Griffith Announces Opening

Yesterday, I forgot to point you to the press release from the observatory itself. There, you will find more information about the opening, on November 3rd, and about how to actually get there. They are forbidding access to the parking lot, and so you either take a shuttle bus, or you walk or cycle. It is depressing to me that people are already complaining about having to walk up a small hill from the picnic sites below (people who walk up are generically referred to as “hikers”, in the press release, which would give someone the impression that you need special equipment or something just to walk up the hill. Sigh.).

Anyway, some chatter from the press release. Let’s start out with 4th District Councilmember, Tom LaBonge, a veritable Paul Dirac of understatement and wall-flower-hood: […] Click to continue reading this post

Physics Nobel Prize 2006

COBE is the experiment that really blazed the trail for all the wonderful physics that was to come from WMAP, and various other experiments such as Boomerang. And Planck is about to fly as well, giving even more precise information about our universe.

I was an undergraduate when this was announced. [Update: Oops…not quite: I had just started graduate school. Thanks Chad!] It was a wonderful feeling that all of us students had, partly gleaned from the feelings of our lecturers, I suspect. The thing that struck us as most appealing (I think) was the idea that the black body radiation spectrum (click on the image on the right for larger) that we’d been learning about in the abstract, during lectures, was sort of “out there”, writ large…. as large as can be in fact, on the whole universe! It’s always good to learn that physics -or any field- is still alive, especially when you’re still on the cusp of making a career in it. […] Click to continue reading this post

Acting Up At Griffith Observatory

As mentioned before, I am really excited about the re-opening of the Griffith Park Observatory. See this earlier post. [Update: See post about my viisit here.] [Further Update: After reading the rest of the post, be sure to read the comments (starting here) for some commentary on the planetarium show … Click to continue reading this post

Explaining Cosmic Rays

Well, before disappearing into a long session of thinking about some funny behaviour my strings are up to (more later) I’d like to do a quick report on the departmental colloquium that I went to just now. We had Gary Zank, the Director of the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics of the UC system (he’s based out of UCR) give us a talk entitled: “Particle Acceleration in Cosmic Plasmas”, and it was quite fascinating (and very well presented).

It is all about the physics of cosmic rays […] Click to continue reading this post

So Do We Need a New Planetary Mnemonic?

So you’ll recall that when we thought we had twelve planets we started trying to think of new mnemonics to help people remember the planets’ ordering. For example, from Yvette: My Very Educated Mother Can’t Justify Someone Using New Planetary Conventions… oh no, they haven’t named the last one yet!!! … Click to continue reading this post