Hillary, the Squirrels, and Spring

After much pondering, I voted for the Hillary. Interesting voting factoid about Massachusetts (or at least my town): the Democratic ballots are shaded red, and the Republican blue. Messing with us? Of course they are!

Speaking of messing with us, when I got home, I decided it was a nice day and it was time to take the suddenly failing Christmas lights off the tree in front of our house. (Happy First Day of Meteorological Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, everyone!) I like to keep the lights up after the holidays, to brighten those bleak February nights.

Here’s how the squirrels thanked me (and the reason the lights were failing).

Squirrel-chewed lights3_sm

Happy Asteroid Day!

Yes, today is Asteroid Day, intended to heighten our awareness of our planet’s vulnerability to assault by Nature, in the form of asteroids that could smack us and reduce cities—or even civilization itself—to rubble. The threat is not imminent, perhaps, but it’s certainly real. And some of our agencies are starting to get serious about planning ways to protect ourselves.

Proposed methods of diverting asteroids range from painting one side of a threatening asteroid white (to change the balance of sunlight pressure and outgassing), to using ion traction motors, to repurposing something else that threatens our world: nuclear weapons.

I like to think of this day as also celebrating the opportunity to do cool and constructive things with asteroids, like mining them for water and metals, and hollowing them out to live in them. We’re working on that, too. 

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a picture of the biggest asteroid in the inner solar system, Ceres, currently being orbited by the Dawn spacecraft—and its mysterious white spots. Alien winter Olympics? Alien ice cream stands? I guess we’ll find out together.

Happy Pi Day, Extreme!

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(GOING LIVE ON 3.14.15 AT 9:26.  Five… four… three… two… [finger points])

Happy Pi Day! No, I don’t mean pie day. I mean Ratio of a Circle’s Circumference to Its Diameter Day! Or approximately 3.1415926, followed by a lot more digits, going on forever. It’s the universal number signifying the presence of an intelligent, sentient species. If we ever detect that number being beamed to us from space, it’s either from one of us, or there are Intelligent Beings out there, with both math and transmitters. My dog Captain Jack is pretty smart, but I don’t think he knows about pi. My cat Moonlight… well, she might.

Anyway, Pi Day comes around in a minor way every March 14. (3-14)  But today is Pi Day Extreme: 3.14.15. That won’t happen again for a century!

Pi Day is also when the MIT Admissions Department sends out its notices of acceptance. In fact, according to the Boston Globe, this year’s admission notices will be released on Saturday, March 14, at 9:26 a.m. That works out to 3.1415926, which is pi to seven decimal places. I love MIT.

Here’s a video MIT prepared, depicting the admission notices going out en masse by quadcopter drones, set to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries:


Happy 12-12-12, Everyone!

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This is the best day since 11-11-11.  And as my friend Crystal pointed out, the fast-approaching 12-21-12 will be almost as good. Alas, we may never see a 13-13-13, and not because of the end of the world.

Say Twelve-Twelve-Twelve fast a few times, and then check out my earlier 12-12-12 post (right below, if you’re reading this directly in the blog) about works in progress and the great Blog Hop.

Happy 11/11/11!

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Allysen and I have been trying for a while to figure out how to celebrate 11/11/11. For about the last year, I’ve had a strange knack for glancing idly at a clock and discovering that the time was 11:11. (Again? This is weird.) I wasn’t doing it intentionally at all, though after a while it became hard not to look at a clock and hope that it would be 11:11. Anyway, that gave me a special desire to celebrate November 11, 2011 (11/11/11), a truly cool date.

It turns out that where Allysen works, a lot of brainy, creative people had the same idea. She called me and said, “You have to come in and see it.” I did. These people are amazing. They had decorative pillars arranged in pairs all over. They had placards spelling out 11.11.11 in a bunch of different languages, including binary and Morse code.

 11.11.11 in Korean

 11.11.11 in Urdu (I think)
11.11.11 in ???
They renamed all the floors.

Among the special elevenses in the world:

  • There have been 11 Doctor Whos.
  • There have been 11 Star Trek movies.
  • The Apollo 11 mission landed the first men on the Moon.
  • In M-theory, there are 11 spatial dimensions.
  • The sunspot cycle is 11 years.
  • There are 11 thumb keys on a bassoon. 
  • The sports soccer, football, cricket, and field hockey all field 11 players to a team. 

We’re going to settle in for a movie and fish and chips, and plan on popping open a bottle of something fun at 11:11 p.m.

Happy 11/11/11, everybody!