Diary of a Narcissistic Misanthrope

I like to think I’m an acquired taste, like old whiskey or arsenic in your tea

My name is Clarence (Hello), born in 1988, i got my undergrad degree in Sociology (with a concentration in Women's Studies) and I'm utterly terrified. I'm scared of everything, people, my own feelings and sometimes even being but really there's nothing much to be done about that despite what I say. And I will say a lot about how my life has no meaning and i want to die (which is the majority of the time) but sometimes it seems like life is worth living for and everything in it is a spectacular explosion of awe inspiring wonder (which is usually a three week span some time in March). If it seems odd to read think what it might be like living it. So to get off the topic of terror I prefer stories es. I like to read them, I love to live in them and there is nothing better to me than a story so I guess this blog is a story mostly about me. Don't bother trying to find themes, connection or messages in what I post cause there really aren't any (unless they are completely accidental).

This blog is a story about what I find, what I feel and what I think so to that end I collect things to post or reblog. Its not meant to be anything truly meaningful or interconnected, just fun (mostly fun for me if you don't like it you can fuck right off) This is collection of all the the weird and interesting links from around the net that I find, comics, technology, comedy, current events, sociology, general geek/nerd interest, and more weird stuff. I think it makes for the closest representation to who I am that I've ever done and it just keeps growing bigger which is most of the fun. Please feel free to talk to me and don't mind the depressive tone i will probably be using. I like to think I'm somewhat fun if also a complete idiot.
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Posts tagged "astronomy"

What is all this astrology business? Fundamentally, it’s the contention that which constellations the planets are in at the moment of your birth profoundly influence your future. A few thousand years ago the idea developed that the motions of the planets determine the fates of kings, dynasties, empires. Astrologers studied the motion of the planets and asked themselves what had happened last time, let’s say, that Venus was rising in the constellation of the goat? Maybe something similar would happen this time as well. It was a subtle and risky business. Astrologers became employed only by the state. In many countries, it became a capital offense for anyone but the official astrologer to read the portents in the skies. Why? Because a good way to overthrow a regime was to predict its downfall. Chinese court astrologers who made inaccurate predictions were executed. Others simply doctored the record so that afterwards they were in perfect conformity with events. Astrology developed into a strange discipline, a mixture of careful observations, mathematics and record keeping with fuzzy thinking and pious fraud.

Nevertheless, astrology survived and flourished. Why? Because it seems to lend a cosmic significance to the routine of our daily lives. It pretends to satisfy our longing to feel personally connected to the universe. Astrology suggests a dangerous fatalism. If our lives are controlled by a set of traffic signals in the sky, why try to change anything?


NASA Plans for 3-D Printing Rocket Engine Parts Could Boost Larger Manufacturing Trend

There is a lot riding on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). Not only does the agency’s first new heavy-lift booster since the Saturn 5 that took U.S. astronauts to the moon play a central role in the future of the American spaceflight, it also provides a critical test for technology expected to figure prominently in revamping the country’s ailing manufacturing industry.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is testing an approach called selective laser melting (SLM) to create parts for the J-2X and RS-25 rocket engines that will power the SLS, whose maiden voyage is slated for 2017 (pdf). The space agency expects SLM to simplify the process of making certain parts and in some cases halve the cost of producing them—a huge advantage for NASA, provided the components can withstand the rigors of lifting the largest launch vehicle ever built into space.

The first version of the SLS is a 70-metric-ton rocket that will lift around 70,000 kilograms while providing 10 percent more thrust than the Saturn 5. This SLS will power the 2017 Exploration Mission 1, which will launch an unmanned Orion spacecraft on a circumlunar voyage as a precursor to Exploration Mission 2. That mission, scheduled for 2021, will use a 130-metric-ton version of the SLS to launch Orion and a crew of up to four astronauts. This second SLS will be capable of lifting more than 130,000 kilograms and provide 20 percent more thrust than the Saturn 5.

Cash-strapped NASA is counting on SLM to speed SLS’s development and reduce the program’s costs. SLM is a type of additive manufacturing technology, which uses computer-aided design (CAD) files to build parts layer by layer (3-D printing is perhaps the most well known example of additive manufacturing). With SLM, a finely powdered alloy is deposited in a layer as thin as 20 microns and then fused together by a focused laser beam inside a chamber containing inert gas such as argon or nitrogen. Once the laser has turned that layer into solid metal, another layer of powder is deposited and the process is repeated.

NASA is testing the viability of making engine parts from nickel-based alloys using an SLM machine (pdf) with a square cubical build chamber measuring 250 millimeters on each side and a depth of 280 millimeters. These same alloys are already used to make 90 percent of the parts in the RS-25 and J-2X engines. The key difference is that the engines’ current elements are forged and then milled into their final shapes. Often several pieces must be welded together to create a part.

Marshall engineers began evaluating alternative approaches to building parts for the next-generation J-2X engine a few years ago. In late 2010 they turned to SLM to create a duct for a gas generator in the engine. “The part itself is not necessarily complex—it’s a [10-centimeter] in diameter duct that’s bent in a U-shape,” says Andy Hardin, SLS Liquid Engines Office engine integration hardware lead. However, “because of the thickness and the radius of the bend, it’s very difficult to make. We were having trouble getting vendors to do this properly.”

After printing the duct, the engineers set about deconstructing it to study its metallurgy and microscopic structure. They found that although the part was not as strong as a forged and milled duct, it fell within the “minimal acceptable range,” Hardin says. “If you made a part [using SLM], the material properties would be degraded somewhat but not much.” One structural advantage is that the part required no welding. “When you make a part out of multiple pieces, welds are always the weakest points,” he adds. This opened the door for the engineers to consider using SLM to make other engine parts as well.

SLM, and additive manufacturing in general, is not a viable option for all J-2X or RS-25 engine parts. For starters, the printed parts must be small enough to fit in the machine’s build chamber. And a lot more testing is required to determine whether components such as turbines, which operate under the most intense conditions, could be made properly using SLM, Hardin says. Good candidates for SLM are those with complex geometries that are difficult to make and require multiple welds to achieve those geometries. Depending on how well printed J-2X parts fare in tests, Marshall engineers hope to at some point use SLM to likewise make parts for the older RS-25, which served as the space shuttle’s main engine throughout its 30-year history.

Another incentive for NASA to transition to additive-manufactured parts: their contractors are beginning to adopt the technology in their factories. “As a big customer for many of these manufacturers, we thought it was important that we understand the technology,” Hardin says. NASA does not want to hold manufacturers back by failing to create specifications for parts made using SLM or some other additive process, he adds.

As such, NASA’s success with SLM could be a boon to a flagging U.S. manufacturing industry that seeks to create more domestic jobs but has been reluctant do so because of high costs.

(via scinerds)


Planets Series by Colin Nichols

(via scinerds)


Giant Strand of Elusive Dark Matter Seen in 3D

Astronomers have taken their first 3D look at a gigantic filament of dark matter, an invisible cosmic structure that can only be detected by its gravitational effects it has on its surroundings.

Image: This enormous image shows Hubble’s view of massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717. The large field of view is a combination of 18 separate Hubble images. The location of the dark matter is revealed in a map of the mass in the cluster and surrounding region, shown here in blue. The filament visibly extends out and to the left of the cluster core. Credit: NASA, ESA, Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa) & Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM)

The universe is thought to be structured like a tangled web, with long strings of mostly dark matter intersecting at giant galaxy clusters. Since dark matter cannot be seen directly, these filaments are difficult to observe. But using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have managed to probe one of the elusive cosmic strands in 3D.

The researchers sought out a 60 million light-year strand of dark matter around the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717. The galaxy cluster is one of the largest yet seen and is about 5.4 billion light-years from Earth.


(via scinerds)


Hanging out on the Moon

The first moon landing in 1969 didn’t even last three hours—but when the Eagle landed and and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men on the moon, they sure fit in some awesome stuff. They planted an American flag, performed a couple of experiments (including trying out different ways of moving in low-gravity), took photographs and some film, and collected 22 kilograms of rocks and soil for study back on earth. They also installed retroflectors, which are devices that reflect light back its source with minimum scattering, so that we on Earth could reflect light off the moon. Over the following years and further Apollo missions, astronauts had even more fun—whole days were spent on the moon, golf balls were hit to demonstrate the low-g environments, and on the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions, astronauts even drove a battery-powered “moon buggy” around the lunar service. Apollo 17 in 1972 was the last mission to the moon, and so amazingly, no one has been there since—imagine all the cool things we could have done if we’d had 40 more years on the moon.


Painting a White Dwarf on Earth

UT-Austin Astronomer Inspires Art With Stellar Physics

In Albuquerque, NM, on the grounds of Sandia National Laboratories, there exists a machine that can release more energy than all the world’s power plants can create six times over. It’s called the Z Machine, and scientists are trying to create a white dwarf inside of it. In Austin, TX, it’s image inspired an artist.

The Z Machine can only create that immense amount of energy for a few nanoseconds at a time, but when it does, seismic waves ripple in circles through the desert and electrical arcs shoot from every surface in the room. Inside, threads of tungsten are vaporized into a plasma and an immense magnetic field is created. This incredibly dense, hot plasma can reach peak temperatures of 6.6 billion˚F, nearly as hot as the center of our Sun. Hydrogen atoms can fuse to deuterium, and x-rays beam from within.

That plasma is what is found in white dwarf stars across the universe. By understanding how it is created and how it cools, Professor Don Winget hopes to learn more about the age and evolution of our universe. 

Leah Flippen is a studio art major who took Dr. Winget’s astronomy class. When she saw the Z Machine and its storm of stellar lightning, she knew she had to paint it. For her, it became a way to engage with the process of creation and immersing herself in science. For WInget, the Z Machine turns astronomy from an observational science to an experimental one. A superb cross-contamination of ideas, from plasma to paints.

Here on Earth, for nanoseconds at a time, we are recreating dwarf stars. What else can we create with the inspiration this science provides us?

(This video was produced by Daniel Oppenheimer and UT’s College of Natural Sciences. For more, check out the accompanying article.)

Icarus Construct

Credit: Adrian Mann

Future starships may be constructed in Earth orbit using a ring-type construction facility, which could have hotel rooms where guests could observe the construction.


(via vivelavapeur)



 … . is it too late to start a NASA fund?

(via itsfullofstars)


Analysis of the 2008 Markarian 421 Flare with VERITAS

Source: (PDF) by Casey Allard, Advised by Dr. Jodi Christiansen, Physics Department, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.


Cloud-to-ground lightning drilling the Aegean Sea from a sky that includes the totally eclipsed Moon. It was taken on the night of June 15, 2011 from Ikaria Island during a thunderstorm.

Credit: Chris Kotsiopoulos

SourceLightning and Lunar EclipseThe Earth Science Picture of the Day

I think some of the GOP presidential candidates might take this as a sign of the “End Times”