Sunday, June 24, 2012

Birdman & Itsy Bitsy

Last week's Free Fridays special from Barnes & Noble was Mo Hayder's Birdman. Despite what my Goodreads account says, I haven't gotten around to reading The Map of Time by Felix Palma or Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Considering how my copy of Bag of Bones is over 750 pages long, I might not finish it...

Getting back to Birdman... This is a decidedly British book, and more than a couple of times, I wished I had even a rudimentary map of London and its surrounding environments.

The book itself was good, but incredibly... strange. I guess that would be a polite way of saying it. The book had some parts in it where I was screaming at my Nook to show me what the characters were looking at. I was surprised when the author showed who the killer was pretty quickly, and I was even more (pleasantly) surprised by the twists in the story. The author interwove seemingly random details about the characters that turned out to be important in the end, and, as fitting a series, some things about the main character, Detective Inspector Jack Caffery, were left unanswered.

All in all, the book had both good and bad sides.


If you really must get technical, I finished Itsy Bitsy before starting on Birdman. This short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist of Let the Right One In fame was decidedly weird, and I was left wondering what exactly I had read. I'm not completely sure if the main character was completely sane through the 30-some pages, and I felt like he was a little flat for my tastes. Then again, short stories don't have time for grandiose character development, so I won't begrudge Mr. Lindqvist.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another Check off the Bucket List

I got to see the transit of Venus on Tuesday. So happy that I kept the eclipse glasses from the solar eclipse. I didn't get any good pictures this time (since my camera's only got 4x zoom), but I did see it with my "naked" eye. The picture on the left is essentially what I saw.

Considering that a child born for the next 5-25 years (assuming they live to 80) won't see another transit, I'm excited. It's a good time to be alive.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Awesome Stuff on Mars

Last fall, I took a course called Fundamentals of Planetary Geology, taught by Dr. Ronald Greeley, whose death was actually the topic of one of my first posts. The majority of the grade came from a semester-long project focusing on some aspect of geology. I chose to do a review of the literature on potentially alluvial deltas in some craters on Mars. Not particularly exciting stuff, I'll admit.

Another student, Andrew Ryan, chose to study lava flows on Mars. He found strange spiral patterns in the flows. No one had ever seen these types of flows, called lava coils, before on another planet. They have been seen in Hawaii and near the Galapagos rift in the Pacific Ocean.

Ryan made his presentation, and some of the faculty helping to grade the presentations, since this was after Dr. Greeley's death, told him that he should polish up the report and send it into Science to try and get it published.

The SESE Source, a newsletter for the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, announced that Ryan did indeed get published in Science on 27 April 2012. Here's a link to the article's abstract:
Coils and Polygonal Crust in the Athabasca Valles Region, Mars, as Evidence for a Volcanic History

That lucky bastard.