Can you believe that, 10 years ago, Pluto stopped being a planet? Well, a planet planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) made it a dwarf planet, along with Ceres (OPA, represent!), Makemake and Eris. Yes, it’s been a decade since the only time Neil deGrasse Tyson disappointed anyone who isn’t a creationist. Everyone above a certain age beat their breasts and tore at their clothes because My Very Energetic Mother no longer Just Served Us any Pizzas, much less Nine of them.
But, the world, solar system, our universe and even the rest of us moved on. Except for some NASA scientists who allege that Pluto’s demotion has reduced interest and possibly even funding into projects like New Horizons to explore it. So, they’re proposing yet another definition for planets: any self-gravitational spheroid object that’s never undergone nuclear fusion. Or, round, but not a star.
Seems good enough, right? Let’s #MakePlutoGreatAgain!
Except … that means that we won’t have just nine planets again. The new definition will encompass moons, asteroids, balls of ice past Pluto and possibly even comets as planets. Oh, the things we’ll have to make our mothers do to memorize that list!
If these scientists think dwarf planets bore people, imagine how boring planetary exploration will become if everything’s a planet. Or, stated more simply: if everything is exciting, nothing is. Such is life.
We already know that fluid behaves differently in zero-G. What we didn’t realize is that, given enough time, the cerebrospinal fluid in the skull’s brain cavity flows willy-nilly and can eventually press on the backs of the eyeballs enough that they flatten a bit. And changing the shape of the eye even a little is enough to impair the ability to focus.
At the moment, NASA has no plan to prevent this as there’s no way to control where fluid flows within the skull. The only current possibilities are either shorter stays or inventing artificial gravity — which introduces its own problem:
The history of human space exploration is a saga of ingenuity, of smart men and women solving problems based on a limited understanding of the unknown with only a handful of observations and a lot of math. And yet, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was forced to admit that it still hasn’t potty trained your average spacewalker. That, when we send our best and brightest up into the yonder to reach out and touch the face of god, it’s often with a fully loaded adult diaper.
Part of the issue is that NASA has been holding this problem in for way too long, and they’re getting ready to take a very long trip to Mars. Diapers have worked for now in low Earth orbit, mostly because home and a new pair of pants has always been less than a day away. But, the further away you get, the longer astronauts may have to spend in spacesuits should, say, life support go offline.
NASA will give the winner up to (no sh*t) turdy-thousand dollars for their design. There’s apparently no prize for number two, though.
Vinyl is the most coveted audio media today. Old people like their records for nostalgia reasons, and hipsters like them because they like acting like things that suck are actually somehow better than what we moved on to. And NASA is cashing in on the trend, if a Kickstarter campaign works out.
Back in the 70s, NASA collaborated with Carl Sagan to create an album like no other. It bares some resemblance to the modern day mix tapes (that aren’t actual tapes). It features a collection of greetings in different languages, sounds of animals, different types of music — pretty out-there stuff for the age of disco. And because NASA is the pimp agency of the federal government, the album was made on gold discs. The album was then launched into space on Voyagers 1 and 2, in hopes that aliens will one day enjoy NASA’s fresh beats. But it was never released here on Earth, not even Sagan could get a copy of the record.
But now, it’s going to be reissued–on vinyl, not gold–for the public to hear. If the Kickstarter campaign meets its funding goal, The Gold Album by NASA feat. Carl “C. Saggy” Sagan, will be reissued and heard by the ears of Earthlings everywhere.
Despite the way the summer’s plot has been going, the world isn’t going to end.
We’ve seen a lot of bad things in recent months. Violence, terrorism and the nomination of Donald Trump, to name a few. But in a plot twist, it turns out we’re not going to be killed off with an asteroid, according to NASA. The space agency is planning a mission to the asteroid Bennu, but not because they are worried about it hitting the Earth, contrary to internet rumors.
So for those of you rooting for the end of it all, look for more terrestrial causes.
Roommates can be annoying, even if you’re good friends with or are married to them. But the good thing is that you don’t have to stay cooped up with them if you don’t want to. You can leave your place for a while and cool off. But your options are limited if you’re on the International Space Station.
American astronaut Kjell Lindgren learned that one of his friends died recently, and did what anyone else in morning would do, annoy the hell out of his roommates. He played the bagpipes, an instrument known for its unpleasant sound and volume. To honor his fallen friend, Lindgren played “Amazing Grace” on some bagpipes he had sent up on a recent supply mission for this reason. That means he knowingly trapped his roommates thousands of feet above the Earth and made them listen to his music.
It’s a cold, hard truth to swallow, but it must be said: the planet just isn’t into space anymore. Seriously, humanity’s fascination with outer space has been on a precipitous decline over the past decade. The only movies about space we tend to get come from The Asylum (shudder). Blame it on vaccines, blame it on 9/11, blame it on dancing sharks, but while it’s still a cool concept, people just aren’t as down with space and its related paraphernalia.
Maybe that’s where Ted Southern comes into play. Southern will be partly designing a spacesuit for Final Frontier Design. NASA may even use his design. Don’t know who Ted Southern is?
We’ve reached the end of the year. I know, I didn’t think we’d make it, either. We found new reasons every day to get mad at each other online. We dumped ice water over our heads so we didn’t have to donate to charity, and felt good about it. We allowed Taylor Swift back into our lives. We voted out a bunch of Democrats because of Ebola. We watched Vladimir Putin close the Winter Olympics with the ceremonial invasion of Ukraine. In a year this dismal, one can feel lost. When I start feeling that way, I just ask myself, “What would Ernest Hemingway do?” Then I get rip-roaring drunk and forget the question. So pour yourself a glass and let’s do this.
At least she was clothed
Lena Dunham (of course we’re starting with her) was on the cover of Vogue magazine in January, and not in an ironic way. It got all the lady bloggers of all the internets upset, too, because her picture was clearly touched up. The Girls creator has touted herself as an example of what real people look like, and the photo betrayed all that, they said. In other news, Dunham was given an award for best magazine cover ever.
Let your bowels take a vacation
It was not a good month to be on a boat. First, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship had to cut its tour short because some 700 crew and passengers got sick. Then, a Princess cruise ship had a similar outbreak. We’re not talking about a head cold going around on the ship–it was the norovirus. A sizable amount of people were enjoying their vacations either in their cabin bathrooms without ventilation, or heaving over the side. They say bad things come in threes, but sadly the Bud Light cruise ship at the Super Bowl wasn’t affected.
In case you’re not sick of him already Justin Bieber was arrested after police said he was drag racing in Miami while drunk and high, which is probably how everyone else in Miami drives in the first place. Bieber reportedly cried when he got arrested, and compared himself to Michael Jackson after posting bail. Between him and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, it’s nice to see that Canadians can be just as big asses as Americans. Continue reading →
I spent the week of Thanksgiving seeing family and friends out in Ohio. We drove some 18 hours in all, which means there was a lot of radio time during the trip. It’s easy to forget this, but it you’re outside a populated area, radio stations come in only three flavors: pop, classic rock and country. And they all play the same songs for their respective genres.
This meant I heard a lot of Taylor Swift, who apparently has a few very popular songs out right now. I learned to memorize that “Bang Bang” song, and had ample opportunity to reaffirm my dislike for Ariana Grande. It’s a good thing for sexuality, otherwise pop songs would have nothing to say.
As you can imagine, I had an urge to drive into the nearest tree. But I had a lot of time to think, so I thought about less lethal ways to get away from pop songs. What if I could go into space? Continue reading →
Why aren’t there any good Halloween songs coming out anymore? I get that “Thriller” may never be topped, but it feels like there’s a market for Halloween songs that just hasn’t been tapped in a long time. We have tons of scary sounding music from scary looking people, but nothing has really seemed to click in decades. Maybe musicians should do Halloween albums, rather than the crap they put out for the holidays. That’s the world I want to live in. If you were busy announcing a bunch of movies this week, odds are you missed it.
Sticking the landing
This week, a commercial rocket carrying supplies and scientific experiments exploded just six seconds into its launch at a NASA facility in Virginia. Officials say that the rocket was terminated when it was clear there was a problem that would keep it from reaching orbit, plus it’s fun to scare the crap out of the local wildlife.
Breaking out during an outbreak
Because of the paranoia surrounding the Ebola virus, there have been various quarantines put in place for any military or health workers coming back from African countries where the outbreak still exists. To protest the forced quarantine she was under in New Jersey, nurse Kaci Hickox made herself into a political pawn. She broke her quarantine, was sent home to Maine, and broke her quarantine there, too. She hasn’t shown symptoms of the virus yet, but karma hasn’t yet been reached for comment.
After years of talking about it, Paul Reubens announced that a third Pee-Wee Herman movie is in the works. Production is set to start early next year. Fans are excited at the news, because it’s long past time we traumatized the younger generation.