Saturday, August 28, 2010

To Woo

From the Wikipedia article on courtship:
...Acts such as meeting on the Internet or virtual dating, chatting on-line via instant messaging or e-mail, sending text messages, conversing over the telephone, writing each other letters, and sending each other flowers, songs, and gifts constitute wooing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

T-Rex vs. Mars Rover

Comment sections are usually full of idiots. Case in point:
jjeherrera Jul 30, 2010 6:17 PM
I've always found it hard to understand why there is so much insistence in manned space exploration, when it has been proven that robots are infinitely better at it.
Wanna know what I say?
Top speed of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the mightiest dinosaur: 25 mph
Top speed of the Spirit Mars rover: 2 inches/second
Human space flight ftw!

But seriously, " has been proven that robots are infinitely better at [space exploration]." Huh? What planet are you from? (Maybe one where T-Rex and Mars rovers can peacefully coexist?)

Right now robots are the method of choice for exploring the solar system because they don't want to come home when all is said and done. And nobody has a fit when one or two burn up in the atmosphere. But to do serious exploration, robots just won't cut it forever.

Imagine trying to design a robot to
  1. Land in the Rocky Mountains (and survive!)
  2. Move about successfully (good luck)
  3. And then discover dinosaurs.
It's utterly unthinkable.

Do you think that's a bizarre scenario? Consider for a moment that Mars has both the highest mountain (Olympus Mons) and the biggest canyon (Valles Marineris) in the solar system. Mars used to have vast oceans, huge rivers, and gargantuan lava flows. It still has dust storms, polar ice caps, and massive amounts of water ice just below the surface. The possibility of fossilized microorganisms is very real - not to mention the chance of native life just below the frigid surface.

If we're ever going to do space exploration any justice we'll need to get our feet dirty. Humans are infinitely better at space exploration than robots!
Thanks for the drawing Brook!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Value of Creative Science

When you hear the word creative you don't necessarily think of science. But science is an extremely creative process and has occupied some of the most creative thinkers in human history. Many of the problems in the world can be solved by science, such as rising energy costs, global warming, starvation, and disease.

Admittedly, the following video was made for corporate propaganda purposes, but it does a beautiful job of illustrating why science is an alluring, creative field with the mission to change the world.

I am a scientist because I love the thrill of creatively solving a difficult problem. The prospect that in some small way my work might change the world for the better turns a fun career into a great one.

And of course, nothing says science like Asians in lab coats. :D
Did you notice the boiling cryogen at the beginning of the movie? Cool.