28 February 2009

News Roundup: 28 February, 2009

Fresh from the intertubes, via my Google Reader:
  • John McCain still doesn't like science funding, which is one of many reasons why academics and scientists probably lean democratic. Science funding is, in my humble opinion, one of the best things that the U.S. Government does. Of course, our economy is in a crisis and maybe science shouldn't be the number-one priority, but marking all science funding as "pork" is ridiculously short sighted and stinks of partisan badgering more than anything. Personally, I think that the funding marked in the article is a great use of public funds, as astronomy suffers from a shortage of good observatory time. Of course, never mind that funding science with grants like this produces more graduate students, allowing the U.S. to continue attracting bright people from other countries to study here. Fortunately, Obama seems to get this; see here for details on the science component of the most recent budget.
  • An article on how NPR deals with solar outages. One thing noticeably missing from the article (maybe it's in the video -- I couldn't watch it) is a description of other problems faced by GSO satellites. For example, at night, the satellites pass into the Earth's shadow. Since the satellites are solar powered, this is not a happy time for the satellites, and a good chunk of their weight is devoted to keeping them powered during this time. Also, the temperature difference between in-shadow and out-of-shadow is somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 degrees celsius, also unhappy for the circuitry on the satellite. Still, it's a good description of a problem I didn't even realize existed until I took up my current job.
  • The Unofficial FAQ for the 21st Century, from the remarkably prescient and eloquent Charles Stross. Fascinating and a bit depressing, but probably right on the button. Anyone who hasn't read Stross's Halting State should do so immediately; his vision of cell-phone technology over the next twenty years is equally fascinating and, I hope, prescient.

No comments: