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Speculating about the Future of Google+

Despite a strong initial start, in the universe of social media it’s widely believed that Google+ will never replace Facebook. That said, I’d like to get all Thomas Friedman-y and speculate wildly from a very limited personal anecdote.  Namely, my 6th grader just begged to be allowed to join Google+.  Begged!  Stomping and huffing was involved when...

Fires on the Mountain: Facing the Inevitable

This weekend, Australian astronomy faced a horrible setback, as a large wildfire swept through the area housing the Siding Spring Observatory. Luckily, no lives were lost, and while some support buildings were destroyed (including the fire shed, ironically enough), the damage to the telescopes initially appears to be far less than it could have been,...

Ten Toys That You Won’t Mind Buying

If you’ve ever had to shop for kids toys, you know it can be a demoralizing experience. Rows and rows of schlock, organized in alternating rows of “pink” or “camo”, anchored to their boxes by 43 twist ties, reeking of child labor and waste.  (Can you guess how much I like shopping?) To help you out during this trying time (for the first-world definition...

Does This Trampoline Violate the Laws of Physics?

Late last week, I ran across a spectacular video of a man being completely awesome: The video shows Christophe Hamel jumping/falling/hurtling off of walls, landing on a trampoline, and then bouncing up to land back on top of the wall — sometimes in a handstand in case there was a risk you wouldn’t be impressed enough otherwise [seen at 1:50+]. My first...

A Moon With a View

This weekend the Seattle Times published a lovely interview with Bill Anders, one of the Apollo astronauts.  The article is full of interesting little tidbits, but I was most taken with his description of taking photos while his capsule orbited the moon: While he had been meticulously trained to photograph the moon, making pretty pictures of the Earth...

Eyes on Andromeda

The practice of astronomy is different than it used to be. Back in the day, the image was of the lone astronomer, sitting at their telescope, communing with the universe.  Over time, we got more use to the idea that maybe groups of astronomers might come together to work on a common project.  But still, there were fairly tight connections between astronomers...

Transition

This isn’t an easy post to write, but it’s time for me to leave Cosmic Variance and Discover and go back to blogging on my own. It’s a move I’ve been contemplating for a long time, essentially unrelated to the recent website update here. After having blogged for many years, I’ve decided that I’m happiest when I feel the least amount of responsibility,...

Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck, an innovative and influential jazz pianist over many years, has died at the age of 91. Based in California, he was a leader of so-called West Coast Jazz, bringing a spirit of experimentation to a part of the jazz world that had been resolutely mainstream. Brubeck loved to experiment with unusual time signatures, a tendency that culminated...

Watching the Wind

Ever since discovering Richard Long‘s work back in the 80′s, I’ve been incredibly drawn to land art of various forms.  Most work of this type tends to be fairly static, but I recently ran across some pieces that I found mesmerizing, in their capturing and visualizing wind.  (Strictly, these don’t meet the definition of “land art”, but heck, if you’re...

Colbert Redux

We are still in shakedown mode here at Discover Blogs, although hopefully things are mostly working well. One change is that from now on people will have to register to leave comments. Maybe that’s for the best? Let’s see how it goes, at any rate. Last night I had the privilege of once again appearing on the Colbert Report to talk with our nation’s...

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