The entire Universe — or at least parts of it — as interpreted through the brain of Phil Plait: astronomer, science communicator, and goat herder.

Monday, May 21, 2018 

Bad Astronomy Newsletter #11

May 21, 2018 Issue #11

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Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

Monday, May 14, 2018: GET YORE CHOPPAH TO MARS!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018: Did the Galileo spacecraft pass through a geyser plume over Europa? Maaaaaybe. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018: A tiny cube sees the Earth and Moon on its way to Mars

Thursday, May 17, 2018: A glimpse of oxygen at the edge of space reveals stars born just after the Universe itself

Friday, May 18, 2018: Hubble + Nearby galaxies = Galactic gorgeousness (yeah, you wanna click this one)


Politics

As Dave Barry said, “Poli” = many and “tics” = blood-sucking parasites

In BA Newsletter Issue #7, I wrote about how it appeared that Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, appears to be wavering in his adamant denial of climate science. He wrote (or put his name on, at least) an article saying that we need to reduce our carbon footprint, which was astonishing to me given how loudly he denies climate science and how he uses Orwellian and McCarthyesque tactics to attack it.

I should’ve listened to my instincts.

In a committee hearing on May 16, Smith went back to his usual ways, spouting ridiculous nonsense about climate science that would give him a failing grade in a fourth grade science class. He quoted a Wall Street Journal OpEd stating that sea level rise has nothing to do with oceans warming (which, to be clear, is 100% BS). His remarks in the meeting make it clear he’s still the same ol’ Lamar Smith who is doing everything he can to please his fossil fuel masters while watching the world burn. 

And his comments are actually better than some of what other GOP Reps said. Seriously, read this article and try to keep your head from exploding. Rocks falling into the ocean cause sea level rise? SERIOUSLY?

Do me, yourself, and the entire world a favor: Register to vote, vote in the primaries, and then vote in the midterms come November.

These anti-science jackasses must go.


Random Thoughts

Stuff I think about in the shower, typically, and which may one day make it to the blog. Until then…

Here’s something to think about: There are cities on this planet you’ve probably never heard of that have over a million people in them. 

This first occurred to me in 2013 when an asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, a town I had never heard of. When I looked it up at the time I was shocked to learn it had over a million citizens. It also happened when my friend Scott Sigler wrote a book (Pandemic, part of his Infected series, which is great — it’s science-based horror and pretty creepy stuff) and mentioned some of China’s bigger cities, and I realized that I was unfamiliar with their names even though they’re populated with over a million people each.

And even then, that’s only about 0.013% of everyone on Earth.

There are a lot of people on this planet, in places we’re unaware of, and will never visit. If there’s a lesson in this for you, feel free to contemplate it and draw your own conclusions.


Follow o’ the Letter

Someone you should follow on social media

Dianna Cowern is a force of nature in science communication. She goes by the moniker Physics Girl, and she brings her science and engineering background into everything she does. She makes fun, accessible science videos on YouTube and covers a lot of unusual topics that are really engaging and entertaining. My favorites:

Why do mirrors flip things horizontally but not vertically?

Can you solve the boat puzzle? 

Cool vortices in a swimming pool

The Most Mysterious Object in the Universe  (hint: It’s brown dwarfs, which I have studied, and if I made a video about them it would be a lot like this one). (Oh wait, I did! But it’s a lot longer.)

And this timely one, Why Hawaii's volcano is so UNUSUAL

[This is from the mirror episode, which I found pretty funny; a lot of people get confused about mirrors because they think of them as flipping right and left, not in and out. Credit: Dianna Cowern.]

I first met Dianna IRL at a party at San Diego Comic Con and was immediately impressed with her knowledge of science and also how personable and excited she is about it — something I feel very strongly is critical in getting others into it as well. She’s doing a fantastic job bringing her joy and passion for science to everyone, and connecting them with it. So follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her YouTube channel!


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!

The entire Universe — or at least parts of it — as interpreted through the brain of Phil Plait: astronomer, science communicator, and goat herder.