Science Cards – Two Great Women

After a slew of business trips and a broken piece of software, I’ve finally got the latest–and last*???–science cards for you!

First up is Marie Curie, the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes!  Best known for her work as a pioneer in radioactivity, Curie had a distinguished career that included isolating radioactive isotopes, discovering two chemical elements (she even had one named after her!) and working to cure cancer with radiation. Continue reading

Science Cards – No Catchy Subtitle This Time

I spent 8 out of 9 days on the road since the last time I posted a science card.  So you’ll have to give me a bit of a break on the lack of a catchy subtitle.  Feel free to come up with one of your own and make me feel bad for how easy it was for you to think of.

(If this is your first experience with my science cards, here’s the brief synopsis: cards that include a “legend” are made up by me.  In most cases, the current scientists are providing their own info to me.  When reading a star rating, 1 star is indicative of the level in which normal mortals reside.) Continue reading

Science Cards – The Hermit & The Hottie

While the other big name reputable science bloggers are writing about poop today, I present a new pair of science cards.

Actually one of the most famous people in the world at one point, our first scientist had hermit tendencies–especially later in life. [src]   Nikola Tesla didn’t invent electricity–that was nature–but he certainly found new ways to use it. An engineer, physicist, and prolific inventor, Tesla has his name on a unit of measure, museum, currency, car–just about everything short of a pair of Nike! Continue reading

Science Cards – Galileo & Scicurious

With a little help from Bora, the first iteration of my new science cards did wonderfully last week.  So this week, I cover my eyes and hope to have even more luck:

First up is Galileo.  What did he do? Oh well, just looked at the Milky Way through a telescope and said that objects of the same size and shape (but different masses) fall to Earth at the same rate.  You know, and a bunch of other important stuff… enough that he’s considered by many to be the father of modern science. Continue reading

The Pluto Files

While in Dallas for a few days over 4th of July at the National Federation for the Blind’s 2010 national conference, I read a short book that I think you’ll really like.  Written by my favorite living scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet (find this book) is the story of America’s love for Pluto which reigned as most beloved planet in our night skies for 76 years.  Of course, Pluto is still the most beloved celestial object, but 4 years ago it was stripped of its planetary status.  The Pluto Files follows Pluto from discovery through demotion.

Neil with Pluto

Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory.  Before it was discovered, it was predicted to exist based on Neptune’s orbit and was known as Planet X, which may be familiar to you if you are a fan of old-school Merrie Melodies cartoons.  About a year after it’s discovery and naming, the name Pluto was also given to a relatively new character in the world of Disney.

As technology advanced, scientists learned that there were other objects in our solar system that were even bigger than Pluto!  All of a sudden, a decision needed to be made: introduce these objects as full-fledged planets or give them their own class and put Pluto in there with them.

As a very public figurehead of the first mainstream exhibit to not put Pluto next to Neptune, deGrasse Tyson was soon hated by the American public who didn’t want to give up what they held as constant in their life, i.e. that there are 9 planets.  The IAU, which is in charge of naming celestial objects, eventually debated and voted on the fate of Pluto, as well as Eris (which is larger than Pluto), Ceres (which was at one time considered a planet), a few others that have been found and probably more yet-to-be-found.  The IAU came up with a definition for a planet, and Pluto didn’t fit the bill.  Instead of promoting Eris and Ceres, both, along with Pluto, were given dwarf planet status.

People protested, sent hate-mail, and refused to follow the new rule.  The Pluto Files is a great account of atmosphere at the time.  PBS aired a good companion piece, which you should watch too.  It can be viewed on PBS’s website or instantly from Netflix.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Supplementary materials for this post are as follows:
@ScienceGoddess swoons over #sciencehottie Neil deGrasse Tyson with her video review.
Short, humorous clips from The Pluto Files.
Live action/animation of an explanation for Pluto’s demotion.
A song by popular folk-indie artist, Lisa Loeb, about 11 planets.
Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter and Facebook.

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