Thursday, 25 July 2013

COSMOS is back!

Ladies and gentlemen, COSMOS is back! Slated to be released in early 2014, by both FOX Television and National Geographic, it is fronted by the original badass of astrophysics Neil deGrasse Tyson

The first series, aired way back in 1980 with Carl Sagan was watched by 400 million people, making it the most successful series in the history of American television at the time.

But then, this is Tyson; and Tyson packs a punch.

Do yourself and your kids a favour: look out for it. 

This here, is the trailer...

You can follow updates on the development of the series on Facebook and Twitter. I for one, can't wait!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I Bought A Bird Feeder

I have no idea where this originated and will post acknowledgements when I find out.

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back patio and filled it lovingly with seed. Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. 

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the shit. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table... everywhere! 

Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. 

And other birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn't even sit in my own back garden any more.

So I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone.

I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio. 

Soon, the back yard was like it used to be: quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Pale Blue Dot

I just came across this stunning image taken by the Saturn probe Cassini last Friday.

I am reminded by this wonderful quote by Carl Sagan.

"Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

You can follow NASA's Cassini Mission to Saturn on Facebook, or check out the raw images here.

CREDITS: Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi Raw image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute