy endeavor of climate change science. They steadily improve our understanding of what our future climate holds for us – and what

  • Farewell to a Brilliant Earth Mother

    Farewell to a Brilliant Earth Mother

    I’m sitting here in a surf café in Cocoa Beach Florida, taking a break from briefings for the impending launch of the Curiosity Mars rover and trying to wrap my head around the news of the sudden death of Lynn Margulis. I wish I had more time to gather these thoughts, but I’m trying to write this before my laptop runs out of juice and goes dark. All around me videos of youthful surfers endlessly riding perfect walls of water are cleverly looped so that they never hit the beach. But though

  • I am a scientist. Get me out of here!

    If you also think that sharing your research with a bunch of enthusiastic high school students is one of the best things about being a scientist, you will be interested in this London-based online outreach program: “I am a Scientist, Get me out of here! (IAS)”

    Here is how it works: About three or four times a year, IAS admins announce the application deadline for the interested candidates (aka graduate students and postdocs). If you are selected, the next step is to assign you to a zone based on your research/background. (For