Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Earths first Spaceport?

Sooner or later, we gotta get of this planet. Me thinks sooner, judging reports about global warming and the on-coming War of the Cultures.

Over-population and the usage of our natural resources means that we must find some resources (and even somewhere else to live) before Earth has another Extinction Level Event (ELE). We know a giant rock is coming to change the order of things. It has happened 5 times we know of already. The dinosuar event, 65 million years ago in the Chixalub in Mexico is just the fifth ELE that they know of.

And of course I havent mentioned Super Volcanoes, Global Plagues, Ice Ages, and good old fashioned Thermal Nuclear Death.

sings "We gotta get out of this place". But how?

It is actually really fuel intensive to get of this planet. So much of a rockets fuel is just needed to break the Earths atmospere. You probably couldnt launch a vessel that was meant to go deep space and back again with conventional rocket fuel. It would probably weigh too much. Thats why they dont paint the fuel cells on the shuttle. The extra weight would mean extra fuel to cover it, and even more fuel to cover the extra weight of the extra fuel! phew!

So if you could launch from somewhere where you didnt have to break the Earths atmosphere, you could take so much extra fuel with you for your deepspace exploring or mining trip! Nice :)

And finally, what is the main componant of rocket fuel? Hydrogen, the H in H2O.

Which brings us to that magnificent photo from the Mars Exress showing a crater at the north pole of Mars full of water ice. It is about 10km across and about 200/400 meters thick. And its not the only crater at the pole. Concieivably, you could build a base at the poles of Mars, build a machine that converts water into Hydrogen fuel, and launch missions from there.

Many years in the future, I fear; but we have the technology now, not the political will.

Peace out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Black Holes & Mira, the Wonderful Star

Ever since I heard what a Black Holes is I wanted to see one! Ever see that cheesy Disney movie from the 70's Blackhole? It fascinated me.

Since the creation of the Hubble Telescope it was only a matter of time before we got to see one. Buts whats that I hear you say? You cant see a blackhole because light cant esacpe from it? Well that is true; you might not be able to see the blackhole, but you can certainly see its passing!!

When a Blackhole passes close to a star, it starts to suck it in. The matter from the star streams towards the BH. As BH's are rotating the matter from the star starts to swirl around the event horizon of the BH just like a whirlpool. The gravity is so strong that the matter rotates close to the speed of light. They call this an accretion disc. You certainly can see those.

In fact the gravity is so strong that the BH sucks in far more matter than it can swallow. It ends up throwing out billions of tons of stellar matter from either pole. It throws them thousands of light years into space in two continuous jets.

Its not just BH's that create accretion disks. White Dwarf and Neutron stars do also. Both are the remains of collapsed stars that werent quite big enough to make a BH. The gravity they immit is still huge. A neutron star can have a diameter of 25k kilometres but have the gravity of a million Suns!!!

The last pictures are of Mira, the Wonderful Star, so called for its unusual fluctuations of brightness. Scientists now know Mira is a binary star system, with Mira A, a nice normal bright star, and Mira B, a White Dwarf star that is pulling huge amounts of solar matter from Mira A towards itself. The matter is spinning around Mira B at a huge speed kicking out emense amounts of radiaition. Radiaion is the main give-away for a BH.

The final picture is an artists recreation of what the Mira system might look like.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

The arc.

This is the trail that the shuttle Altanis left on her trip to space.


Friday, August 25, 2006

The Poles are taking over Britain....apparently

New figures from the Home Office have shown that visitors from the new EU succession countries have numbered 650,000. The government predicted 15,000, lol.

I'm all for freedom of movement. Its nice to see different people all over the place. There are two Polish lads working at my local Subway. They are both always nice and polite.

But vast amounts of foriegners in the UK always gets the debate going. Two many immigrants, not enough immigrants...yada yada yada. The Brits are actually a very tollerant people, but they cant stand the idea of people taking liberties with our laws and taxes. This debate will just keep going, with the Romanians and Bulgarians getting it next year.

But it got me thinking. Now that I actually know a Pole, I should ask; What does Poland think about a load of young, productive and tax paying Poles moving to other countries and supporting their ecconomies?

Is it a debate in your country, Kasia? Tell all!!!

The magnificent picture is from the Solar Observitory SOHO. The Sun in Ultraviolet.



Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A smoke angel!

Another day, another cool picture. It needs an explanation.

"What type of cloud is that? It is not a naturally occurring one. Looking perhaps a bit like a gigantic owl monster, the cloud pictured above resulted from a series of flares released by an air force jet over the Atlantic Ocean in May. The jet that released the flares, a C-17 Globemaster III, is seen on the right. The flares release smoke and the resulting pattern is sometimes known as a smoke angel. The circular eyes of the above smoke angel are caused by air spiraling off the plane's wings and are known as wingtip vortices."


The Venture Brothers

I have discovered a new cartoon.

I am not a habitual cartoon watcher (its all a bit too American for me), but you cant deny that some of the cartoons are aimed solely for adults Futurama, Family Guy, South Park. And some are for teens and young adults The Simpsons or Samuri Jack.

With with the advent of animated movies like Shrek and the PIXAR movies animators are not just aiming at the kids. We expect self-referential tricks, satire, and spoof that we adults will get a kick from. If we dont get it, then we dont watch it. If we do, then we watch in droves. Shrek II is the 8th highest grossing film of all time with $880 million.

I have discovered The Venture Brothers. It is set in a 1960's ish world of mad scientists and super Villians. The Venture Brothers are two lame teenagers who act and dress totally square. The try to have really lame adventures that a 10 year old would solve and always say "Go Team Venture!". But if the show was about just about them it would be failure but the Venture brothers are a backdrop to the real fun, the rest of the family. Their father Doctor Venture is a real mad scientist with daddy issues. His father was the most sucessful Super Scientist in the world. Litte Rusty cant get out of his fathers shadow. Selling crappy death rays and clones to the US governemt, he has lost his mojo. He is protected by one of the greatest cartoon characters ever, Brock Samson. An ex Super Secret Agent, he is now the bodyguard for Dr Venture and the boys. They are his family. Voiced by the fantastic Patrick Warburton (the voice of Kronk from The Emporers New Groove!), Brock Samson is the most violent bodyguard ever. Baddies dont get beaten, they get pulped and killed in the most inventive ways ever. The body count in every episode is always high.

With a full cast of Super Villans like the Monarch (dress like a giant butterfly and flys a giant cocoon full of henchmen dressed like butterflys), or the Lord OverBeiht (with a metal jaw and a whole country of henchmen) it is a joy to watch. Silly yet knowing it spoofs every 1960's spy movie ever but with modern sensibilities. There are loads of henchmen jokes. The Monarchs two chief henchmen Number 24 and Number 26 are real sad nerds who attend Henchmans Anonymous and live with their Mums. Rival Henchman get drunk and stoned waiting for their bosses to finish a super evil meeting. Even the Fantastic Four get a good kicking.

Watch this if you get the chance. I cannot recommend it enough.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Women taking over the world of Poker

Congratulations to Lois who came 4th in the White Rose poker Tournament. Of the 4 girls who entered, 3 of them mdae the final table.

Damn. I came 24th. Not bad but could have been better. Pockets Jacks beaten by AK. As is always the case with me!!

The photo is comet Hale-Bopp passing close to the galaxy Andromeda. By close, I mean only as our eye sees it. Andomeda is about 100,000 light years away in a new galaxy. But seems close to us. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The North America and Pelican Nebulas & The Eye of God

As the names say, these are The North America and Pelican Nebulas . I can never see the shapes myself. Maybe you can.

However, even I can see the eye in The Eye of God.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Shoemaker-Levy 9

On the 18th July 1994, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slams into Jupiter.

"The power and size of the explosions of most fragments far exceeded most predictions. Although the visible flashes were out of sight, in infra-red the huge mushroom clouds, some bigger than the entire Earth, could be seen rising up over the edge of Jupiter. The power of the biggest explosion, that of fragment G, was estimated at 250 million megatons of TNT, 17 billion times bigger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 (yield 15 kilotons). Even the biggest hydrogen bomb ever exploded by mankind, 50 megatons, is tiny by comparison."

Cool, huh?

Arnt we small, lol?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Good News Everybody

I hope you are all Futurama fans. The most intelligent and funny cartoon ever!! The greatest cast of characters and the most quotable dialogue "What did we hit? Was it a space cow?"

The Simpsons only wishes it could be as funny as Futurama.

And the great news is Comedy Central have commisioned 13 new episodes.

Good News Everybody!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Terry Pratchett

Let me post a quote from TP describing his books.

" Welcome to the Discworld. It started out as a parody of all the fantasy that was around in the big boom of the early '80s, then turned into a satire on just about everything, and even I don't know what it is now. I do know that in that time there's been at least four people promoted as "new Terry Pratchetts" so for all I know I may not even still be me. "

The fans of Terry have become a bit obsessive in a Star Wars/Star Treck sort of way. There are numerous sites devoted to his world, The Discworld.





I have yet had the courage to make a costume and attend one of these events, but one I day I yet may!! I am sure dressing as a wizard, or city guard, or even as Death; getting drunk and playing silly games might just be a good day out, lol.

There has been some fantastic artwork recently about the Discworld from a man named Paul Kidby. In many ways his new art has given faces to all our favourite characters. http://www.paulkidby.com/

"Nulus Anxtiatas"


After Kasia showed a secret love for Stephen King, i thought I out to post my book collection. I bought books regularly for about 15 years. Mainly horror, thillers, and a bit of fantasy.

Then I discovered Terry Pratchett. The greatest author ever. http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/ His comedy fantasys set on a flat world, with a full cast of dwarves, trolls, witches, wizards, vampires, and gods. I was not normally fantasy fan but Terrys works are a mirror to our world. His books are the most insightful look into our world ever. It has been compared to Jonathon Swifts Gullivers Travels. And they are funny. Laugh out loud on a train funny.

If youve not read them, go find a copy

Monday, August 07, 2006

Super cool photo of the Sun

Every now and again Astronomy Picture of the Day prints an photo that just blows me away. Today was no different. Viola.. A Solar Prominance. And a big one at that. Arnt we small? lol

Not much to report. Mum & Dad back from holiday and its the official worst holiday ever. And thats saying something. Poor sods!

I hate work and I hate poker (the tease!) but I like Ike. Sorry old US political joke :)

Peace out.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Moons!! They're all so lovely.

I know I profressed my love for Jupiters moon Europa, but if I was ever to have an affair it would be with Saturns moon Titan. Ice boulders and lakes of Methane. Gotta love a place like that. And with its fantastic orange atmosphere, its a looker :)

We've just visited it with the probe Huygens. It really does look like there are rivers and lakes of methane. How cool is that?

Friday, August 04, 2006


Nothing to report. Work is shite and I haven't won the lottery. Lol.

Cool picture of a Sun Piller.