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Shami Chatterjee
7,377 followers -
Astronomer, currently at Cornell University.
Astronomer, currently at Cornell University.

7,377 followers
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Shami's posts

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Since we have both the Pope and the Higgs boson in the news, here's something for the physics geeks:

After the conclusion of the conclave, Pope Francis puts on his papal regalia and prepares for the formal ceremonies, including addressing the cardinals at St. Peters. As he's heading up the stairs, the Higgs particle appears, seemingly waiting for Pope Francis to open the ornate doors. "I'm sorry, Higgs, but this service is for cardinals only," admonishes the Holy See. "But Pope Francis," Higgs replies, "without me there is no mass!"

(As seen on Metafilter.)

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A very good read about space travel and the two flavors of soothsaying, doubt and delirium. Dates back to 2006, but still spot-on.

"... If computer companies had stopped innovating in 1978, your desk might still sport a hundred-pound IBM 5110. If communications companies had stopped innovating in 1973, you might still be schlepping a two-pound, nine-inch-long cell phone. And if in 1968 the U.S. space industry had stopped developing bigger and better rockets to launch humans beyond the Moon, we'd never have surpassed the Saturn V rocket.

Oops!

Sorry about that. We haven't surpassed the Saturn V. ..."

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When cultural imperialism bites back: Asked a Beijing local where the nearest subway stop was, and got detailed directions to the nearest Subway. Ha.
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A shining example of how NOT to write a helpful error message...
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What will you do with your extra second this weekend?
Yes, a leap second is coming this Saturday, the first since 2008. Clocks will (should) go 23:59:59, 23:59:60, 0:00:00 in ticking over to Sunday.

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Gorgeous clip compiled from Cassini and Voyager images.

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Other than the bit about the pulsar "orbiting" only 22.8 light years from the sun (we wish!), I think this came out not too badly. (22.8 or 22,800 - what's three orders of magnitude among friends?)

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A challenging article by Robert Zubrin (author of the much-loved book "The Case for Mars"). Hard to disagree with his bottom line, harsh as it is:

"[T]o set an infinite value on the life of an astronaut is to set both the goals of the space exploration effort and the needs of the rest of humanity at naught. [...] The many billions being spent on the human spaceflight program are not being spent for the safety of the astronauts; they could stay safe if they stayed home.The money is being spent to open the space frontier. Human spaceflight vehicles are not amusement park rides. They are daring ships of exploration that need to sail in harm’s way if they are to accomplish a mission critical to the human future. That mission needs to come first."

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Cheerful news to start the new year with? Hmmm, we appear to be all out of good news. How about an apocalyptic story instead?

More google easter eggs. These work best if you type them (without quotes) at the google home page, and they do require a relatively modern browser.
"let it snow"
"askew"
"do a barrel roll"
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