Monday, November 23, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving Planet


For any international readers, you may have noticed American social media buzz about a curious little holiday we call "Thanksgiving", which we pretend is about Pilgrims and Natives preparing meals together at the dawn of our colonial period. It's kinda really totally actually NOT, but as with most holidays, we like myths more than we like historical facts.

This excuse to over-eat is held each year on the third Thursday of November. Then, on the third FRIDAY of each November, we celebrate an even more curious custom known as... Wishing We Could Move To Planet Mercury.

Your Weight On Other Worlds
There is a great contraption at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where you can step on a large scale and see what you weigh on all the planets. I've been on it, and it's quite a fun experience. They also have their calculator on a web page, so you can see Your Weight On Other Worlds.

(I think it goes without saying, there will never, EVER be a book fad known as "The Jupiter Diet".)

Why the discrepancies? In simple terms, gravity is the force of attraction between objects. Gravitational pull is what makes the Earth orbit the sun, or the moon orbit the Earth. Suns, moons and planets are all surrounded by fields of gravity. These fields will be different, depending on things like planet size, mass, speed, its location in any solar system, and any other objects around it in space.

If Earth's force of gravity is measured at 1.00, force on other planets would be:

List of Planets and their Gravitational Forces
We'll include Pluto for the purists. And so I don't have to listen to any arguments.

More complex components of gravity come into play, but in general: the larger the object, the greater the gravity. However, the further away you travel from an object, the less you are affected by its gravitational field. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, so it has the strongest field (except for our Sun, which is over 27+!). You cannot stand on Jupiter, because it's mostly gas. However, if it had a surface, the force holding your body on the planet would be much greater. This increases your weight, even though your mass remains the same.

At any rate, multiply your weight by any of these numbers, and you will see what you weigh on that planet.  Oh goody, math homework!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Death Star Math


So there's this realty company named Movoto, and they somehow grew a sense of humor, despite being a realty company.

Death Star

Not only are they funny, they are space enthusiasts! On the Movato blog, they profess an admiration for SpaceX, and say they have been inspired by commercial space initiatives to think up interesting ways to relate to space!  Hey, don't most of us do this all day?

On this same blog is an amusing info graphic about how many average homes could fit into the DeathStar, and I'm digging whomever they go to complete their artwork.  In terms of working environment, this place must be a hoot. Clink on the link or the picture to see the answer. :)

Launch Your House Into Space

It gets better. Want to know how much money it would take to launch your entire house into space? I tried it. It would take $678 million to put my dwelling up into the black. 

To put that number into perspective, that's just slightly over the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of Ecuador. 

They don't happen to mention whether you will just be orbiting around Earth in your floating house or if you theoretically get to travel somewhere interesting. Pity, as I was expecting the follow-up graphic to be the mileage to Europa!

Earth's Moon

The space fun doesn't stop there. Last but not least, just how large would a house have to be in order for it to be visible on the moon??

No joke, just a little larger than the city of Houston.  I'm betting we wouldn't lack for construction volunteers on the project, however...when do we leave?  Check out Movoto's site -- but make sure it's when you have some time to kill.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Aluminum Foiled Again


 Inevitably, after any moon landing anniversary, the hoaxers emerge from the timber paneling to bellow about shadows and wind and stars, and all the reasons why thousands of people worked on the Apollo project, "duping the world" -- yet fascinatingly, no whistleblowers have come forward for 5 decades.

Upon a recent entangling with one of these poor souls on Twitter (which we should just re-name "Trollville" at this juncture), I pointed out they might actually be projecting far more competence onto government bureacracies than deserved. The response was "I'll keep my tinfoil hat, thank you."

People still wear tinfoil hats??

MIT's Ali Rahimi
Ali Rahimi of MIT. Seriously.

Horrible news for the Conspiracy Theory Crowd came many moons ago, when an empirical study should have shut down any arguments.

Alas, if you could "reason" with conspiracy theorists, there wouldn't be any conspiracy theorists.

Whether you embrace the contemporary fashion for blocking government beams (or alien beams, in some circles) it turns out that tin foil headgear actually enables mind control!  Go figure.
Oh, Tabby. Not you, too!

Seeking resource links about radio waves (different writing project), I once stumbled over this enlightening piece of news, whereby several scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (who knew they had so much time on their hands?) experimented with various radio frequencies used by the United States government. Would a tin foil hat truly stem the tide of Big Brotherly evil?

Astonishingly, after testing three common helmet styles, MIT researchers found that the tin foil magnified the waves instead of blocking them.

Fashion Statement

So hmm, maybe the aliens among us set this conspiracy theory in motion all along, hoping that tin foil caps would catch on??

You have no idea how much I wish I was making this up:

A quarter million dollars worth of equipment was used, including computer power, a network analyzer, a signal generator and omnidirectional antenna – all used to test signals in various ranges... all to find out that regular old Reynolds foil amplify the bands allocated to the government.

Wernher von Braun
Recently De-classified.

So what CAN one use to block alien beams or government mind-control technology? I have no idea, but I am sure new products for just this purpose are due to hit the market.

Please, please let it be chocolate.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Third Annual FIREFLY and COSMOS T-Shirt Giveaway


Browncoats! Spacetweeps! Science nerds!

It is that time of year again. In celebration of Shepherd Book's milestone birthday this week, I'm once again partnering for tweetstorms with GeekChicTees for a Firefly T-shirt giveaway!

The contest will run for one week, today through next Friday (July 3rd - 10th). On July 10th, our supremely indifferent cat will pick one two lucky winners, and Ron Glass will officially be a septuagenarian!  Like, wow.

As always, very special thanks to Captain Mal's Wisdom, who always helps us get the word out to space cadets of all stripes. (Though we're pretty sure they do it for the cool free T-shirts, too.)
Click to enter T-shirt Giveaway!

To enter the contest for either free T-shirt, pop over to our Official Giveaway Page and choose ways to enter on Twitter and Facebook.

Winners, upon sending clothing size and address confidentially, get to pick their favorite products from the GeekChic Tees catalogue!

Note: While we chose Rafflecopter's platform for easy collating so we don't miss any entries, know that email addresses are never farmed. They may ask you for email to sign up, but NO ONE at, GeekChic Tees or CMW will ever, ever, ever send spam or sell the email addresses of Browncoats. That is some serious Alliance-style BS right there! Anyone who even asked us for something that rude would have to get past Jayne & Vera, first.

 Click to Enter T-Shirt Giveaway!
Click on picture to enter contest!

If you are not on Twitter or Facebook, you can also share this page to Tumblr, Pinterest, and/or Google+ and comment on this blog post to say you have done so. We'll be watching all new messages!

Enter as many times as you like, on as many platforms as you like. We'll go check them out! Every follow, share, and tweet counts as an entry.

Winner will be announced directly afterward on this blog, Twitter, and Captain Mal's Wisdom. Which you should totally be following already, anyway.