LHC Webcams. There's been a lot of LHC news lately but a less-publicized series of Compact Muon Solenoid proton collision tests is scheduled for today, and CERN has been kind enough to set up a live streaming webcam to watch the CMS in action. (There's also a view of the parking lot but I think that's more so underground-bunkered LHC staff can see the weather.) It's fairly dull viewing but if you're interested in the science of it all, it's great nerdy fun. Maybe you'll even see a black hole or two. ;)
Light Reflection: a brilliant fan of cryogenics venting from a relief valve on STS-122 Atlantis' ET (external tank) post-separation. Also see this handheld video of the ET, with money shots at 2:15 and 3:55. [more inside]
Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond. "When I was growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the 1960s, I came to the view that God was an infantile illusion, suitable for the elderly, the intellectually feeble, and the fraudulently religious."
The Pioneer Anomaly. Something's up in deep space: the Pioneer spacecraft, now out of contact, have shown an unexplained Doppler drift, indicating sunward acceleration, effectively decelerating the probes cumulatively. The effect may be be nongravitational, and could be explained by any number of factors: an undiscovered twist in Newtonian physics, localized cosmological contraction issues, or just venting gas. Other deep space probes may have experienced the anomaly as well, and a new mission could explore the puzzle; but for now, all we have is past Pioneer data, and that's stored on old 9 track tape which can only be read by antique readers. What's to be done? (Also see Pioneer Odyssey for a nostalgic romp through those early days of deep space exploration. And NASA, bring back the original Pioneer home page plz, kthx.)
10.5 If you're like me, you probably just finished watching 10.5, and are still giggling at the "disastrous" screenplay and campy drama. Well, the science is in: Magnitude 10.5 is impossible, brick buildings would collapse long before the Space Needle, fault lines don't follow train tracks, California will not slide into the sea, bottomless pits do not swallow up unfortunate red-shirted extras, and for crying out loud, Lex, don't use nuclear warheads either to blow the tectonic plates apart or weld them shut.
Old Mars and the Sea. A salty sea may once have covered the Opportunity rover's landing site on Mars, boosting the possibility that the planet may once have evolved life. (Of course, there are those who believe NASA has been conspiring to cover it all up, but the Bad Astronomer has words on that. Bunnies and faces, my foot.)
How to be an Internet Woo-woo. From fake moon landings and mystery lights to Roswell Rods and Grey Aliens, the Woo-woo Credo gives you the lowdown on being an effective conspiracy theory monger.
The Particles of Star Trek. Confused about dilithium, trilithium, and neodilithium? Can't tell a tachyon from a temporal wake? Here's an obsessive and growing list of just about every particle used across the generations: "So tiny, you can't tell it's a deus ex machina!" (Also includes minerals, chemical compounds, energy waves, and other miscellanea.)
Ionospheric luminescence. Tonight. US East-coast skywatchers, look out for high, glowing clouds tonight between 9:30pm and 5:30am, as NASA fires rockets carrying combustible chemicals into the sky to study our planet's ionosphere. (Thank you, Spaceweather.) This reminds me, just a bit, of Projects Argus and Starfish.
The Twinkies Project: "Tests With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations." Kids, do try these at home.
Just FYI, it's entirely possible for a human to survive exposure to the vacuum of space for a limited time without any permanent damage -- as long as you expel all the breath from your lungs to avoid an embolism. Horrifying scenes of sudden explosive decompression or immediate freezing are, as far as I can tell, a myth. (In other words, Mission to Mars got it wrong, 2001 got it mostly right. But that's no surprise now, is it?) Link via BadAstronomy. Love that site.