Wanderers – Short Film

Here’s an incredible short film called “Wanderers” by Erik Wernquist. It features the voice of Carl Sagan, pulled from his book, The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of The Human Future in Space.

This video captures the positive, uplifting attitude that characterized so much of Dr. Sagan’s life and work, along with the awesome possibilities that our future might hold.

I think Sagan had the right idea. He understood that science contains within it a union of intellect to awe. It offers us a rational, evidence-based understanding of reality–and that understanding almost inevitably leads to awe in the face of such a vast, cold, and beautiful cosmos.

There is little chance that we will reach new worlds anytime soon. We might set foot on Mars in the next 20 years, but humans will largely remain contained here on Earth for quite a while yet. Yet we can have hope. That awe and that hope is what Carl Sagan taught so many people who love science–myself included. With hard work and some luck, all that hope might one day be fulfilled, many generations from now when humans live and thrive somewhere so far away from Earth that the pale blue dot is no longer even visible.

NASA’s Journey to Mars & MAVEN video

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NASA is currently working on a “Journey to Mars,” a step-by-step process focused on getting human feet on the surface of the Red Planet by the 2030’s. It’s ridiculously exciting stuff, but there’s a lot of work to be done.

The International Space Station is the first step, where astronauts are even now testing the effects of space on the human body, communications capabilities, and other significant technologies. The next step is the Asteroid Redirect Mission, when the ARM robot will capture an asteroid mass and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. By 2025 or so, astronauts will utilize the Orion Spacecraft (whose first test flight took place in December 2014) to land on the asteroid, collect samples, and return them to Earth.

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The Danish Girl – Trailer

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Sorry about the break between posts here. I’ve been working on preparing for a few job interviews and haven’t had time to write anything. I also had a bout of insomnia for a few nights—oh what fun. Anyway, let’s hope that’s over.

Regardless, I’m back with a great new trailer for the film The Danish Girl, starring the wonderful Eddie Redmayne, and based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff!

For those of you who don’t know, the book and the film are an account of the life of Lili Elbe, a Danish trans woman and one of the first known people to have sex reassignment surgery. In the early 1930’s, this brave woman underwent four different reassignment surgeries. While I’m sure that this account of Elbe’s life will be highly dramatized, the film could potentially serve to provide a human look at a group of people who are too often discriminated against (and sadly, hated). At the same time, the film could serve as a celebration of progress, in medicine and in society. There could be lots to love here.

Obviously, I’m excited to see it, and not just for the subject matter. Eddie Redmayne is an incredible actor and the film is directed by Tom Hooper, the man behind The King’s Speech (which is a great film based on the life of King George VI). And if the film is as atmospheric as the trailer makes it look, it should be a visually stunning piece.

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments!

Mind’s Eye Blind – Aphantasia and a Lack of Mental Imagery

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I had some fascinating research pointed out to me today.

Three scientists—Adam Zeman, Michaela Dewar, and Sergio Della Sala—published preliminary research in Cortex, a scientific journal that publishes articles regarding the relationship between cognition and the nervous system. The article, entitled “Lives without imagery—Congenital aphantasia,” describes a fascinating phenomenon where a person lacks the ability to voluntarily visualize images in their “mind’s eye.” Right now, 2% remains the best estimate of how commonly congenital aphantasia occurs.

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Cassini’s Dione Flyby – Images

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The Cassini Mission to Saturn has been a powerful and significant step in the exploration of our solar system—a cooperative venture of NASA, the European Space Agency, and Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (the Italian Space Agency).

Since being launched in 1997, Cassini has flown by Jupiter, done tests regarding general relativity, orbited Saturn, and done close flybys of several of Saturn’s moons, not to mention delivering the Huygens probe to the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan—all while sending back reams and reams of data to scientists.

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SD Comic-Con 2015 The Martian Panel

Here’s the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Martianthe film version of Andy Weir’s bestselling novel, directed by Ridley Scott.

The panel consists of Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science; Todd May, the manager of NASA’s space launch system; Victor Glover, a NASA astronaut; and, of course, the author of the book, Andy Weir.

It’s great to see NASA engaging with popular culture, which is something I think The Martian has great potential to do. I’m glad NASA is working to emphasize that strength.

I haven’t had a chance to check out the whole video yet, but if there’s a moment you particularly enjoyed/learned something from, feel free to leave the timestamp below!

Enjoy!

Darwinian Enigma? The Genetic Basis of Homosexuality

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This past spring, I did an interesting project on the last twenty years of research into the genetic basis of homosexuality. It was a really interesting project. I was an English major while in college, as I’ve said before. Because of this, I’m used to interpreting literature and constructing arguments based on fictional narratives, not scientific articles based on empirical data. It’s a very different mode of thought. I thought I would share some of my findings on here.

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