Aug. 21st, 2017 04:53 pm
owlmoose: A bright blue butterfly (butterfly)
It was only around 75% totality in my area, but still pretty cool. I'm very glad the sky wasn't obscured by fog, which was sounding entirely possible yesterday morning.

Probably I should have gotten my act together to find a place to see the totality. Maybe in 2024, where the totality is further away but closer to people I might reasonably be able to visit.

Meanwhile, have some tree shadows from the courtyard in front of my office.
owlmoose: (science)
Maybe a month or so ago, T got an email announcing a pre-sale of tickets to "An Evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson". It sounded like fun, and we had no known conflicting plans, so we decided to go despite the lack of details about what, specifically, the evening might enail. The show was tonight, and it was just as great as we hoped it might be.

The first thing Dr. Tyson did after taking the stage was point out how trusting we were, to buy tickets and come out to the theater based on such a vague program title. The second thing he did was take off his shoes. And then, sock-foot, he introduced the topic of his talk: "An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies." It was a fun journey through the science of film, television, and a surprising number of beer commercials, what they get wrong, and what they get right. He talked about some of his more infamous run-ins with Hollywood and fandom -- his tweets about science errors in Gravity and The Force Awakens, getting James Cameron to change the erroneous night sky in Titanic for the 3D rerelease (although he tells the story somewhat differently) -- but there were some unexpected topics, too, like the topography of underwear in Zoolander, clever uses of surface tension in A Bug's Life, and how a mathematical equation helped enhance The Expendables 2. And he was hilarious throughout, as well as informative. If you ever get a chance to see him, I recommend it highly.
owlmoose: a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded by fog (golden gate bridge)
I don't believe in astrology, particularly, any more or less than I believe in any other sort of divination or mysticism. But I do find it kind of fascinating that, in all the hubbub over the story that's making the rounds about the supposed new dates of the zodiac that's been making the rounds, not one person I know has said that they think the new sign suits them better. The reaction is almost always the same: "This is ridiculous. No way am I a [insert astrological sign here]." And that seems to be the case whether the individual takes astrology seriously or not.

I include myself in this, of course; despite not "believing" in astrology, I've always found the concept fascinating (much as I do Myers-Briggs and other personality typing systems, whether based on tests or accidents of birth). I've seen my birth chart and read up a bit, and I do see aspects of myself in Pisces in a way I don't for Aquarius, or any other sign. Because of this, not to mention years of habit, "Pisces" has become a part of my identity. Not a particularly important part, mind you, no more or less important that my Chinese astrological sign is the Ox. But it still makes me wonder why this particular way of thinking about ourselves, our personalities, and the way we relate to others has taken such hold in American society.

As it turns out, no one's astrological sign has actually changed after all. This blog post explains why the shifting locations of constellations doesn't matter to the practice of astrology. So never fear: we haven't all undergone a re-alignment of identity after all. But it's still made for an interest test exercise.


Nov. 18th, 2007 10:01 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
Last night, we decided that we wanted to take a stab at seeing the celestial shows on offer: the Leonids and the comet. So we took off in the middle of the night and drove up to the Berkeley hills, above the fog and into the parking lot for the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The comet was a bust; we couldn't find it at all. Either the area where we were was too bright, or we weren't looking in the right place, or something, but we never found it. The meteorites did a little better -- T saw a shooting star as we stepped out of the car, and then around midnight I saw like six in the space of two minutes, and a couple of them were really impressive. I did better with the Perseids back in August, but it was still fairly cool; I didn't feel like the trip had been wasted.

But the real winner of the evening was the fog:

Picture beneath the cut )

The nearby glowing bits are the UC Berkeley campus. Then you can see the fog stretching out over the Bay to where radio towers poke up in San Francisco. You can see those better in this larger version, along with some stars. It's quite a view during the day, but there was something really cool about seeing it all at night, shrouded in fog.

For some unrelated photographic goodness, I refer you to [ profile] anzubird's photos of our trip to the San Diego Zoo. Sadly, my camera died the day before, so I don't have my own photos to share. But there's some great ones in here, especially the lynx.

I knew it!

Jun. 16th, 2006 06:09 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
Rats that live in sewers have healthier immune systems than those living in antiseptic labs

Ha! My displeasure with our germphobic society and the proliferation of antibactierial everything is vindicated.
owlmoose: (Default)
Wow, I've been in post mode lately. But I just had to share this news story off BBC Health:

Friends 'help people live longer'

Researchers in Australia found evidence that having close ties to family doesn't affect length and quality of life, but having a network of friends and acquaintances does.

Fascinating implications for importance of "family of choice" vs. "family of origin" IMHO. I hope to see more research and reports on this topic.

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