Archive for the 'News' Category


A Quick Rant on Mainstream Media

My old roommate and best friend sent me this disturbing link today.  Now the title claims “Satellite Photographs ‘Black Hole’ on Earth.  Now as an astronomer this requires no red flags, no further reading, nothing.  This is total BS.  Period.  Of course when you read the article it admits that the title is dishonest because it admits that nothing imaged a black hole of any kind!  Rather a satellite imaged a deep hole on an island that appeared black and was given the name “Holbox” which they claim in Mayan means black hole.  Now I don’t know why the Mayans even had a word for black hole but I assume it is a thrown together collection of Mayan words to produce the same effect.   Continue reading ‘A Quick Rant on Mainstream Media’


“It’s elementary my dear Watson.”

And with those 5 short words I have conjured up the image of Sherlock Holmes; the London detective preparing to explain his unshakable logic to his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson.  Perhaps you can even imagine him standing there with pipe in hand.  Perhaps you think of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created and wrote the stories of Sherlock Holmes and his companion.  Perhaps you are even taken back to a time when you read these stories and shared in their exploits.  All with 5 little words.

Watson Avatar

Continue reading ‘“It’s elementary my dear Watson.”’


The Astrology Brouhaha

EDIT:  Something I should make clear, and meant to, was that this whole ordeal was caused not by anything new but rather by a media taking a well known and established scientific fact and reporting as if it is news.  There was little to no fact checking in the reporting and little effort to distinguish astronomy (which cares not a whit about your horoscope) and astrology (which insist the planets control all).  This is yet another example of horrible reporting and zero rigor in mainstream media.

I’m sure that by now most of you have heard about the “your zodiac sign has changed” fiasco running rampant right now.  This mess seems to have been started by an article written by the Star Tribune.  Let us first understand something that people get wrong far too often.  Astronomy and Astrology are two VERY different things.  Astronomy is the science that deals with studying the Universe and the objects within it.  Astrology is a belief system that is based on the notion that the position of celestial bodies can affect events on Earth and even the personality of every person.  Also the fastest way to get on an astronomer’s bad side is to confuse the two.

Continue reading ‘The Astrology Brouhaha’


Lasers and Antilasers

As I continue to characterize the filters on the telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory, I have run across an interesting news item.  I have an issue with the article though not with the science itself so I thought I’d share it here.  This article presents the “antilaser”.  However before jumping into the article I wanted to discuss lasers themselves because I find them to be an excellent example of science in everyday life.

Quantum mechanics (don’t close the page yet, I’m not going into quantum here!) is the weirdest area of science that exists.  By far.  People can do the math, solve the equations,and do quantum but anybody that thinks that quantum theory makes sense doesn’t understand what it is saying.  Niels Bohr said it best, “Anyone who has not been shocked by quantum theory has not understood it”.  Yet out of this weirdness and Continue reading ‘Lasers and Antilasers’

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