Archive | March 2008

How radio astronomy unlocks the mystery of the Universe…

I came across the below movie about the NRAO (the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory) earlier today, its actually quite good publicity for them but it also gives a nice, visual overview of radio astronomy and since I’m always up for trying to promote this to a wider audience go take a look [nrao.edu]

A different kind of tour of the Earth

Astronaut Don Pettit, has put together a 10-minute movie of what cities look like at night as seen from the International Space Station. Don Pettit shot these images while he was Science Officer aboard ISS Expedition 6 about 5 years ago. Go watch… its well worth it:

(and if for any reason the embed image above does not work take a look at [youtube.com]

The biggest expolsion in the Universe?

On the 19th March the Swift X-ray telescope detected a record-breaking Gamma Ray Burst (GRB). – from some 7.5 billion years ago(!). The telescope is linked to a wide range of telescope dedicated to target these objects once they are detected and indeed it was seen:
grb optically and in xray
To find out more and to see the movie of the burst taking place see [here].

Nominated for “Space Oscar”

I have been nominated for a “Sir Arthur Clarke Award” in the category for “Best Student Achievement”. The award ceremony will be held during the 2008 UK Space Conference on 29th March in Godalming, Surrey. It’s a shame that I won’t be able to get along but I have long standing outreach commitments that I really can’t turn my back on… and I’m sure its for that work that I got nominated so it would be really bad if I cancelled so I could party!
The “Arthurs” have become recognised as the space equivalent of the Oscars. They provide recognition and pay tribute to those who have worked for the advancement of space exploration. Nominations are submitted by the public, and the winners are voted for by representatives of the space industry, research institutions & universities, and space-related organisations. Nominees for other categories in the 2008 awards include Sir Richard Branson (in the categories “Best Individual Achievement” and “Space Entrepreneur”) and Stephen Hawking (“Inspiration Award”).

My new laptop – the Asus eeePC

It doesn’t seem too long ago I got all excited and went and got my mac book pro. As time has gone on I have loved that laptop (and still do) but I wanted to get a really small and truly light one. I had heard about the [eeePC] a while ago now and then the other day we came across it at, you may be surprise, Toys R Us! Turns out they were out of stock and after going back on Friday it was still the same case. After running around and a tip off from one of my mates (cheers Tony!) we managed to get on at Curry’s. I have to say I have fully fallen in love with it!
The key reasons I got one was: Size: 225 mm x 164 mm x 35 cm, Weight: 920g incl battery. Remarkable! It was also only £250.. so it is not going to break the bank.. and god forbid it happening but if it did get stolen its not quite the same as the £1,500 for the mac…
Though a bit small for my fingers its absolutely wonderful. It comes with a custom built version of [xandros] (a linux OS). Its a pretty cool operating system and after a few tweaks (take a look at [eeeuser.com]) you easily can have a fully windowing system and not just the default tabbed display. I now have an installation of XUbuntu running off a memory stick… which I will eventually replace with a SD card.. so I don’t forget to bring the OS with me! 😀 If you have one and fancy doing it take a quick look at: [installing_alt_op] or [ubuntu-eee.tuxfamily.org]. A cool video showing what you can do with Ubuntu on this small machine can be found on [youtube.com].
What else to say but this thing is cool and has probably lead me to way too much distraction as of this weekend… and probably will in the next week!
For further reading the [wiki page] provides some interesting background… and if you want to know what it looks like on the inside then some cool (but maybe also crazy!) person took his apart [tweaktown.com].

Happy Pi Day!!!

If you didn’t know, and if you didn’t have you been sitting under a rock (biggrin.gif), today is Pi day!! No its not food, and yes I can spell. Pi, the Greek letter, is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535… and today is March 14th, which if you follow the american calendar is 3.14 … in the UK it is not so sensible as we have our calendar day.month… oh well, its the closest we can get as there is not 31 days in April. So go out, be a geek and wish everyone you see a happy Pi day… oh and an interesting article about this can be found at [bbc.co.uk]

Physics Ball

Last Friday was the Poynting Physical Society’s annual ball. It is a rather fun occasion where we all get dress up, eat expensive food and pay too much for our drinks. It is always worth it though. This year was no different and it was lots of fun. Of course, being me, I took lots of photos…
ball_08_4
ball_08_93
ball_08_105
ball_08_50
more can be seen [here]