Ireland | We Are Proud Of You

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

from Jim and Melanie

We are very pleased with the vote in Ireland for equality. It is meaningful in many ways. Those family and friends we love dearly have felt a breath of inspiration and fresh air as some closed gates open a little more, although still too slowly. We are hopeful that our children and grandchildren will look back and see this decade as a time important choices were made for good and inclusion.

Reporting from Ireland shows the strongest support for Yes was in the 68-74% range. Only one county in the country voted No and barely at 51%. Overall, the vote was about 2 to 1 for Yes. Voting required your presence in person. Nearly 60,000 people returned from other parts of the world to place a small mark onto a piece of paper saying Yes I am for equality.

The news cycles move quickly. Already, the coverage is…

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Saturn | @ Opposition May 23 2015

What does it mean for a planet to be at opposition? From our Earth perspective, the Sun and the planet are in opposite directions in the sky. The moment the Sun sets in the west, the planet rises in the east. Saturday May 23 is opposition day for Saturn. The illustration below shows a thin yellow line from the Sun through Earth to Saturn. Visit to play with the interactive for this image.


Dominic Ford | In-The-Sky

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Gravity | Silly Science Trick

Put a nickel on top of a quarter. Or, use whatever coins you have with the top one smaller than the bottom one. Hold them above your other hand. Drop them. They will rotate and reverse places. Get the distance just right and they will land softly in your lower hand. Great party trick. :-)

I used my Samsung Galaxy s5 to film this at 1/8 speed. YouTube allowed me to trim out some dead time and shorten the video. It also did some minor enhancements to lighting and color.

After a year of using the phone, it was time to try some unused features. I am not an avid phone user.

Gravity | How It Behaves

There are two astronauts somewhere in space, 3 meters apart, and not moving relative to each other. Astronaut Lucy has a total mass of 100 kg including her suit. Astronaut Ricky has a total mass of 140 kg including his suit. Question 1 – Is there a physical attractive force between them? Question 2 – What are the variables which affect the strength of that force? Question 3 – How large is that force? Those questions will be answered in this post.


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Greenland Ice | Mapped in 3-D

Operation IceBridge Mission Statement

NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth’s polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system. IceBridge utilizes a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated suite of innovative science instruments ever assembled to characterize annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets.

Now in the seventh year, IceBridge is deep into the Arctic research campaign. Each year, the aircraft fly over the Arctic or the Antarctic to gather data on the ice and how it is responding to climate change. The data is related to that of other research efforts such as ice core drilling and satellite observations. One of the regions intensely studied is Greenland which is 85% covered by ice to up to an average depth of 2.3 km (1.6 miles). The great weight of the ice has pressed the central rock layers of Greenland down 300 m (1000 ft) below sea level. There is enough ice on Greenland to raise sea level by 7 m (23 ft) if it were to all melt. Knowing the structure and past history during previous climate eras will help understand the prospects for future behavior. To that end, IceBridge researchers released this 3-D visualization animation of the ice layers. It was produced by the NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio. Run time is 3 min 37 sec.

USS Shenandoah | Airship Disaster 1925

By 3 am on September 3, 1925, the control car crew spotted lightning to the northwest in the skies of southeast Ohio. Winds started to buffet the airship. Captain Zachary Lansdowne was awakened from his quarters. He ordered the airship to turn south. Quickly, the skies grew stormy again. Strong headwinds slowed their progress. There was no escape from the storm. They would have to ride it out and hope the airship was durable enough to survive.

Click any image to embiggen

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MESSENGER | Mercury Mission Ends

The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft is due to crash into the surface of Mercury on April 30, 2015 after it runs out of fuel. Impact will be at a speed of 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second) on the side of the planet facing away from Earth. It first arrived into orbit around Mercury March 17, 2011. The instrument payload has provided a wealth of information. It is the first spacecraft to orbit that planet. It has given us views of Mercury that mankind has never seen. The spacecraft has acquired more than 255,000 images and a vast amount of other data. The entire surface has been mapped.

NASA/Johns Hopkins Univ. | Applied Physics Laboratory | Carnegie Inst. of Washington

Launched August 3, 2004, the accomplishments of MESSENGER are many. This graphic from 2014 celebrates many of those.

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