Friday, October 31, 2008

Witch Nebula

Which Witch?

Credit: Digitized Sky Survey and Noel Carboni

IC 2118: The Witch Head Nebula

In case you haven't noticed - it's HALLOWEEN!!!

Halloween Colors

Lilja is celebrating Halloween with a few photos from Åsa's fall foliage. I simply couldn't resist! :-)

Happy Halloween


Cat in Snow

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Nano Sun

Science Policy

Credit: IBM

These images created by IBM scientists demonstrate a new nano "printing" technique they believe will lead to breakthroughs in ultra-tiny chips, optics, and biosensors. The recreation of Robert Fludd's 17th century drawing of the Sun - the alchemists' symbol for gold -- was created by precisely placing 20,000 gold particles, each about 60 nanometers in diameter. This method could be used for mass production to place particles as small as 2 nanometers in diameter to fabricate atomic scale nanowires, ultra tiny lenses for optics and biosensors for healthcare.

Most people fail to see the paramount importance of basic science, often claiming it is a waste of time. Like who cares if we can write the I B M letters on nanoscale, let alone 'drawing' a picture of the Sun as seen above. The truth is that these nitty gritty both theories and applications are necessary to do before we can transform it to life saving or otherwise useful applications in our daily lives. Sarah Palin gets on my nerves with her 'cute' ignorance and she awaken my old science policy maker me.

Sea Ice

Arctic Sea Ice

Credit: ESA/Envisat

Based on data from satellite radar altimetry collected in the period 2002 - 2008 one can see that rather dramatic changes took place in sea ice thickness. It is getting seriously thinner this year. Last year were exceptionally warm and it might be a late effect of that that causes the ice to diminish, but further studies are necessary to fully understand what is going on and what causes the changes.

Today the first snow covers the landscape in the Oslo region. It doesn't feel like it is getting warmer, I can tell you that! :-)


The Good Ol' Space Days

Photo: NASA

The beginning of aerospace times. This is Sperry M-1 Messenger, the first full-scale airplane tested in the tunnel. Miller here in the middle of 'high-tech' was chief of aerodynamics.

I find this timely as I am right now headed for a local gathering to watch my grandfathers photography. :-)


Stellare's Gift To Sarah Palin


Sarah Palin clearly don't like fruit flies, so I thought she'd like fish instead then. She needs some genetic research and I gather she'll refrain from Mengele like studies to help cure or improve the health of the mentally and physically challenged individuals among us. Hell, for all of us. :-)

Neither fruit flies or zebrafish have externally visible ears. They are therefore safe from disastrous earmarkings, really...

Aren't they cute though, the zebrafish? You betcha they are! ;-)


Something Blue

The Pleiades

It is one of my favorites because it's blue. :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too Cute

Credit: IBM

This image created by IBM scientists demonstrates a new nano "printing" technique they believe will lead to breakthroughs in ultra-tiny chips, optics, and biosensors. The recreation of Robert Fludd's 17th century drawing of the Sun – the alchemists’ symbol for gold -- was created by precisely placing 20,000 gold particles, each about 60 nanometers in diameter. This method could be used for mass production to place particles as small as 2 nanometers in diameter to fabricate atomic scale nanowires, ultra tiny lenses for optics and biosensors for healthcare.

How on Heavens Earth did it ever become cute and charming to reveal a total lack of knowledge of exact sciences such as mathematics and physics? It beats me, but I constate that that is how one rolls these days. Should you on the other hand expose your lack of insight in say literature or history you risk being banned from elite societies, disgustingly 'ignorant' as you have shown that your are.

Somebody paid me to be a science politician for almost a decade so I know all about earmarking, dedicated science programs and their potential conflicts with resources for basic science projects. And in political fights that follows with science policy making, ignorance surfaced. Yet, never have I seen somebody so blatantly exposing their ignorance as Sarah Palin does here. Which led me to share my humble observations and views with you.

NASA celebrates 50 years of existence this year. Based on this observation alone one could assume that the population is accustomed to high-tech of all sorts and especially its various applications in our modern society. We can write IBM with letters on nanoscale, send numerous spacecrafts and rockets to space add pinpointing their position with high accuracy to that, create artificial hearts, sending robots to hostile environments etc. Society is so drenched with high-tech we obviously don't think about it and certainly not reflect on what a life saver it has become. Because, what else can explain that a leading journalist on prime time national TV (in Norway) ask a major donor to basic science why he doesn't rather give his money to something useful like feeding the children in Africa? It is actually appalling that not only inexperienced politicians but highly professional journalists allow themselves to be so ignorant, and on top of it all expose it to the world as something cute. Developing Africa through science based sustainable management, fighting diseases, provide them with educational high-tech and so on is the key to help Africa, not the extremely short term 'put food in their mouth now' strategy. We've tried that for some time. It doesn't solve the problems.

Thank the mighty Gods for the Kavli's on planet Earth. A Norwegian with a lot of money decided to use them for the benefit of humanity – through furthering basic science; particularly astrophysics (my very own background), nanotechnology (I've spend a considerable amount of time on that field as well) and neuroscience. Kavli has funded a number of science institutes mostly attached to high ranking universities, and also gives away prizes to extraordinary scientists. This is a sound and long sighted investment in humanity and the direct opposite of the values and politics of the Sarah Palins of this planet.

As a contrast to Kavlis science focused philanthropy we can enjoy the entertaining 'science'. Such as psychologists stating the obvious and claiming it is research. A fine example of recent is the lady in red. Maybe Sarah Palin likes red a lot and that alone is her reason for not attacking funding these kind of projects and instead tries to ridicule the poor fruit flies.

I know an unacceptable amount of facts about mathematics and natural sciences. I like and almost always wear blue. Never red. And I am damned proud of it even if that makes me not cute nor attractive.

One zebrafish is sent to Alaska's Sarah Palin.

End of rant.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Blue Marble - 'The Normal' Side

Credit: NASA, Reto Stöckli, Robert Simmon

This is the side of the Earth we often see when we illustrate the planet Earth. 'The Other Side' is posted below.

Twin Star

Twin with Triplets

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This diagram compares the Epsilon Eridani system to our own solar system. The two systems are structured similarly, and both host asteroids (brown), comets (blue) and planets (white dots). Epsilon Eridani's inner asteroid belt is located at about the same position as ours, approximately three astronomical units from its star (an astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun.). The system's second, denser belt lies at about the same place where Uranus orbits in our solar system, or 20 astronomical units from the star. Epsilon Eridani is thought to have planets orbiting near the rims of its two belts.

Our Sun's twin star Epsilon Eridani has a triple-ring system that includes two rocky asteroid belts and an outer icy ring. How cool! :-)

Galileo and GLONASS

Space Navigation


This Global Navigation Satellite System is composed by both Galileo satelllites and GPS satellites. 'GPS', or rather GNSS, receivers and the augmentation system in Norway can receive signals from both GPS and GLONASS now. In the future I believe all nations will be able to receive signals from all the global systems on their receivers.


GLONASS on Putin's Dog

REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool

"Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin watches his dog Koni that wears a GPS device on its collar in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow."

Koni (Connie) live

Global Navigation Satellite System - GNSS, is the internationally agreed general name, not GPS. GLONASS (Ru) is a GNSS, GPS (US) is a GNSS, Galileo (EUR) is a GNSS, Compass/Beidou (Cn) is a GNSS.

So actually I'd say GNSS on Putin's dog. It is definitely not GPS, though. :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008


Blue Marble - 'The Other Side'

Credit: NASA, Reto Stöckli, Robert Simmon

See The Side also.

Most images of the blue planet shows the Americas. Understandably since NASA began to produce these incredible images of our home planet. I think 'The Other Side' is equally beautiful. :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Cute Little Magellanic Cloud

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) - ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Here you can se how newly formed stars blow a cavity in the center of a star-forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Quantum Computing

Quantum Computing and Spintronics

Credit:Kevin Young, Mohan Sarovar and Cheuk Chi Lo

In a qubit based on electron spin, the spin-up quantum state might be assigned the value 0 and the spin-down state the value 1. These states are superimposed, each having some definite probability, and the value cannot be determined until the qubit is measured (or "collapsed").

"Bit" is a contraction of "binary digit," but unlike a classical bit, which is plain-vanilla binary with a value of either 0 or 1, a quantum bit, or qubit -- the theoretical basis of quantum computing -- holds both 0 and 1 in a superposed state until it is measured.

Credit: Cheuk Chi Lo, Kevin Young, and Mohan Sarovar

Electrical detection of magnetic resonance reveals the nuclear spin states of implanted donor ions by spectral lines. In large ensembles (left), spectral lines for both the up and down spin states are present. By reducing the measurement to a few or, ideally, a single donor ion (right), a single spectral line predominates.

A vast computational space can be created with relatively few quantum-mechanically entangled qubits, and the measurement of one qubit can instantly resolve an intricate calculation when all the entangled qubits are "collapsed" to a specific value by the measurement.

So how does one make and measure a qubit?

According to the scientists at Berkeley, qubits based on individual dopant atoms implanted in silicon may be the best strategy. The materials and methods of silicon-chip manufacturing are familiar and, when applied to quantum-computer devices, have the potential for easy scale-up.

Several other methods have been explored over the years, including tricky schemes involving superconducting tunnel junctions, quantum dots, neutral atoms in optical lattices, trapped ions probed by lasers, and so on.

This article is pretty good and explains the various aspects of silicon-based quantum computing. Several references to the field work are included.

Silicon Valley Suggests Using Silicon!


Fireball Feast

Go Get The Meteorites, NOW!

This is where you'll find them.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Political Philosophy

For Bugs

Geo Engineering

Cool Down, Already!


To a Norwegian, walking around in the sun with an umbrella simply looks plain stupid. We are more like desperately sucking up every single sun ray coming our way. Umbrellas are for rainy days. I believe the English will agree with us on that. However, after spending time in various parts on this planet where the sun is placed higher on the sky (as we say it in Norway) and where the sun rays hits your head with deadly precision, I now realize that it is not such a bad idea protecting your skull with an umbrella. And it has nothing to do with vanity, though for some it is merely vanity, too. Now, extrapolate this use of an umbrella to cover vast areas of the planet is something else entirely. And I would prefer that we engineer pretty darn long and exhaustive before we embark on schemes like those illustrated above.

Umbrellas are for rainy days! :-)

Singing Sun

Acoustic Stars

Three kinds of waves are looked for by helioseismologists: acoustic waves, for which pressure is the restoring force (these waves generate p modes), gravity waves for which buoyancy is the restoring force (these waves generate g modes), and surface gravity waves (these waves generate f modes).Helioseismologists use both standing wave patterns and propagating waves in their research.

Acoustic waves are bouncing back and forth in the sun creating what we might call a star song. We have studies these kind of waves in the Sun for ages and now, with COROT, we can do the same with other stars learning a lot about their physics.


Comet Holmes

Credit: Tony Cook

Friday, October 24, 2008


Go to Mars

Illustration: NASA/Ian O'Neill

And Stay!

That is what retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin recommend, anyhow. Just like the pioneers coming over from Europe (and the first viking who came to see the native Americans first .-)) did. Maybe or maybe not they wish to return to our planet Earth. For all we know Mars is the hot place to be 20 years from now...


Fuzzy Buzz at the Astrofestival 2007, Oslo where I had the pleasure of hearing about his adventures and views on the future.

Moon and Cats

Moon Cats

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fast Cars

Shockwaving with Bloodhound

The World's Fastest Car

The Shocks!!


Snapshot of Pegasus

Credit: Vicent Peris (OAUV / PTeam), Gilles Bergond, Calar Alto Observatory.

The spiral galaxy NGC 7331, in Pegasus

Blue Flame

Flaming Hot 'Italian'

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


To The Moon With Chandrayaan

Credits: ISRO

The Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1.

The Chandrayaan-1 mission will carry on board three European experiments to study the mineralogy and the chemical composition of the lunar surface as well as the interaction between the lunar surface and the solar wind.

Credits: ESA

Telescopic view of the whole Moon seen from Earth.


Excuse my gas - blue gas

Credit: University of Florida/Myda Iamiceli

The outflow of blue gas surrounds the black hole in the quasar.

Quasars are very distant celestial objects and hard to observe, let alone their various development stages. It was a lucky stroke then that a a group of astronomers caught this quasar releasing vast amounts of blue gas. It all happened billions of years ago and the gas is a delightfully speedy gas zooming into space.


Blue Turtle

I know, I know, it's not the turtle that's blue. My brother and I bought a turtle together when we were kids. He still has it. His name is Ploppi. They are a lot faster than one should think. :-)


Homework for Mr. Pickett

1) What would you do if a bear was about to attack you?
Escape the planet.

2) What was the first song or piece of music that had any impact on you?
Bad moon rising.

3) What do you think I would say if I could see your handwriting?
Smooth as Phobos Stickney crater.

4) Three words that describe the relationship between your parents . . .
(be honest; we won't let them see)

Planet in opposition

5) If you were ever to be knighted, what would it be for?
Stellar madness

Monday, October 20, 2008


Marbled Desert

Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Rub al Khali, Arabia

I love satellite images. This birds eye view of one of Earths largest deserts looks like a marbled or even mother-of-pearled coated landscape. The desert covers a larger area than France. Get an even better impression of the vastness here.


Dancing Dinosaurs

Photo Credit: Roger Seiler

The photo shows hundreds of dinosaur footprints in a "trample surface" that likely was a watering hole amid desert sand dunes during the Jurassic Period 190 million years ago. The track site, which also includes some dinosaur tail-drag marks, is located in Coyote Buttes North area along the Arizona-Utah border.

Coyote Butte - The Paleontologist's Eldorado!