Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Science Fiction Anthologies at my Local Used Book Store

On a recent nice day I took a break from work and took a stroll down to the local used book store.  I've been here many times before, but today I discovered their science fiction anthology section!  It wasn't near the science fiction section and was hidden on the bottom of a large book shelf.  Thus my reason for not seeing it before today.  Upon my discovery my eyes popped wide as there were a ton of science fiction anthologies for purchase!!!  I started by picking this two book set for just $8.

A two book set for just $8!!!
How great is that?!?!!  A huge selection of science fiction stories for less than $10.  Can't beat that!  I will definitely be back for more.  Shhh...don't tell my wife!  She already thinks I have too many books at home.  Too many books?  Not possible!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Bad Astronomy Newsletter

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, has been around for quite some time.  He's written a couple of books and currently blogs for SyFy.  He's recently started an astronomy newsletter he publishes about twice per week.  Some of the newsletters are free to the public but to get the full batch, you need to subscribe and pay a monthly or annual fee. 

Bad Astronomy Newsletter

Thus far I've only read the free issues, but Phil does a great job bringing complicated astronomy to the average person who may not have a strong astronomy background.  Plus he does a great job debunking astronomy related misconceptions.

If you like astronomy, I encourage you to check out Phil's newsletter.  If you really like it, it's $5/month or $50/yr to subscribe and get all of his stuff.  A pretty good deal!  And no, he did not pay me to say that.  He doesn't even know I exist.  :-(  :-)

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Paint on the Deck

Check out the paint job on our deck, done by yours truly!

Our deck gets a new paint job!
Unfortunately we won't get to use it as we are moving.  Painting the deck was part of the selling agreement as it really needed it.  Looks nice for the new homeowners.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This Blog's History: How to Say 'Uranus'?

In case you missed it last month, for This Friday in This Blog's History, I point you back to the post I wrote on the proper way to say Uranus.  It's a sticking point for every teacher in the world!  Giggles abound!!!

How to Say 'Uranus'

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Skyview App

There are a lot of cool phone apps out there but no phone is complete without a good sky viewing app!  There's not need to carry around a paper sky map when you have your phone.  I encourage you to check out the Skyview app and install it on your phone.

Skyview App
This app is a great way to find objects in your night sky and it's free!  There's also a night viewing mode that changes the light from your phone screen to a red color where your eyes are less sensitive.  Although it's not harmful to your eyes, flooding them with light in the dark prevents you from seeing dimmer objects in the sky.  You have to wait each time for your eyes to adjust and that's no fun.  

So check out this app and see if you like it.  Again, every phone needs a good sky viewing app for those times you're outside and take a few moments to view the night sky!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Misconceptions That Kill #13: Is Brown Sugar Healthier than White Sugar?

At first glance of the title you may be wondering how brown versus white sugar is a deadly misconception.  It's not immediately deadly but can lead to health problems that result in one's death later in life.  There is a misconception that brown sugar is healthier for you than white sugar.  Unfortunately that is not the case.  The misconception argues that brown sugar is more natural than white sugar because white sugar is refined.  Brown sugar contains molasses and this is refined out to make white sugar. 

Brown sugar.
The harm comes when people replace white sugar with brown sugar under the misconception that it is healthier than white sugar.  This in turn can lead people to consume more sugar than they should.  Increased sugar consumption can lead to serious health effects, such as diabetes, which can then cause enough health problems leading to someone dying earlier than they would.  It's not a situation of choosing brown over white sugar.  It's a situation in which ANY sugar consumption should be limited.  Thinking brown sugar is healthier is a misconception that can lead to higher sugar consumption. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Misconceptions That Kill #12: Homeopathy

It's been awhile since I've had a post in this Misconceptions That Kill series, so it's time to talk about a big one:  Homeopathy.  I've written on this blog several times in the past about homeopathy and the harm it causes.  To put it simply, homeopathy is the supposed treatment of diseases by using minute doses of natural substances.  To put it even more simply, it is a bunch of quackery that has no basis in science.  There are ZERO peer reviewed studies showing any benefit of homeopathy.  In fact, the opposite is true because people use homeopathic substances instead of real medicine when they are sick!!!  People literally die because they avoid real medications that could help them!!!

The sad thing about homeopathy is pharmacies stock homeopathic substances in the same aisles right next to real medications so sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the two without doing a very careful reading of the label.  This has happened to me before when I went to pick up a fever reducer and grabbed a homeopathic remedy that was nothing more than honey water.  Pissed me off when I got home!!!

Here are a few links to other posts I've written on the topic of homeopathy. 

Homeopathy Has No Basis in Science

Okay....I guess I've only written about homeopathy once before today.  :-)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Predicting Habitability Odds on Exoplanets

Many days in astronomy class I start the period asking for students to share current events they've come across in the field of astronomy.  It's a great time for the class as a whole to keep up with new developments in the field, but it's also a great opportunity for me to hear new things.  Recently a student shared an article discussing artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is being used to identify the habitability of exoplanets.

AI beats astronomers at predicting survivability of 'Tatooines'

For starters, learning more about exoplanets is always exciting!  Finding habitable planets is even more exciting!  Where there are habitable planets there is the possibility of life.  Using AI to help in this search is triple exciting!  A big part of why I love astronomy is that it is a constantly developing field.  New things are found or discovered all the time and you never know what new piece of info you'll wake up to each morning!  Once of these days I'll wake up and astronomers will have discovered life elsewhere in the Universe!!!  Now that will be an exciting day!

Friday, May 11, 2018

This Blog's History: Odds of an Underdog Victory

In case you missed it last month, I point you back to the post I wrote on the odds of a #16 seed beating a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, something that happened in the men's tournament for the first time this year.  You might be surprised to learn it's not all that shocking.  For more, click the link to the original article below.

Odds of an Underdog Victory

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Newton is Chilling

I was recently painting one of our bedrooms, in preparation for putting our house on the market, when I snapped this photo.

Newton is chilling.
I had the ladder out for the higher ceiling areas, but for most of the job I didn't need the ladder.  Newton, our cat, quickly climbed to the top and spent most of the day up there watching me and looking out the window when I was painting.  LOL!  Silly kitty!