GeekSpeak for 2009-11-28

Paying for Space-y News

This week, Ben covers Saturn’s Northern Lights, Miles covers the News Corp/Google shakedown, and Lyle delivers the final word on alien visitation.

The Vatican Joins the Search for Alien Life

“The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth, with scientists and religious leaders gathering in Rome this week.”

Astronomers Release Galactic Collision Game

Astronomers have devised a game to help uncover the basis of galactic pile-ups.
The game, part of the ongoing web-based project Galaxy Zoo, shows players images of colliding galaxies and asks them to match those to simulations.

Solar Tsuamis - Don't Get in the Way!

“Now we know,” says Joe Gurman of the Solar Physics Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar tsunamis are real.”

The twin STEREO spacecraft confirmed their reality in February 2009 when sunspot 11012 unexpectedly erupted. The blast hurled a billion-ton cloud of gas (a “CME”) into space and sent a tsunami racing along the sun’s surface. STEREO recorded the wave from two positions separated by 90o, giving researchers an unprecedented view of the event:

Cassini Captures Saturn's Northern Lights!

In the first video showing the auroras above the northern latitudes of Saturn, Cassini has spotted the tallest known “northern lights” in the solar system, flickering in shape and brightness high above the ringed planet.

The new video reveals changes in Saturn’s aurora every few minutes, in high resolution, with three dimensions. The images show a previously unseen vertical profile to the auroras, which ripple in the video like tall curtains. These curtains reach more than 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) above the edge of the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Geeks in Parade

The Downtown Association’s Annual Holiday Parade is just around the corner! Please join us on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 10:00am for bands, dancers, classic cars, horses, performers and so much more!

Space Junk

Just in case you are an astronaut and need something to worry about, according to NASA there are 18,000 pieces of space junk the size of a basketball or larger right now orbiting the earth. That’s 18,000 chances to slam into the International Space Station (ISS), bump into a U.S. Space Shuttle, or plow into any of a number of satellites in low Earth orbit. Twice the ISS has had to be moved to avoid potential collisions and one other time when it couldn’t be moved the crew huddled in their Soyuz taxicab for danger to pass, with one such near-miss taking place just last week. How can we fix this?

Sounds Good To Me

“When we claim that we can tell the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a FLAC encode, are we really hearing some substantial difference, or are we merely telling ourselves that one is better than another?”