Monday, May 31, 2010

Are We Alone for 05/31/10 - Cell! Cell!

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Are We Alone - Cell! Cell!

Live forever? Both cancer cells and stem cells can make a claim to immortality. Left unchecked, tumors will grow indefinitely. And stem cells offer the promise of non-stop rejuvenation.

We’ll find out whether the surprising discovery of stem cells in the brain really can keep our thinking organ young. And we’ll hear the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who unwittingly donated tissue to science in 1951, and whose cancer cells are still grown in laboratories around the world today.


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tracking Ticks via Satellite

Source - NASA Science News for May 28, 2010

Ticks cause Lyme disease and many other ailments, but finding the bloodsuckers by hand can be both disgusting and dangerous. Now there's a better way--via satellite.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Space Link: 50 Places to Explore Outer Space Online

Here is a nice collection of space related links that was recently brought to my attention:

50 Places to Explore Outer Space Online -

If you know any other good sites I can post to the blog and/or list on the links list please feel free to bring them to my attention.

Cheers ~ Jim Cox

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Secret Space Plane Sighted in the Night Sky

Source - Space Weather News for May 25, 2010:

X-37B SIGHTINGS: Amateur satellite watchers have spotted a US Air Force space plane similar in appearance to NASA's space shuttle circling Earth in a heretofore secret orbit. Known as the "X-37B," it can be seen in the night sky shining about as brightly as the stars of the Big Dipper. Flyby predictions and more information may be found at .

Would you like to turn your iPhone into an X-37B tracker? There's an app for that: .

AURORA WATCH: A magnetic filament on the sun erupted yesterday (May 24th), and the blast hurled a coronal mass ejection in the general direction of Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras around May 27th when the advancing cloud is likely to deal a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Atlantis and the ISS Transit the Sun

Source - Space Weather News for May 23, 2010:

SOLAR TRANSIT: Yesterday in Switzerland, Thierry Legault photographed the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis passing directly in front of the sun, not far from new sunspot 1072. The veteran astrophotographer calls the image his "best ever of a solar transit," and indeed the silhouette of the docked spaceships backlit by "solar fire" is a must see. It is featured on today's edition of

DOUBLE FLYBY ALERT: Atlantis is scheduled to undock from the ISS on Sunday, May 23rd, at 11:22 am EDT, setting the stage for double flybys over many towns and cities around the world. Need a flyby prediction? There's an app for that: .

Are We Alone for 05/24/10 - Life of Brain

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Are We Alone - Life of Brain

ENCORE We should award frequent travel miles to your brain. After all, it’s evolved a long way from the days of guiding brachiation from tree-to-tree to become the three pounds of web-surfing, Sudoku-playing powerhouse it is today. But a suite of technologies may expand human brains further still.

From smart pills to nano-wires: discover the potential – and peril – of neuro-engineering to repair and enhance our cognitive function.

Also, how our brains got so big in the first place: a defense of the modern diet.


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mars Rover Update

Source - NASA Science News for May 21, 2010

This just in from the Red Planet: Mars rover Opportunity has set a longevity record as it attempts a marathon trek across dangerous terrain. Meanwhile, Spirit is in peril from the advancing Martian winter. Despite their troubles, both rovers remain in the hunt for new discoveries.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Big Mystery: Jupiter Loses a Stripe

Source - NASA Science News for May 20, 2010

In a surprising development that has transformed the appearance of the solar system's largest planet, one of Jupiter's two main cloud belts has completely disappeared.


NASAtelevision: The View from the Crew

Source - NASAtelevision, May 18, 2010:

"Members of the shuttle Atlantis crew provide their "take" of the day's events in space in HD video captured aboard the orbiter and the International Space Station, where they are guests of the Expedition 23 crew. Commander Ken Ham, Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Steve Bowen, Mike Good and Piers Sellers are spending a week aboard the orbiting complex."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pacific Science Center Receives NASA Grant To Connect The Community To Our Universe

And now for some good news. I received the following notice from Wendy Malloy of the Pacific Science Center and I am more than happy to post it on behalf of PSC:

Pacific Science Center Receives NASA Grant To Connect The Community To Our Universe

SEATTLE – May 13, 2010 – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded a $1.1 million grant to Pacific Science Center to develop NASA Now, a program to increase educational outreach in earth and space sciences while inspiring young adults to pursue careers within the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

As an independent not-for-profit educational institution, funding for this five-year grant will help Pacific Science Center expand its efforts to reach out to diverse audiences and provide science learning experiences to everyone, especially those who do not have easy access to such opportunities.

"Being selected by NASA for this award is gratifying for so many reasons,” said Bryce Seidl, president and CEO for Pacific Science Center. "This grant allows us to reach underserved audiences, takes advantage of our existing Discovery Corps program, links to other partners like the UW and aligns so well with the science outreach objectives of NASA.”

As one of the nine informal education providers selected in NASA's 2010 Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums, Pacific Science Center will build NASA Now using a three-tiered approach. The program's first objective is to present data from NASA in a clear and immersive way by updating the Science Center's planetarium with a state-of-the-art digital projector system.

Next, the Science Center plans to expand its outreach offerings to schools and communities by adding a second portable digital projector to its Science On Wheels Space Odyssey program, incorporating up-to-date science information and discoveries. In addition, NASA Now will subsidize the cost of this program delivery for schools with a high number of students in the free- and reduced-price lunch program.

Finally, the grant will allow Pacific Science Center to create the Track for Earth and Space Science Achievement (TESSA) program. As a component of the Science Center's youth development program, Discovery Corps, TESSA allows teens to explore careers in earth and space science alongside astronomy undergraduates.

TESSA's participating youth will help write content for Pacific Science Center's planetarium shows, assist in delivering programming, update our exhibit floor with current space science information and receive mentoring opportunities with the University of Washington Pre-MAP (Pre-Major in Astronomy Program).


"Science centers and planetariums contribute significantly to engaging people of all ages in science, technology, engineering and math," said James Stofan, acting associate administrator for NASA's Office of Education. "NASA wants to give the informal education community access to a variety of agency staff and resources while offering professional development opportunities for informal science educators and encouraging the formation of collaborative partnerships."

The selected organizations will partner with NASA's Museum Alliance, an Internet-based, national network of more than 400 science and nature centers, planetariums, museums, aquariums, zoos and related organizations. The projects will engage the public and educators by providing NASA-inspired space, science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning opportunities.

Congress initiated the Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums in 2008. The first group of projects began in 2009. NASA's Office of Education and agency mission directorates collaborated to solicit and review the grant applications.

Politics and and the death of science

The primary focus of this blog is the promotion of astronomy and in turn other sciences, and normally I would shy away from posting about politics, but the recent monkey shines in the House of Representatives regarding the America COMPETES Act just got to me.

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Blog has a great post up regarding the actions of U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), and how he essentially killed the America COMPETES Act. Go on over to the Bad Astronomy Blog and read "Texas congressman uses porn to kill science funding", and follow the links in the post for more information.

I was going to list more links on the subject, but I think the BA post is good enough to inspire the reader to do their own research. Hopefully someone in Congress will come to their senses and reintroduces the America COMPETES Act.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Are We Alone for 05/17/10 - Skeptic Check: Fraudcast News

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Are We Alone - Skeptic Check: Fraudcast News

There are a lot of scientific claims out there – how do you separate the good from the bad and the outright fraudulent? Experts failed to do so for years in the case of a physicist whose published papers claimed the invention of a new bio-based transistor. Plus, other stories of deceit – such as the scientist who stooped to coloring mouse fur with markers.

Also, why climate science is solid, but its scientists need to be more open with the public.

And, from the undersea “bloop” to the Denver airport conspiracy theory. Why urban myths are so popular.

Plus, Phil Plait describes someone’s plans to meditate away the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

It’s Skeptic Check… but don’t take our word for it!


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Amazing 3D Space Station Movie

Source - Space Weather News for May 14, 2010:

Today's edition of features a remarkable 3D movie of the International Space Station (ISS) recorded by French astrophotographer Thierry Legault. No special glasses are required to see the ISS pop out of your screen in amazing detail.

The movie will whet your appetite for a weekend of bright spaceships and planets. On Friday, May 14th at 2:20 pm EDT, space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center on its final voyage to the ISS. An on-time liftoff would set the stage for an incredible sky show. On Saturday and Sunday, May 15th and 16th, many observers will be able to see Atlantis and the ISS flying past Venus and the crescent Moon in the evening sky. Visit for sky maps and more information.

Seeing the ISS is easy if you know when to look. Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE ( and we will call you when the space station is about to fly over your hometown.

A Rare Meeting of Planets and Spaceships

Source - NASA Science News for May 13, 2010

Something special is happening this weekend. Venus and the Moon are gathering for a sunset conjunction on Saturday and Sunday, May 15th and 16th. On the same nights, the ISS is going to be flying over many US towns and cities. And if space shuttle Atlantis launches on schedule--wow! People could witness a rare meeting of the shuttle, station, Venus and the Moon. Details and observing tips may be found in today's story from Science@NASA.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Weekend Solar Flares

Source - Space Weather News for May 9, 2010:

WEEKEND SOLAR FLARES: This weekend, magnetic fields around sunspot 1069 became unstable and erupted--over and over again. On May 8th alone, the active region produced more than half a dozen flares. High-resolution movies from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show that even the "minor" eruptions were jaw-dropping spectacles. Visit for highlights.

SPACE WEATHER ALERTS: Would you like to turn your phone into a space weather monitoring system? Sign up for Space Weather PHONE:

Are We Alone for 05/10/10 - Alien Invasion

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Are We Alone - Alien Invasion

They’re heeeere! Yes, aliens are wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the land. But these aliens are Arizona beetles, and the land is in California, where the invasive insects are a serious problem.

And what of space-faring aliens? We have those too: how to find them, and how to protect our planet – and theirs.

From Hollywood to SETI’s hi-tech search for extraterrestrials, aliens are invading Are We Alone?


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Astronomy of Mother's Day

Source - NASA Science News for May 6, 2010

Do you dare wake Mom at dawn ... on Mother's Day? Under the circumstances, she might not mind. May 9th begins and ends with a lovely display of stars and planets.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How Capt. Kirk Changed the World

Source - NASA Science News for May 4, 2010

A NASA spacecraft inspired by Star Trek technology is en route to explore a giant asteroid and a dwarf planet.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Geomagnetic Storm, May 2 - 3, 2010

Source - Space Weather News for May 3, 2010:

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A high-speed solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field last night (May 2-3), sparking a geomagnetic storm that lasted more than 15 hours. In Scandinavia, the Northern Lights were so bright they could be seen through the glow of the midnight sun. Red auroras spilled across the Canadian border and were spotted in several US states. Details and images are features in today's edition of

SPACE WEATHER ALERTS: Would you like to turn your phone into a space weather monitoring system? Sign up for Space Weather PHONE:

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Are We Alone for 05/03/10 - Robots Call the Shots

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Are We Alone - Robots Call the Shots

ENCORE Dr. Robot, I presume? Your appendix may be removed by motor-driven, scalpel-wielding mechanical hands one day. Robots are debuting in the medical field… as well as on battlefields. And they’re increasingly making important decisions – on their own. But can we teach robots right from wrong? Find out why the onslaught of silicon intelligence has prompted a new field of robo-ethics.

Plus, robo-geologists: NASA’s vision for autonomous robots in space.


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.