Monkeys and Space

Just back from badminton, and hotter than an extremophile’s hot water bottle. Phew. It was good fun though.

A fun thing to do of an hour is browse random flickr tags. The wtf tag has some shots by turns amusing, gross and thoroughly loopy:

Masturbating Monkey

Duck Crossing

Jedi Squirrels

There are quite a few from the Williamstown Theatre Festival, however.

I discovered at the weekend that the BBC have all Sky at Night episodes since 2001 available online. I admit I haven’t watched any yet, but I intend to. Patrick Moore is the height of all things cool. I wrote him a letter for a school project back in secondary school and received a personal reply. Did you know he was once treasurer of the Monster Raving Loony Party? Any other position might have made a bit of sense, he said. It takes guts to be openly enthusiastic about anything these days, but you can still see the sparkle in his eyes when he discusses the latest astronomical developments on TSAN, and I think that’s wonderful.

Speaking of all things space, there were two new planets discovered last week. They’re both a similar size to Pluto, and if we make the assumption that one of them isn’t 100% reflective (not unreasonable) we can infer it to be larger still. As well as this, Pluto’s moon Charon passed in front of a star, allowing observation of its atmospheric properties, size and shape. Also, Mars Express spotted a large ice lake on Mars, and not at a pole. This goes into the circumstantial evidence for life on Mars bracket (on Earth, where there’s water, there’s life) but is a very interesting discovery nonetheless. Manned missions would be far easier with a plentiful water supply. And as if that wasn’t enough space news, Discovery’s having trouble with falling foam again, and NASA have suspended all future launches even before the shuttle touches down. There are rumours this could be the last shuttle flight, and I wouldn’t be surprised. When they have the same launch problem despite two years of reports and engineering, people tend to get cross. It’s such a shame there’s nothing to replace the shuttle; as far as I know there’s not even a decent proposal.