BAN #215: Cards Against Humanity is not so horrible, Crash Course goes app

04 May 2020   Issue #215

[Spiral Galaxy M81 image credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona]


Subscribers are a crash course in cool people.


Apropos of nothing

Not everything needs to be themed

[Credit: Cards Against Humanity / Shutterstock / Likoper]

We all could use some good news these days, and I have some: High school senior Sala Ba is the winner of the 2020 Cards Against Humanity STEM scholarship! This is an annual award given to a young woman who wants to pursue a higher education degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math (STEM, get it?). Every year, over a thousand young women submit videos explaining a STEM topic in three minutes or less. A large group of judges then goes through the videos to pick the one they think does the best job.

Ms. Ba sent in this video, demonstrating conservation of angular momentum:

That was great, and I love her energy and enthusiasm. So what did she win? She got what the winner every year receives: A full ride scholarship to the university of her choosing. Yeah, you read that right. And she’s going to Stanford, so, wow. Here’s the video of her getting the call that she won:

Nice!

Where does this money come from? A few years back the folks at CAH put out a science expansion pack, adding horrible science jokes to their already crass and horrible regular cards for the game. Among the jerks who volunteered to create the pack are Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and, well, me.

The packs sold fairly well; as of this writing over 1.3 million dollars has been raised by sales. Yes, again, you read that right. And all the money — all of it — has been set aside for this scholarship award every year (there are runners-up as well who receive scholarships of $1,000 and $2,500, too). I am ridiculously proud of being a part of this.

Do you know of a young woman who is a rising senior in high school or an undergraduate at college who wants to get a STEM degree? Applications for the 2021 academic year open in the fall. Let them know!



I recommend

Something I think you’ll like

A cool thing that happened on Friday: The very good folks at Crash Course have released an app where you can get all the Crash Course videos in one place!

Crash Course is a project helmed by Hank and John Green, and each course is a series of videos, written by experts, about different topics. They’re intended, as the name says, to drop you into a subject and give you the basics you need to understand them — think of them like abbreviated intro courses into the topics.

In the app they also have a deck of “flash cards” done for a few of the courses (Anatomy & Physiology, Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry) and more are coming.

[Hey, I know that guy! This is the landing page for Crash Course Astronomy on the app. Credit: Crash Course]

If you don’t know, I wrote and hosted Crash Course Astronomy, a 46-part series about my favorite topic (besides Star Trek and chocolate). Of everything I have ever done, this remains one of my proudest achievements. It was a vast amount of work and effort on the parts of a lot of really terrific people, and the results, I think, are wonderful. You can go to YouTube to watch them, or — and this is the point — you can get them via the app, too.

It’s available for Google devices and Apple ones as well. John has a video on the CC Instagram page announcing the app with more info.

Coincidentally (really; I did this just before I saw John’s video) I was curious if people staying at home due to the virus were watching more videos. The last time I tallied the numbers for CC Astronomy was in March 2019, but still the number shocked me: The total views on YouTube are now at a staggering 55 million.  

Fifty five MILLION views. That’s a lot. When I mentioned this on Twitter I got a flood of replies from people who have watched them, and I honestly and sincerely thank each and every one of you who have. Because wow.

And if you haven’t, well, here’s your chance! Go take a look. The whole Universe is waiting for you.


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[Ever seen this movie? Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. A classic. Credit: Columbia Pictures  ]

Monday 27 April, 2020: So, those Navy videos showing UFOs? I’m not saying it’s not aliens, but it’s not aliens

Tuesday 28 April, 2020: New technique shows Martian meteorites are capable of transporting evidence of life to Earth

Wednesday 29 April, 2020: A black hole is slowly eating the corpse of a dead star

Thursday 30 April, 2020: Has the Sun captured dozens of asteroids from another star? Wellll…

Friday 1 May, 2020: Why is the Universe made of matter and not antimatter? New experiment gives a tantalizing hint.


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!