Your Saturday Nerdout: Are You Ready For The Supermoon Eclipse? Or Apocalypse?
Oh, also it heralds the end of the world. Don't Panic
Time for your weekend nerding, you nerd people! It's also maybe the weekend civilization collapses, again, so let's hope you've laid in a supply of Twinkies and booze.
That's No Space Station, That's A Moon
Sunday night through Monday morning brings us a cool look-to-the-skies treat: a "supermoon" -- in which the full moon looks about 14% larger than usual (no, it won't be gigantic, nor will it be dripping blood. If it does, call Buffy) -- which will also be eclipsed by the shadow of the Earth, making it look all nice and red. Supermoons aren't all that unusual, and neither are lunar eclipses, but the combination is fairly rare: the last one was in 1982 and the next one won't be until 2033.
The peak part of the eclipse will be at 10:47 pm Eastern, so it should be nice and dark for most of North America to view, except in Oregon and Washington, where no one has ever seen an eclipse because it rains every time (perhaps we exaggerate. Yr Dok Zoom is mostly thinking of the solar eclipse of 1970, which gave him scary dreams but looked fine on TV). The nice folks at io9 have a handy guide to viewing your apocalypse-heralding astronomical event:
You’ll want to be someplace with good open skyviews (particularly relevant to any mountain and/or skyscraper dwellers). You’ll want to be able to look up for long stretches without craning your neck—blankets or lawn chairs can help with that. It’s also night, and it is (officially!) Fall. So you’ll want to bring light, warm layers in which to cozy up in. Coffee or a flask of something also makes a nice addition to any chilly night astronomy party [...]
To catch the start of the partial Supermoon eclipse, you’re going to want to be there by 9:07 p.m. (EDT). At 10:11 p.m., the total eclipse will start and hold on until 11:23 p.m. (EDT). By 11:24 p.m. (EDT) the total Supermoon eclipse will be over, but you can still catch the waning partial all the way up until the early morning hours of Monday at 12:27 a.m. (EDT).
Oh, also, they add, there is no killer asteroid accompanying the supermoon eclipse. If there were, you'd have heard about it somewhere other than Facebook. Really!
Is This Kid A Science Idiot, Or A Great Actor?
Speaking of the Facebooks, we're not sure if this young lady is trying to get a job on the Home Shopping Network's Cavalcade of Bad Astronomy -- remember how the Moon has to be a planet, since "things live on it"? -- or if she is instead performing a spot-on parody of "dumb teen stereotype" as an audition for something. In either case, it is a thing of absolute perfection. We'll let you guys decide whether it's perfectly horrifying or a perfect spoof:
She may not be good with planets, but she speaks fluent American!
Hat tip to our ex, who found it on the Facebooks and is of the opinion that this has to be acting.
Do You Love Star Wars And Hate Your Dog?
From ThinkGeek, an actual Officially Licensed cloth and foam AT-AT walker costume for your pooch, in sizes from Small to Extra Large. Recommended for dogs that won't immediately wriggle out of it and chew it to pieces (about 4.2 percent of dogs). As with just about everything at Think Geek, the product description's a hoot:
Should you be a fan of dressing up your dog, we offer you this fine option from the Star Wars universe. This Star Wars AT-AT Walker Dog Costume is basically a doggie hat and jumpsuit. There's a head-wrap that has an elastic band. The body's all one piece, so you only have to fasten some hook-and-loop underneath your pet, sorta like a saddle girth. And it should be pretty easy to get to if your dog is anything like our cats, who fall over as if someone's just cranked up the local gravity the moment we put a costume piece on them. Speaking of which, we do not recommend this on cats. It's technically for "pets," but we like you with your blood on the inside.
It's $29.99 plus shipping. Now all they need are little Snowspeeder costumes for small zippy dogs to swarm around your large patient dog.
Neil Armstrong's Moon Underpants! Neil Armstrong's Moon Underpants! Neil Armstrong's Moon Underpants!
Hidden away in a tiny medical museum in London (which recently closed, to make matters worse. The museum. London is still open, for the time being) is a Space Age artifact to gladden the heart of any giggling elementary schooler: Neil Armstrong's Moon Underpants. They're printed with the label "Urine Transfer Collection Assembly," a part number and manufacture date, and "Whirlpool Corporation," which just goes to show that the Space Program really does create jobs everywhere. And just below that, just barely visible, are the hand-printed initials "NA." The Apollo astronauts apparently didn't want to risk mixing up their Space Nappies, understandably. You wouldn't like it when Buzz Aldrin gets angry, much less when he gets pissed off.
These used pee-shorts were worn by Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission, which is way better than anyplace YOU'VE peed in your pants. No, we don't want to know. We also don't even want to think about how rank the Apollo 11 command module must have smelled after 8 days.
The Associated Press Will Not Have You Denying Science
Excellent news about how news gets reported: the Associated Press has announced that it now has an official term for people who think that climate change is just a plot to make scientists rich. Henceforth, according to a memo from the AP, the preferred nomenclature is neither "deniers" (though we'll keep using that, thanks) or "skeptics" (because they are liars, not skeptics); rather, the wire service aims for something that's accurate but not too polemical:
"We are adding a brief description of those who don’t accept climate science or dispute the world is warming from man-made forces," the memo said. "Our guidance is to use, 'climate change doubters' or 'those who reject mainstream climate science' and to avoid the use of, 'skeptics' or 'deniers.'"
The memo also included the AP Stylebook's entry on global warming, which explains, in part,
The terms global warming and climate change can be used interchangeably. Climate change is more accurate scientifically to describe the various effects of greenhouse gases on the world because it includes extreme weather, storms and changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and sea level. But global warming as a term is more common and understandable to the public.
Get ready for the drooling climate change-denying morons (a phrase that will remain in the Wonkette style guide) to complain that the AP has a liberal bias. Just like reality.
Want An Accurate Scale Model Of The Solar System? Start with a Dry Lakebed...
Filmmakers Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh decided that it was darn well about time to make an accurate scale model of the Solar System, orbits and all. Turns out that takes a hell of a lot of room, even if your scale Earth is a little blue marble. The scale Sun is a meter and a half, so a weather balloon makes a convenient stand-in (no apologies for flashbacks to The Prisoner, though). And to include the orbit of Neptune, they needed a full seven miles of Nevada desert. Watch this thing. It's freaking amazing. Just promise not to stand up and yell "The proportions are all WRONG" at the next science fiction movie where the proportions are all wrong, OK?
Bonus: Because every time we think of the size of the Solar System, our monkey brain demands that we watch one of the many fine videos made from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot." We're partial to this one with a bunch of movie clips in it:
Nerd Convergence Ahead!
Awesome-cool politics/history/culture polymath Ta-Nehisi Coates (you may know him from The Atlantic Monthly; his new memoir Between the World and Me is on our "Gotta Read Soon" list) is going to try a new writing gig: He'll be working on a rebooted Black Panther comic for Marvel. While a comics history of the radical group would be fascinating, this "Black Panther" is a superhero guy, the first black superhero in mainstream comics (Trivia point: the comic book character predated, by mere months, the formation of the radical group). Coates will write, art will be by Brian Stelfreeze, and the comic will debut sometime in 2016; the story arc written by Coates will run for a year. We'll be looking for that!
Look At This Amazing Burrowing Octopus! Just Look At It!
Once we're extinct, we're rooting for Cephalopods to take over the planet, because they're fucking awesome. They change colors and textures, and they can even be freakin' adorable. Here is a sand octopus that turns itself into a high-powered squirt gun to shift sand and hide -- unlike many other species, this one can't change its skin color for camouflage, so instead it just burrows into the sea floor to hide from predators:
when it wants to vanish, the clever critter shoots jets of water into the seafloor, carving out a hole which it then quickly pulls its body into. The octopus will remain buried all day long, slathering the sandy walls of its bunker with mucus for added support, and extending two arms toward the surface to create a “chimney.” At night, it crawls out to chow down on tiny crustaceans.
The exact mechanics of how this critter does its thing has been described for the first time in the journal Behavior. Please do not try this technique at the beach yourself.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.