Sounds of the Sun

June 16th, 2011

The clouds have parted and the sun is high in the morning sky. Most of us go about our daily lives never giving a second though to the steady light illuminating, powering everything.  We were reminded last week that the sun is indeed alive – a living breathing, almost immeasurably ancient being slumbering in our skies. It occasionally stirs, and we are lucky enough in our lifetimes to have the technology to marvel when it does.

A fountain of plasma explodes from the sun, then falls like glowing rain back on the surface of the sun, silently, and without notice to almost all of us here on Earth.

THE SOUND OF THE SUN
By George Bradley
It makes one all right, though you hadn’t thought of it,
A sound like the sound of the sky on fire, like Armageddon,
Whistling and crackling, the explosions of sunlight booming
As the huge mass of gas rages into the emptiness around it.
It isn’t a sound you are often aware of, though the light speeds
To us in seconds, each dawn leaping easily across a chasm
Of space that swallows the sound of that sphere, but
If you listen closely some morning, when the sun swells
Over the horizon and the world is still and still asleep,
You might hear it, a faint noise so far inside your mind
That it must come from somewhere, from light rushing to darkness,
Energy burning towards entropy, towards a peaceful solution,
Burning brilliantly, spontaneously, in the middle of nowhere,
And you, too, must make a sound that is somewhat like it,
Though that, of course, you have no way of hearing at all.
 

Graduated!

June 12th, 2011

As I’m staring out of my living room window on this perfect summer day, the sunset is slowly changing the baby blue sky to warm hues of orange and red. Into the sunset, into the desert West is where we’re headed in a few short weeks.  It is the end of one hard journey for us, and the exciting beginning of another. Three years ago, when I decided to leave my career as a planetarium director, astronomy educator and science film-maker to go back to school for research, I couldn’t imagine what it would really be like to finally be here.

I gave myself a blogging break to complete the last few years of my astrophysics degree. I wanted to concentrate on the coursework, but I also needed more time for my research in Tucson at NOAO, independent research at my home University on extrasolar planets, and oh yeah, the birth of the little tyke last summer. If you’re ever bored, and for somehow experience sleep-deprived hallucinations on an astrophysics exam, have your first child in the middle of your hardest year during your physics degree!

But the school work has passed, the final exam turned in and the last 25-page lab report finally forced to render in LaTeX with the help of a sledgehammer. J has successfully completed her internal medicine residency with flying colors, working enough nights (and straight-through days) to wipe the floor with any nocturnal astronomer. My son is becoming a healthy, happy cheeto-munching toddler who is learning the effects of the acceleration due to gravity on his full diaper.

The three years here have been incredibly rewarding, and there is no way I could have done any of it without the amazing support of J. She has set the new standard of understanding and accommodation, somehow arranging her already hectic schedule and showing the patience of Job to make sure I had enough time to do all that Thermodynamics homework, study for Mechanics exams, and do those all-nighters in the Observatory.

There is no way I could’ve done this without her.

The Extrasolar Planet Observing Group at UC

Somehow, I ended up graduating summa cum laude, won the Jeane Gould scholarship for outstanding junior/senior, had a great summer internship at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, won UC Undergrad Research and Ohio Space Grant fellowships, renovated an observatory, presented a poster at the American Astronomical Society meeting, was the University’s Researcher of the Month last November, and just recently, was very humbled to learn that my Department nominated me for the American Physical Society’s Apker Award for independent research. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support and encouragement of my great professors and advisors at the University of Cincinnati’s Physics Department.

In a few weeks J, Kyu and I are headed out west to settle in Tucson, Arizona, one of the world’s headquarters for astronomy research and a place filled with all-around awesome people. J is taking a great position with the Veterans Administration Medical Center, and I’ll be taking a year off to get everything settled down before applying to graduate programs at the University of Arizona.

But one of my favorite things about getting here is dusting off the writing cobwebs. I can’t wait to not only do a lot more blogging and keep in touch with everyone who reads this site, but also to get back to writing about all of the the amazing astronomical discoveries going on right now. And there is a LOT going on in our understanding of the Universe.  More to come soon!

Distant Thunderstorm as seen from Kitt Peak, AZ in 2009

Soon!

April 5th, 2011

Will… soon… emerge..from… blogging… cocoon! Astrophysics schoolwork… will escape…soon!

Jupiter’s Clouds in Motion

November 13th, 2010

Via Emily’s blog, here is a fantastic effort by Björn Jónsson and Ian Regan, who went back to old Voyager 1 Jupiter flyby images, reprojected then so that the Great Red Spot was in one place, and let us get a good look at the incredible weather patterns swirling and whirling of this Giant.  At least what they were doing in 1979.  Cue the disco music!

A Split Second Adventure

February 14th, 2010

The Enterprise as imagined by Ralph McQuarrie

When I was a wee lad still earning my space cadet merit badges, my hands-down favorite books were the then-rare Art of Star Wars series (one book for each of the three original movies).  The glossy books featured a ton of fantastic conceptual drawings, sketches and paintings by Ralph McQuarrie that shaped the look and feel of the Star Wars movies during preproduction of the films.  I don’t remember who gifted me such gems, but if I could ever find out, I would certainly take them out for a dinner and Avatar.  Over the years, I had worn the the spine of those books to the point where turning the pages made a cracking sound, before they all  just fell apart at the seams, scattering all the photographs at my feet.  It led to me ferret out other visual visionaries such as Don Davis, Roger Dean, and Wayne Barlowe, and probably had more than a little influence on propelling me into my career as an astronomy visualizer.  These artists have a knack for sparking that fire of exploration within us, and at least in my case, my imagination couldn’t help but turn it into a lifelong blaze.

Before one set was built, before one frame of film was exposed, Ralph McQuarrie took basic concepts from George Lucas and visualized the exotic aliens, gigantic planet-kiling space stations and floating cities that we all came to love.  But even more fascinating is the stuff that didn’t make it into the movies, from needly spacefighters to unfilmable aliens to entire lightsaber battles never seen on film.  In the best example that a picture is worth a thousand words, McQuarrie’s art worked in reverse for me – it expanded Star Wars from a 2 hour movie with a set cast of characters and locations, to a strange, vibrant Universe where the characters we know and love where given a colorful depth.  But McQuarrie’s reach extends far beyond Star Wars; in fact, he’s probably more responsible for the image you have in your head of aliens than any other single person.  You can thank the now 80 year old McQuarrie for the design of the original  Battlestar Galactica TV series, aspects of Cocoon (which is why Wilford Brimley cannot be killed with conventional weapons – Thanks, Ralph) and the spaceships in Spielberg’s E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and many more that didn’t get to make it to the big screen.

TrekWeb has a great piece up about the story of first Star Trek movie that was to be made in the 1976, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, slated to be directed by Philip Kaufman, who would later go on to direct Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Right Stuff.  The article goes on to explain the various reasons why the project got killed off – one reason might have the wacky plot, which dealt with Kirk and the Enterprise traveling thousands of years back in time, to introduce fire to primitive humans.  Well, now that I think about it, it’s not as crazy as some of the other plots, such as someone stealing Spock’s brain and installing a remote control to help him get it back.  As you can see from just the conceptual drawings, the Star Trek we have in our heads today would look quite different if Kaufman had realized McQuarrie’s vision of the Enterprise.

If you’d like to explore more, check out McQuarrie’s official website.  The Force is strong with this one.

By complete coincidence, I was browsing through the library yesterday when I came upon a book from another great visualizer of the future and far away places: the legendary Syd Mead.

Mead started out as a designer for the Ford Motor Company in the 50s in its “Advanced Styling Studio” where his futuristic style fit in perfectly as the space age was ramping up.  He quickly left to become a freelance visualizer for steel companies, hotels, General Motors, and other corporations who needed a visionary.  And c’mon, who doesn’t?

Syd Mead concept design for U.S. Steel

Mead’s talent quickly caught the eye of Hollywood.  He got the call to visualize Star Trek’s eventual successful debut on the big screen, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  His designs of V’ger, the super-intelligent living machine evolved from a Voyager spacecraft were translated faithfully to the big screen by Director Robert Wise.

Mead and Hollywood were a perfect match.  He went on to design the futuristic vehicles in Blade Runner, the light-cycles in Tron, the spaceship Leonov in 2010, and the spaceship Sulaco from in James Cameron’s Aliens among others.

Dive into the world of Syd Mead:

As effects wizard Richard Taylor said so well in that video, Syd Mead’s work “reminds you of something you’ve never seen before.”  Here at Chateau Flateau, we just adopted a retired racing greyhound (my fourth over the years), welcoming a new 40 mph couch potato into our lives.  Syd must have been reading our dreams many years ago.

Cosmos: A Love Story

February 12th, 2010

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

Valentine’s Day is Sunday!  Instead of trying to decide what to get your significant other, spouse, or family member, suppress your hunter-gatherer instincts for a moment and think about the love you have for that person.  Thousands of symphonies, ballads, sonnets, plays, films and Jem songs have been written about the strength of a bond between two people.  But one couple at a unique time and place found themselves with the opportunity to immortalize what they had not just with their friends and family – but with the entire Universe.

The love of one human couple only lasts for the tiniest instant of cosmic time.  Is it possible to share that strong emotion with an alien civilization light years away from earth, millions of years in the future?  For Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, who fell in love during the preparations for the Voyager mission into the solar system and beyond, the sky was no longer even close to the limit.

NPR’s Morning Edition featured a Radiolab short today that featured what is truly a love story for the ages between the famous astronomer and his then colleague Ann Druyan, as they worked on the Voyager Interstellar Record record (which I’ve written about before).  By the way, if you’re not subscribing to the Radiolab podcast, you’re just wasting your tympanic membranes.

You can listen to the story by hitting the play button below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler and Robert Crowlwich set up the “first date” where Sagan and Druyan were working closely on the record together:

Toward the end of the summer of ’77, NASA launched two spacecraft as part of the Voyager Interstellar Mission. On board each craft was a golden record that included, among other things, the sound of a kiss, a mother’s first words to her newborn child, music from all over the world, and greetings in 59 different languages. The spacecraft were designed to take close-up pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, then continue into the great expanse of space beyond our solar system. The records on board were meant to survive for a billion years, in the hope that some day, against enormous odds, they might cross paths with an alien civilization.

The Voyager Interstellar Record

Listen and watch a sample of the record’s content:

But their blossoming earthbound romance was just too powerful to remain on Earth:

For Druyan, though, the summer of 1977 and the Voyager project carry a deeply personal meaning, too. It was during the Voyager project that she and Sagan fell in love.

After searching endlessly for a piece of Chinese music to put on the record, Druyan had finally found a 2,500-year-old song called “Flowing Stream.” In her excitement, she called Sagan and left a message at his hotel. At that point, Druyan and Sagan had been professional acquaintances and friends, but nothing more. But an hour later, when Sagan called back, something happened. By the end of that call, Druyan and Sagan were engaged to be married.

“We both hung up the phone, and I just screamed out loud,” says Druyan, “It was this great eureka moment. It was like a scientific discovery.” The first of the Voyager project’s two spacecraft launched on Aug. 20, 1977. Druyan and Sagan announced their engagement two days later. They married in 1981, and were together until Sagan’s death in December 1996.

But the evidence of their love has taken on a life of its own. Not long after that serendipitous phone call, Druyan had an idea for the record: They could measure the electrical impulses of a human brain and nervous system, turn it into sound, and put it on the record. Then maybe, 1,000 million years from now, some alien civilization might be able to turn that data back into thoughts. So, just a few days after she and Sagan declared their love for each other, Druyan went to Bellevue Hospital in New York City and meditated while the sounds of her brain and body were recorded. According to Druyan, part of what she was thinking during that meditation was about “the wonder of love, of being in love.”

Right now, those biometric signals of love are frozen in the deep cold of space, hurdling toward the multitudes of suns in our galaxy that possibly teem with civilizations. Perhaps someday an alien civilization will stumble upon Voyager, and try to decode the signals on the record in order to understand who sent it.  If they’re successful, Ann Druyan’s recorded love would be the most important relic of a then long extinct species.

But as long as we were sending important things from the 70s into the cosmos, there’s still time to launch this:

Moon and Water

February 10th, 2010

Silhouette at Kimmeridge, Dorset, UK. by Claire Dutton

Moon and Water
by Mary Oliver

I wake and spend
the last hours
of darkness
with no one

but the moon
She listens
to my complaints
like the good

companion she is
and comforts me surely
with her light.
But she, like everyone,

has her own life.
So finally I understand
that she has turned away,
is no longer listening.

She wants me
to refold myself
into my own life.
And, bending close,

as we all dream doing,
she rows with her white arms
through the dark water
which she adores

from Evidence, 2009

Hasta La Vista, Star Party

January 25th, 2010

Forgot to post this last week, so in case you missed the headlines a meteorite smashed through the family practice office of Dr. Frank Ciampi’s in Lorton, Virginia.  The palm-sized visitor was taken to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History (hey, I was just there a few weeks ago!), where Carri Corrigan confirmed that the intruder was indeed the real deal.  Check out the video:

I knew the state of health care was bad, but when the rest of the Universe has to resort to this to get seen by a doctor? Sheesh. Can a meteorite get an MRI already? No wait!!

This is only the beginning. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, microbes and microstates, let me be the first to tell you that pretty soon, all meteorites will be coming to Earth for healthcare. They’ll be invading our hospitals, our schools, taking good paying jobs.. heck, they already have a foothold in our museums. Don’t believe me? Apparently the SyFy channel has an upcoming documentary on how it will all go down. As you can see, not even the star parties will be safe!


(it’s Hulu, sorry out-of-staters). But to find out what happens next, tune into the SyFy channel this Saturday at 9/8c!

The Planet Killers

January 24th, 2010

Barnard's Star Planet by Don Dixon

Ask an astronomer why he or she has devoted their lives to the study of the cosmos, and you’re likely to hear about a lifelong romance with the sky, a connection with the deep vastness of space, and a drive and a desire to explore what’s out there.  Astronomers are in the discovery business, and they want to add to the richness of the Universe.

Dr. Mike Brown, Pluto Killer

But many times the act of revealing something new can actually have unintended, destructive consequences, as the changing science literally reshapes the world around us. One first hand insight can be read as Caltech astronomer and Kuiper belt explorer Mike Brown reflected on his 2005 discovery of Eris, the larger-than-Pluto object which led to the eventual demotion everyone’s favorite spheroid.  This “destroyed” the old solar system, leaving our neighborhood with a mere 8 “real” official planets in the eyes of astronomers.  This caused a gigantic public backlash, with everyone from schoolchildren to grandmas writing astronomers and planetarium directors nasty letters that ended with lots of exclamation points. Mike Brown seemingly accepted his public role as a sort of astronomical bad guy when he picked his Twitter name @plutokiller.  In fact, a quick check on my Twitter account just now revelas Dr. Brown jokingly tweeting:

“I just persuaded a group doing a solar system scale model to not include Pluto as the 9th planet. My work is never done.”

So, perhaps to make an astronomical omelet, you have to break a few Kuiper eggs?  Pluto’s predicament may just be a semantic battle between astronomers over what a planet is, but astronomers sometimes find themselves with the strange task of actually trying to”un-discover” something, proving that something we thought was real is only a numerical illusion.

Much of what we know about the Universe comes from teasing an incredible amount of information out of the faint light we see from  a galaxy, a star, planet, or even specks of dust.  Like any scientific data, these fingerprints of light can be interpreted in different ways, and subject to many different factors affecting them, so eliminating alternative explanations for something before announcing a major discovery becomes especially important.

When the first planet found around another star was announced, our imaginations solidified our new sister solar system for us by visualizing this new world whirling around its star.  We made this planet as real as anything else in the Universe (I mean, have you ever been to Pluto?).  But what would be our reaction if this planet suddenly blinked out of existence, and yanked from our reality?  Can astronomers recall an entire world?  As it turns out that’s exactly what happened, and it was decades before the extrasolar planets around 51 Pegasai or PSR-1257+12.  The astronomer who gave us the first extrasolar worlds was Peter van de Kamp, and the man who took them away was the University of Pittsburgh’s George Gatewood.

Peter van de Kamp

Peter van de Kamp was born in the Netherlands in 1901, and by many accounts, was an endearing child who liked to play tricks on other children and adults.  He received his doctorate in physics at the University of Utrecht in 1922, and then traveled to Berkeley.  It was there he made his mark on astronomy with his award-winning work with statistical astronomy and later astrometry, the study of the precise positions of stars.  Van de Kamp focused on precisely measuring the visible wobble of binary star systems.  By taking successive snapshots of the stars over a period of years, he could meticulously trace out the orbits of the two stars around each other, working out their masses and orbital separation.  This works even if one of the objects is too dim to see – the wobble from one star gives away the mass the position of the other star.  Van de Kamp then surmised that if he looked at a star that was close enough to the earth, the wobble of even a low mass object around that star would show up on his photographic plates.  A low mass object… like a planet.

It didn’t’ take long for Van de Kamp to find his best candidate: Barnard’s Star.  It’s the fourth closest star to us at only 6 light-years from earth, and it’s a red dwarf, which meant its mass was a seventh that of the sun, making any planet’s pull that much more obvious.  If there were planets invisibly orbiting Barnard’s Star, he was convinced he could see it happening in slow motion over the course of many years.

24 inch (61 cm) refractor at Sproul Observatory

So beginning in 1938, Van de Kamp began taking pictures of Barnard’s Star with the 24 inch refracting telescope at Sproul Observatory at Swarthmore College, where he had been named Director the year before.  Almost every night the observatory was open and the skies were clear, the light from Barnard’s Star’s small dot and the other stars that happend to be in the camera’s field were chemically imprinted on the emulsion of large photographic plates.  Van de Kamp and his assistants developed the plates, and Barnard’s Star’s position was painstakingly measured with respect to the stars around it.  But the motions of the rotation of the earth as it orbited the sun had to be accounted for, and removed from the calculations.  And what was left over would be the wobble due to any unseen companion.  But this leftover motion was extremely small – at the limit of detection of Van de Kamp’s Philadelphia-area based telescope; this was at the cutting edge of astrometry.

Six years of almost daily images and measurements piled up, and in 1944, Van de Kamp surprised the world by announcing that Barnard’s Star indeed had a substellar companion a whopping 60 times the mass of Jupiter.  Van de Kemp kept observing the star after the announcement at a pace of about 100 images a year.  By the time of the 1963 meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Tucson, Arizona, Van der Kamp was armed with more than 2400 images, and new wobble calculations based on them. Van De Kamp’s object went from 60 Jupiter masses to just 1.6 Jupiter masses, orbiting Barnard’s Star in 24 years.  A true planet!

Van de Kamp's 1969 planet's wobble (note the big jump at ~1950) From Richard Nugent's website.

But astronomers at the meeting were skeptical.  According to Van De Kamp’s observations, the planet had a very elliptical orbit, something very different than the nearly circular orbits of the planets in our own solar system.  As the years and observations and measurements piled up, the planet’s orbit became even more elliptical, worrying even Van de Kamp.  In 1969, Van de Kamp announced that he has solved the problem of the highly elliptical orbit – by removing the planet entirely, and replacing it with two planets, approximately a Jupiter mass each, orbiting Barnard’s Star once very 12 and 26 years.  These two planets interacting with the star together would reproduce the wobble Van De Kamp had observed.  We suddenly now had two extrasolar planets joining the 9 of our own solar system, and man was only just landing on the moon.

But the case for Van de Kamp’s planets soon started to show serious cracks.  John Hershey, a colleague at Sproul Observatory, started looking for wobbles in another low-mass candidate, Gliese 793, whose images were obtained for the past few decades alongside Barnard’s Star.  Amazingly enough, he found the exact same wobble that Van De Kamp found in Barnard’s Star.  Surely, Gliese didn’t have the exact same planetary system pas Barnard’s Star!  The only reasonable explanation was some previously unseen effect of the telescope.  Key events in the wobble both stars detected correlated with two key dates: 1949 and 1957, and sure enough, both were dates when the telescope was undergoing maintenance, and the main lenses in the telescope had been removed and replaced, respectively.  The image of Van de Kamp’s planets dimmed.

Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory by Jim Fotia

In the early 70s, George Gatewood was a was a young researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory located among the steep hills near downtown Pittsburgh.  Gatewood was interested in characterizing the unique instrumental errors in the various telescopes in the world who carried out astrometric observations, so that photographs between telescopes could be shared between studies.  So he and his advisor from The University of South Florida, Heinrich Eichhorn, happened to have more than 200 photograph of Barnard’s Star from Allegheny Observatory from 1916 to 1971.  In addition, the Observatory’s Director Nicholas Wagman had confided in Gatewood that his own data suggested that the Barnard’s Star planets were instrumental phantoms.  But Wagman refused to publish his data, and suggested Gatewood collect new observations.

Dr. George Gatewood

Gatewood initially had no interest in disproving the existence of Van de Kamp’s planets.  In fact, Gatewood actually met the renown astronomer at a conference in 1966, and expressed his admiration for Van de Kamp’s work.  But after two strong requests from Wagman, the graduate student and his advisor took up the task of independently verifying the nearby world.  They had less images than Van de Kamp, but they had a better technique for reducing the star’s natural motion through the sky, and used eleven reference stars to pinpoint Barnard’s Star’s exact location on the photograph, compared to Van de Kamp’s three.  The project became Gatewood’s 1972 PhD. dissertation, and the title says it all: “An Unsuccessful Search for a Planetary Companion around Barnard’s Star BD +4°3561″ The only two planets outside our solar system suddenly vanished for everyone.

Gatewood and Eichhorn's motion of Barnard's star is plotted as points, with the size of the points weighted. The dashed line represents van de Kamps' claimed orbit, while the straight line is the motion of a star with no planet. Thanks to Richard Nugent's great website.

That is, for all except Van de Kamp. He defiantly continued to believe in his planets even in the face of the slam-dunk evidence against them.  That year, Peter van de Kamp retired from Swarthmore, and returned to the Netherlands.  He later claimed to have found more planets, this time  around the nearby sun-like star Epsilon Eridani, but that claim was likewise disproven over time as well (but other planets were “refound” just a few years ago by radial velocity!  I haven’t read yet if there is any correlation between these radial velocities and vdK’s residuals.  Probably a coincidence?).  There are indications that Van de Kamp felt persecuted by the astronomical community.  The determined astronomer held on to his worlds all the way until his death in 1995 at the age of 93.

George Gatewood met with Van de Kamp again shortly before his death, where the elder astronomer continued to insist that his planets were indeed real.  He then suggested that Gatewood should stop looking for errors in other peoples data, and take the risk of making some observations of his own.

Peter van de Kamp

Gatewood must have taken the advice to heart.  Just a year after Van de Kamp’s death, Gatewood announced that one of the stars he had previously cleared of planets in 1972, Lalande 21185, which he then restudied in 1992 with the aid of lasers (no planets again), but now upon a third look, had the signature of two planets.  Gatewood knew all to well what kind of scrutiny such an announcement would be subjected to,  so was extra careful in eliminating all other possible measurement and instrument errors in his calculations.  Gatewood might never have publicly made his planetary birth announcement if it were not for the excitement that was flowing through the astronomical community at the time.  The first extrasolar planets had been confirmed around the sun-like star 51 Pegasai by using a method of detecting wobbles using the spectrum of the star, making it much more sensitive to massive planets that go around their sun very quickly.  It seems that the golden age of new world discovery was really here.

So Gatewood unleashed his planets out onto a world much friendlier to exoplanets. One of the first tests for Gatewood’s progeny came when Dr. Geoff Marcy and his team used their proven planet-finding radial velocity technique to observe Lanane 21185. Not only did Marcy not find any planets, he held up the spectra of Gatewood’s star as a perfect example of a normal M-dwarf star with no wobbling! The new science essentially eliminating the possibility of Gatewood’s planets.

Although Gatewood’s Planets joined Van De Kamp’s planets in being incinerated by the scientific crucible, the radial velocity method finally satisfied our desire to truly know that the planets were out there. Peter Van De Kamp predicted that the Universe was teeming with other worlds, something that the radial velocity planet hunters proved decades later.

The extrasolar planet count is currently at 424, and set to go into the thousands over the next 10 years. The few original worlds given to us seem now like long exorcised astronomical ghosts. But for so long, they were all we had, birthed after long, laborious, manual work over decades.  At least for some who lived through that era, and the champions who held on to them with such passion, Barnard’s Star’s planets are even more real than the dozens discovered since.

Well this was an unexpected surprise

January 24th, 2010

I’ve been a huge fan of Ebert’s for many years. He’s had the incredible strength to survive thyroid cancer, and as a result, has lost the ability to eat, drink, and speak. He employs a computer now to do the speaking for him, but none of that seems to have slowed him down. The reviews keep on coming, and his blog is now incredibly popular. I think this is the start of the heartwarming third act of his screenplay. I hope he gives it a thumbs up.


Get Adobe Flash player