Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Back in the 1500s, Thomas More helped popularize the idea of utopia. This was the concept of a perfect society with no scarcity and ultimate peace. And it was frightening when we saw how much the utopians had to sacrifice in terms of personal liberties and choices. Paolo Bacigalupi in his works, The Windup GirlShip Breaker, and now, The Drowned Cities, shows us the opposite: a dystopia. He takes the present-day Earth and extrapolates what things might become: a bleak world of war, struggle, and scarcity.

We see in The Drowned Cities a familiar society focused in rooting out traitors and protecting the liberties for which it stands. This is home. And it is terrifying.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Astronomy: Nine Years On Mars

Nine years ago, on January 25, 2004 Universal Time (the 24th on Pacific Standard Time), the Opportunity rover landed on Mars.
To celebrate the occasion, Space.com has created this very cool infographic:

This is showing how much we (including our robots) have travelled on distant worlds, in particular Mars and the Moon. Now, we've sent landers to other worlds, such as Venus and Titan (largest moon of Saturn), but these others couldn't move around.

Opportunity, in the past nine years, has travelled over 22 miles. And the coolest thing: it's still working! Nine years in Mars and still going strong when it was made to last just over 90 days.
Curiosity, our newest Mars rover, is nuclear powered and expected to last 2 (Earth) years. Its power supply, however, could let it work for many more years if nothing goes wrong.
Let's hope Opportunity and Curiosity last for many more years and keep doing great science on Mars!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Astronomy: The 221th American Astronomical Meeting

My trip to the 221th American Astronomical (AAS) Meeting was long, but quite productive. Now that I've returned to Chile I'm ready to talk about what went on there. There is always far too much going on at AAS for me to keep track off, though, so this is more of a snapshot of my experiences at the AAS conference.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Written while waiting for my flight and gathering my thoughts for the upcoming AAS-related post. Here are my thoughts on a book I finished several weeks ago: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.

This is the second book in the Discworld series and picks up immediately after The Color of Magic, hence I would recommend reading the two together. I should have had this post up earlier and in the time since I've forgotten some details, but I hope it is still useful for those interested in the Discworld series of books. Given it's such a tight sequel with the prior book, this review is shorter than usual.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blogging for A Year

Last year, on January 2nd, I started this blog, something I've been meaning to do for quite a while.
I've since written 95 articles primarily about either astronomy or books. The divided nature of the blog has troubled me, but I'm not yet ready to split it into solely one or the other category. We'll see how things evolve in 2013.

Word cloud (wordle) of some of the most frequently used words this past year. Some html formatting may have slipped through.

In this post, I go over some of the basic statistics of my blog (as of Jan 2, 2013) and mention some of the more popular articles.