Monday, February 10, 2003

MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT THE AFL ON NBC THUS FAR: Michael Irving is completely non-annoying, and actually quite good. He was the least annoying member of the Cowboys' Big Three, so maybe it isn't that surprising.
WARBLOGGER AWARDS POSTED: Nobody I voted for won, except for Instapundit in the "Best Linker" category. Dang it.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

ABORTION LINKAGE: First, a post from FuturePundit on sex selection and abortion in Asia, which is full of detail and reports that the gender imbalance is all out of whack in East Asia and India because of sex-selective abortions that prevented millions of women from existing. Grrreat. Meanwhile MedPundit reports on the emotional aftereffects of abortion.
COLUMBIA: It is sad all around--what makes it truly depressing for me is seeing all the video of the crew in orbit and noticing how wildly happy they all were. Granted, they all seemed like the kind of people who were permanently high on life to begin with, so maybe they weren't solely buzzed on the thrills of antigravity and being actually in outer space. In any case, the contrast between their bubbly happiness and the fact that their lives were about to be torn away in the upper atmosphere saddens me more than anything else I've seen about STS-107.

There's this weird, neat Kalpana Chawla quote that I saw her say on C-SPAN--they were rebroadcasting the 1/29/03 briefing--and that has "In the retina of my eye, the whole Earth and the sky could be seen reflected" in it--that's definitely not the whole quote, which I can't find anywhere. But if I had to do a On The Transmigration Of Souls for Columbia it would be one of those lengthy, mysterious "trance" (in quotes because I have no idea what I'm talking about) electronica records and that full sample of her words would be in there as the musical centerpiece.

And I have no idea what to make of this:

Top investigators of the Columbia space shuttle disaster are analyzing a startling photograph -- snapped by an amateur astronomer from a San Francisco hillside -- that appears to show a purplish electrical bolt striking the craft as it streaked across the California sky.

The digital image is one of five snapped by the shuttle buff at roughly 5:53 a.m. Saturday as sensors on the doomed orbiter began showing the first indications of trouble. Seven minutes later, the craft broke up in flames over Texas.

The photographer requested that his name not be used and said he would not release the image to the public until NASA experts had time to examine it.

Although there are several possible benign explanations for the image -- such as a barely perceptable jiggle of the camera as it took the time exposure -- NASA's zeal to examine the photo demonstrates the lengths at which the agency is going to tap the resources of ordinary Americans in solving the puzzle.

Late Tuesday, NASA dispatched former shuttle astronaut Tammy Jernigan, now a manager at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, to the San Francisco home of the astronomer to examine his digital images and to take the camera itself to Mountain View, where it was to be transported by a NASA T-38 jet to Houston this morning.

A Chronicle reporter was present when the astronaut arrived. First seeing the image on a large computer screen, she had one word: "Wow."

Jernigan, who is no longer working for NASA, quizzed the photographer on the aperture of the camera, the direction he faced and the estimated exposure time -- about four to six seconds on the automatic Nikon 880 camera. It was mounted on a tripod, and the shutter was triggered manually.

In the critical shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades.

"It certainly appears very anomalous," said Jernigan. "We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this."

Via Ken Layne.