BAN #55: Space’s Deepest Secrets, a launch to Mercury, and a piquant follow
October 22, 2018 Issue #55
|Phil Plait||Oct 22, 2018||2|
Subscribers are people I will appreciate to the smallest planet and back.
Upcoming Appearances/Shameless Self-Promotion
Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to or read about
Season 5 of the Science Channel’s series Space’s Deepest Secrets has started up, and if you like astronomy documentaries you’ll see some familiar faces including my shiny pate. It airs Mondays at 10 (check your local listings etc.), and the first episode, “Dark Origin of the Moon” has already aired — click that link and you can watch it online! It’s pretty good (it spends time covering why the Moon’s farside crust is thicker than the nearside, something I’ve written about before).
These are fun to make, even if I still find it very weird to see my own face on my own TV.
[Credit: Phil Plait. My feet used by permission.]
Oh, and don’t forget: The Star Trek Cruise is in January, too! The cruise company site says there are fewer than 100 cabins left, so if you wanna go, it’s time to make it so.
Follow o’ the Letter
Someone you should follow on social media
Jennifer Ouellette is one of those friends I’ve had for so long I’m not really sure how we first met. Out of curiosity I dug through some files and found an email from 2009 (I had a couple of now-defunct emails from before then, so I’m sure I’d find older ones if I could access them), links to her Cocktail Party Physics site from 2007, and other miscellaneous stuff from a year or two earlier. So yeah, we’ve been friends a while.
She’s a science writer, and a really, really good one. She’s written for Ars Technica, Quanta Magazine, and Gizmodo. She’s written a lot of books, including the truly wonderful The Calculus Diaries (affiliate link), a book that I swear on whatever I hold dear is an exceptionally fun, interesting, and accessible description of calculus. Yes, really. Go read it. And if “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is your thing, you might like The Physics of the Buffyverse.
On Twitter she’s a tremendous source of links to other great science articles; to follow her there is to have access to a torrent of wonderful reading. Her passion is to get as much good and interesting science to people as they can handle, and that is something I have a hefty respect for.
She’s a great speaker. This is a really fantastic talk about phase changes, tipping points, and what and how we can learn about ourselves from them.
She’s also just cool. Whipcrack humor, sharply smart, quick with a quip (her Twitter handle is @JenLucPiquant!) or wise sentiment or well-informed opinion; I’ve learned to listen when she has something to say. You should too.
[Weirdly, the only photo I have of Jennifer and me together is this ridiculous one where I photoshopped Neil Tyson’s head into it as a Halloween joke. Jen! We need to fix this situation!]
A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.
ICYMI: On Friday night (Oct. 19), the European Space Agency launched the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, the first mission to that planet since NASA’s MESSENGER. The lunch was picture perfect… in fact, here’s a series of rapidly displayed pictures to show you the launch:
It’s actually two separate spacecraft, and is loaded with a big suite of instruments to investigate the closest planet to the Sun. The Planetary Society has a page with links to all the info you need to understand this very cool mission to a very hot planet.
P.S. It’ll take seven years to get there — dropping a spacecraft closer the Sun is pretty hard — so you’ll have to be patient to see the science. But it’ll be worth it!
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
Monday Oct. 15, 2018: The curious case of the first exoplanet truly found: Gamma Cephei Ab (I went sleuthing!)
Tuesday Oct. 16, 2018: The Human Cube: The volume of humanity
(this one is pretty fun)
Wednesday Oct. 17, 2018: Hey, we were right! Planets found around the baby star HD 163296
Thursday Oct. 18, 2018: A gigantic galactic city — still under construction — seen clear across the Universe
Friday Oct. 19, 2018: The Milky Way’s sibling spiral star system
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (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!