Thursday, December 13, 2007

Astronomy Cast

Ah. A geek post. How refreshing.

As you know if you read the header at the top of the page, I attempt to do science for a living. Chemistry. Mixing little bits of things with other little bits of things, then swirling it and drying it and putting it in water and heating it and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. It's fun. It wasn't what got me into the sciences, though.

The reason I'm interested in science and am trying to make a career out of it goes back to being in the fourth grade and checking a book about the solar system out of the library of my tiny Catholic school. Specifically, I remember it including instructions on how to grasp the scale of the solar system by using strings and a basketball and some pebbles. Or something. The point is that while what I do today involves things on a somewhat small scale and attempts to manipulate molecules and the structures they form into doing what I want them to do, what first got me interested in studying how everything works was astronomy. Recently, I've started to get back into paying attention to it, if only to have something pretty to look at in between banging my head against the wall trying to get my science to work.

Which is why you may, if you read this blog regularly and pay attention to it, have noticed the addition of the Bad Astronomy blog to my links on the side there. Actually, if you read this blog regularly and pay attention to it, I'd really like to have a talk with you, as your visits either indicate that you have nothing better to do, and so are clearly experiencing levels of boredom previously thought impossible by leading psychologists and should find your nearest university so that we can study how you've gotten this bored, or you're my mother. In which case, hello.

Phil Plait runs a terrific blog and has a book out and another coming up soon and keeps showing up on the skeptical podcasts I listen to, but the reason I thought to write this post is not to promote him. It's to promote Astronomy Cast. Astronomy-focused podcast run by Dr. Pamela Gay of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Fraser Cain, the publisher of Universe Today and noted Canadian. It's worth a listen and, if somehow you're reading this and employed as a high-school teacher, are running a program through NASA in which you let them know you exist, they send you equipment to record your student's questions, then answer them for you. Which is pretty cool. Overall, very good at taking incomprehensible things and making so that I can at least start to understand them.

It makes me a little bit sad that I'm not able to actually see very much in the night sky anymore, but I suppose that's one of the trade-offs you make when you choose to live in the third largest city in the nation, but do so on a salary that doesn't permit a car, so that you can get the hell out of here or an awesome telescope. I have yet to work up a decent rig that would allow me to carry a very sensitive piece of equipment on my back while biking, and given my tendency to either be hit by cars or have old women jump in front of me, I don't think that's something that's going to happen for quite some time.


Scott said...

I read your RSS feed on my friends page at Livejournal.

-Murphy said...

Hi, Scott.

Fraser said...

Thanks for the kind review Ryan, we really appreciate it. :-)

-Murphy said...

It's a great show, so I'm happy to do whatever I can to help. Which, given that I'm living on a grad student salary, means you get things like reviews on a non-notable blog. Because that's all nice and free.