Thursday, December 13, 2018

Comet Watching for One and All

If you have a desire to look up into the night sky and watch comets go by like I do, you won't want to miss the 46P/Wirtanen comet on December 17, 2018 (when it makes its closest approach). This brilliant cosmic tourist may also be seen by the naked eye or with binoculars (this year) so everyone can try to spot it.

Check out the NASA video and description of the best hours/days and ways to view this wonderful astronomical occurrence. The next visit of the Wirtanen comet is projected to be much less impressive. So get out your coats, chairs and various gear now. Go science!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

International Observe the Moon night

Okay, vacations and summer heat behind us, it's time to get back to science. In this case, space science that anyone, any age, can do - moon observations.

The October 20, 2018 event is the International Observe the Moon Night. This worldwide focus on lunar science and exploration, held since 2010 takes place in Sept. or Oct. annually.

It's a chance to learn about our most observed neighbor and later allow you to offer up lunar factoids at everything from kids' birthday to cocktail parties (well ones where all your space science friends attend). 

This year also marks the 50th year anniversary of Apollo 8 visiting the moon and creates a chance to talk about past, present, and future lunar and planetary science and exploration. Plus, we can celebrate all the scientists/engineers who participated and shared in this tremendous human achievement.

Want to join the fun? Check out NASA's 2018 Moon Maps of how the Moon will appear on International Observe the Moon Night from the northern and southern hemispheres. Go science!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Citizen Science Blogs

Time is flying this summer! I can hardly keep up with the latest science happenings, but if you are wanting to add more science to your summer. Check out this list of citizen science blogs compiled by Scientific American. 

Or you can watch a NASA YouTube video on how the general public can do publishable research. Learn scientific protocols and find important answers. You don't need a ton of special skills, just lots of curiosity! 

Enjoy your summer and let me know what types of projects you are working on. Go science!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

FDA Stops Benzocaine in Products for Teething Pain

Like most people I know, I get lots of updates from various organizations, news agencies, etc. I also get daily and weekly science updates from different agencies and online sources. 

Today I received an update from the Food and Drug Administration that over-the-counter (OTC) teething products containing benzocaine are going to be taken off the market. The FDA news release builds on previous warnings about risks connected with benzocaine products for methemoglobinemia. This dangerous condition is the result of elevated levels of methemoglobin in the blood, which causes the amount of oxygen carried through the blood to be greatly reduced and lead to death. 

So spread the word! All those teething and throat pain products sold as gels, sprays, ointments, solutions and lozenges under the OTC brand names Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, Hurricaine, Orabase, Orajel and Topex, as well as store brands and generics are out. Companies can voluntarily remove the products or they will be required by the FDA to stop producing them. 

To decrease gum pain from newly erupting teeth, parents are asked to go back to the basics of rubbing inflamed gums and offering cold teethers. Go science!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Just for Fun Science

Trivia and other knowledge-based activities have been around a long time. I enjoy testing myself with lots of different brain challenges. I am particularly addicted to word finds.  

So when I ran across the May 2018 crossword puzzle by The Scientist, I gave it a try. 

It covers a number of science topics including everything from a breed of dairy cow, biologically produced poison, and African blooms to Asa Gray's field, and #3 on the Periodic Table. 

It's just the thing for a Friday or to keep the brain thinking about science over the weekend. Do you have favorite science brain teasers? List them in the comments. Have a great weekend and go science!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

NASA Spinoffs

Some folks wonder if space exploration is "worth it." (Not me or anyone I know, but some.) I believe it's because for decades, NASA was not great at advertising its amazing technologies. Not exactly a strength (or even of interest) to most scientists and engineers.

When I worked at Johnson Space Center, I became aware of NASA accomplishments (besides launching rockets and building an international space station) through the annual NASA Spinoffs book that employees received.

You can read the online 2018 edition or download a copy here. It's amazing all the science and technology we take for granted that originated within the NASA space program. If you want a comprehensive look at NASA spinoffs, check out the NASA Spinoff Database which contains abstracts of all Spinoff articles published since 1976.

Next time you hear someone asking the question of what has NASA done for me, direct them to these resources. Go science!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Get Your Science (and STEM) On!

I believe that scientists and engineers are very creative people. There is logic involved in the scientific method, but that creative spark or "aha!" moment often sets someone down a path of amazing discovery and innovation. 

So, to honor my creative/science self and have a ton of fun too, I created an Amazon Merch account for STEM t-shirts. Amazon lets you search by  key words. Some of mine are: science, Semper Sci, engineering, Latin, Carpe ipsum, physics, nature, inventor, and earth. 

I also created a science t-shirt Pinterest board. If you are looking to celebrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as famous scientists, inventors, Earth Day, the Physics of Love, and more, check it out!

For March, I created a St. Patrick's Day t-shirt celebrating, Samuel O'Reilly, Irish Inventor who created the first electric tattoo machine. Who knew?!  In the future, I hope to highlight inventors from lots of different countries around the world. Go science!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Starman - Sparking the Exploration Imagination

What a fantastic and inventive way to highlight the launch of new space hardware! A red Tesla and a Starman going where no sports car has gone before! Epic! Whimsical! Totally fun! Way to go SpaceX!

When was the last time you got to use those adjectives when talking or writing about the U.S. Space program? A VERY long time I'll wager. 

I worked at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX for 13 years at the beginning of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. It was super interesting and we made history nearly every day, albeit incrementally. 

The senior scientists and engineers said it was not as exciting as the "good old days" of Gemini and Apollo when we knew very little about space and were exploring it with primitive and limited data processing capabilities. 

Now a forward thinking, early-adopter, inventor, billionaire has sparked our collective imagination with a visual we will never forget. The generations to come will have a positive benchmark in their push to the stars. Go science!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

NASA Remembers

Today NASA remembers the 17 daring and courageous  astronauts who lost their lives during America's space program. Several NASA centers including Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida are holding observances for employees, family, and the public. 

Strangely, the loss of NASA personnel all happened days apart in the winter of different years (e.g., Apollo 1 fire - Jan. 27, 1967; Challenger explosion after liftoff - Jan. 28, 1986; and Columbia breakup upon reentry - Feb. 1, 2003). 

I was working at Johnson Space Center during the Challenger explosion and knew well several of the crew. Ron McNair's children went to the same preschool as mine and we chatted often when dropping off and picking up. Others, I worked with on mission planning. As everyone involved in the space program can agree, these deaths were personal losses. We shopped with, went to church with, commuted with, and served with these NASA heroes. I was still living in Clear Lake, TX when the ill-fated Columbia spacecraft and crew were lost. Grief revisited - for me and the nation.

Unfortunately, we often forget how dangerous space exploration is, but the rewards are multiplied a hundred fold or more via NASA science, medical, materials, and engineering spin offs. To me, these lost colleagues lived extraordinary lives and deserve our thankful remembrance. Go science!