Category: The Wonder Seed


Creepy Cute Crochet

Isn’t the Grimm Reaper adorable and couldn’t you just cuddle Cthulu to death!



Two amateur astronomers, Anthony Wesley in Australia and Christopher Go in the Philippines independently spotted a meteor strike on the surface of the planet Jupiter

According to Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder Colorado, the impact has all the markings of a Jovian ‘bolide’ impact.

This is the second time a large object has been documented slamming into Jupiter’s surface within a year. The first occurred on July 19, 2009. Coincidentally, that impact was also witnessed by Anthony Wesley (he needs to buy me a lottery ticket ;)) Both impacts caused an Earth sized fireball to explode into the atmosphere.

That’s right kiddies, that little blip you’re seeing in right side of the frame is the size of our planet. Kinda makes you feel rather small doesn’t it. Maybe I don’t need to diet after all.

According to the National Geographic, scientists are gearing up to study the latest strike:

Scientists are now racing to get professional and amateur astronomers to train their telescopes on the gas giant to see what kind of scar will be left behind by this latest impact and hopefully what kind of object hit the giant planet.

Experts believe the collision should produce a dark debris field in Jupiter’s clouds—similar to the previous impact site—which may become visible over the next few days.

“We don’t know if there is a dark site yet, since this appears be a small impact,” Hammel said. “We are working on getting telescopes around the world in gear for followup work, including the world’s largest telescopes and [the] Hubble” Space Telescope.

So, if you’re an amateur astronomer or if you know of one, this could be your chance! Get those telescopes trained on Jupiter. Hopefully, it isn’t little green men looking for a site to launch their invasion of Earth. Good Luck!

Watch the skies!

Via: National Geogrphic, Gawker

IKAROS Solar Sail - JAXAThe idea of space exploration is nothing new. To people of my generation (gods! I sound like my grandmother!) it’s always been a given that someday people would be flying through space in huge metal cans discovering new planets and hopefully new civilizations.  To boldly go…..

For most geeks, space exploration is a staple part of our intellectual diet.

When we think about space travel,we think jet propulsion, fuel cells, dilithium crystals, antimatter engines, etc… All of these are essentially chemical reactions that creates thrust and pushes the space craft where the crew wanted it to go.

But did you know that there’s an alternative to sitting on top of a volatile mix of reactants that could blow you to kingdom-come should something go wrong?

It’s called the solar sail. A thin sheet of essentially plastic which harnesses solar wind to push it through space.

Okay, I can see you scowling from here. Solar Wind? The sun doesn’t produce wind!

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It’s spring and with the warmer weather there comes the request that all mom’s dread. “Mom! Can I have a freezie?!? And some for my 20 0r so friends who’ve followed me home today?”

FreeziesFirst off, freezies in my house are usually 100% juice, except DH decided he would do the shopping at the end of the summer and came home with a giant box of jumbo, artificially flavoured, synthetic liquid. They made their way down to our freezer once I rolled my eyes and reminded myself once again that DH, being male, is not capable of making healthy food choices when confronted by puppy dog eyes and tragic pleas from our two daughters.

In the grand scheme of things, freezies aren’t *that* bad. There are probably thousands of worse snacks, but given how hard it is to get my kids to eat healthy, I’d rather avoid snacks that are essentially sugar and chemicals.

But I digress.

Science for kidsAs soon as the snow was gone and the sun finally graced the GTA with its presence, the aforementioned scene took place in our front yard. The crowd of kids meant that I could get rid of the junkie freezies sooner than I thought and could soon replace them with the healthier, 100% juice versions. Imagine my surprise when these things actually served a purpose and we were able to hold an impromptu Physics class in our driveway.

Here’s what happened.

DH brought the box from the basement freezer and opened it for the first time in front of all the kids. The kids, being kids, all wanted the same flavour of freezie, prompting him to have to go digging. What he found in the middle of the box were some freezies that were still liquid despite being in the freezer for the last 8 months. When he pulled these freezies out he squeezed the contents and they immediately began to freeze, crystallizing before our eyes. Because the freezies were coloured, we were able to get a really good idea how water crystallizes whilst freezing.

Why did this happen?

Freezies - Ready for the FreezerAnyone who’s ever tried to quickly chill a can of pop or a bottle of water in the freezer and had to clean the catastrophe once they remembered where they put the container knows that water expands when it freezes. What happened in our freezies’ case was that they were so tightly packed in their box, the packages in the middle didn’t have room to expand as they froze. In essence, they were forced to stay liquid due to the surrounding outside pressure and became super-cool fluid. When the box was opened and the surrounding freezies pulled out, the pressure was released, allowing the water inside the plastic tubes to expand and the contents to freeze right in front of our eyes.

How can I do this at home?

Frozen Ice TreatsI can’t promise you that if you buy the same brand DH did that you’ll have the same results with no effort.

Your best bet is to buy a box of freezies, open it to see how much room there is around the individual packages. Stuff the spaces with plastic bags or newspaper to get them packed in there as tightly as you can. Then re-seal the box, taping the lid closed as tightly as you can. Then, put the box in the bottom of your chest freeze, wedging it in a corner. Surround the box with frozen whatever, remembering to put lots of weight on top. You don’t want to give the freezies in the middle any room to expand and solidify. Wait until the next sunny day, pull them out and quickly see what’s up with the freezies in the middle. Hopefully they will still be liquid. Give the plastic tubes a squeeze or a shake to kick start the process and watch them freeze before your eyes.

So, DH’s impulse buy wasn’t that much of a disaster after all.  It allowed us to demonstrate a major scientific concept – the phase transition of matter from liquid to solid form to the neighborhood kids.

But if he thinks that means he’s going to be able to buy those nutritionally challenged treats on a regular basis, he’s got another thing coming.

Happy Birthday SETIHappy Birthday SETI! The SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program has been looking for life beyond our planet for 50 years as of April 8th.

The first modern SETI project was conducted by Frank Drake (of the Drake Equation  Drake Equation). As part of his graduate thesis he was sweeping the skies using a 85-foot radio telescope at an observatory in Green Bank, W.Va. He hoped to find a radio signal or other evidence of ancient extraterrestrial civilization. While his results were disappointing, it was the genesis of what would become one of the largest privately funded scientific endeavors in human history.

While astronomers have been faced by what’s been described as an “eerie silence” from outer-space, there have been some unexplained bursts of radio chatter from beyond.  The most famous would be the WOW signal detected by Jerry Ehman in 1977.  Ehman was using Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope, when he came across some unexplained signals in the printout. Excited, he wrote “Wow” in the margins (World of Warcraft hadn’t been invented yet), which is how the signal got it’s name. The signal didn’t match any natural phenomena, nor could it be attributed to any man made broadcasts.  Ehman and others have continued to search for the signal, but its origins still remain a mystery.

Seeking Intelligent Life in the Milky Way - © Lynette CookSETI continues to fund multiple projects around the globe including searching for radio signals from space, constructing the the Allen Telescope Array, studying the martian biosphere, solid state chemistry and beaming our own radio signals out in hopes that someone, somewhere will hear them and make contact.

But not all of SETI’s endeavours are unaccessible to the public at large.  SETI@home is a project operated by UC Berkely and was launched in 1999.  The program allows users to download a program to their home computer that will run a signal analysis of data recorded at the SERENDIP IV instrument.  There are approximately 180,000 users running this program on over 290,000 computers.

SETI@homeAnyone can participate in the SETI@home, which means your computer may be the one to decode E.T’s message to humanity. How cool would that be? Find out more about SETI@home and how to participate.

The space probe Cassini took this amazing photo of Saturn’s moon Mimas, but when it did a temperature probe, it became obvious that the planetary consciousness had a thing for early 1980’s arcade games.

Actually, Mimas isn’t a fan of Pac Man. According to scientists, the variation in temperatures (which is what the colours denote) may be  indicative of a “diversity of textures in the surface materials. Some textures may retain heat better than others”.

You can get the the scoop over at BBC News. Just watch out for the ghosts in the machine.