Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "talmor" journal:
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Public Astronomy Lecture - Ruby Payne-Scott|
The Perth Observatory summer lecture this year is on February 25th, at 8pm, on the lawn behind the main Observatory building, so you can come early and bring a picnic dinner or snacks.
It's being given by Professor Miller Goss, and is about Ruby Payne-Scott, and her role in early radio astronomy in Asutralia. Payne-Scott helped design and implement early WWII military radars used in the Pacific, then helped establish radio astronomy research in CSIR (which became CSIRO), and fought many battles against discrimination along the way. Among other issues, she had to have a secret wedding, because female public servants at the time were required to quit after getting married, so they could take care of their husbands properly...
A PDF with a full description is here (note that there is more information on the second page): http://www.perthobservatory.wa.gov.au/pdfs/summer%20lectureflyer%202011.pdf
Tickets are $7 each - to make a booking, call 9293 8255.
Science in my Fiction|
This blog might interest a few people out there - 'Science in my fiction'. Entries are written by a collection of scientists, SF fans and SF writers, talking about putting real science in fiction - interesting scientific tidbits that might make good stories, and aspects of science and technology that don't seem to make it into fiction very often. One of the contributors is currently designing a laser induced breakdown spectroscopy instrument for the forthcoming Mars rover - it will be able to zap a martian rock with a high-powered laser from tens of metres away, and use a mini telescope and spectrograph to determine the composition of the rock by studying the glowing plasma. His blog (Martian Chronicles) has lots of interesting planetary astronomy news, but SIMF covers a much wider range of sciences, and includes the odd bit of short fiction too.
David McCandless (from the 'Information is Beautiful' blog) has collated a spreadsheet
detailing every single instance of time travel depicted in every single Dr Who episode (old and new), and made the data public. Anyone who wants can submit corrections, or download it and attempt to turn it into a graphic depiction, similar to the one he did for time travel in movies
It'll be pretty crowded...
Ada Lovelace day|
It was Ada Lovelace
day a couple of days ago, but here's a late entry - I'd like to mention Penny Sackett
, someone I've known since 1995 when she founded what turned out to be a truly groundbreaking research project - hunting for extrasolar planets in gravitational microlensing events using a small network of 1m-class telescopes around the world. That research group is still going, and still getting big discoveries, although many of the names have changed. She's now Chief Scientist of Australia, so hasn't had a lot of time for astronomy lately...
Anyone who enjoys xkcd (www.xkcd.com
) has to read this post:http://rocketscientista.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/tuesday-tunes-i-love-the-whole-world/
First the Discovery Channel created a couple of ads with a song with a 'we love the world' theme. Then xkcd did a comic based on the ads and the song. Then there were videos and songs based on the xkcd comic, the best featuring a scary array of famous people acting out the comic live, called 'we love xkcd'...
The first ASKAP dish|
This is the first dish in ASKAP, the other Square Kilometre Array prototype telescope being built out at Boolardy, by CSIRO. They had just poured the foundations for this dish when I was out there in December - now it's up and ready to go. It'll be joined by 35 identical dishes over the next year or two, to make ASKAP. If the full SKA goes ahead here, there will be around 3500 dishes like this out there...
Voting for the loser reduces your testosterone levels|
Fascinating article here
on testerone levels after voting in an election - they analysed the testosterone levels of volunteers before and after the last US election. The male voters who had voted for losing candidates showed a marked drop in testosterone, but female voters showed no change in hormone levels. The same drop in testosterone is seen when men lose in sports and other competitions, and winning in sports raises testosterone levels (although they didn't see rises in the successful Obama votors).
Presumably it's a throwback to dominance fights, where becoming less aggressive after losing makes you more likely to survive in the long term. New studies are going to see if the same effect happens with sports spectators - it certainly seems likely, as there's similar emotional investment, although no element of control in the result.
Barracking for a team that loses may well hit you right in the gonads...
Two good articles, and a plug|
There's a good post here
on what real space battles (and military spaceships) might actually be like, without exotic and probably impossible technology (FTL drives, etc). I've seen a lot of what he covers described elsewhere, but it's a good summary. In particular, he points out that anywhere near a star or planet, fights wouldn't be anything like manouvers in empty space, it would all be about control of key regions (minimum energy transfer orbits between planets, etc)
And here's a blog all about impact craters
- the most recent post goes into lots of detail about the various stages in the formation of a crater when something hits a planet (or comet, in this case) at speed. The whole process is a lot slower than I expected - you could watch it happen over tens of minutes, if you could avoid being vapourised.
Both would be good reading if you're contemplating writing a space battle sequence and don't want to be the 21st century E.E. 'Doc' Smith when it comes to scientific accuracy in SF...
And speaking of Dr Smith, our Swancon is going to be the 50th National SF convention in Australia. To commemorate that, we're producing a commemorative book with stories, photos, and other information about the history of SF in Australia, and natcons in particular. If you have any photos or stories, please tag photos as 'natcon50' in flickr, or post something to the project site
, or the facebook page
It might seem like this is still early days, but we aim to have the book on sale at Worldcon in Melbourne in September next year, for overseas guests to take home as a souvenir of Australian fandom. Counting back through all the various production deadlines means we need to get material real soon now...
I'm going to be at Astrofest all day tomorrow (Saturday Nov 28th) - it runs from 2pm-10pm, and has activities, astrophotography and art competitions, scientific talks, activities for kids, stalls, and a public lecture. In the evening there's model rocket launches, a public lecture on the demotion of Pluto from planethood, and dozens and dozens of telescopes to look through. It's on the grounds of Curtin Uni, in Curtin Stadium (North entrance off Kent Street).
If anyone has a spare room to rent, or needs a housesitter, from around the first week in November (for a few weeks, maybe longer), let me know. I know someone moving out here from Canberra to work on the MWA radio telescope, and he needs a place to stay while househunting.
He's clean, friendly, housebroken, and spent many years working on Mauna Kea - his specialty is designing and building digital cameras big enough that you need a forklift to move them around.
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