COSI Blog
27
July
2012

Alien Invader!

Imagine yourself on the surface of Mars. The temperature is a balmy zero degrees Fahrenheit. The pink, nearly cloudless Martian sky surrounds a tiny but blindingly bright Sun, shining its feeble light on the frigid surface. In other words, it’s a beautiful day on the Red Planet.

Suddenly the sky opens up in a fiery and terrifying display. What can only be described as a creature from another world begins a rapid descent to the Martian surface. In the space of seven minutes, what was a speck of fire in the sky becomes an enormous robotic vehicle firmly planted on the surface of Mars. It promises quite a show.

First a parachute catches as much of the thin Martian air as it can, slowing the body of the craft down from a blistering 900 mph to a still-deadly 180 mph.

05
July
2012

Swimming in the Higgs Ocean

Scientists at CERN have announced that it's quite likely they've finally cornered the primary quarry of their latest and biggest machine, the Large Hadron Collider. I'd like to call it the Higgs, but others will insist on calling it "The God Particle."

If you remember nothing else from this article, I'd like you to remember this: please don't call it The God Particle. According to Rutgers University physics professor Matt Strassler, who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, the origin of the nickname is about as non-religious and non-scientific as one could imagine: it was invented as advertising... I have never heard or seen a physicist refer to the Higgs particle in this way in the context of a scientific paper, a talk at a conference, or even an informal scientific discussion. There’s nothing in the mathematical equations, in the interpretation of the physics, in any philosophy of which I am aware, or in any religious text or tradition with which I am familiar that connects the Higgs particle or the Higgs field with any notion of religion or divinity. The nickname is pure invention."

Swimming in the Higgs Ocean
12
June
2012

News from the Extreme Screen

My job at COSI is the best – one of the parts of my job that I enjoy the most is working with COSI’s giant digital screen theater – The Extreme Screen Theater.

I have been working with the theater for the past eleven years and opening new films, meeting film makers and seeing guest reactions to the films never gets old.

05
June
2012

New Bloomington to Greencamp (River Miles 188 - 177)

My first canoe trip on the Scioto was on May 11. The weather was perfect – sunny, cool, and with only a light breeze. There are three people and two canoes in our party. George Anderson, local photographer, is in the solo canoe he built himself with a case of photography equipment, and David Rutter, MORPC’s Water Quality Project Manager, and I are in the second canoe which we rented from Columbus Outdoor Pursuits.

Getting to this moment involved a great deal of planning and management of logistics. Here is how it went:

New Bloomington to Greencamp (River Miles 188 - 177)
01
June
2012

Venus Crossing!

In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love. From Earth, the lovely planet Venus is the brightest object we can see besides the Sun and the Moon. We know today that Venus itself is not so lovely a place, with clouds of sulfuric acid and a surface hot enough to melt lead. But because Venus is between the Earth and the Sun, every so often, something very special happens. Venus passes directly between our planet and our star. We call this passage a transit.

Imagine yourself as a space alien, looking down on our solar system. In the center is the Sun, dwarfing all else. A few million miles* from the Sun you see some orbiting rocks. Two of them, almost the same size, are the second and third rocks from the Sun. The orbits of these planets are almost (but not quite) circles, and they’re almost (but not quite) in the same plane. If the planets were exactly in the same plane, it would be as if they were marbles rolling about on a flat plate as they circle the Sun. If that were the case, then every time Venus overtook the Earth in its orbit (something that happens at least once every year) people on Earth would see Venus pass in front of the Sun. But because our orbits are tilted, this perfect passage (or transit) occurs only when conditions are just right.

Venus Crossing!
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