Friday, July 31, 2015

APOD: The Milky Way Over Uluru

This fantastic image popped up on Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) earlier this week. The photo, captured by Babak Tafreshi, shows the disk of our Milky Way Galaxy rising above Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Northern Territory, Australia. Here is the text that was posted along with the image at APOD:

"The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australia's most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Way's own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxy's faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night."

APOD is a wonderful site where you can find some of the best astrophotography and astronomy-relevant images on the internet. I check it out every morning. Something about images of Uluru especially draw up thoughts of the mystic and merge beautifully with the background of the heavens at night. For instance, here is another APOD pic of Uluru taken by Vic and Jen Winter. It was posted back in 2002 and shows the annual Leonids Meteor Shower radiating from the heavens around Uluru.

I highly recommend checking out APOD on a regular basis for images like these and far more!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"The Greatest Speech Ever Made"

Charlie Chaplin delivering what some people call "The Greatest Speech Ever Made"

If the above image looks familiar to you, then you might be one of the tens of millions of people who've watched the version of Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator which was edited by The Lakey Sisters and posted to Youtube in 2011 (that or perhaps you've actually seen the film. In which case, you're awesome!). 

This video was titled "The Greatest Speech Ever Made" and alone has garnered almost 15 million views (many others have since copied and reposted it, driving up the views even higher). 

If you haven't seen the video or haven't even heard this movie speech before, you can check out the link above or watch the video right here:

Definitely an awesome speech. As I mention above, the speech was written and delivered as part of Chaplin's 1940 film, The Great Dictator. This film was produced as a political satire of the war machine and political tyrants, specifically of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. 

Amazingly, the message of the film, and especially of this speech, still hold true today. We are still plagued by fear and jealousy, we still break the backs of the poor and working class to support the aristocracy, we still have the capability to work together to solve our global issues and yet we go our separate ways and we focus solely on our own little problems. 

Our globe is still fraught with people who want to rule others and tell others what to think. People are still "barricaded by hate", and we still see our neighbors withering in pain and hunger while we turn our heads. Yet, as Chaplin said, "the good Earth is rich" and "the way of life could be free and beautiful". We could learn to embrace our technology while still building upon our morality and our understanding of each other and our place in the cosmos. We could progress forward while still protecting the rest of the biosphere. We could live in a world beyond "machine men, with machine minds, and machine hearts".

I don't know if Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator is the greatest speech ever made, but it's definitely an incredible testament to Chaplin's capability and thoughtfulness as an actor, a writer, and a human being. 

It's saddening to know that our species is not yet healed of our delusions of power and wealth. To think that we still haven't found a way to unite and surpass our fears of 'otherness' is to realize that we are still, in many ways, children. Chaplin's speech is an inspiration and a remembrance of our need for hope and, even more so, our need to work together to achieve the beautiful future that many of us know is possible.

For those who are interested, here's the script from that speech:

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible: Jew, Gentile; black man, white. 

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. 

In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say: do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think, and what to feel. Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power, the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then in the name of democracy let us use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! 

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kepler-452b: One of the newest discovered kids on the block may be similar to our Earth

An artist's concept of what Kepler-452b might look like from orbit (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)

We've now confirmed the existence of nearly 2,000 exoplanets in our neighborhood of the galaxy. There are still another three thousand or so possible finds that are awaiting confirmation, but there's a good chance many of them will turn out to be real planets as well. We still estimate maybe 160 billion (or more) planets exist in our galaxy alone (averaging 1.6 planets per star). These numbers are incredible, especially for those of us who remember a time when we had not yet confirmed the existence of planets around other stars. 

Most of the worlds we have confirmed were first detected by the Kepler space telescope. Kepler was launched and entered service in 2009, immediately getting to the work of hunting for alien worlds. The mission had a highly successful lifetime of 3.5 years and was even granted a mission extension, but then, in 2013, a second of four of the reaction wheels within the spacecraft had broken (the reaction wheels are what allow such spacecraft to orient themselves in space without the need for fuel). Since that time, an ingenious repurposing of the spacecraft for a new planet-hunting mission called "Second Light" (a.k.a. K2) has been undertaken. Second Light has been operating since early 2014 and has been slowly building upon the list of potential exoplanets out there.

From all of the worlds discovered through Kepler's original mission and the Second Light mission, none has been as exciting for the general public as one that was just announced this past week. On July 23rd, researchers announced 521 more planet candidates, including 11 worlds that are close in their size and orbital distances from their stars as is our own Earth. One of those eleven is a world currently known as Kepler-452b. This exoplanet orbits a G2 star (one that is in the same spectral class as our Sun), it has an orbit that is similar in size to the Earth's (Kepler-452b's year is only 20 days longer), and this alien world is only about 1.6 times larger than the Earth. The following infographic from gives some fantastic details on what we've recently discovered about this exoworld:

The discovery of another world very similar to our own Earth is very suggestive that we are on the right path to discovering extraterrestrial life. Since my birth, we've now determined that there are billions of planets in our galaxy and we now know that some of them, like Kepler-452b, are very similar to our homeworld in their size and orbit (and some even orbit similar stars!). With current improvements in telescope technology and the development of exoplanet atmosphere research, it seems more and more like it really is only a matter of time before we start seeing abundant evidence for worlds that are habitable. Following that, how long might it be before the first detections of biosignature gases on exoplanets? If life is abundant in our universe, then it seems like we are only around the corner from finally determining whether we are alone in the vast cosmos.

Kepler-452b excites many people because of how similar it is to our world. Might there be a geophysical processes occurring on that world that are similar to ours? Might there be plate tectonics, continents, oceans...

We have a tendency to think that we need to find worlds like our own to find life (though this may not truly be the case), and that's why Kepler-452b is so exciting. I'm glad to know that so many people in the general public have been excited by this new finding. It might be that Kepler-452b is another Venus (a hothouse world devastated by a runaway greenhouse), or maybe the surface of Kepler-452b is simply a barren wasteland. Yet it's fun to imagine some of the more intriguing possibilities. 

Maybe Kepler-452b has a surface covered in microbial mats that generate large amounts of gases that are far from equilibrium with the atmosphere. Maybe that world has gigantic creatures like walking trees, dinosaurs, or giant floating blobs. Maybe there are intelligent beings on that world that have also discovered math and science and who have orbiting space telescopes that are peering out into their galactic neighborhood. Maybe, if that's the case, then just maybe they're also holding exciting press conferences to share their findings of new exoplanets around other stars. Maybe they've even had a meeting to discuss this new planet that is just like theirs in it's orbit around a similar star. Maybe that planet is just a bit smaller. Does it also have life?

An artist's illustration of a possible surface of newfound planet Kepler-452b (SETI Institute/Danielle Futselaar)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Earth From Nearly 1 Million Miles Away!

I recently wrote a blog post about The Blue Marble, the famous 1972 image of our planet from space taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts, and about the importance of seeing our home planet from space. When we view the entirety of our globe, without our perceived national and ethnic borders, we give ourselves a chance to reflect on our role within the global biosphere, within the global community. 

On the 20th of July of this year, NASA released a new image of our world taken from space. This image was collected by a spacecraft called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), and it was taken from almost 1 million miles away from the surface of the planet. 

Here is that image, in all of its glory:

Our Earth from a distance of ~930,000 miles (1.5 million km), taken on 6 July 2015 by the DSCOVR spacecraft

The DSCOVR spacecraft took the above image not long after it reached its final orbit at roughly 930,000 miles away (~1.5 million km). The distance is important, as the spacecraft will operate at this distance for the rest of its mission, orbiting at a point in space known as the Lagrange Point 1, or L1. This point in space will provide the spacecraft with a stable orbit (no need for extra fuel to keep it in its orbit) and will allow the spacecraft to monitor the entirety of our planet.

The primary goals of DSCOVR, which is run primarily through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are to monitor solar wind conditions and to provide nearly continuous climate data for our world. The spacecraft will measure the intensity of energetic particles making their way from the Sun to the Earth, such as those released in coronal mass ejections (DSCOVR will be able to offer 15-60 minute warnings of incoming changes to the solar wind that may pose dangers to our technology). DSCOVR will use UV, visible, and infrared light reflected from the Earth to measure ozone, ash and dust, cloud composition and structure, and vegetation cover. The spacecraft will also take full images of the Earth every two hours. 

Full, high-resolution pictures of the Earth at a rate of one every two hours! That's incredible. This means that it's only a matter of time until we get to see some awesome timelapse videos put together showing the dynamic Earth from nearly 1 million miles away. I can only imagine what these new data sets are going to mean for Science on a Sphere and other tools for public engagement, let alone all of the awesome science that's going to come from the DSCOVR mission.

This first image from the Deep Space Climate Observatory is so fantastic and so inspiring that even President Obama posted a Tweet about it:

For a bit more info about the Deep Space Climate Observatory, check out the video below:

Monday, July 27, 2015

ACPAD - "The electronic orchestra in your hands!"

A few weeks ago I saw a video that circulated around Facebook of a wireless MIDI controller that tacked onto an acoustic guitar to offer a range of electronic controls. The thing is called the ACPAD and it looks too sweet to not have one. 

Check out the demo video below and then visit their website to keep up to date on when these things will be available for the masses. Until then, keep jammin'!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Galaxy Song by Monty Python

At a recent pub trivia night sponsored by the Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon), a question came up for which only two of our groups knew the answer. The hint was something like this: "In Monty Python's song about the galaxy, what is the name of the housewife and lifelong liver donor?" 

I was surprised by how few people knew the answer, so I thought it was high time to share the Galaxy Song once more, a song where Eric Idle sings of the grandness of our universe for a housewife whom life has gotten down. 

Here it is for all of your viewing pleasure:

So what was the answer to that trivia question?

The housewife and lifelong liver donor in the galaxy song is Mrs. Brown

Here are the lyrics for those of you who are interested:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the 'milky way'

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide

We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause it's bugger all down here on Earth

The Galaxy Song is quite a fantastic little diddy for considering how insignificant we seem to be in the grand scheme of things. 

Paul Kohlmiller, writing for the San Jose Astronomical Society's ephemeris back in 2003, commented on some of the astronomical figures that Eric Idle used in the original Galaxy Song. I highly recommend checking out his updates for those who are interested.

Cheers all! And remember, we may not seem very significant in the grand scheme of things, but that in itself may make us all the more important. We are unique beings, on a world full of unique beings, which come together to form a biosphere, which evolves along with the changing dynamics of a planet, and this planet, thus far, is the only one we know of with life. We're looking for others and hoping to find them, but until then, we remain quite alone.

An image taken from Science Dump of what our galaxy might look like and which shows the relative location of the several thousand stars we can see with our naked eye at night here on this little rock that orbits our Sun

Update (11 July 2016):

A friend pointed out to me that there's a version of The Galaxy Song which is sung by Stephen Hawking. I absolutely had to come back and share that here:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

No, there was not a major discovery of life on comet 67P by the Philae lander

...but a lot of journalists have once again shown that they love to fall for quackery

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft on 15 June 2015 (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

Earlier this month, The Guardian posted an article which started a brief but infuriating internet fire of gossip about the possibilities for life on comets. Specifically, the article announced that Max Wallis and Chandra Wickramasinghe had claimed during a talk at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting that the organic-rich crust of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is best explained by the presence of microorganisms. Indeed, Wickramasinghe (whom the author of the article titled as a "maverick astronomer and astrobiologist") was quoted as saying that their finding of life on the comet was "unequivocal".

As an astrobiologist and a fan of ideas about the possibilities for alien life out there, I like to wonder about whether there could be living organisms on cometary material. Based on that, you might think I would have been excited about this "news", but a quick read into the announcement and where it came from (more importantly, who it came from) quickly suggests that these findings are a bunch of bunk. 

Chandra Wickramasinghe has become known in the astrobiology community as someone who has a conclusion that alien microbes are everywhere and who will stop at nothing to try to prove his belief. This makes him less of a "maverick astronomer and astrobiologist" and far more of a pseudoscientist and a threat to real science. 

Taken from a page of Skeptical Raptor's blog, where it's shown that
debunking quackery can be fun as well as rewarding 

In this announcement of "finding" alien life, Wickramasinghe and Wallis take the findings of organic-rich materials on the surface of comet 67P by the Rosetta mission and make the claim that such materials are "not easily explained in terms of prebiotic chemistry". They went further and told their audience at the National Astronomy Meeting that they have conducted simulations which suggest that microorganisms with antifreeze proteins could explain dark, organic-rich features as well as certain icy structures on the comet. Wickramasinghe was quoted as saying " coming from the comet seems to unequivocally, in my opinion, point to micro-organisms being involved in the formation of the icy structures, the preponderance of aromatic hydrocarbons, and the very dark surface."

You should always be cautious in trusting someone who uses statements like "unequivocally" and "in my opinion" in the same sentence. As Chris Lee pointed out recently in an Ars Technica article titled "Magic carbon layer not a sign of extraterrestrial life", the finding of organic carbon on the surface of a comet is by no means surprising from the stance of modern surface chemistry. In fact, we now know that organic compounds are abundant in the universe. We've discovered organics in meteorites, on comets, on other worlds, and in interstellar space. It's no surprise that the Philae lander discovered organic material on comet 67P, but just because there is organic material there in no way implies that there is also life. Decades ago, it might have seemed that organic material automatically implies life, but we now know that the conclusion of life does not follow simply from the presence of organic material in a sample. Such thoughtful approaches to science, however, are not in Wickramasinghe's realm of thought. It seems that Wallis and Wickramasinghe have taken the approach of dressing up their hopeful belief as a scientific certainty.

This isn't the first time that Wickramasinghe has been involved in unjustified claims that alien has been discovered. Wickramasinghe has previously claimed that viruses like SARS, the bird flu, and the 1918 flu epidemic were extraterrestrial in origin. This pseudoscientist has also been involved in "publishing" claims of finding alien microbes in meteorites and in the atmosphere through the fake science source called the Journal of Cosmology. Phil Plait, author of the Bad Astronomy book and blog, has written several articles pointing out Wickramasinghe's fallacious claims. Phil even tackled this recent claim of life on 67P with his article "Life on a Comet? I’m Gonna Go With “No.”" Dan Evon also briefly covered this non-discovery of life in an article on Snopes.

It gets tiring sometimes battling against the fraudulent and the quacks, and some people might even ask why we then do it. The answer is simple: in our age of abundant information, where disinformation and misinformation run rampant and many people are illiterate in science and technology, the frauds and the quacks pose a serious danger to the future of our civilization. If we lose the scientific method, if we allow ourselves to dwell in unjustified claims, and if we forego evidence for satisfaction, then it's only a matter of time before a new dark ages befalls us and we have to start all over again.

It's not always easy to determine the differences between science and pseudoscience (indeed, philosophers of science have been trying to figure out how to do that for quite some time). Claims like those made by Wickramasinghe and his fellow pseudoscientists seem legitimate to many people, especially when news sources claim these people are "experts", "maverick astronomers", or "top astrobiologists". Yet people like Max Wallis and Chandra Wickramasinghe are a threat to modern science and to the public. Their approach of accepting their preformed conclusions without significant evidence or even rational skepticism is a bane to modern science. I sincerely hope that, moving forward, we will see more scientists taking to social media and more reporters seeking input from real scientists to fight the bunk of people like Wallis and Wickramasinghe when they start to peddle their snake oil.

We may one day, perhaps very soon, discover evidence for extraterrestrial life. I've dreamt of that moment since I was a child. Many of us have. Yet jumping the gun with false assertions of alien life does nothing to improve our pursuits in astrobiology. Certainly, if and when we do find actual evidence for life outside of our biosphere, you will hear the news coming from far more reliable sources than Wallis and Wickramasinghe.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Toastmasters: Video Game Voice-Overs and Public Speaking

At a recent Toastmasters Leadership Institute training meeting, I attended a workshop presented by Brooke Chestnut that dealt with the topic of attracting millennials to Toastmasters. 

Millennials, as you may know, are people of the generation who were born roughly between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (a group for which I am technically a member). Our generation has become a powerhouse of creativity and entrepreneurship, although we're also known as a boomerang generation since many of us tend to put off traditional rites of adulthood until later in life. 

Actually, our generation has unfortunately mostly come to be known as a generation of children who feel undeservingly entitled (if you don't believe me, try telling one of the children in America who has gone straight to college after high school that they actually have to read books and do homework to earn good grades and see how they react).

I enjoyed Brooke Chestnut's training session. There were times when it felt a little insulting (I am a millennial after all), but the message was clear: millennials are an important cohort of people who can be benefitted by the improvements in public speaking and leadership that come through Toastmasters membership. During the workshop, we talked about a lot of the thing that are of common interest among those of us in our teens to early thirties. These are things like social media, technology, and video games. 

Video games specifically I thought were an interesting topic to bring up. I've been playing video games my whole life, and I know how important they can be to many in my generation. One thing that I thought about during the workshop was how many great voiceovers have been done for modern video games. These days, video game productions can be massive undertakings and many high-caliber actors and speakers have started taking on voiceover roles. For instance, here's a video with five awesome voiceover parts from some common video games (the video says Top 5, but I don't necessarily agree with that ranking):

The games and voice actors from this video are, in order:

Fallout 3 (voiced by Ron Perlman)
Killzone (voiced by Brian Cox)

Due to the nature of video games, many of the great speeches and monologues come before or during some kind of battle. Just as real leaders need to find ways to motivate their "troops" before a serious engagement, it's entertaining to have a great speaker buildup a battle before you enter into it within the digital realm of a video game. To empower the gamer, the voiceover actor needs to use their speaking skills to make the character feel real and dynamic. That's why video games are a growing source of great speaking examples.

Here is a video with Carver's end speech (voiced by Ricardo Chavira) from Dead Space 3:

Here's another voiceover, this time by Jen Taylor at the end of Halo: Reach. It's nice to conclude a game with something more than just the credits:

These video game voiceovers offer some great examples of the power of the speech. With video games continually growing in the scale of their production and their use in society, I imagine that we'll see many more great speeches from video games in the future. For myself, I'll be paying closer attention to the voice overs in the video games that I play, to listen for great writing and great speaking when it pops up. By knowing the ways in which speaking appeals to others, we Toastmasters are better able to share our approach of improvement through practice with a wider audience. I think video game voiceovers may offer some of the great speeches that people will look back on in the near future.

I'll leave you with one more video. H
ere's a video that someone put together showing Charlie Chaplain's wonderful speech from The Great Dictator set to various video game sequences:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Luca Stricagnoli - Sweet Child of Mine

You may remember when I posted a sweet video from Luca Stricagnoli earlier this year. The video showed Stricagnoli's acoustic arrangement for AC/DC's Thunderstruck. It was absolutely amazing.

Well here's another video of Luca Stricagnoli published to Youtube on the 5th of July of this year. This time, Stricagnoli is rocking with his version of Guns N' Roses classic Sweet Child O' Mine. Stricagnoli uses two guitars (one of which has two sets of strings) and multiple capos. This is some fine guitar playing! 

Here ya go:

You can now buy Luca Stricagnoli's debut album from Candyrat Records. They also offer transcriptions of Stricangoli's instrumental parts for those of us who want to jam!

Update (9 July 2015):

Luca just shared this video to his Facebook and included the following with regard to his setup for this song:

"My new video can also be found on facebook. I’ll take a minute to tell you some interesting facts about this arrangement. The 2 capos (Jim Dunlop Trigger Capo) that can be seen on the main guitar have been slightly altered by myself. I have cut part of the rubber bottom so that some of the strings would not be blocked even after placing the capo. One of the two Trigger Capo was clipped onto the Spider Capo so that it would be in a handy position to quickly place it before the solo to change tuning. Thanks for all your support, love Luca.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Classical Gas by Tommy Emmanuel and that Sweet Guitar Jam with Roger in American Dad

Following is probably one of the coolest guitar videos you'll ever see. It's Classical Gas, originally written and played by Mason Williams, as performed by the incredible Tommy Emmanuel. Get ready to have your socks knocked off:

Pretty freaking awesome, right?!

You may have heard part of this jam before. If, like me, you're a fan of American Dad, then you might remember the scene from the episode Permanent Record Wrecker where Roger (the alien) kicks some major ass in a guitar jam-off. Well, that guitar jam was the same bit played above by Tommy Emmanuel. 

There aren't many videos of that scene to be found online. The best that I found is below, but, oddly, the voice of Roger doesn't sounds right. Still, the guitar is fantastic:

I've been playing guitar for quite some, but I'm definitely not even on a level where I could see Tommy Emmanuel's level of guitar awesomeness with a space telescope. Good stuff.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Icelandic Volcano Demon? I can handle that.

My office mate, Jennika, is in Iceland for an astrobiology summer school (a trip that I sadly had to turn down due to my research work). I'm sure she's having an amazing time. The program has lots of lectures by leading astrobiologists and several trips around Iceland, to places like glaciers and lava flows.

Before Jennika departed, she left a message on her desk that says:

"Nobody steal stuff
while I'm gone! I'll
send an Icelandic
volcano demon
after you."

Ha ha, well then. 

This is my response:

Check and mate, my friend.