March for Science, Boston

The Boston branch of the March for Science drew a gratifyingly large and diverse crowd to Boston Common. I decided it was time to get out there and put my feet where my mouth is (not in my mouth; you know what I mean), and I’m glad I did. Here are some pictures to tell the story.

 

 

 

I don’t know who any of these people are, just that they cared enough to come out in support of science, clear thinking, and the welfare of our planet.

Happy Earth Day!

Dragons Fly Free!

Big news for dragon lovers! Today, Dragon Rigger is FREE in ebook, for a limited time only. With a little help from my friends at Bookbub, another boost from the folks at eBookDaily, and (I hope) the help of all of you in spreading the word, I hope to put a lot of copies of Dragon Rigger in a lot of new readers’ hands!

Dragon Rigger is science fiction, but with a distinct flavor of mythic fantasy. It’s one of my favorite children! If you like interstellar space stories, I hope you’ll like it. If you like dragons, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s the sequel to Dragons in the Stars, and is part of the much larger Star Rigger Universe.

If you don’t already own a copy in ebook, now’s the time to grab one. And please let others know! Thanks!

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google | Smashwords


How Can You Not Like Tardigrades?

I have just finished our taxes, and in celebration I am toasting the tardigrade! This hardy little critter can survive the vacuum of space, the cold of near absolute zero, and temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. These little extremophiles are tough! All it asks is some moss to suck on. How can you not admire the tardigrade, who is sort of cute, in the same way certain breeds of dogs are cute.

You’ll like this short video about them on Curiosity.com. (I couldn’t find a way to embed it here.)

Are tardigrades the secret to panspermia, the seeding of life through the universe? I wonder.

 

“So, I Just Washed My Clothes in Plant Food?”

posted in: family, humor, quirky | 2

Apparently so. The above was the plaintive cry of the daughter I will call Pip, when she heard me ask the daughter I will call Mouse if she knew what was in the detergent bottle sitting next to the washing machine. The bottle clearly said Arm & Hammer Free & Clear detergent, and I had no reason to think otherwise when I picked it up off the floor and put it on the shelf. A day or two later, I went to use it—but when I shook it, I thought it felt like water, not detergent. So I put it back down on the floor and made a note to ask the troops.

A little time passed. When I finally asked my daughters, Mouse said, “Oh yeah—that’s for you to water my plants while I’m away. Don’t worry—it has plant food already added.” And that’s when Pip, listening in disbelief, realized what she had just used to launder her clothes.

Plant food! Water for plants! Labels, people—this is why God gave us labels, and big black markers! Caramba!

(Wondering: How can people who are so smart…?)

 

Larry Predicts a Red Nova in 2022

I was just reading in Astronomy Magazine that astronomers have predicted that a binary pair of stars will merge into one in 2022, and set off an explosion called a red nova, similar to this image of V838 Monocerotis, from the Hubble space telescope. It’ll be as bright as the North Star, and last for up to six months. That’s a pretty striking prediction, and not the sort of prediction astronomers usually make. (More here.) But here’s the thing…

I was most of the way through the article when I went, Wait—who? I scrolled back up to read again, who’s being quoted here. I wasn’t seeing things—it’s Lawrence Molnar of Calvin College in Michigan. Way to go, Larry! Larry Molnar and his wife Cindy are friends from way back, having lived right above us for several years right after Allysen and I got married. We went to the same church; we exchanged babysitting. He was my first consultant on the question of how one could theoretically set off a supernova (From a Changeling Star), and he introduced me to other consultants at Center for Astrophysics at Harvard. We also made a snow dog together (modeled on Sam, our first border collie mix), back in the 1980s.

Larry, Snow-Sam, Jeff

This is cool. I’m going to be watching, Larry, to see if it happens on time.

Curly and Moe were not mentioned as participants in the study.*

*Sorry. That’s the only part of this post that’s an April Fools joke. The rest is real.

Schrödinger’s Cat in Space!

Conduct your own experiment with Schrödinger’s Cat in space! Go to APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) and press the button to see if the astronaut is holding a picture of a live cat or a dead one. You have to go to APOD; it won’t work here. Are you determining the course of the universe, or splitting it into another set of infinite branches? What do you think? I know which interpretation I favor, but pick your own. (No one knows which is right! Who says science has already answered all the great questions?)

Oh, and Happy April 1st!

 

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