There are 182 moons (and counting) in the solar system orbiting planets; there are a bunch more orbiting planetoids. Read on for all your moon facts. [more inside]
The Doomsday Scam. For decades, aspiring bomb makers — including ISIS — have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. [more inside]
Mercury is such a dense liquid that cannonballs float in it. Humans float on it too (you'll have to scroll down a bit for the picture), but it's probably not a good idea. If you just can't resist hopping in the mercury vat, elemental mercury is less likely to kill you than mercury compounds. It used to be sold as a laxative (officially branded Dr. Rush's Bilious Pills but colloquially known as "thunder clappers"); Lewis and Clark's campsites can sometimes be identified by the mercury they deposited along the way.
We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
The “arsenic” ball gown sits on a headless dressmaker’s form in the basement archives of Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum as senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, wearing cotton conservators’ gloves, expounds upon its vintage (late 1860s), its provenance (Australia), its exquisite construction—and, most relevantly, its ability to kill.[more inside]
“I would give my life to fly in space. It’s hard for me to talk about it but I would. I would then, and I will now.” The terrible injustice of Jerrie Cobb, who deserved to be the first female astronaut, yet never made it to space at all.
If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is a tediously accurate model of the Solar System that Josh Worth made to explain to his daughter just how difficult it is to go on holiday to Mars.
I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability.[more inside]
Scott Carpenter has died at 88. As the commander of Aurora 7 in 1962, Carpenter was the second Mercury astronaut to orbit the Earth. He is best known for having wished his friend John Glenn "Godspeed" as the latter launched into orbit. [more inside]
Scientific American reports: "An isolated population of Arctic foxes that dines only on marine animals seems to be slowly succumbing to mercury poisoning." Though a definitive causal link is difficult to establish, an isolated population of arctic foxes on Russia's Mednyi Island is believed to be collapsing due to mercury contamination as a result of its seafood-heavy diet. Where does all that mercury in the environment come from anyway? Why, it's another biproduct of burning fossil fuels, of course, and predictably, rates of mercury pollution are only expected to increase. In some places in the US, even rainwater is showing high levels of contamination. [more inside]
As the European Union receives its Nobel Peace Prize with an ensuing celebratory concert, let us revisit 2001, when Paul McCartney and an all star line-up offered their live cover version of Let It Be.
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
What lives where in the Solar System. Fantastic Adventure covers from 1939/40 depicting the kind of lifeforms they think each planet can support. [more inside]
Mercury is an experimental roguelike. How is it experimental? Let's have the creator, Jason Lantz, explain :
" all the game’s content is winner-generated. That means that the game starts out barren. One class for players to play, one monster to fight, and one item to use. But every round, the top two scoring players use a tool built into the game to make a monster, item or class and then that object is automatically inserted into everyone’s game, and players fight for new high scores in an entirely different game every round."
Queen's finest moment may have been their 1986 concert at Wembley Arena, which you can now see (at very high quality) online.
Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
Fifty years ago today, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. In an recent interview, he lamented the decline of the manned US space program: "It's unseemly to me that here we are, supposedly the world's greatest space-faring nation, and we don't even have a way to get back and forth to our own International Space Station." [more inside]
The first official video has been released from William Shatner's new album. It's not "F**k You" or "Iron Man." No, it's an... indescribable "cover" of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Today is the 65th birthday of artist, performer, and pioneer Farrokh Bulsara (AKA Freddie Mercury), so Google produced this doodle for him. Here's a YouTube mirror. [more inside]
Built as part of the fifth /dev/fort developer retreat, Spacelog.org allows you to explore early space missions via the original NASA transcripts. Currently live are Mercury 6 which made John Glenn the first American in orbit, and the 'successful failure' Apollo 13 (The transcribed key moment and the original). Alongside the transcripts are supporting materials from the NASA archives including photography and descriptions of the mission phases. The developers are looking for help to digitise the Gemini 7, Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions.
A fascinating look at some interesting, and at times mind-boggling, arrays of dials and switches.
"I don't see any future for whale species except extinction." A report (pdf) released Thursday by Ocean Alliance noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. Concentrations of chromium found in some whales was several times higher than the level required to kill healthy cells in a Petri dish. Mercury in some whales was 16 times higher than a typical shark or swordfish, both known for their high mercury levels. Beyond whales, "You could make a fairly tight argument to say that it is the single greatest health threat that has ever faced the human species."
8 Wonders of the Solar System, Made Interactive. "What might future explorers of the solar system see? Find out by taking an interactive tour through the eyes of Hugo Award-winning artist Ron Miller. Text and narration by Ed Bell." [Via]
NASA's MESSENGER team (previously: 1, 2, 3), with help from the U.S. Geological Survey, released yesterday the first global map of the planet Mercury. [more inside]
The Kleptones put together a version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody stitched together from 33 different cover versions. Synthesizers, computer-generated voices, acoustic guitar, accordion, Weird Al, Star Trek.... (Direct MP3 link) [more inside]
From the successful conversion of a Porsche 914 into a battery electric vehicle (BEV), MIT's Electric Vehicle Team are now working on the conversion of a Mercury Milan Hybrid into a quick-charging BEV. Instead of the typical 10 to 12 hours for a full charge, the MIT team is looking at an 11 minute charge-time for their BEV, dubbed "elEVen," and they're blogging in detail about their progress. (via) [more inside]
We've talked about gold on Metafilter before (1 2 3), and while the price of gold as a commodity rising to record levels again, nobody is talking about the real price of gold. Unfortunately, small-scale mining is sometimes crucial to the livelihood of communities, for example in Suriname (1 2). Although there are attemps to make mining cleaner, the way growth in demand is outpacing supply, combined with the belief that it is a perceived safe-haven store of wealth, it is likely the negative effects will be with us for many decades.
Messenger has just made another flyover of Mercury, revealing hidden features. Watch the animation to see the blue volcanoes.
A liquid mirror telescope is made by spinning a reflective fluid, such as mercury, at a constant rate. This rotation produces a parabolic surface, which is an ideal shape for a telescope mirror. (You can try this yourself.) While these mirrors can be built to be large and orders of magnitude cheaper than solid mirrors, they have the disadvantage that they can only look straight up. Creating mirrors this way is not new; they have a history [.ps] that dates back to Newton. However, they have recently regained attention as the technology behind proposals to build an enormous (20m+) telescope on the moon. (A less technical treatment here.)
Mercury Messenger, a NASA probe, just performed a fly-by of Mercury at a height of 200 kilometers. It's the first spacecraft to visit Mercury since 1975.
Latest news out of the auto industry: Buick ties Lexus as top auto brand in vehicle dependability. Cadillac is #2. Mercury is #3. If you haven't seen the new Buicks, you should take a look at what they've been doing lately (see: Enclave, Lucerne). Also, the new (sort of) Taurus gets rave reviews. The Ford Edge, also new for 2007, has captured 16% of the crossover market, and owners seem to love it. Finally, for the greenies, GM is ready to test the electric Chevy Volt--says it is on schedule for production in 2010. Is it time to consider buying American again? And not just for the sake of it?
The 2007 Mercury Music Prize Shortlist: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black; Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare; Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford - Basquiat Strings; Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold; Dizzee Rascal - Maths And English; Fionn Regan - The End of History; Jamie T - Panic Prevention; Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future; The View - Hats Off To The Buskers; Maps - We Can Create; New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom; The Young Knives - Voices Of Animals And Men [warning: several links auto-play]. Although The View claim that the prize is irrelevant, most British musicians view the award as the highest honour a musican can receive. The Arctic Monkeys were victorious in 2006, winning with their album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. Dizzee Rascal took home the prize in 2003 for his album Boy in Da Corner. While both will be hoping to repeat their success, but no band/artist has ever won the Mercury Prize more than once.
RIP Wally Schirra, 1923-2007. One of the original Mercury Seven "Right Stuff" astronauts (just two left now), Schirra flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 7, and Apollo 7. From there on, it's stationkeeping.
You know this is what you always wanted to do with your G.I. Joe and his Mercury Capsule. (And knowing is half the battle!) Oh, and more video rocketry.
Transit of Mercury again. here Transit of Mercury again. Today -- and not for another seven years or so -- Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, shwoing up a speck-like black circle. But don't look. Starting times, real-time visual, ways to see it and another caution are here. rotoman
At forty miles (64.4 km) from Pluto to Sun, the Maine Solar System Model is the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system in the world. What, you didn't know there was more than one? And yes, Pluto is staying put.
Fox pussies out. Recently a bill passed in mexico legalizing all drugs under certain specified quantities. The bill was promoted By Vincente Fox's party, and came from his offices. However he decided not to sign it under U.S. pressure.
There go my vacation plans.
There go my vacation plans.
Aero Warriors: Battling at super speedways on Sunday to sell cars on Monday. In 1969 only showroom stock cars were permitted in NASCAR sanctioned events. This meant in order to compete a car had to be produced and available through dealers in minimum quantities. Only minor changes for racing were allowed. And in 1969 Ford and Chrysler were locked in a Battle Royale to win races. To this end both produced cars designed to dominate on the 1+ mile speedways. For Chrysler: the Dodge Charger 500, Dodge Charger Daytona, and Plymouth Road Runner Superbird. For Ford: the Ford Torino Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. Aero Warriors is the story and history of these street legal, 200mph (320kph) capable, wildly winged cars from the Chrysler side of the line.
NewsFilter: U.S. House strips states right to require food warning labels. The bill, which has never had hearing and is backed by well-connected industry lobbyists, seeks to make labels uniform across the country under the sole authority of the FDA, but it could gut 200 state laws in the process. Thirty-seven state attorneys general oppose losing the ability to require warnings such as California's for mercury in fish (though that particular one may have been saved by a last-minute ammendment). The legislation has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
Poor old Abe. He had an impressive medical history, as previously discussed. Will we ever figure out all his ailments? As an explanation for "his especially clumsy gait," one theory claims that he had Marfan's Syndrome (with good company). But now researchers are leaning more toward a new theory, that a gene-linked disorder called ataxia. But Lincoln also suffered from depression which could have been heriditary, for which he took "little blue pills" that gave him mercury poisoning, which could explain his insomnia, tremors and rage attacks, gait, and more. Of course, we also suspect that he was in the closet. Lincoln's DNA will continue to be a growth industry, at least until somebody can get hold of a sample of the old guy and figure him out for sure.
The MESSENGER spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral on August 3, 2004 and returned to Earth for its first gravity boost on the way to Mercury a year later on August 2, 2005. MESSENGER took hundreds of high-res digital photos during its Earth flyby and they've been sequenced into an amazing movie of Earth rotating over 24 hours as the spacecraft swung past at thousands of miles per hour.
A "stunning" link between an ingredient in childhood vaccines and autism leads to a cover-up conspiracy. "But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry's bottom line." An earlier post (concerned only with fish) asked, "Got mercury?" Why, yes you do - and fish is the least of your problems. Interestingly, hints of this story surfaced in the media in the Spring/Summer of 2005. There may also be a link between thimerosal and Alzheimer's, A.D.D., and Asperger's Syndrome. A thimerosal resource guide. Maybe we'll take notice this time around?
Mercury Connections: The extent and effects of mercury pollution in northeastern North America. a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. Evers, David C. 2005. BioDiversity Research Institute. Gorham, Maine. 28 pages. Mercury Connections is a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. These papers are published in: Biogeographical patterns of environmental mercury in northeastern North America. 2005. Ecotoxicology. Volume 14, numbers 1 and 2.
Meet The Lucky Ones. (more...)
What a coincidence, huh? (wapo, reg reqd) For the third time, environmental advocates have discovered passages in the Bush administration's proposal for regulating mercury pollution from power plants that mirror almost word for word portions of memos written by a law firm representing coal-fired power plants. The passages state that the Environmental Protection Agency is not required to regulate other hazardous toxins emitted by power plants, such as lead and arsenic. The actual proposals and study are here.
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