Results tagged “space” from kwc blog



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In the battle against Neutrinos, Japan first constructed Kamiokande. Kamiokande II was stronger, able to fight Solar Neutrinos sent by SN 1987A of the Tarantula Nebula. The Japanese scientists were pleased with their nucleon decay experiment but worried about proton-decay weaponry slipping through the defenses. They conceived of Super-Kamiokande: ten times more water, ten times more detectors.

The Neutrinos penetrated Super-K's defenses on November 12, 2001: 6,600 of the detectors imploded in a massive chain reaction. Super-K was hobbled; it's lesser form, Super-Kamiokande II, redistributed the remaining detectors and added acrylic shells to shield it from another strike. In 2006, Super-Kamiokande III rose from the shattered glass, returning Super-K to full strength in the Neutrino warfare.

Update: The Super-K folks don't appreciate my sense of humor. I wrote the above entry after I stumbled across the beautiful images of the facility for perhaps the second or third time (it's been around since 1996). The name of the facility conjured up memories of Godzilla films -- some of you have witnessed me re-enacting faux Godzilla battles in response to Ikea furniture naming (Markor vs. Ramvik). Even though I met all their listed conditions for using their images, including notifying them of the use, it was this notification that was my undoing:

We basically do not provide our image for personal web page.
Additionally, your article seems to be scientifically incorrect.


The Eye of Helix watches us



The Spitzer Space Telescope caught this awesome image of comets colliding in the Helix Nebula (the red is the comet dust). It would fit well with BSG mythology.

via SpaceWriter Ramblings

Shuttles from the Space Station and Hubble


I never really thought about orbit angles and such, but apparently its really important if you're sending objects up to service objects in space. The Hubble Telescope is at a very different orbit angle from the International Space Station, which means that it would be very difficult for a shuttle to get assistance from the space station in the event of an emergency. I just assumed in a Space Camp sort of way that, once you're in space, you just bang on some thruster buttons until it all works out. The New York Times has more.

Speaking of shuttles and the International Space Station, here's a shot of a space shuttle launch as seen by the ISS (via Mr. Sun/Warren Ellis):

And here's an aurora borealis shot from the ISS as well (via

New York Times Article on Hubble + ISS

More photos from Warren Ellis

Book: Red Mars


marscrater.jpgRed Mars is a book about Mars colonization, which means the story breaks down into two basic elements: Mars and the people that colonize it. Of the two, I cared more about Mars, which Robinson does a more than adequate job with.

I've been fascinated with Mars, as you can see from all the Mars-related links I have in this entry, and I enjoyed reading a book that tries to put Mars into humanscale and explores the science and culture of change that could befall it with colonization. Robinson puts a lot of science into the book, good enough that I don't have to lose my suspension of disbelief over it. In my one area of understanding, AI, I can state that the treatment of robots in the book went very well with some NASA AI talks (Mars Exploration Rover (MER) planning and AI and the New Exploration Vision) that I've been to recently.

There are characters to go along with the Martian terrain, but I did not find myself caring much about them as much as I did about what they were doing to Mars. Robinson does a good job in making them unheroically realistic; in this aspect they fit in with the scientific realism in this book. However, the 'driven scientist' archetype that he uses as a template for his characters rings false to me and in some ways the characters end up becoming more outlandish than Mars.

I haven't made up my mind as to whether I'll read Blue Mars and Green Mars as it's hard to imagine the same sense of exploration and pioneering that made the first book so compelling, but if any of you out there have recommendations let me know.

Some other Mars entries on this blog: * LiveJournals for the NASA Mars rovers * Cool Mars Animation Video * Moons of Mars * Marvin the Martian Going to Mars

Red Mars is also a great complement to the Google Earth Plus Mars Database -- the Google Earth visualization provides a low resolution skeleton and Robinson's text gives you enough to let your imagination fill in the rest. I am considering re-reading Red Mars, but next time with a greater focus on locating the geographical points on Mars maps to get a better sense of scale and environment.

Several quotes in the extended.

Talk: Simon Singh, The Big Bang


Simon Singh Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe

Singh gave a great talk on his book, The Big Bang. It was very easy to see how he could be so successful in writing popular science books. Who would have thought to use a backwards Led Zeppelin clip to explain how two competing scientific theories might both find support within a set of empirical data? Singh had a great ability throughout the talk to take a history and a scientific theory which are both dry and complicated, and make them both humorous and understandable, whether it be by analogy or by finding that Willow-esque nerd humor -- in discussing Fritz Zwicky's tired light theory, he brought up Zwicky's favorite insult: 'spherical bastard' (looks like a bastard no matter what direction you look at him). I appreciate that anecdote enough that you shouldn't be surprised if I refer to you as a 'spherical bastard' the next time you see me.

More notes in the extended.

Talk: AI and the New Exploration Vision


Dan Clancy, NASA

I enjoyed this talk -- it was a survey of NASA's current AI-based missions, including current and future Mars missions (Sojourner/Spirit/Opportunity). metamanda would have liked at least one point the talk made, which was that NASA is working on a personal rover robot to create/inspire kids, and in particular, girls. They have found in their exhibits that robots are more engaging to girls than boys, who enjoy the embodied interaction, so they see in it an opportunity to bridge a gender gap as well as inspire a future generation in NASA's vision. It was interesting how the Personal Exploration Rover pictures really did look like baby versions of the Spirit/Opportunity rovers, i.e. there was a certain amount of anthropomorphism to the vehicle, and it appeared child-like that could help engender a care-taker relationship between a kid and the robot.

Read on for notes.

I bent my wookie... er $239M satellite


NOAA-N accident
- Earth Science Missions Anomaly Report: GOES/POES Program/POES Project: 6 Sep 2003 | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

FYI: the NOAA-N satellite is a weather satellite that will monitor climate conditions (weather, vegetation, drought) for four years. It will be used to receive distress signals from wayward hikers and boaters.

(via Making Light)

More cool space photos on the way


sirtfNASA's latest telescope is on it's way. This one seems to be cool (a) because it's infrared and will see very distant, cold objects, and (b) it will actually be doing a solar orbit instead of staying stationed above Earth. - NASA launches last of the 'Great Observatories' - Aug. 25, 2003 (NASA Press Release)