Friday, May 27, 2016

Remember when space was fun?

Space Shuttle metal lunch box from the late 1970's
Space Shuttle lunchbox from 1980
When I was a kid, NASA was super cool. The entire planet saw humans walk on the moon. Movies and TV shows all had astronauts and space-themed stories. Kids had space toys and, when we played, we re-enacted space missions. This "space fever" climaxed in 1981 with the launch of the Space Shuttle. After that, space travel became a routine occurrence.

Eventually, the mainstream media stopped reporting launches; the public grew bored. Throughout the 1990's and 2000's, NASA had their budget cut. They were forced to focus on smaller, cheaper, unmanned missions.


Hubble space telescope in orbit
Hubble space telescope
NASA did a great job with what little money they had. Space aficionados and scientists cheered as they sent missions to Venus, Jupiter and Mars. In 1990, the Hubble telescope was put in orbit and produced breathtaking images of the universe. Space became more about remote exploration, and images for most people.

The Internet helped capture the public's interest in space again. Millions downloaded and shared images from Hubble, Pathfinder, and Spirit. But, humanity in space was gone. Now it was machines, cameras and remote sensors exploring space. Most of us were distracted by the news, the economy, the Internet, politics, and television. Space became boring, and nerdy again. More Americans were interested in the outcome of American Idol than a boring space mission millions of miles away.

Luckily, companies like SpaceX are starting to change that perspective. I watched a live launch and landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket earlier and it was a blast! (*groan* bad pun... sorry.)

Space X webcast site during a live mission. The crowd in the background is clapping, cheering, screaming and going nuts as the rocket lands on the pad.
SpaceX webcast site during a live mission

They have a high-tech interface with a split screen showing live video. They have mission stats, live commentators, timeline explaining the mission, infographics, animations, cool music, and a live audience.

Infographics and animations explaining the mission
Infographics and animations

The live audience is the best part. You can hear them roar with excitement --cheering and clapping-- as various parts of the mission occur. It's a lot of fun. It brings back the excitement of watching Space Shuttle launches on live television.

Live steaming footage of space mission from SpaceX
Live footage of a space mission from SpaceX

This is why NASA was cool when I was a kid; they engaged the public. People wanted to learn more about space and how all this amazing technology works. SpaceX is bringing that back.

Animation explaining the orbit of a satellite from SpaceX
Animation explaining the orbit of a satellite


More info:

www.spacex.com

Live stream: www.spacex.com/webcast (available during missions)

Archive of today's launch: https://youtu.be/zBYC4f79iXc?t=8m31s

Technical webcast: https://youtu.be/wPYOtCFSLKw?t=8m31s

Motorcyclist catches drunk driver on cam

This happened about 10pm last Sunday night in San Diego, California. A motorcyclist was behind a drunk driver with two blown airbags, two blown tires, driving on rims. The drunk stopped in the middle of the freeway and told the motorcyclist not to worry... because AAA was on the way.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GkvQiWZVrI

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Super Mario fish tank

Designer Kelsey Kronmiller turned her 55 gallon aquarium into a Super Mario level using Legos, PVC pipe, and vinyl stickers. Very creative! (The fish are coming soon!)


Here's some theme music:
More info:

http://www.thepixelist.net/blog/my-blog-super-mario-brothers-aquairum

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trippy Tree Swirl

This image caught my eye. The artist is using a trippy technique called slit-scan photography to produce this animation.

Pschedelic animation of a man swirling around a tree produced by special effect photography.

Slit-scan photography traditionally was a mechanical process; it has mostly been replaced by computer-generated effects. This technique was used in quite a few movies and TV shows. Most recently, it was used in the movie Interstellar to produce the tesseract scenes at the end.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The clueless generation

Here's a pic from a baseball game:

Closeup of the stands at a baseball game. A father reaches out and protects a clueless kid (on his phone) from getting hit in the face with a bat.
Dad saves kid from getting hit in the face by a baseball bat

The clueless look on the kid's face is priceless. He has no idea what's going on. (He's not even flinching!) I couldn't resist adding a caption. I see kids like this everywhere; they're glued to a tiny screen and completely oblivious to the world around them. When this kid turns sixteen, he'll get behind the wheel of a car. Hopefully something will wake up this clueless generation before they eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thieves vs Refrigerator

I love it when criminals get instant justice. Check out Drunk Genius #1. His plan is to hide his face, sneak up on the beer vending machine, act real calm and casual (maybe whistle?)...... then YANK open the door as hard as he can. What could possibly go wrong?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy9rNOzb3yY

The best part is his friend Drunk Genius #2. He doesn't bother hiding his face. At 0:16 he rushes over to help his struggling friend. He tries with all of his might to set the man free. Then, at 0:23, he steps back, and sets down his beer..... D'oh!

Best. Birthday Present. Ever.

This Dallas mom is the newest Internet superstar. In less than two days she got over 100,000,000 views on Facebook for this video (shortened version):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji1XFQa2Bhs

She bought a Star Wars mask that makes noise and, when she saw herself wearing it, started cracking up. She laughs uncontrollably for several minutes while the mask makes more noise (making her laugh harder). By the end, she's in tears and very happy with her new birthday present. This video seems to have a lot of appeal online because it's genuine. It's not scripted, or rehearsed. It's just a woman, in a car by herself, having spontaneous fun. Her laughter is contagious. She never thought that this would make her famous. There's an interview here:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/davidmack/candace-payne-chewbacca-interview

Expect to see her on TV soon.
 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Doggie-dile

Husky dog in the pool swimming opens his mouth and looks like a crocodile
Husky crocodile!
How doth the little doggie-dile
Improve his shining tail?
And pour the waters of the pool
O'er his fuzzy jowls.
How cheerfully he seems to grin.
How neatly spreads his claws.
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
(...apologies to Lewis Carroll)

All space missions in one graphic

I love infographics like this:

All missions in the solar system, in one graphic
Click for full-sized image

This was from a 2009 National Geographic magazine special. It shows all the space missions in our solar system in one giant image. You might notice that this map doesn't include the New Horizons mission to Pluto because it was still en route.

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