October 15th, 2009

white dress back

Science Fun, California Style

You can't accuse California scientists of making their work mysterious and inaccessible. They're much more likely to throw open the doors for a science party. Last week we had Impact Night, an all-night bash at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View to watch the LCROSS satellite smash into the moon. This cross between a slumber party and the iPhone's midnight product release allowed as many as a thousand curious people to watch the impact on a vast outdoor screen. They also watched movies and listened to guest speakers.

Today at 10:15AM, science will strike again when millions of Californians participate in the Great California ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill in history. (I'll be at the DMV. I wonder if I'll need to drop, cover, and hold on.) Many schools and museums will have special activities as well as participating in the drill.

On Saturday, October 17, we're celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Loma Prieta, the earthquake that struck during the World Series.San Francisco will hold "Where Were You in 89?" neighborhood block parties as well as resource fairs for disaster preparedness. You can also play Beat the Quake online.

All this frivolity over a serious subject—is it appropriate? People have died in quakes—at least 3000 in the great 1906 earthquake, 62 in Loma Prieta. We're all at risk. Yet in my opinion, staying aware without staying terrified is the best way to handle living in a seismically active zone. (Or anywhere else, really.) And the games, fairs, parties, and drills allow people to learn and stay aware while having some fun.

California. We dance on the edge of destruction.
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Out of the Past

Amazing what can surface years or even centuries after it seemed to be dead and gone.

Lost Leonardo drawing identified by his fingerprints. The gallery owner who had it for two years—then sold it t for $19,000—doesn't believe it's a Leonardo.

Service records for 250,000 late-medieval English soldiers. It's searchable by first name, surname, rank, and more (although the search field keeps defaulting, annoyingly, to First Name--not terribly useful unless you're studying the prevalence of the name John in medieval soldiers). Link from [info - personal] oursin

You think banning DDT and similar destructive compounds got rid of them? Think again. Melting glaciers are releasing old pollutants locked in their ice. It's affecting some Alpine lakes. Another side effect of global warming.

A Regency romance in 2 minutes. OK, it's not the real past. It's the past as we fantasize it could have been.

Gender Across Borders looks at the remarkably modern practice of Victorian photocollage. Interestingly surreal.

Evidence of Viking trade with the predecessors of the Inuit in Arctic Canada.