Friday, October 9, 2009

Irony on the intergalactic scale...

I had intended today's post to be entirely about advances in science, but as my radio station host this morning put it best - "It's a bit ironic the day that the President of the United States wins the Nobel Peace prize, we attack the moon."

When I first heard about the award, I immediately thought it must be for former President Carter, forgetting he won in 2002. I am still a bit floored that Pres. Obama won for showing promise (and essentially not being George W. Bush), but I like to think this is a harbinger of all the change he will be able to make in the years to come. Yahoo! News has a surprisingly expansive article on the reasons for Obama's win as well as the world's reaction, which has been (thankfully) mostly positive.

Now, onto attacking the moon, which has also gotten surprisingly positive reaction around the (scientific) world. NASA crashed a spacecraft and it's trusty sidekick into the moon at 7:31 EST this morning in hopes of finding evidence of water ice. Personally I could send them to a pretty good Rita's in Philly and save them the $79 million they wasted going splat in a lunar crater... But this exploration of the lunar south pole - where the sun never shines so we have no idea what's down there - could prove vital if the collisions do kick up some frozen water along with lots and lots of moon dirt. has a similar story to the one from Yahoo! News linked above, which is far less technical and has videos and subtitles like "Smackdown!"

On a very prescient this-past-Wednesday, Pres. Obama combined medals, science and astronomy. He handed out the National Medals of Science and of Technology in a ceremony at the White House. Obama honored scientists who mapped the human genome, made GPS systems possible and invented batteries for implanted defibrillators among others. Later that night he hosted over 150 school children in what may be the White House's first skywatching party, held in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's observations of Jupiter and its moons. The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, answered questions from the children and from Internet users. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Hubble repairman John Grunsfeld were in attendance.

(Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar)

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