A view into the mind of Jason

Welcome to Evilness
Sunday, April 23 2017 @ 07:55 MDT

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How we know there's no counter-Earth hiding behind the Sun.

Astronomy

For centuries there has been speculation about another planet on the same orbit as the Earth, but hiding behind the Sun. Sometimes this is used as a plot device in science fiction or by some conspiracy theorist to explain something. The reality is we know there isn't a planet hiding behind the Sun and here's why:

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What I do in science

Astronomy

Occasionally I get asked as to what I actually research in astronomy so I thought I'd create a post that explains what my current research project is about. First some generalities: my interests in astronomy are related to stellar evolution and galaxy interactions (these topics are generally unrelated, though galaxy mergers do set off a storm of star formation in disk (spiral) galaxies). Specifically I find how stars end their lives quite fascinating. Supernovae, black holes, pulsars/neutron stars, planetary nebulae and white dwarfs are all majorly cool in my world.

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Asteroids: why we should look for them and how we do it.

Astronomy

In the past few years the astronomical community has begun to expend a fair bit of resources in the search for asteroids. Apart from the curiosity aspect of looking for such objects, there is a real, practical reason to locate these things: an asteroid collision with the Earth.

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Food Babe Vani Hari – Scientifically Ignorant or Con Artist?

Chemistry

A few months ago I became aware of a blogger known as Food Babe. This is the nom de plume of one Vani Hari, a self-styled "food activist". Now the way I came to know of her is through an article she wrote for her followers on the "dangers" of air travel (more on this later). After some further research it is apparent that Hari is either very ignorant of science or is a con artist who's able to parley fear into having people hand money over to her for her "advice".

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The wonder of science.

Science!

I often use this Brian Cox video to show that yes, objects of different masses fall at different rates. This is in of itself a cool thing to watch and worth looking at the video for. As an aside, Apollo 15 did the same experiment with less explanation but being way higher on the coolness factor because they did the experiment on the Moon!

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Contrarians

Science!

We all know someone that would be considered a contrarian, someone who goes against the norms of one’s social or work circle or society in general. Normally these people are seen as quirky at best or cantankerous curmudgeons at worst. There is nothing wrong with them, unless their contrarianism swings into the criminal, so why am I writing about them? Well in the field of science there are also contrarians. Again this is usually not an issue as they often provide a devils advocate for ideas and force the mainstream theories to be viewed with the scepticism that all ideas in science need to be seen with. That being said their existence is a problem for the public as one can usually find a contrarian scientist to “prove” whatever pseudo-scientific claptrap one can come up with causing the proponent of the claptrap to claim that the “science isn’t settled”.

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The Windows Saga Continues

Technology

So the continuing tribulations of getting my imager to work with our tablet.

So the tablet has now reverted itself back to Windows 8. The process to use the astroimager is now:

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When Windows makes Linux look easy...

Technology

Easy minimum 28 step – two hour process to install an astroimager driver on @Windows 8.1…

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Science - why we do it

Science!

Why do we do science? By this question I don't mean why does humanity do science, but why do individuals such as myself who call ourselves scientists do science? Generally we all mumble something about curiosity and wanting to know about the natural world, but as always Carl Sagan puts it much more eloquently that most of us. The following is from chapter 19 of Sagan's Demon Haunted World and gives the essence of why most scientists do what we do:

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On thermodynamics and evolution

PhyiscsOften in my perusing of the internet, generally on Twitter, I come across some creationist espousing that the second law of thermodynamics as proof that evolution can’t possibly happen. Now anyone with a grasp of thermodynamics knows that this “argument” is a bunch of bovine scatology, but on Twitter it is hard to combat it more than with “the Earth isn’t a closed system”. With this in mind this post on what the laws of thermodynamics actually say and what they mean. Feel free to link here if you get the thermodynamics argument from a creationist.
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