Sunday Matinee – Science In My Kitchen

While I recognize that this video is a departure from my primary focus on the space sciences, I just had to share this video. My kids and I made this video as we explored the interactions between milk and dish soap, using food coloring to make the interaction visible.

Kind of neat, yeah? The video should show you everything you need to know to try it yourself. The degreasing elements of the dish soap break up the fat in the milk (whole milk will work better than reduced fat), and the food coloring is along for the ride.

I bet you have everything you need to try this yourself, so what are you waiting for?

NASA Facebook Game – Space Race Blastoff

Image Credit: NASA

NASA recently released its first multiplayer Facebook game, Space Race Blastoff. It’s a competitive trivia game, in which you’re pitted against random opponents from around the world. You earn points for correct answers and bonus points for getting the correct answer first. I’ve played a few rounds and was actually surprised at how challenging some of the questions were. For example, you might be shown a photograph an astronaut and have to answer whom it is. I got Tom Stafford right, but didn’t recognize Stanley G. Love. Other questions aren’t specifically NASA-related, ranging from questions about the periodic table of elements to pop-culture references. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare and want a quick and fun test of your space sciences knowledge, give it a shot!

Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Daily Show

Astrophysicist, and renowned promoter of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson, sat down for an interview on The Daily Show with John Stewart. As always, Neil’s commentary drips of a passion for discovery and exploration. Science and comedy mix well!

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Be A Citizen Scientist – Globe At Night 2012

Globe At Night Logo

When we think of what it takes to be a scientist, we imagine many torturous years or studying, research, and education. While that certainly might be the path for a Ph.D. in a field of science, it certainly isn’t required to do science. In all actuality, we do science everyday; most of the time without even thinking about it.

For now, I want you to think about doing some science; science that will help many other scientists around the globe. It’s quick, easy, and fun. Participate in the 2012 Globe At Night.

Globe At Night relies on scientists around the globe, including amateurs, to make simple observations of the night sky in their area. The purpose is to obtain useful data on light pollution and astronomical viewing. Light pollution has a number of detrimental aspects, from negative affects on wildlife to issues regarding energy consumption. Most apparent to skygazers such as myself and many of you, light pollution is quickly degrading our view of the starry night sky. Globe At Night’s mission is to raise awareness about light pollution and collect data to measure its current impacts.

So contribute your scientific skills to the effort! All you really have to do is go outside, look at the constellation Orion (which is one of my favorites and worth viewing just for the sake of viewing it), and then compare your view with the charts provided. Globe At Night has a very user-friendly interface for recording the data, and they even offer smartphone applications (check your market for “Globe At Night”). After that, check out the map that integrates all of the data already being collected around the planet and find out where on Earth you’ll see the darkest skies.

There are four opportunities to participate this year, and the first is currently happening now (January 14 to 23). So please do it now! The next opportunities will be: February 12-21, March 13,22, and April 11-20.

Fellow scientists, thanks for your help!

Quotable: Mary Roach on NASA Impact to Technology

Packing For Mars

“If it’s cordless, fireproof, lightweight and strong, miniaturized, or automated, chances are good NASA has had a hand in the technology. We are talking trash compactors, bulletproof vests, high-speed wireless data transfer, implantable heart monitors, cordless power tools, artificial limbs, dustbusters, sports bras, solar panels, invisible braces, computerized insulin pumps, fire-fighters’ masks. Every now and then, earthbound applications head off in an unexpected direction: Digital lunar image analyzers allow Estée Lauder to quantify “subtleties otherwise undetectable” in the skin of women using their products, providing a basis for ludicrous wrinkle-erasing claims. Miniature electronic Apollo heat pumps spawned the Robotic Sow. “At feeding time a heat lamp simulating a sow’s body warmth is automatically turned on, and the machine emits rhythmic grunts like a mother pig summoning her piglets. As piglets scamper to their mechanical mother, a panel across the front opens to expose the row of nipples,” wrote an unnamed NASAfacts scribe, surely eliciting grunts from superiors in the NASA Public Affairs Office.”

Roach, Mary . Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (p. 334). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.


Mary Roach offers this concise description of how the investment in NASA and the space sciences benefits everyone. And this is just a footnote in her brilliant book, “Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void”. Packing For Mars answers the questions about space travel that many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for answers to, and even if we did we just may not have the nerve to ask some of these! Packing For Mars is highly recommended for anyone curious about what it took to get humans in space, what demands were placed on us once we got there, and what we can continue to expect in the future. This book offers history, documentary, and a generous helping of humor. You won’t be able to put it down.

Check out: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void