“See Astrophysicists in Captivity”. I see them in captivity every day (when I’m working), so I know that what lies behind this link could be really frightening.

It turns out that, unbeknownest to me at least, the American Museum of Natural History had an exhibit called SCIENCE LIVE: THE RACE TO DECODE THE HUBBLE ULTRA DEEP FIELD IMAGE, which they described as:

Science Live: The Race to Decode the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image offers the public an unprecedented opportunity to watch competitive space science in action, as teams of astrophysicists from the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, and Stony Brook University race to decode strange space objects revealed in a newly released Hubble Space Telescope image. These image and the data behind it will be released to the New York-based teams, along with the public and scientists worldwide, on Tuesday, March 9, 2004.

Surrounded by racks of computers and working against a backdrop of the spectacular new image displayed on the Museum’s 16′ x 9′ Astrobulletin, the Science Live astrophysicists will crunch numbers and debate around the clock in an attempt to be the first to publish results. Scientists will provide progress reports for the public daily throughout this weeklong event.


I think the idea is interesting and I’m sure I’d find the exhibit fascinating. And, from the pictures, it appears that everyone remembered to put on their pants and shoes so that’s a plus.

What concerns me deeply, however, is that close examination of the site photos fails to reveal the most important component needed for this kind of work: a coffee maker (preferably an espresso machine). That’s just flat-out dangerous to everyone involved.

Should we have been exposing children to potentially uncaffeinated scientists? It’s a terrifying question with chilling implications.

I’m teasing. I love astrophysicists as much as physicists. They really do throw swingin’ parties.

now…some geekiness.

First up: flying snakes. “Flying snakes slither through the air: Fancy moves propel Singapore serpent’s acrobatics.” Ick. I find the idea of flying snakes too upsetting for words.

The sneaky bastards even have their own homepage, flyingsnake.org.

I bet there’s secret flying snake research happening at the Pentagon even as we speak.

Here’s where flying snakes live in the wild, in case you want to get them something nice for Christmas.

Next, a couple of really geeky sites that always amuse me:

Math in the movies is a guide to, well, math in the movies. It’s more fun than it sounds. I do have to say, however, that I tried to watch a bit of Bedazzled on HBO once and it hurt pretty badly. Consequently, I have my doubts about whether it contains mathematical in-jokes, as this letter to the editor suggests.

Insultingly stupid movie physics is also quite amusing. To those of us who don’t get out enough, anyway.