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Inaccuracy in reporting astronomy and science
As old as Voyage...
post Mar 4 2008, 09:39 AM
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A little off topic, but an inaccuracy nonetheless...

In Sheffield (UK) there used to be a bus called the 'Bright Bus' which ferried (gifted?) school kids around the city.

To enhance its 'Bright' (ie intelligent) image it was adorned with the names of many luminaries of physics such as Einstein and Newton.

What detracted from this was that the name 'Hawkins' was also emblazoned across the vehicle's side....guess the signwriter wouldn't qualify to ride the bus! laugh.gif


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nprev
post Mar 4 2008, 01:40 PM
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QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Mar 3 2008, 10:43 PM) *
um, nprev, I hate to say it, but I think Dan was referring to the space.com reporter's take on what medium was being used to record the avalanche rolleyes.gif

--Emily



Splarg; of course, thanks, Emily, and sorry, Dan! Gonna go drive a few more nails with my forehead before the short bus comes... rolleyes.gif


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centsworth_II
post Mar 12 2008, 11:40 PM
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Porno at CERN
"The claim is that... the LHC might produce not only black holes but also another class of objects
called wormholes... mostly in tabloids like the Sun and New Scientist.... science pornography."

http://resonaances.blogspot.com/

I thought this was so funny: "Tabloids like the Sun and New Scientist", that really puts New Scientist
in its place. laugh.gif I like New scientist, and I wouldn't say they are inaccurate, but they do skew toward
the sensationalist. I think science pornography is a good way to put it. But as I already said... I'm not
complaining.
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gndonald
post Apr 1 2008, 03:10 PM
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I've picked up the April 2008 edition of APC (Australian Personal Computer) and there is an (advertising) feature article entitled "Computers in Space" (paid for by HP).

Most of it is a fairly accurate descriptions of the constraints facing the use of computers in space (power, gravity, radiation).

It also has a picture of what they claim to be the Shuttle Discovery, it is in fact a picture of the first launch of Columbia. (See: here The article (credited to one David Braue) also has the following when it starts to discuss future uses of computers in space:

QUOTE
Missions such as next years Mars Telecommunication Orbiter...


I thought that NASA had canceled this one two years ago

I wonder where on Earth (or off it) the author did his research.

(Correction made after confirming picture in article is of Columbia)
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Stu
post Apr 24 2008, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Jan 5 2008, 07:23 PM) *
BTW, here in LA on the CBS AM radio news station I keep hearing these annoying commercials for some outfit called the "International Star Registry" that purports to name a star for your friend or loved one for a nominal fee (fifty bucks, I think). I know that this is complete @#$%, but of course the general public doesn't. IIRC, this group or another got sued by (I think) Sky & Telescope, and the plantiffs lost!


Resurrecting an old topic, I know, but if anyone wants to read an interesting debate on the star-naming issue, this week's CARNIVAL OF SPACE has two rather opposing viewpoints... wink.gif


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laurele
post Apr 24 2008, 05:47 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Apr 24 2008, 12:24 PM) *
Resurrecting an old topic, I know, but if anyone wants to read an interesting debate on the star-naming issue, this week's CARNIVAL OF SPACE has two rather opposing viewpoints... wink.gif


I find it hard to imagine that anyone could believe they actually "own" a star. Aren't there international agreements in which countries reject any concept of "claiming" celestial objects such as the moon, planets, etc.? One would think anyone "naming" a star would understand that the act is symbolic. How can someone own something no human being can even reach and can only view from afar? We don't even know that the names currently being used will still be in use by our descendants 100 or more years from now. I do agree that the companies charging people for this are predatory, as anyone can use computer software to create their own certificate and print it out, which is really the only thing recipients are getting.

Since there are funding issues regarding space exploration, how about considering the idea of universities and agencies like NASA or the ESA selling people the right to symbolically name a star with the proceeds going towards research, exploration, etc. as another person in this thread suggested? Universities and agencies could join to create a single large database to coordinate such an effort. Donors could choose the projects they want to support (for example, funding of a specific telescope or mission). At least purchasers would know that what they are really doing is making a contribution towards the advancement of astronomical research and exploration as opposed to handing over money to charlatans.
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volcanopele
post Apr 24 2008, 06:24 PM
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Io is my moon. It's mine. I own it. laugh.gif

I guess one fund raising effort would be to to sell the naming rights to dunes on Titan or minor craters on Mimas.


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nprev
post Apr 25 2008, 12:21 AM
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Why not? smile.gif I'm certain that the IAU would put the money to far better use then the hucksters ever could. I like the idea of using it for scholarships & fellowships for space science grad students.


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ElkGroveDan
post Apr 25 2008, 02:17 AM
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I think it's a bad idea. Once you start bringing money into the picture you make the IAU controversial. People will argue and debate where the money should go, which nation's universities got more etc, etc. What happens if some really rich person decides to blow a whole bunch of money naming stars after their favorite politicians? Meanwhile you've given credibility to the whole silly notion and the hucksters will continue to ply their trade since there is no means of enforcement of the IAU designations anyway. I might start a company and say that I don't recognize IAU and half of my profits will go to feed starving children in Africa so register with me. There's really no end to where this could go once the concept is given some kind of serious sanction.

The best response is information. I would venture that civil remedies for fraud are even possible in the U.S. right now if enough people wanted to get together for a class action suit forcing a more clear disclosure by these companies that the "naming" has no real standing anywhere.


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post Apr 25 2008, 02:52 AM
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Hmmm...persuasive, Dan.

I may be being naive about this. You're right, once money enters the equation then things get very complicated indeed. The only thing I can think of is if the IAU set up an independent trust for the funds and contracted or established a third-party non-profit organization to manage the finances, but of course the registration effort would require capital to accomplish, presumably from the name sales....argh. sad.gif

Not seeing a way to make this unmistakably clean all the way through, in addition to your concerns about special interests naming things en masse for less-then-honorable and certainly not traditionally heraldic purposes.


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tedstryk
post Apr 25 2008, 03:23 AM
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The problem is that the language that they used, when taken at face value, their claim is true. You pay and they include you in their registry. The deception is by implication.

As I understand it, the lawsuit they actually won was against a competing star registry that virtually cloned their site. They have had to put "International Star Registry star naming is not recognized by the scientific community. Your stars name is reserved in International Star Registry records only." This is, of course, in tiny print at the bottom of their page. Their tactic is to threaten to sue individuals and planetariums that can't afford to fight them in court.


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post Apr 25 2008, 02:30 PM
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I just googled "cartographic nomenclature conventions" trying to find out how terrestrial mountains, rivers, etc. get their names established and found a truly bewildering hodgepodge; doesn't even seem to be an international standard extant, just the ancient principle of the discoverer makes the call. (This is interesting because there are a lot of mountains, lakes, rivers, etc. on Earth, esp. in remote regions like Alaska, that have yet to be named!)

Astronomical nomenclature assignment actually seems to be much more disciplined then the terrestrial process via the IAU conventions, which is a bit surprising. Watch out for the next wave of scams: "Name an Alaskan lake after a loved one!"


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Stu
post May 8 2008, 06:52 AM
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Slightly OT, sorry, but I thought it might give people a giggle or roll their eyes in horror...

I was in my local library the other day, handing back an overdue book - so overdue the machine went off like a Geiger counter when the book was scanned, v embarrassing! - when one of the assistants there asked me if there was "anything interesting happening up there at the moment". Yup, I told her, May 25th, a new probe lands on Mars, it'll be big news, look out for it on TV... I'm giving a talk about it a few days later at the Museum, etc, etc... "Hang on," she says, "I'll put it in the diary. She gets the diary out, flicks thru to May 25th and writes...

"probe from Mars lands..."

Probe FROM Mars?!?! Wow, that would make the news wouldn't it?! blink.gif

"No," I corrected her, "we've sent a probe TO Mars... it lands there ON the 25th..."

"Oh," she replies, "can't they send us probes, then?"

I know, I know... I despair too, but sometimes the kindest thing to do is to just walk away, shaking your head... rolleyes.gif


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ElkGroveDan
post May 8 2008, 01:30 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ May 7 2008, 10:52 PM) *
Probe FROM Mars?!?!

I believe the 'invading probe' discussion is over here, Stu.


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Stu
post May 8 2008, 01:34 PM
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Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.......!!!

(but laughing, guiltily...!)


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