Sunday, July 7, 2013

3...2...1... has a new home!

Hey everyone! For a while, I've been contemplating moving over to wordpress, and I finally have made the move. You can check us out at: stardustandsteel.wordpress.com.

All of our old posts are over there, but all of our new posts will be added there, like today's new post: "Slime and Tarantulas".

I really hope to see you over at wordpress!

Monday, July 1, 2013

STEM links of the week

Quantum engines must break down
Current understanding of thermodynamics completely breaks down with small quantum systems, prompting the need for new research in quantum thermodynamics.

Engineering's Jukebox Heroes
A fun and quirky article of the history and engineering behind the beloved classic jukebox.

NASA Shuts Down Galaxy-Hunting Space Telescope
The GALEX telescope, a telescope that has helped find the biggest spiral galaxy, confirmed dark energy theories, and more has been officially decommissioned by NASA.

Atlantis attraction at KSC Visitor Complex
Take a virtual tour of the Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center (or check out my post on it here!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Special sneak peek tour of Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit!

This past Saturday, June 22, my sister  got the chance of a lifetime to tour the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center one week before it opened, thanks to the Missile, Space, and Range Pioneers.



It was a truly amazing exhibit. Outside, the twin solid rocket boosters and external tank, which launch the shuttle our of orbit, stand. They are HUUUUGE and are quite the site to see.




Going inside, there are quotes and incredible images dedicated to the space shuttle program. It leads up to an auditorium where an awesome (but short) movie plays, outlining the origins of the space shuttle.



Following the movie, you get to witness incredible launches, before the gorgeous ship that is Atlantis is unveiled.


I was amazed by the exhibit; you can get surprisingly close to the orbiter. There is a Hubble Space Telescope mockup, a space shuttle engine, and more.







My sister and I also got to meet to Atlantis astronauts, Bob Springer and Tom Jones. They signed autographs for us (my sister was so excited, as it was the day before her birthday), and I also got a picture of Jim Springer with Gus Grissbear (named for Gus Grissom, his adventures will be chronicled on this blog!).

After meeting the astronauts, we saw the rest of the exhibit. Several modules of the International Space Station were re-created, including the Tranquility module and C.O.L.B.E.R.T treadmill, as well as the beloved space toilet. (There's no gravity to assist up there).


The tires from Atlantis from the last shuttle launch, STS-135, were also on display for people to touch and move! Being that these are still technically space artifacts made it a special treat.


Seeing Atlantis before its opening date was a true treat, and was quite the experience for both my sister and I. We are both so grateful for this opportunity, and send a million thanks to the Missile, Space, and Range Pioneers for the opportunity.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reaching for the stars: Astronaut class of 2013

This week, four women and four men were announced as the new 2013 class of astronaut candidates!

From left to right: Josh Cassada, Lt. Cmdr. Victor Glover, Lt. Col. Tyler Hague, Christina Hammock, Major Nicole Mann, Major Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, and Dr. Andrew Morgan
These highly qualified individuals were picked from an applicant pool of over 6,000- the second largest application response NASA has ever had. Congratulations to each of you selected!

You can hear more about the astronaut selection and other events from this week at NASA from this NASA Television "This Week @NASA" episode!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Missile, Space and Range Pioneers


So I have been pretty excited to announce this, but I am officially a part of the Missile, Space and Range Pioneers, located in Florida's very own Space Coast! Funnily enough, the Pioneers found me through this very blog. I had attended a banquet of theirs last year and blogged about it (post can be found here), and a couple months ago, they found the post. They liked my writing and asked for me to write for them, as well as work to advance their social media presence. I absolutely love working with the Pioneers.

I will be sharing a lot of what I write for them on my blog, but check out their website, like their facebook page and follow them on twitter as well for more stories and exclusives! 





Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Seeing beyond the visible light spectrum

Recently, I discovered that NASA has a ton of multimedia available to bloggers about the James Webb Space Telescope, and as a space enthusiast, I knew I had to utilize these resources in a post.

JWST @ SXSW
Full scale JWST mockup

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a HUGE telescope slated to launch in 2018. It is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and has a different range of capabilities.


Webb vs Hubble primary mirror
Did I mention it was HUGE?! And those are just the mirrors!

Unlike Hubble, it can see "past" the visible light spectrum and into the infrared range of the light spectrum. This is really important because plenty of things in the universe are covered with dust that isn't penetrable by visible light, such as newly forming stars and planets, the center of the universe, and more. Infrared telescopes can penetrate the dust, however, and allow us to study things that we previously could not. Webb's giant mirror, pictured above, also give us capabilities to see further back in time to the earliest formations in our universe! It's pretty exciting stuff. (In fact, I was part of a group project a few years back and we made a rap and music video for JWST...If I can locate the video I'll be sure to share it!)

Here more about the James Webb Space Telescope in the below video, courtesy of NASA.




Sunday, June 16, 2013

STEM links of the week

GE Opens Two Jet Engine Plants as Next-Gen Aircraft Get Ready for Take-Off
Submitted by Billy, this article details the new plant openings and talks about the LEAF and GEnx advanced engines.

Metals Become Molecular-Like at the Atomic Scale, Reveal Materials Scientists

An experiment by Harsh Deep Chopra and The State University of New York at Buffalo has shown that on the atomic scale, metallic bonds act very differently between a dew number of atoms than from when they are in a bulk material.

3D printing takes to the stars

The first 3D printing experiment is launched on a zero-g flight!

Meet the heir apparent to the U.S. Army's Blackhawk helicopter

AVX is designing the military's new attack chopper- and it's pretty rad.

Canada Seeks to Rove Beyond the Space Station

The Canadian Space Agency is looking beyond the ISS and is looking to send rovers to Mars.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013

Last week, I wrote how I flew to Colorado for NSRC 2013, the conference for all people in the suborbital industry. It was an incredible conference, and arguably the most valuable conference I have been to thus far in my career.

I flew into Colorado Sunday morning, and was blown away by the beauty of the state. Visiting states like Colorado make me realize how geographically "un-dynamic" Florida is.


The poster sessions and reception were held Sunday night. Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado opened with welcoming words, then the reception started. This proved to be a key networking night for me. I met many professionals from all sorts of places, such as NASA, Southwest Research Institute, "twitter" (I met one of my favorite space reporters). I met many students as well, from undergrad through post-doc, whom I spent much of my time with over the next few days of the conference. Sunday night I also had the chance to sit inside XCOR's Lynx mockup! It was pretty cool.
















Monday was the first "real" day of the conference. Dr. Alan Stern started the day off, then Dr. Scott Parazynski spoke. He was very inspirational and cool; not only is he a medical doctor, but he was also an astronaut, and climbed Mt. Everest twice, amongst other things. We also heard a great deal from XCOR Aerospace that day; I learned a lot about what they are doing with the Lynx for researchers like myself.


Monday night there was a public event held by Dr. Alan Stern, as well, talking about the importance of commercial space flight, and it was really great, especially with so many people of the public there and asking questions. One young boy was sitting in front of me and he was so excited by the presentation; it was really heart-warming. 

Tuesday was presentation day for me! I was the last presentation in the microgravity session. Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson's space company, had a good deal of time to speak about what they were doing and how SpaceShipTwo will have plenty of space and opportunities for researchers to fly their experiments. I also heard from Masten Space Systems on their company and their vertical launch systems. Finally was my presentation. After some technical difficulties (and then more technical difficulties), I presented my research. I did well enough to get an offer from Zero G Corporation to help fly my prototype, which was more than I was expecting, so I will say that presentation was successful!

I also met a wolf on Tuesday. No lie.


Wednesday was the last day of the conference. Before hearing from Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's (the Amazon guy) "ultra secret" space company, I listened to a panel on the research infrastructure at spaceports. This was very interesting to me, as Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fl is trying to gain spaceport status (and is only a couple miles from where I grew up). Then I heard Blue Origin, and for a tight-lipped company, I was quite impressed by some of the stuff they shared. They showed some really awesome test flights of their New Shepherd vehicle, which are available online here. NASA's Flight Opportunities Program and the Commercial Space Federation also spoke, before the closing remarks and closing "reception". This gave me a chance to say farewell to many of the amazing people I met over the duration of NSRC 2013, but my trip was far from over!

That night, I got to go on a late night tour of Colorado School of Mines, one of the schools I am considering for my graduate studies. Two of the school's most awesome students gave me a really good tour, and I learned all about their metallurgical and material science programs. I was very impressed by both the students and the school, and will definitely be applying when the time comes. 

Overall, my trip to Colorado was extremely successful with the contacts I've made, as well as offers and opportunities presented to me. It was the most beneficial conference I've been to thus far in my academic and research career, and am definitely looking forward to NSRC 2014.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Calling all builders, designers, inventors, and creative folk!!

As an engineering student, I love to build. As a person with a passion for space, I love NASA. As a person who is still a child at heart, I love Legos. What happens when these three glorious things come together?

Magic Science happens. 

NASA and Lego have teamed up in a contest for teens and adults everywhere (must be at least 13) called "NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build". This contest's goal is to design and build a vehicle based on an existing NASA Mission. Each design needs to be accompanied by a technical paper that describes how the existing NASA technology has been incorporated and changed in the design. 

There are multiple ways to win, but the contest ends July 31! 
You can read more about the contest here: 
NASA and Lego want you to design the future of flight for them

Or read the NASA release, rules, etc, from the NASA site here:
NASA Partners With the LEGO Group for Design and Build Contest

Happy building!


Monday, June 3, 2013

A mile closer to space (NSRC 2013 pt.1)

Greetings from Broomfield, Colorado!! I am currently at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC). 

I'm presenting at the conference on my research at UNF, "Experiment for peristaltic flow in microgravity". It's pretty much a small-scale bioreactor to study bone cells in space. (I can talk more about this in another post if people are interested.)

I am so excited about this trip. I've always wanted to go to Colorado, and I finally have the chance. Colorado is such a beautiful state; the weather is wonderful and the mountains are breathtaking.


Not only do I get to attend and present at the conference, but my research advisor for my materials research has gotten me in touch with former students of our school who are now at Colorado School of Mines, and I'll get to tour there. School of Mines is on my list of potential grad schools, so this will be a very awesome trip. 

The conference has been crazy awesome so far. I've met a lot of cool people in both academia and industry, and have heard a lot of inspiring and informative talks. I'll post more about the specifics of the conference proceedings (as well as my presentation!) in a later post. 








Tuesday, May 28, 2013

STEM links of the week

Old Mars rover finds more proof of possible life
The "old" Mars rover Opportunity has found a rock that could have favorably hosted life in the Cape York are in a time when Mars hosted water.

Astronaut Packs Crafts for Creative Space Station Trip
One of my favorite astronauts and idol Karen Nyberg is launching to the International Space Station for a six month stay, and is bringing her love of sewing with her.

Scientists identify the mystery killer behind Ireland's potato famine
The strain of potato blight that caused the notorious Irish potato famine has finally been identified by scientists, and it isn't the "usual suspects".

This Incredible Full Scale Lego X-Wing Is the Largest Model In History
An absolutely mind-blowing full scale replica of the Star Wars X-Wing spacecraft was constructed from over five million lego bricks. Reinforced with metal components, this beauty took about 4 months to construct.

Hubble Telescope Reveals True 3D Shape of Ring Nebula
New Hubble images show that the Ring Nebula is not quite ring shaped, but more "jelly doughnut" shaped.

Monday, May 20, 2013

STEM links of the week

My regular readers may have noticed that I have not made a "STEM links of the week" post in quite a while, and I am really sorry for that. My semester had gotten so busy that I decided to cut back on my blogging, and I figured that if it came down to posting only one post a week (which oftentimes, it came down to that or less), that I didn't want this to be the only thing I posted. But now I am in the summer semester, and even though I am taking a couple of classes, I have much more free time to blog! Therefore, I feel that now is an appropriate time to bring back the "STEM links of the week feature"!

In addition, I would like to open my blog for my readers to submit articles they would like for me to feature as well. You can comment on any post with the link, and if you have a URL, I'll share that and credit you to have submitted the link. (This will also help keep these posts going if things get crazy bust again.)

Without further adieu, here are this week's STEM links!

Property of Rarest Element on Earth Measured for 1st Time
The ionization potential of astatine (atomic number 85 for those who are curious), was discovered by CERN physicists using artificial isotopes of the element.

Moon Explosion Sparked By Meteorite Crash On Lunar Surface, NASA Says
This article & video describes the March 17 meteorite crash discovered by an analyst at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Warp Speed, Scotty? Star Trek's FTL Drive May Actually Work
This article & accompanying video describe the theory behind "warp drive" and current efforts by NASA to achieve fast-than-light craft.

Scientists create world's tiniest drops of liquid in biggest atom smasher
Not only has CERN measured the ionization potential of the rarest element of Earth, but they have also created the smallest ever droplets of "liquid", quark-gluon plasma, in the Compact Muon Solenoid.

Let me know what you think of this week's articles! And remember, feel free to share any science, tech, engineering, & math articles with me, and I'll include them in next week's links!
 


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Currently

Good morning everyone! Hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the weekend. I hope you enjoy this month's "Currently" post! If you have any thoughts or comments, stop by the comment section!

Listening to: "Save Rock and Roll" by Fall Out Boy
Source
Loving: That it is summertime! Even though I am taking a couple of classes this summer, it is still a break, relative to the much heavier course load in the fall. The weather is also fantastic!

Reading: My circuits textbook. I know that may not seem like the most exciting thing, but I am still waiting for the library to get my copy of A Dance With Dragons.

Listening to: FALL OUT BOY! Their new album is amazing and perfect for summertime!  

Anticipating:  The NSRC conference! Not only am I presenting, but there will be plenty of other space-minded people like myself, as well as many cool sponsor companies. It will be an invaluable opportunity for me to network with others in the suborbital community.
Watching "The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius"
Source

Thinking about: My circuits homework.... Kirchoff's Laws, anyone?  

Watching: I've been watching all of my usuals lately, but the greatest new show I've found is Kal Penn's Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius. It is a competition show of engineers competing for a cash prize and a one year contract at WET. As an engineering major, I think an engineering show like that is fantastic! 
Working on: Finishing the design I'm presenting at conference, my presentation, and my circuits homework. 

Wishing: For certain things to work out. If they do, I shall write about them later, (I don't want to jinx myself!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

UNF in pictures

Today I thought I would share a photo post, with my school UNF, (University of North Florida), being the focus. These are all pictures I've taken over time since being at UNF for the past two years. 

Enjoy! 

















Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy birthday Richard Feynman!

“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough."
-Richard P. Feynman 

Happy birthday to the late Richard Feynman! 


Richard Feynman was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and an overall awesome man. He was very much an eccentric and cool character. He worked on the atomic bomb and made groundbreaking discoveries in quantum physics, but was also an artist, safecracker, bongo-player... he was very much a well-rounded and interesting character.  Stories chronicling his crazy adventures can be found in his semi-autobiographical books "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" and "Classical Feynman". Feynman is one of my idols; not only was he absolutely brilliant, but he also knew there was more to life than just physics and math; he in fact said "Physics isn't the most important thing. Love is." 

Again happy birthday to Richard Feynman, one of the most individuals to ever live. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: A Feast for Crows

WARNING. THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR GEORGE R.R. MARTIN'S A FEAST FOR CROWS. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

This is only the second time I have done a book review on this blog (I barely have time to read entire books nowadays for pleasure), but I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED A FEAST FOR CROWS. For my regular readers, or anyone who has read my "Currently" posts in recent months, know I have been reading this book for a long time, and I am very happy to finally have gotten through it all.

The other books in the ASOIAF series did not take me nearly as long, but for the longest time, I had trouble getting into this book. This book is actually the first half of two "sister books". A Feast for Crows had gotten so long, that GRRM split it in half, with the following book, A Dance with Dragons, running in parallel. Half of the characters, (and coincidently, all of my favorite characters), are not in Crows. But once I got through the first few chapters of each character, the book started getting much better, in my opinion. You get great details of new adventures, and a deeper look into many characters.

My favorite character to read about surprisingly became Cercei. Although I loathe her, Cercei is downright fascinating. She is very twisted and evil, but all with the interests of her children at heart, which lead her to do many crazy things. She is still plagued by her fears of Tyrion, thinking that she is the younger brother that she will die from (referring to the old witch's prophecy of Cercei's life), but the ending of the book makes me think otherwise. She is still very much alive at the end of Crows, but she is not exactly in power anymore at that point.

I also loved the greater look we see into characters in Dorne. Several new characters are introduced, and it is really, really cool in my opinion to see how the events in King's Landing are affecting the people so faraway in Dorne. Arianne Martell is also a new favorite of mine and I hope her role continues to grow throughout the series. She is a very awesome character and I would love for her to rule Dorne, or even be one of the heads of the dragon. (I know this is INSANELY unlikely, but she was technicallysupposed to marry Viserys, and the head of the dragon could be a spouse, as Jorah mentioned in the first novel. She would be prefect alongside Dany. They are like my OTP, in a non-romantic sense.)

Arya gets even more badass in this novel, but her storyline doesn't develop too much until the very end of the novel. The one storyline that absolutely BORED me, despite my love for the character, was Brienne's. Much like Arya's storyline, it didn't develop much until the end. Now, the ending was CRAZY and so fast, it was quite the head-turner and jaw-dropper, but I thought it was extremely slow and repetitive up to that point. I also hated every storyline related to the Iron Islands. They really don't interest me that much. Sure, the entire Euron-Victarion-Dany tie together was kinda interesting, but that won't be developed until later novels. I pretty much dislike all of the Iron Islanders though, so I am very wary of what will happen when my favorite character gets tied in with them. (Especially if one of them becomes one of the heads of the dragon. I'm thinking Jon, Tyrion, and/or Arianne are the best potential characters, but GRRM loves throwing in twists you never see coming.)

Overall, A Feast for Crows was another excellent piece of literary mastery by George R.R. Martin, although I would not call it my favorite out of the four I have read so far.

What do you think of A Feast for Crows? Do you agree/disagree on any of the points I made? I would love to hear feedback in the comments!


Saturday, May 4, 2013

May The Fourth Be With You!

Happy May Fourth and Happy Free Comic Book Day everyone!

Today, my sister and I went to Black Hive Comics for Free Comic Book Day! It was pretty awesome, despite the dreadful rain. Black Hive Comics is a pretty rad place over in the riverside area.

We waited in line for a while, but got a few comics each. I got these:



Planet Fall is a new comic made by a local writer. Part takes place here in Jax! It's about life on Earth after aliens have taken control.

My sister got these:



There was even free BBQ for everyone that got free comics! Later in the day, I got on a fancy hat and watched the Kentucky Derby with my family.

Overall, today was a really good day.

Friday, May 3, 2013

JEA Brandy Branch Trip

A few weeks ago, the club I am now president of, ASME, went on a trip to JEA's Brandy Branch. It was really cool; we got to see turbines and really cool things that we learn about in school but don't necessarily get to see. Here are some pictures taken from the trip.