Sunday, January 30, 2011

New look for a new year

I decided to try a new look for the Blog this year. I'm not thrilled with the color scheme so that might change over time. But the overall look is nice. It adds some functionality, too, for the handful of people who actually read it. Any and all feedback is welcome.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Could we (temporarily) get a second sun?

Could we (temporarily) get a second sun?
POSTED ON JANUARY 24, 2011, AT 1:12 PM

"Dwellers of the fictional "Star Wars" planet Tatooine live under two suns. Earthlings may soon enjoy the same distinction, according to a report in Australia's News.com that is provoking scorn in parts of the scientific community. Betelgeuse, the ninth-brightest star visible to humans, is expected to transform itself from a "super red giant" to a "supernova." If it does so as soon as the end of 2012, the News.com report suggests, "we could see a second sun light up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks." Others say the process could take another million years and that the 2012 prediction is just apocalyptic wishful thinking."

This sounds really fun. It would be a once in a lifetime occurrence, I think. Definitely going to have to get pictures of this if/when it happens.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gay Couple Win B&B Discrimination Case

Gay Couple Win B&B Discrimination Case
3:35pm UK, Tuesday January 18, 2011
Sarah Gordon and Kat Higgins, Sky News Online

"The Christian owners of a seaside guesthouse acted unlawfully by refusing to let a gay couple share a double bed, a judge has ruled in a landmark case."

So did they did the same for non-married heterosexual couples? I doubt it. And even if they did, that's just as bad. It's like denying an interracial or interfaith couple a double bed.

Friday, January 07, 2011

NKorea calls for unconditional talks with South

NKorea calls for unconditional talks with South
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
updated 1/5/2011 8:27:15 PM ET

SEOUL, South Korea — "North Korea called for "unconditional and early" talks with rival South Korea to put an end to months of tensions. Seoul quickly dismissed the offer as insincere and said it's waiting for an apology for two deadly attacks blamed on Pyongyang.

It's rare for North Korea to issue such a statement addressed to South Korea and it came as the U.S. envoy on the North was in the region to discuss the standoff. Earlier Wednesday, Stephen Bosworth sought to calm fears of conflict on the peninsula."

"Rare" has got to be the biggest understatement of the 21st century so far. Maybe there is hope there won't be a nuclear war.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

When the black hole was born

When the black hole was born
(posted on 27/12/2010)
Contact: George Hunka | ghunka@aftau.org | 212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

TAU astronomers identify the epoch of the first fast growth of black holes

"Most galaxies in the universe, including our own Milky Way, harbor super-massive black holes varying in mass from about one million to about 10 billion times the size of our sun. To find them, astronomers look for the enormous amount of radiation emitted by gas which falls into such objects during the times that the black holes are “active,” i.e., accreting matter. This gas “infall” into massive black holes is believed to be the means by which black holes grow."

Black holes are where God divided by zero. :-)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Look at Why Women Opt Out of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers

Seeking Congruity Between Goals and Roles
A New Look at Why Women Opt Out of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers
Amanda B. DiekmanElizabeth R. BrownAmanda M. Johnston and Emily K. Clark
Published online before print July 14, 2010, doi: 10.1177/0956797610377342
"Abstract"
"Although women have nearly attained equality with men in several formerly male-dominated fields, they remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We argue that one important reason for this discrepancy is that STEM careers are perceived as less likely than careers in other fields to fulfill communal goals (e.g., working with or helping other people). Such perceptions might disproportionately affect women’s career decisions, because women tend to endorse communal goals more than men. As predicted, we found that STEM careers, relative to other careers, were perceived to impede communal goals. Moreover, communal-goal endorsement negatively predicted interest in STEM careers, even when controlling for past experience and self-efficacy in science and mathematics. Understanding how communal goals influence people’s interest in STEM fields thus provides a new perspective on the issue of women’s representation in STEM careers."

This is an exceptional read. We, as a society, need to bring more girls and women into the "Tech Sciences" because, frankly, they are very good at them. The recent Geek Girls movement has been a first step. But more work needs to be done.