Archive for science

Moon Day

Today in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 landed on the moon aboard the Eagle lunar module, making history as the first men to set foot on non-earthly soil.

They carried with them eons of man’s curiosity about the so-close-yet-so-far-away rock reflecting light in the night sky. That curiosity received a 21-hour indulgence as the two astronauts walked on the moon and collected lunar samples before finally catching a ride with fellow astronaut Michael Collins aboard the Columbia command module.

While Armstrong and Aldrin made history in the dust of the lunar surface, Collins would never have the chance to walk on the moon. After he played carpool mom for the other astronauts and kept the motor running on the command module, he never went into space again. His two space flights (one previously on the Gemini X mission) would earn him some notable bling, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an honor also bestowed upon his crewmates.

To celebrate, re-live those first heady moments during the landing with the video above.

Foam Rubber Day

You may not appreciate this day, but your tuckus does. Today in 1929, a scientist at the Dunlop Latex Development Labs took a kitchen mixer and some rubber and made cushy history.

The secret to foam rubber is that the mixture is 85 percent air, which gives it that soft, welcoming feeling when you sit down. Within a decade, Dunlop’s foam rubber was used in all kinds of rear end applications, from furniture to motorcycle seats. In time, it was adapted for use as insulation in appliances, home improvement and more. Most gamers will appreciate the fact that foam rubber and its’ descendants give their posteriors the ability to frag the night away with only some shifting and the occasional bout of swamp ass.

Celebrate today by taking a seat and enjoying the fact that those cheeks have something to sink into before they hit wood or steel. Ah, that’s the stuff.

First Wireless Hacking Day

Think making fun of someone’s communication started with the Internet? Then you have never been in a public bathroom, or at a wireless telegraph station in Cornwall with Guglielmo Marconi. Today in 1901, Marconi received a patent for wireless communication. Two years later to the day, he decided to hold a public demonstration showing how secure a long-distance Morse code transmission could be, namely by transmitting a message to a waiting audience in London.

Before he could send his historic message, however, some wiseass beat him to it. A rival set up shop nearby with his own transmitter, sending the word “rats” over and over again, then transmitting a rude and colorful limerick along with other insults to the waiting machine, which promptly printed out the hack. While Marconi did not address the incident himself, the hacker and Marconi’s colleague started a flame war in the early 20th century version of Internet comments: the “Letters” section of The Times. Insults, exposing security flaws, and overreaching to control new technology: the medium may change, but not human nature.

Sally Ride Day

Whatever you do today, you won’t be nearly as awesome as Dr. Sally Ride. She was already a physicist when she applied to NASA in 1978, and was selected over 1,000 other candidates for astronaut training and an eventual trip aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman to go to space and stirred up the out-of-this-world dreams of little girls across the country. She traveled to space again the next year, but it would be her last; all other scheduled trips for astronauts were cancelled when after the Challenger tragedy in January, 1986. Dr. Ride did, however, serve on the committee investigating the tragedy and continued to work with NASA on long-range planning.

While everyone remembers her historic trip to space, few others know her for another significant role: the CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company that produces educational materials to inspire and enable girls and boys to follow their dreams into science.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ride, and thanks for making beakers just as appealing as Barbies to little girls everywhere.

National Chocolate Chip Day

Today we celebrate those really good things in tiny packages called chocolate chips. Don’t think chocolate is geeky?Then you’ve never combined chocolate with (prepare echo chamber) SCIENCE… SCIence…science!

Chocolate can be used in a variety of experiments. What effect does a sugary, carbonated liquid have on chocolate chips? What kind of chocolate melts the fastest? And, as demonstrated above, how can you measure the speed of light with chocolate?

Of course, you could just eat your chocolate chips in cookies, ice cream or cake, but where’s the fun in that? Just kidding. Buy enough so you can have your chocolate and experiment on it, too.

Robot Day

Give your Roomba the day off; it probably has tickets to see Shimon the jazz robot with your espresso machine, unless R2D2 and C-3PO have invited it over to the big birthday bash for George Lucas, who turns 68 today. After the party, they’ll pour a quart of biodegradable oil on the ground for their lost homie, Skylab, who was first launched today in 1973.

Moon Bounce Day

Today in 1962, scientists at M.I.T. bounced a laser beam off the surface of the moon and illuminated a few miles of lunar ground, proving that laser light can travel through space. More specific measurements were gathered years later when crews of the Apollo missions positioned retro reflectors on the lunar surface, which returned the laser’s light with pinpoint accuracy. Those reflectors are also the best argument for geeks to use against “moon landing hoax” believers, because those lasers aren’t just bouncing off the shiny bumper of E.T.’s pimped-out U.F.O. Of course, you can just walk away from debates, but you know in your nerdy heart that’s never going to happen.

To celebrate, watch this great Mythbusters clip of the retro reflectors in action!

Electron Day

Today in 1897, Joseph J. Thomson announced an amazing discovery: he spotted something tinier than an atom. Today we know it to be an electron, but he called it a corpuscle. If it were discovered today, scientists would compare its size to Snooki’s sense of decorum.

In any case, the scientists of the day yelled, “Go on!” when they heard his announcement, because they couldn’t imagine anything smaller than the atom. This proves that even the best minds can sometimes be closed to new thoughts but those who try are the ones remembered on silly blogs centuries down the line.

Congrats J.J. As physicists go, you were dyn-o-mite!