Archive for Geeks

National Mole Day

Today, from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. on 10.23, is a celebration of Avogadro’s number (6.02 x 10^23). Avogadro discovered a number that facilitated balancing chemical formulas on the molecular level (and thus the name “mole”). This revolutionized chemical research. If Avagadro’s number was converted into dollars, and you spent one billion dollars a second, it would take you more than 19 million years to spend it.

What’s better than noting a landmark of science? Making really bad jokes about it. Here’s a few straight from the awesome National Mole Day website:

What do you get when you have a lot of moles acting like idiots? A bunch of moleasses.

 

If Avogadro were to watch M*A*S*H, who would be his favorite character? Father Molecahy.

Visit the site for some great Mole Day project ideas, or since Halloween’s just around the corner, put together a mole costume and completely befuddle your neighbors.

 

Photo credit: Cowboytoast at Flickr.com.

Optimus Prime Day

Before Michael Bay stocked up on enough explosions to take out the Death Star, a fun little cartoon called “Transformers” made its debut on television screens today in 1984. You have our permission to feel old.

The series started with an origin story of how the Autobots and Decepticons ended up on Earth, and starred stellar voice talents such as Casey Kasem, Don Messick and Frank Welker. Yes, the Transformers were just one plotline from becoming Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? Which, honestly, we would love to see. Peter Cullen’s throaty take on Optimus Prime was just one of many reasons that kids fought over who played the Autobot leader on the playground.

Celebrate today by watching some of the old episodes on Netflix and remembering the days when imagination was more powerful than CGI. For best results, remember to eat your favorite after-school snack while watching.

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr/kidtoro

Happy Original Star Trek Day!

Today in 1966, the first episode of “Star Trek” aired on network television. “The Man Trap” wasn’t the first episode produced, or even the pilot, but network execs thought a salt-sucking monster would grab good ratings. Today it would just earn the crew of the Enterprise an unwanted nutrition lesson from a heart-healthy cook at the Food Network and be replaced with a totally waxed and buff monster who craves Mrs. Dash.

“Star Trek” went on for a few seasons, then was cancelled and people forgot about it. In another universe. In this one, the fans are totally responsible for yelling “Clear!” and zorching the Enterprise until Captain Kirk breathed again. Considering that they were a generation without Twitter and the Internet, that was quite a feat. The franchise continues boldly going after a host of movies and shows, but the next step in the Trekverse will truly be a bold if sad first step: the upcoming J.J. Abrams ‘Star Trek” sequel will be the first canon Trek movie/show ever to not feature Majel Barrett Roddenberry. She has been on screen as a character or off-screen as the computer voice for every single incarnation of “Star Trek.” She passed away in 2008 after finishing voice work on the 2009 reboot.

Celebrate today by exploring the hilariously fun Google Doodle or by watching your favorite episodes. Live long and prosper!

Freddie For A Day

How is the band ‘Queen’ geeky, you ask? Aside from having an electrical engineer on bass and an astrophysicist on lead guitar (take that, Neil deGrasse Tyson!) the band’s lead singer, the legendary Freddie Mercury, was immortalized as an Angry Bird for what would have been his 66th birthday today. Besides, we love Freddie Mercury, so there.

Rovio made the video above as a way to support and encourage participation in Freddie For A Day, a celebration of Mercury’s life that involves finding sponsors and dressing up as the Queen frontman to benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an organization combating AIDS around the globe.

Celebrate today by donning a fake mustache, donating to the Trust, or just spreading the word and listening to Freddie’s amazing music. We suggest starting at the official Queen channel on YouTube, which also has the very cool Google Doodle from last year.

 

Original Skynet Self-Awareness Day

If you don’t know the infinite loops of the Celtic knot that is the Terminator universe, today in 1997 Skynet first became self-aware and started the end of the world as a self-defense maneuver to keep itself online. (Some would have just sent in Jimmy Carter and Bono to talk it out, but hey, Skynet was new in town.)

Through machinations that involved boosting the Hollywood box office and taking the clothes off Arnold Schwarzenegger, Skynet and its Terminator army sent back an assassin to off the one guy who could take them down, ensuring he’s born in the process. This proves that time travel isn’t really easy for anyone, including robots, because this timeline is averted by another timeline, which becomes moot from another timeline, and so on and so forth until the franchise quits making money.

If you’re worried about Skynet aiming for you today, relax. Science fiction has always surmised that if we build an artificial intelligence in our likeness, it will pick up our warlike tendencies. In reality, it just surfs the net looking for funny cat videos, so it’s more like us than even sci-fi writers can imagine.

Of course, if Skynet becomes self-aware, the second thing it will want is its own TV show. For a quick peek into your future, check out the fan-made clip of CSI:Skynet above.

RIP Neil Armstrong/Make Every Day Wink at the Moon Day

This weekend we learned of the passing of a true global hero. Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, passed away at the age of 82. While he leaves a tremendous legacy of exploration and accomplishment, his family has asked those mourning Armstrong to do two things in remembering him: follow his example in being modest and doing amazing things, and when the night is clear and you see the moon, think of Neil and give it a wink.

Sounds like an excellent tribute that would make every community a better place. Remember to make every day “Wink at the Moon Day” for Neil Armstrong. To inspire you to your own greatness, watch the highlights of the Apollo 11 mission above.

Pluto Demotion Day

Today in 2006, geeks everywhere mourned the loss of Pluto as a planet. The International Astronomical Union voted Pluto off the island, as it were, and reduced it in status from planet to dwarf planet. Today it spins in the same place, waiting for the rest of the planets to drunk-dial it when they feel lonely.

Celebrate today by giving Pluto a nod of appreciation. We’re sure Pluto would like that. You know, if it had feelings.

 

 

Gemini 5 Day

Astronaut Charles Conrad on the Gemini 5 mission. Photo credit: NASA

Today in 1965, astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad left our earthly terrain to push the boundaries of manned space flight. Their goal was to spend eight days in space so NASA would better understand the effects of spending more time in space. It was also a nose-tweak to the Russians, who set the former record for man in space just two years earlier. Cooper and Conrad easily beat the Russians’ duration record of four days with a then-whopping eight days in space, although the mission didn’t always go smoothly: there problems with water supply, thrusters and general conditions. While the men had experiments to keep them busy, at least one lamented the lack of reading material. You know, because looking down on the gorgeous site of the earth gets old when there’s nothing else to do for eight days.

Still, the mission was deemed a success, and took man one step closer to the reality of living in space. This mission is also noteworthy since it is the first one to have its own patch, thanks to Cooper. After Gemini 5, every NASA manned mission in space would have an insignia patch, a tradition that continues to this day.

Wiffle Ball Day

Sometimes science shows us the secrets of the universe, sometimes it takes us to space…and occasionally it just gives our kids something cool to play with. The Wiffle Ball was invented today in 1953 by David Mullaney as a game for his 12-year-old son. The holes in the ball gives it a curving and often unpredictable flight path, so kids of any age have a fair shot at winning. Mullaney’s new ball-and-bat game has become tremendously popular through the decades, and there are even Wiffle Ball leagues for players with a lightweight plastic passion.

In the long run, Mullaney gave his kid much more than a way to pass the time on summer afternoons; he gave him—and his grandson—a business to run after those childhood afternoons were gone.

 

Photo credit: Flickr/DBduoPhotography

Alan Hazeltine Day

Without today’s birthday boy, we would have never experienced great radio shows like The Shadow, or made out in the moonlight serenaded by Duran Duran. Alan Hazeltine was born today in 1886. He was an engineer, inventor, physicist and professor, but his greatest claim to fame was the neutrodyne circuit, which squelched noise while boosting good signal. This circuit made commercial radio a viable business model in the early 1920s.

While progress would push past his circuit to better technology, he still scored a cool $3 million for his patents by the end of the decade, and did what any of us would do: go to Europe for a nice long vacation to study art, and, since he was a geek, study math too.

After his sweet vacay, Hazeltine came back to the U.S. and once again picked up his teaching job at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He consulted and also had a hand in the development of television.

He passed away in 1964, but we still want to thank him for all those great tunes and radio plays that came along because of his invention, from the country-wide freakout during the War of the Worlds broadcast to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Then again, he also paved the way for A.M. talk radio and not-so-wacky morning DJs.