Things I Used to Know


I was going over old files on a computer I’m reformatting, and I found an astrophysics assignment I wrote in third year:

“An HR Diagram was successfully obtained for both the M34 cluster and part of the NGC188 cluster. The main sequence and red giant branch of M34 is clearly visible, whereas the data for NGC188 appears to encompass only the topmost fraction of the full diagram. M34 and NGC188 appeared to have a main sequence turnoff of approximately 0.0 and 0.7, respectively. From this it was possible to determine that NGC188 is significantly older than M34. Possible outliers in NGC188 were identified by comparing the observed data to a generic HR diagram, and by measuring the rough magnitude shifts between the main sequences of each cluster and an absolute magnitude diagram, the distance moduli were determined. M34 was measured to have a distance modulus of 8.6, and therefore a distance of 5.25×102pc from earth. NGC188 had a distance modulus of 11.4 and a distance of 1.905×103pc. The clusters were found to be roughly 1380 parsecs apart.”

Someone asked me a few weeks ago how to figure out distances like this and I couldn’t remember at all anymore. I wasn’t sure if I had ever even learned it. Apparently I did, I just didn’t learn it very well. But hey, it’s cool that I knew it once! And now I (sort of) know it again.

Here was my photo of NGC188 (in colour!):

NGC188 in colour

My photo of M34:

M34 in colour


Boobs always win against transistors


Another win from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.



Word Lens


Eventually they will make an iPhone that jumps into your ear and translates everything in real time. Until then, we have this:


I just wrote a letter to Michael Moore for some reason.


Dear Michael,

I am upset to hear that you are calling the rape allegations against Julian Assange hooey. While it may be that governments are taking advantage of the claims to discredit him, it is unfair to the women involved in the case to write them off completely, assume that they are lying, or state that what was alleged was not rape.

With one woman, the condom broke and she wanted him to stop. Instead of complying, he held her down until he was finished. With the other, he had unprotected sex while she was asleep. Both of these situations sound very scary to me, as a woman, and they do indeed sound like rape.

The charge isn’t about whether or not the condom broke; it’s what he did after the condom broke. That is a very important point, and I hope that you will take that into consideration in the future. The details of the allegations are being misrepresented by most major media outlets; it’s your chance to prove them wrong.



David Frum from the Top Rope!


BOOM! Frum busts in with a haymaker!

First Barbara Bush, and now this. David Frum is Canada’s most conservative dude, and even he is raggin’ on Palin.

Via Daily Dish.


This experiment deserves a Nobel


Does hilarity fit in the Peace Prize category? (via The Daily What)





Sexism in Hip Hop perpetuated by Sexism in Hip Hop Discussion


Sociological Images posted a video in which Black Intellectuals and Artists discuss Sexism in Hip Hop. Here is the video:

I was struck by the imbalance in the conversation, so I counted a few things in the video:

# men: 6 (the host, Cornel West, and the 4 men on stage)
# women: 2

Length of time men spoke overall: 7:11
Length of time women spoke overall: 2:12

Length of time men spoke per person: 1:11
Length of time women spoke per person: 1:06

Length of time the audience gave extended applause to men: 0:52
Length of time the audience gave extended applause to women: 0:02*

While women were not represented in terms of numbers, they did have as much chance to speak as the men were. I’d say a difference of 5 seconds is negligible. What disturbs me is how the audience responded to their points. The two seconds of applause for Kim Osorio was granted when she prompted the audience to thank Nelly for appearing despite his record label wanting otherwise; if I hadn’t counted that, the women would have gotten a goose egg. A group with a 3:1 gender ratio had a 26:1 applause ratio. I’m not sure what to think about that.