Cosmos? On FOX?!?

Just wondering how this is going to work-

Narrator: “There are those who believe the Universe started with the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago. Those people refer to themselves as cosmologists- we usually refer to them as heathens, heretics, and blasphemers.”

And what about the audience expecting Family Guy and American Dad in that time slot?

And wondering if it will last the entire 13 weeks?

Seen at the Local Library

Or, rather not seen.

The library in town (located next to the West Virginia Diner) is part of a “regional library system,” nine branches and a bookmobile spread over four counties and one “city.” I don’t go there much because it’s not much of a library. I didn’t realize until today just how much of a library it wasn’t.

I went there this afternoon with my wife who had reserved “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. We had seen the author on Tavis Smiley (yes, we watch PBS- it requires a special antenna) and she decided to read his books, starting with the first.

While she was at the check out desk, I thought I’d peruse the science books- only there weren’t any. The 500’s section was almost completely empty, just a couple of bird books in the 590 section. No science books at all. No science books.

I decided not to check the children’s section. If I found a copy of “Billy Bob and His Pet Dinosaur Visit the Tar Pit,” my reaction would probably get me banned from the library- like the science books.

Update: I sent the director of the library system an email asking why no science books and still haven’t received a reply- maybe it went into her spam folder because it had the word “science” in it.

Update 2: It turns out that there was a third bird book in the 500 section. It was removed when someone pointed out that it claimed that birds evolved from dinosaurs about 70 million years ago.

Update 3: Actually there are a few “science” books in the system. A search of the catalog for books with the word “physics” in the title reveals “Physics of Superheroes” and “Physics of the Bible.”

Update 4: I went by the local branch today to return a book for someone and there are two new books in the adult 500’s section- “Baby Animals” and “Kangaroos.” On my way out, someone asked why I looked so sad…

NGC 6751

A just finished digital painting of NGC 6751, a planetary nebula in the constellation Aquila. The nebula, also known as the Glowing Eye Nebula, is approximately 6,500 light-years away and 0.8 light-years in diameter. It is expanding at a rate of about 40 kilometers per second. The central star appears to be in its heating phase following the ejection of its giant-star envelope. Still losing mass, the star is on its way to becoming a white dwarf- the eventual fate of our own Sun.

The painting is based on a Hubble Space Telescope image taken in 1998.  There are two images- the full painting and a detail of the central portion, better showing the brush work.

 NGC6751GMX    NGC6751GMXdetail

V838 Monocerotis

On January 6, 2002, a previously unknown red variable star in the constellation Monoceros, now known as V838 Monocerotis,  experienced a major outburst. The star, about 20,000 light years away, brightened to about a million times the luminosity of the Sun; at the time of maximum it was one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The brightening was accompanied by the rapid expansion of the outer layers of the star. For a short time following the outburst, V838 Mon probably had one of the largest diameters of any known star.

Originally thought to be a typical nova eruption, it was soon realized that it was something completely different. The reason for the outburst is still uncertain, but a number of hypotheses have been put forward, including an eruption related to stellar death processes or a merger with a companion star or planet.

The remnant is evolving rapidly. As of 2009 it had increased in both temperature and luminosity but decreased in radius; the ejecta continues to expand.

A light echo is a phenomenon often observed when an object undergoes a relatively short duration, very luminous eruption. Analogous to an echo of sound, a light echo is produced when a sudden flash or burst of light is reflected off of interstellar matter, sometimes dust and gas produced by the erupting object itself. These echos. taking a longer path and arriving later than the light from the initial event, produces a vision of expanding rings around the site of the outburst.


This is a digital painting of V838 Mon that  I just finished; it it based on an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on December 17, 2002.

Scene at the West Virginia Diner

So Fred and I are sitting at our table, waiting on our lunch, and talking about an upcoming event at Jefferson Lab when we’re interrupted from the next table.

“Excuse me but you’re wrong.”

“Wrong? About what? The universe being more than 6000 years old?”

“Well, yes, that obviously, but it’s the Jeffersonian Lab, not the Jefferson, and it’s in Washington, not Newport News. It’s where Bones works.”

“Bones? What? No. We’re talking about the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, an electron accelerator and theoretical physics center in Newport News.”

“No, it’s in Washington. And they’re crime fighter scientists- not whatever you said.”

“You do know that Bones is fictional, right?”

“It’s not fictional- it’s on television, on FOX.”


* This conversation didn’t actually happen, but, sadly, it could have…