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Scott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell has been at 5 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Pamela L. Gay87,861Join us to talk with Moon pioneers @100178094478432687792 and @101857647439433066235  and find out how they're engaging students -- and heading to the Moon! Overview A global team of scientists and engineers are all working toward constructing missions to land on, travel across, and send video back from the Moon. With this new Google Hangout on Air series, we will introduce you to the men and women behind each of these planned missions and bring you all the latest developments from the +Google Lunar XPRIZE .Google Lunar XPRIZE Team Hangout 005: Rockets and Students ENGAGE!2014-05-28 03:00:4824  
STEM Women on G+172,613Join us for a STEM Women HOA as we speak to Dr.  @103389452828130864950 on how men can help with the issues of gender inequality in STEM fields. Yonatan is the Chief Architect of Google+ and also has a PhD in Physics with a strong engineering background. He is a passionate advocate of gender equality in STEM, and will talk to us about what we can do to encourage women in STEM. This HOA will be hosted by Dr @108510686109338749229   and Dr @110756968351492254645  , and you can tune in on Sunday March 2nd at 12.30 PM Pacific/ 8.30PM GMT. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel(http://www.youtube.com/stemwomen) after the event. Follow us on Twitter @stemwomen and on www.stemwomen.netSTEM Women: How Men Can Help with Dr Yonatan Zunger2014-03-02 21:30:0097  
CosmoQuest42,916YouTube link Part 8 http://youtu.be/Qe9WqjEwAFU *TL;DR. +Pamela Gay & +Nicole Gugliucci will bring you a whole slew of guests, science, and fun during this 24-hour long fundraiser for CosmoQuest! http://cosmoquest.org/blog/donate/?title=donate Event links for... Part 1: https://plus.google.com/events/c8hipsag07ngda5h3r06bqbprv8 Part 2: https://plus.google.com/events/cglasd846s15n0n7sqdvs9nol3o Part 3: https://plus.google.com/events/c7ntqnrh01rejv3smtq9dmmub4o Part 4: https://plus.google.com/events/cagts10npsub757psnh1e4mbj0g Part 5: https://plus.google.com/events/cchro36b2mlth0nv27ftgm1elqo Part 6: https://plus.google.com/events/c3lu15j2t9p2o3tc0hv11ubjuu0 Faced with governmental funding cuts to science education and research, the CosmoQuest Virtual Research Facility (CosmoQuest.org) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has decided to go old school with a twist: On June 15-16, +Pamela Gay & +Nicole Gugliucci  are hosting a telethon using Google Hangout on Air – A Hangout-a-thon – to raise money to support public engagement in science.   The Hangout-a-thon will start on June 15 at noon Eastern (GMT – 5).  Over the weekend, they will host numerous guests, ranging from scientists who will do science demos, creatives who can unite science and art/music, and researchers who will discuss citizen science and address science education from the perspective of research and metrics. Each segment will be released after the event as a stand-alone YouTube video on the AstrosphereVids channel, thus creating a library of content while raising money for future programs.  Planning for this Hangout-a-thon was triggered by the cuts created by sequestration, and by the current White House plans to transition education out of NASA. If the President's current budget is passed, all the funding programs CosmoQuest relies on for will be zeroed (see http://bit.ly/11m5XYg) and the project will be defunded. Rather than accept that fate, CosmoQuest is working to raise the funds needed to keep their programs going, to build new citizen science programs for researchers that don't otherwise have the means to accomplish their projects, and to contract, as they are able, extraordinary people laid off by these cuts at other institutions to keep doing great things through CosmoQuest. (Links to essays on these cuts are listed below).   CosmoQuest wants to make sure astronomy education survives and remains strong. While one team, and one telethon can't fix everything, they hope this event can raise awareness, while protected one small corner of astronomy research and education. #hangoutathon  The CosmoQuest 24 Hour Hangout-A-Thon - Main Event Page2013-06-15 18:00:00317  
California Science Center322,007*UPDATE*: Our Exclusive CNN and Google+/YouTube Live stream has ended, however Endeavour will continue moving through Sunday to our Pavilion at @115807408325651692080.  HUGE, HUGE thanks to our friends at CNN and  @101560853443212199687 and @115229808208707341778 for making it happen!  Share your photo of Endeavour as it travels through 12 miles of Los Angeles. You can see everyone's LIVE photos here even if you can't make it in person. *To join in and participate in our official Party Mode Event* (http://youtu.be/W9hCcfbXmRI) you need to first RSVP 'Yes' for this Event and don't forget to add the California Science Center into your Circles if you haven't already. Make sure you also download the Google+ App for your iPhone or Android. Using the G+ App, you can post your pictures of the Endeavour Transportation in real time while it is driven through LA! If you have an Android here's what to do - http://youtu.be/uwMdqxJznMs . If you have an iPhone open the app, tap 'Events', and choose the Endeavour event that you RSVP'd to. Then simply just tap the camera icon at the bottom of the Event. It will be amazing to see everyone's perspective of the shuttle on LA streets, so we're excited to see your photos! We'll even be resharing some of our favorites! Even if you're not local, you can still see all the Live Party Mode pictures streaming on this Event Page during the Event in real time as they're being shared! *Schedule* (LAPD Press Release - http://lapdonline.org/newsroom/news_view/52101) _OFFICIAL VIEWING SITE_: Forum in Inglewood 8a-10a. Free parking at nearby Hollywood Park Race Track starting 4am. NO overnight camping allowed, but arrive early _OFFICIAL VIEWING SITE_: Crenshaw & MLK Blvd 1p-2p for brief show produced by @msdebbieallen(Twitter Handle). Arrive early, space limited. _BEST OFFICIAL VIEWING SITE_: Exposition Park after 6:30p. Viewing site walk-in entrance: Vermont & 39th. Gates open 5:30p. Ride Expo Line! _*Click the "website" link below and you can see the planned travel route for Endeavour on the ground!*_ @115229808208707341778 clip courtesy of @103089560873692764799, we look forward to their 3D documentary!  @107217929772272758573 did a great look into it http://www.nbclosangeles.com/on-air/as-seen-on/173619561.htmlSpot the Shuttle! Share your photos of Endeavour in LA!2012-10-12 07:00:00833  
Fraser Cain966,250To celebrate the landing of NASA's Curiosity Rover - the Mars Science Laboratory - we'll be running a special live hangout.  In conjunction with @106911959181067745693. We'll have all your favorite space/astronomy journalists on hand to discuss the mission in depth, and celebrate the landing live, when it happens. Join Fraser Cain, @109036978092446954908, @108952536790629690817 and @102887292457967781591 for this special event. Over the course of this 4-hour Google+ Hangout on Air, we'll interview members of the Curiosity team live in the hangout, as well as other special guests from the @111419948721791453320 and the @108759765804984663877. @109479143173251353583 and @107051665537162034944 will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to interview members of the engineering team, and show you what it's like to be at NASA during this amazing moment. We'll update this event as we lock down more of the guests and participants. See you there! You can follow the hashtag #marshangout   (this will replace our regular Sunday night @100902337165997768522)Google+ Hangout - Curiosity Landing Coverage2012-08-06 05:00:004861  

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Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 26

posted image

2015-07-28 02:24:29 (26 comments, 6 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

How to Protect Yourself from "Stagefright"

Well, this is just horrifying. The Hangouts app is most vulnerable to this bug; you don't have to do anything but receive an MMS message to be exploited. The Messaging app is almost as bad: you have to view the message, but you'll be exploited even if you don't tap the attachment. Since you must generally view the message to determine whether it has an attachment, that level of resistance has limited value.

Google has already made security patches available to vendors and carriers, but the phone ecosystem being what it is, they won't arrive on your phone for a long time if ever. (I'm not sure why this can't be worked around with an update to the Hangouts and Messaging apps themselves, but I'm sure if it were that easy, they'd have done it already.) Meanwhile, protecting yourself from the bug --... more »

Most reshares: 15

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2015-08-21 20:16:32 (5 comments, 15 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Want to undetectably open the lock on essentially any piece of luggage manufactured in the last decade? Now that the TSA's master keys have leaked, you can! Application of this lesson to the current debate over giving the government master encryption keys to everything we own will be left as a trivial exercise for the reader.

Most plusones: 51

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2015-05-31 06:51:21 (2 comments, 9 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

Latest 50 posts

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2015-08-31 21:47:14 (13 comments, 9 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

So, let's see. Edward Snowden deserves lifetime imprisonment, but the IT dunces at the Office of Personnel Management who enabled this catastrophic hack ... they're never even mentioned, as far as I can tell. The worst that'll happen to them is that they'll get a bad performance review, or maybe fired -- if even that. But they're certainly not facing prison time, or not that I've heard.

Is the ostensible rationale that we don't care if people are criminally negligent, just as long as they don't try to inform the American people that they're being unlawfully spied on? That jaw-dropping criminal negligence is fine, it's the exposure of criminal wrongdoing by higher-ups that deserves harsh retribution?

Because I guaran-damn-tee you that responsibly releasing selected documents to responsible journalists has done far less harm -- if indeed it's... more »

So, let's see. Edward Snowden deserves lifetime imprisonment, but the IT dunces at the Office of Personnel Management who enabled this catastrophic hack ... they're never even mentioned, as far as I can tell. The worst that'll happen to them is that they'll get a bad performance review, or maybe fired -- if even that. But they're certainly not facing prison time, or not that I've heard.

Is the ostensible rationale that we don't care if people are criminally negligent, just as long as they don't try to inform the American people that they're being unlawfully spied on? That jaw-dropping criminal negligence is fine, it's the exposure of criminal wrongdoing by higher-ups that deserves harsh retribution?

Because I guaran-damn-tee you that responsibly releasing selected documents to responsible journalists has done far less harm -- if indeed it's done any at all -- to the USA's interests than this stupid, irresponsible, it-was-just-waiting-to-happen data spill.___

posted image

2015-08-27 20:23:59 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Neat! The Raspberry Pi powers a prototype rover for extracting Mars water from the soil.

(Sorry, but Raspberry Pi + Mars = irresistible. I'm sure you understand. :-D)

Engineers at a Singapore university and an Australian space company have used Raspberry Pis to prototype a robot that could extract water from Martian soil.___Neat! The Raspberry Pi powers a prototype rover for extracting Mars water from the soil.

(Sorry, but Raspberry Pi + Mars = irresistible. I'm sure you understand. :-D)

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2015-08-26 21:48:04 (5 comments, 4 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

You think your 3D print jobs are cool? NASA's printing a rocket, one piece at a time.

You think your 3D print jobs are cool? NASA's printing a rocket, one piece at a time.___

posted image

2015-08-23 17:52:17 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Because sometimes you need a purr fix.

Via +Adafruit Industries​.

Because sometimes you need a purr fix.

Via +Adafruit Industries​.___

posted image

2015-08-23 01:16:07 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

Fifty years of Mars exploration in four minutes.

Via +Tobias Thierer​.

Fifty years of Mars exploration in four minutes.

Via +Tobias Thierer​.___

posted image

2015-08-22 09:11:00 (0 comments, 2 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

Someday, when there are tourists on Mars, they'll send home pretty much exactly these pictures. Cool art project!

Via +Adafruit Industries​.

Someday, when there are tourists on Mars, they'll send home pretty much exactly these pictures. Cool art project!

Via +Adafruit Industries​.___

posted image

2015-08-21 20:16:32 (5 comments, 15 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Want to undetectably open the lock on essentially any piece of luggage manufactured in the last decade? Now that the TSA's master keys have leaked, you can! Application of this lesson to the current debate over giving the government master encryption keys to everything we own will be left as a trivial exercise for the reader.

Want to undetectably open the lock on essentially any piece of luggage manufactured in the last decade? Now that the TSA's master keys have leaked, you can! Application of this lesson to the current debate over giving the government master encryption keys to everything we own will be left as a trivial exercise for the reader.___

posted image

2015-08-20 18:01:58 (5 comments, 4 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

Sounds like my personal favorite candidate for the 2020 Mars rover's landing site, Jezero Crater, is the front runner. I love it when the science team agrees with me. I feel so smart. :-)

Sounds like my personal favorite candidate for the 2020 Mars rover's landing site, Jezero Crater, is the front runner. I love it when the science team agrees with me. I feel so smart. :-)___

posted image

2015-08-20 17:55:59 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Every time Curiosity takes a new selfie, it spawns tons of "how did they do that"s -- ranging from simple inquiries through conspiracy theories. ("The rover couldn't have taken that picture of itself -- there's no arm in the picture! So clearly it was taken by {Martians | JPL engineers who were smart enough to fake a Mars mission but dumb enough not to consider that they were giving the game away | Area 51's official photographer | whatever}!")

So, in her characteristically awesome way, +Emily Lakdawalla of +The Planetary Society has written a thorough yet entertaining explainer that you must read immediately.

Every time Curiosity takes a new selfie, it spawns tons of "how did they do that"s -- ranging from simple inquiries through conspiracy theories. ("The rover couldn't have taken that picture of itself -- there's no arm in the picture! So clearly it was taken by {Martians | JPL engineers who were smart enough to fake a Mars mission but dumb enough not to consider that they were giving the game away | Area 51's official photographer | whatever}!")

So, in her characteristically awesome way, +Emily Lakdawalla of +The Planetary Society has written a thorough yet entertaining explainer that you must read immediately.___

posted image

2015-08-18 03:03:00 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

Here's a considerably more detailed review of the "MIT guys who know what they're talking about vs. Mars One" +Gizmodo story I posted the other day. It made me cringe and cheer at the same time, which is quite a feat.

The author doesn't pretend to be unbiased. But even reading between the lines, I see no way to spin this encounter as anything but an utter rout for Mars One.

That doesn't make me happy -- not nearly as happy as I'd be if Mars One had actually stepped up and delivered solid engineering, anyway, sending the MIT dudes home with tails tucked firmly between legs. But these guys are clowns, charlatans who might or might not even realize that they're charlatans. And, as much as I hate to say it so bluntly, they deserved this public pounding.

Via +Nagin Cox.

Here's a considerably more detailed review of the "MIT guys who know what they're talking about vs. Mars One" +Gizmodo story I posted the other day. It made me cringe and cheer at the same time, which is quite a feat.

The author doesn't pretend to be unbiased. But even reading between the lines, I see no way to spin this encounter as anything but an utter rout for Mars One.

That doesn't make me happy -- not nearly as happy as I'd be if Mars One had actually stepped up and delivered solid engineering, anyway, sending the MIT dudes home with tails tucked firmly between legs. But these guys are clowns, charlatans who might or might not even realize that they're charlatans. And, as much as I hate to say it so bluntly, they deserved this public pounding.

Via +Nagin Cox.___

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2015-08-17 17:28:35 (3 comments, 9 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

Think of those first crude black-and-white pictures of Mars, from Mariner 4 in 1965. Then look at this 96-megapixel full-color image of part of Valles Marineris. How far we've come in 50 years!

(If you've never seen them, those first images of Mars are here: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/mission_page/MR_Mariner_4_page1.html.)

Think of those first crude black-and-white pictures of Mars, from Mariner 4 in 1965. Then look at this 96-megapixel full-color image of part of Valles Marineris. How far we've come in 50 years!

(If you've never seen them, those first images of Mars are here: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/mission_page/MR_Mariner_4_page1.html.)___

posted image

2015-08-16 21:49:56 (14 comments, 1 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

A friend died of depression Friday. The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255, or use the link below. (Similar numbers/sites for other countries are welcome; please post 'em in the comments.)

The thing that makes depression so insidious is that the very thing you use to know the world in the first place, your brain, starts lying to you about the state of the world. (I guess that most mental illness, such as schizophrenia, has the same problem.) When it's lying to you like that, it's just as hard to tell your brain "You're wrong, I am so worth something and people like me" as it would be to tell it "You're wrong, I'm not sitting on my couch and reading Google+ on my tablet right now." It seems like denying the most obvious facts.

When you consider too that depression robs the sufferer of the motivation to question those... more »

A friend died of depression Friday. The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255, or use the link below. (Similar numbers/sites for other countries are welcome; please post 'em in the comments.)

The thing that makes depression so insidious is that the very thing you use to know the world in the first place, your brain, starts lying to you about the state of the world. (I guess that most mental illness, such as schizophrenia, has the same problem.) When it's lying to you like that, it's just as hard to tell your brain "You're wrong, I am so worth something and people like me" as it would be to tell it "You're wrong, I'm not sitting on my couch and reading Google+ on my tablet right now." It seems like denying the most obvious facts.

When you consider too that depression robs the sufferer of the motivation to question those facts, it becomes remarkable that anyone ever survives it.

If your brain is lying to you like that, call the lifeline. Because you are worth something, and people like you. No matter what your brain is saying right now.

(An addendum. This particular friend was an MSL ops person, one of the original Science Planners. I'm proud of the MSL team for recovering from the shock and successfully completing their Friday uplink, as I was when MER did the same years ago in the same situation. If that seems callous to you, trust me, it's anything but: rover operations is fundamentally a life-affirming activity. When something awful happens, it's the very best way you can respond.)___

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2015-08-16 00:46:07 (12 comments, 3 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

This is my favorite headline ever, and dead accurate to boot. What's really nice is to see people calling them on it this openly.

I'd love for Mars One to succeed. But they won't, and the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can start a plan that will.

This is my favorite headline ever, and dead accurate to boot. What's really nice is to see people calling them on it this openly.

I'd love for Mars One to succeed. But they won't, and the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can start a plan that will.___

posted image

2015-08-15 09:54:36 (4 comments, 3 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Wow, gorgeous. In this animation, you get a sense of how humanity has glimpsed Pluto's unfamiliar beauty -- and, I hope, a sense of what a tragedy it is that we could only whizz by it. In its way, this animation is a more poignant appeal for funding a follow-up mission than anything I could have imagined.

Now THAT'S how you fly by Pluto! Watch the most amazing simulation of the New Horizons #PlutoFlyBy here: http://ow.ly/QV2Aq___Wow, gorgeous. In this animation, you get a sense of how humanity has glimpsed Pluto's unfamiliar beauty -- and, I hope, a sense of what a tragedy it is that we could only whizz by it. In its way, this animation is a more poignant appeal for funding a follow-up mission than anything I could have imagined.

2015-08-13 17:19:04 (6 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

The co-designer of NASA's "worm" logo reflects on its creation -- and on the agency's return to the old "meatball." Unsurprisingly, he's a fan of the former and dislikes the latter.

Personally, I happen to like both -- although they're both a bit retro at this point, and I'd also like to see a brand-new NASA logo. But I understand his point, and his story is an entertaining glimpse into a rarely-seen bit of NASA's past.

Via +Boing Boing.

(It's rather annoying that G+ wouldn't load any images from the site to include in this post, either on desktop or on mobile. I mean, you all know which logos I'm talking about, but still.)

The co-designer of NASA's "worm" logo reflects on its creation -- and on the agency's return to the old "meatball." Unsurprisingly, he's a fan of the former and dislikes the latter.

Personally, I happen to like both -- although they're both a bit retro at this point, and I'd also like to see a brand-new NASA logo. But I understand his point, and his story is an entertaining glimpse into a rarely-seen bit of NASA's past.

Via +Boing Boing.

(It's rather annoying that G+ wouldn't load any images from the site to include in this post, either on desktop or on mobile. I mean, you all know which logos I'm talking about, but still.)___

posted image

2015-08-12 17:55:58 (1 comments, 15 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Well, this is truly spectacular. Just go ahead and drop whatever you're doing, because I'm about to derail the remainder of your day. If you have a WebGL-capable browser -- and most of you should -- you can drive a simulated MSL (Curiosity) rover to your heart's content.

They've really done a great job with this: you can also manipulate the rover's arm and other body parts, learn about various instruments and components on the rover, and more.

They've also imported actual RKSML files (XML files recording all aspects of the rover's motion, generated from the downlinked telemetry) so that you can replay some actual rover activities -- a drill, a selfie, and a panorama. Sadly no replays of actual drives yet, but who cares when you can make your own?

This is part of the amazing NASA Eyes (http://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/) brought to you by +Doug Ellison et... more »

Well, this is truly spectacular. Just go ahead and drop whatever you're doing, because I'm about to derail the remainder of your day. If you have a WebGL-capable browser -- and most of you should -- you can drive a simulated MSL (Curiosity) rover to your heart's content.

They've really done a great job with this: you can also manipulate the rover's arm and other body parts, learn about various instruments and components on the rover, and more.

They've also imported actual RKSML files (XML files recording all aspects of the rover's motion, generated from the downlinked telemetry) so that you can replay some actual rover activities -- a drill, a selfie, and a panorama. Sadly no replays of actual drives yet, but who cares when you can make your own?

This is part of the amazing NASA Eyes (http://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/) brought to you by +Doug Ellison et alia.___

posted image

2015-08-10 06:15:09 (9 comments, 1 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Full-motion video of Mars rotating, as seen from orbit by the European Space Agency's Mars Express. If you were a spacecraft orbiting Mars, this is what Mars would look like to you.

Full-motion video of Mars rotating, as seen from orbit by the European Space Agency's Mars Express. If you were a spacecraft orbiting Mars, this is what Mars would look like to you.___

posted image

2015-07-28 02:24:29 (26 comments, 6 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

How to Protect Yourself from "Stagefright"

Well, this is just horrifying. The Hangouts app is most vulnerable to this bug; you don't have to do anything but receive an MMS message to be exploited. The Messaging app is almost as bad: you have to view the message, but you'll be exploited even if you don't tap the attachment. Since you must generally view the message to determine whether it has an attachment, that level of resistance has limited value.

Google has already made security patches available to vendors and carriers, but the phone ecosystem being what it is, they won't arrive on your phone for a long time if ever. (I'm not sure why this can't be worked around with an update to the Hangouts and Messaging apps themselves, but I'm sure if it were that easy, they'd have done it already.) Meanwhile, protecting yourself from the bug --... more »

How to Protect Yourself from "Stagefright"

Well, this is just horrifying. The Hangouts app is most vulnerable to this bug; you don't have to do anything but receive an MMS message to be exploited. The Messaging app is almost as bad: you have to view the message, but you'll be exploited even if you don't tap the attachment. Since you must generally view the message to determine whether it has an attachment, that level of resistance has limited value.

Google has already made security patches available to vendors and carriers, but the phone ecosystem being what it is, they won't arrive on your phone for a long time if ever. (I'm not sure why this can't be worked around with an update to the Hangouts and Messaging apps themselves, but I'm sure if it were that easy, they'd have done it already.) Meanwhile, protecting yourself from the bug -- code-named "Stagefright," after the Android library it exploits -- is up to you.

Now, I'm not pretending to be a phone security expert. And I'm not speaking for Google here. (I don't get paid anywhere near enough to do that job, thank you.) But I learned that the app TextSecure isn't vulnerable to this bug: it downloads the attacker's file only if you actually tap the attachment to open it, which is as it should be. As a bonus, you can later set up to exchange cryptographically secure messages with other TextSecure users (and with Signal users on iOS), further thwarting the NSA.

So here's what I believe you can do to avoid this bug. The instructions below might vary somewhat by Android version; they work for my phones, but might need some modification for yours. Updates in the comments would be welcome!

First, install TextSecure. You can get it from the Google Play App Store as usual, or from Google's Play Store Web site, which will let you install it on your phone: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en

Second, make TextSecure your default SMS/MMS app: Settings -> "More ..." -> Default SMS app. Select TextSecure from the popup list.

You are now done. Phew! But read on for how to get bonus points.

For Bonus Points

Before I switched to TextSecure, I figured it was probably also a good idea to disable auto-download of MMS messages in both Hangouts and Messaging, just in case. (You can also do these steps after you've installed TextSecure as above, if you've already done that.)

In Hangouts: 1. Menu (three horizontal bars at upper left) -> Settings. 2. If Hangouts isn't already your SMS app, you need to tap "SMS disabled" and say "Yes"; otherwise, the menu item should already say "SMS enabled" and you can skip this step. 3. Uncheck "Auto retrieve MMS."

In Messaging: 1. Menu (three dots at bottom right) -> Settings. 2. If Messaging isn't already your SMS app, you need to tap "SMS Disabled" and say "Yes"; otherwise, the menu item should already say "SMS Enabled" and you can skip this step. 3. Uncheck "Auto-retrieve."

Crucially, as the last step, switch back to TextSecure as your default SMS app, as described above.

Boy, does this situation suck. It reminds me of the bad old days of Windows viruses ("don't click on that link you got in email!"). The engineering failure behind it isn't as stupid as those were -- it's a somewhat more sophisticated kind of error -- but the end result for users is basically the same.

Oy vey. :-(___

posted image

2015-07-26 09:53:22 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

"Technology is magic" is a pretty good approximation, most of the time. I'm sure that's one reason that some folks have such a hard time getting past it, and seeing the implications of the fact that it's actually an engineering discipline with unavoidable tradeoffs: the fact that the approximation works most of the time makes it that much harder to notice when it doesn't.

And those same folks really want us engineers to deliver them their magic fairy dust. Which makes it harder still to see the limits of their approximation; after all, who wants to look directly at the fact that they can't have something they desperately want?

This article's author is, of course, exactly right. There's no such thing as a lock that only the good guys can open, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise.

I see problems with the following solution to... more »

"Technology is magic" is a pretty good approximation, most of the time. I'm sure that's one reason that some folks have such a hard time getting past it, and seeing the implications of the fact that it's actually an engineering discipline with unavoidable tradeoffs: the fact that the approximation works most of the time makes it that much harder to notice when it doesn't.

And those same folks really want us engineers to deliver them their magic fairy dust. Which makes it harder still to see the limits of their approximation; after all, who wants to look directly at the fact that they can't have something they desperately want?

This article's author is, of course, exactly right. There's no such thing as a lock that only the good guys can open, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise.

I see problems with the following solution to the impasse between technologists and lawmakers/enforcers (and, apparently, editorial boards), but it's at least fun to think about. Consider flipping the script. Stop saying "no," start saying "yes." But, crucially, say "yes" this way:

"You have lots of smart engineers in the NSA, and maybe they're better at inventing cryptographic systems than we are. So you have them invent this thing you want, with the proviso that it must be completely open to inspection by everyone, and if we can't find anything wrong with their system, we'll adopt it."

Then, inventing the magic fairy dust becomes the NSA's problem. Since it can't be done, they won't do it. Problem solved.

Well, it's fun to think about.___

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2015-07-21 22:18:26 (11 comments, 2 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

Yes, this exactly. Trump is the reductio ad absurdum of current GOP politics, so why wouldn't he be popular?

If you put a large, brilliantly white ball in a goose's nest, the mother will ignore the rest of her eggs and brood over the new object -- which looks more like an egg to her than an egg actually does. Male jewel beetles will ignore actual females while attempting to mate with the reflective orange bottoms of beer bottles.

A significant portion of the Republican base supports Trump. 

Over the past twenty-five years, conservative media has taken the position that there are no friends to the left, no enemies to the right.  Right-wing positions that were once permissible have become desirable, and finally mandatory. Immigration needs to be cut down? No, immigration needs to be cut off, to prevent a rapacious horde from swarming over our Southern border! Being rich is ethically okay? No, being rich is ethically mandatory! War should be on the table as an option in foreign policy? No, we should be considering nuclear war against the whole Muslim world! Obama is a bad president? No, he's a Kenyan Muslim atheist usurper, a communist fascist, and a weakling tyrant!

To people who have cultivated a taste for this escalating (and basically emotional) right-wing nonsense, Trump is a superstimulus: on every position the right wing supports or admires -- from xenophobic suspicion to rampant inequality to belligerent saber-rattling -- he's turned the dial to eleven and left it there.

So why should we be surprised that he's doing so well in the polls?___Yes, this exactly. Trump is the reductio ad absurdum of current GOP politics, so why wouldn't he be popular?

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2015-07-21 17:44:19 (24 comments, 3 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Increasingly, cars are Internet-connected -- and the car industry knows little about computer security. Worse, the economic incentives are all for adding features, none for tightening security. Predictable consequences ensue.

At least the vulnerabilities in your desktop computer won't generally kill you. These can.

Increasingly, cars are Internet-connected -- and the car industry knows little about computer security. Worse, the economic incentives are all for adding features, none for tightening security. Predictable consequences ensue.

At least the vulnerabilities in your desktop computer won't generally kill you. These can.___

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2015-07-20 17:43:23 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

So, finding evidence of a continental crust is cool stuff. But I can't get serious enough about the story to write a post because of this quote: "Gale Crater['s] ... layered mountain ... on Earth would be three miles high ...." But on Mars, it's -- wait, what?

So, finding evidence of a continental crust is cool stuff. But I can't get serious enough about the story to write a post because of this quote: "Gale Crater['s] ... layered mountain ... on Earth would be three miles high ...." But on Mars, it's -- wait, what?___

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2015-07-15 18:38:30 (2 comments, 4 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

Even better!

Via +Jeff Dean​.

We've come a long way in understanding Pluto since its discovery by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, thanks to our New Horizons spacecraft, the dwarf planet is cleared than ever before. http://go.nasa.gov/1Ht2uwj___Even better!

Via +Jeff Dean​.

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2015-07-15 17:54:44 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Pluto as seen by Hubble morphs into Pluto as seen by New Horizons. It's as if humanity just got new glasses.

Pluto through the eyes of multiple missions

We all know of the profound beauty that the +Hubble Space Telescope​ brings us of deep space. However, Hubble has been used multiple times to observe planetary bodies within our own solar system, including that of #Pluto to even aid the #NewHorizons team.

Below is a comparison between the highest resolution of Pluto taken by Hubble and that of the amazingly close and hi-res image that New Horizons has taken during its approach!

#Space #Astronomy #PlutoFlyBy #Hubble25 #Hubble ___Pluto as seen by Hubble morphs into Pluto as seen by New Horizons. It's as if humanity just got new glasses.

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2015-07-14 05:26:53 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Pluto is the Google Doodle.

Pluto is the Google Doodle.___

2015-07-10 12:22:12 (1 comments, 3 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

WARNING: You're about to lose your entire life to JPL's really well-done MarsTrek, a "Google Earth for Mars." (Not to be confused, I suppose, with the actual Google Earth for Mars here: http://www.google.com/earth/explore/showcase/mars.html.) I'm glad they waited until after my wedding to release this ....

WARNING: You're about to lose your entire life to JPL's really well-done MarsTrek, a "Google Earth for Mars." (Not to be confused, I suppose, with the actual Google Earth for Mars here: http://www.google.com/earth/explore/showcase/mars.html.) I'm glad they waited until after my wedding to release this ....___

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2015-07-09 15:45:34 (7 comments, 5 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

So this is unfortunate. Happily, though, it's not fatal. The MER rovers were designed to be able to operate in this non-flash mode (to "degrade gracefully" in the face of hardware failures), so it's far from being end-of-mission, as the article is careful to say.

If I correctly remember the story I was told, the non-flash-mode capability was added to allow rover testing before the flash code was fully developed and debugged, then retained because the designers realized how useful it might prove on the surface. Once again, their foresight is validated!

Still, not being able to rely on flash has some downsides not mentioned in the article: crucially, if anything goes wrong on Opportunity between the last comm pass of the sol and rover shutdown, we'll never know about it because any data products that logged the problem will simply be lost at shutdown. It's a... more »

So this is unfortunate. Happily, though, it's not fatal. The MER rovers were designed to be able to operate in this non-flash mode (to "degrade gracefully" in the face of hardware failures), so it's far from being end-of-mission, as the article is careful to say.

If I correctly remember the story I was told, the non-flash-mode capability was added to allow rover testing before the flash code was fully developed and debugged, then retained because the designers realized how useful it might prove on the surface. Once again, their foresight is validated!

Still, not being able to rely on flash has some downsides not mentioned in the article: crucially, if anything goes wrong on Opportunity between the last comm pass of the sol and rover shutdown, we'll never know about it because any data products that logged the problem will simply be lost at shutdown. It's a little like always having to shut down your computer without saving the last few changes to your documents.

Even so, Opportunity can continue doing science and returning gorgeous pictures of her present home, Endeavour Crater. And we're all grateful for that.

(Oddly, the article's picture is of course of Curiosity, not Opportunity. "Those Mars rovers all look alike to me"?)___

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2015-07-08 17:34:51 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

Oh, man, the memories this brings back: 11 years of Opportunity in eight minutes, as seen through her own eyes. This especially affects me since, as a rover driver, the HAZCAMs -- the hazard-avoidance cameras used to take the images in this video -- were often my primary window onto Mars.

I can still quite vividly remember watching the 90-sol versions of this video. Just when we'd completed the three-month nominal mission on Spirit, Justin Maki put together a minute-long video of all of Spirit's HAZCAM images so far, and he shortly afterward did the same for Opportunity.

Now it's 11 years later, and one of those rovers is still going strong. And still reminding us what it's like to almost literally have a window to another world, continually open for anyone on this planet who cares to look through.

Oh, man, the memories this brings back: 11 years of Opportunity in eight minutes, as seen through her own eyes. This especially affects me since, as a rover driver, the HAZCAMs -- the hazard-avoidance cameras used to take the images in this video -- were often my primary window onto Mars.

I can still quite vividly remember watching the 90-sol versions of this video. Just when we'd completed the three-month nominal mission on Spirit, Justin Maki put together a minute-long video of all of Spirit's HAZCAM images so far, and he shortly afterward did the same for Opportunity.

Now it's 11 years later, and one of those rovers is still going strong. And still reminding us what it's like to almost literally have a window to another world, continually open for anyone on this planet who cares to look through.___

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2015-07-08 06:04:50 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

On July 8 (tomorrow as I post this, but probably today when you read it), if you're around LA and a fan or potential fan of +Marian Call, and/or you're just plain nerdy, stop by and see me and +Kimberly Lichtenberg and a couple of excellent writers hang out with Marian and talk about space and play songs and stuff. I expect this to be ridiculously fun, and it's cheap (only $12). Join us!

On July 8 (tomorrow as I post this, but probably today when you read it), if you're around LA and a fan or potential fan of +Marian Call, and/or you're just plain nerdy, stop by and see me and +Kimberly Lichtenberg and a couple of excellent writers hang out with Marian and talk about space and play songs and stuff. I expect this to be ridiculously fun, and it's cheap (only $12). Join us!___

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2015-07-08 02:18:55 (3 comments, 6 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

So now there's a Star Trek: TOS communicator that works as a Bluetooth headset for your phone. I want this and I want a TNG version! (Which doesn't seem to exist as a commercial product, surprisingly.)

They're sold out already -- despite the fact that they're only taking pre-orders so far -- but you can sign up to be notified by email when they're ready to take your order.

So now there's a Star Trek: TOS communicator that works as a Bluetooth headset for your phone. I want this and I want a TNG version! (Which doesn't seem to exist as a commercial product, surprisingly.)

They're sold out already -- despite the fact that they're only taking pre-orders so far -- but you can sign up to be notified by email when they're ready to take your order.___

2015-07-07 07:18:16 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

Hubble's famed "Pillars of Creation" are 7000 light years away. A supernova probably destroyed them 6000 years ago. But we won't know for sure for another 1000 years, when the light from the destruction reaches us.

Universes are fun.

Hubble's famed "Pillars of Creation" are 7000 light years away. A supernova probably destroyed them 6000 years ago. But we won't know for sure for another 1000 years, when the light from the destruction reaches us.

Universes are fun.___

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2015-06-26 17:45:05 (8 comments, 2 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

+Kimberly Lichtenberg​ and I could not have hoped for a better wedding present than this. And we're honored that SCOTUS choose the perfect day for it, our own wedding day! Thanks, SCOTUS!

+Kimberly Lichtenberg​ and I could not have hoped for a better wedding present than this. And we're honored that SCOTUS choose the perfect day for it, our own wedding day! Thanks, SCOTUS!___

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2015-06-24 07:41:48 (13 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Ooo, I will definitely have to check this out. After the wedding.

Space Girls Space Women for Android
Space Girls Space Women is a new outreach initiative by +European Space Agency, ESA and other partners for presenting “the stories of girls and women passionate about space, all around the world”. It involves an exhibition, a mobile app for Android and iOS, and the website spacewomen.org 

Here’s the Android app which I’ve briefly tested on my Nexus 6 phone, see the screenshot:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ubiwhere.sgsw

The app collects the stories of the women who work in space and astronomy featured by the project. Each entry has basic biographical information, and the text and video of a short interview.

The app is also a sort of social network for women passionate about space, but I’m not sure as I haven’t tried this. Opening the app prompts you to create an account for this service but you can skip this, look for the skip button.

Finally, the app lets you take a space quiz.

For more information about the outreach initiative see:

http://blogs.esa.int/communication/2015/06/22/space-girls-space-women/

#Space #Women #Android___Ooo, I will definitely have to check this out. After the wedding.

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2015-06-18 07:09:34 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

I actually think this is a surprisingly good list. They put the Mars rovers (collectively) at #1 and the Voyagers at #2, just as any good list should. They should've ranked MRO higher, but otherwise I don't find all that much to disagree with!

Wait, what?  Where is Voyager 2?  And Pioneer?___I actually think this is a surprisingly good list. They put the Mars rovers (collectively) at #1 and the Voyagers at #2, just as any good list should. They should've ranked MRO higher, but otherwise I don't find all that much to disagree with!

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2015-06-18 01:20:18 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

At long last, NASA is bound for Europa. Europa is exciting because it's possibly the best bet for current life in our solar system other than the planet we're already on. And the engineering challenges are just wonderful: Jupiter's hellish radiation can't wait to wreak havoc on your puny science instruments.

Europa or bust!

(Via +Boing Boing​.)

At long last, NASA is bound for Europa. Europa is exciting because it's possibly the best bet for current life in our solar system other than the planet we're already on. And the engineering challenges are just wonderful: Jupiter's hellish radiation can't wait to wreak havoc on your puny science instruments.

Europa or bust!

(Via +Boing Boing​.)___

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2015-06-10 17:52:53 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

The best rover ever, Spirit, launched to Mars 12 years ago today. I was there. Godspeed, little explorer. #freespirit

If you've never watched a launch from the perspective of the rocket, by the way, you really should. It's amazing.

The best rover ever, Spirit, launched to Mars 12 years ago today. I was there. Godspeed, little explorer. #freespirit

If you've never watched a launch from the perspective of the rocket, by the way, you really should. It's amazing.___

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2015-06-09 16:25:17 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

"""
It took years to design the new prototype technology, a year to refine it since the last tests, days to wait for weather suitable for a test flight, hours to gently float the craft to testing altitude, and just seconds to realize that the parachute didn’t inflate.
"""

Dang it. Better luck next time, +Mark Adler!

"""
It took years to design the new prototype technology, a year to refine it since the last tests, days to wait for weather suitable for a test flight, hours to gently float the craft to testing altitude, and just seconds to realize that the parachute didn’t inflate.
"""

Dang it. Better luck next time, +Mark Adler!___

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2015-06-05 00:12:55 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

At its heart, this is an expanded version of my earlier post about using +Google Cardboard to take Google I/O conference attendees on a Martian field trip. I'm not sure there's too much in here for those of you who read that post -- but publishing on +The Planetary Society's blog is way cool, so I just had to share. :-)

At its heart, this is an expanded version of my earlier post about using +Google Cardboard to take Google I/O conference attendees on a Martian field trip. I'm not sure there's too much in here for those of you who read that post -- but publishing on +The Planetary Society's blog is way cool, so I just had to share. :-)___

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2015-06-04 17:47:21 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

We can't talk to our Mars spacecraft right now because there's a giant flaming ball of gas in the way. No, not Rush Limbaugh -- the Sun.

That joke, like solar conjunction (what we call this Earth-Sun-Mars arrangement) and launch opportunities, happens about every 26 months. Typically, it's a good time for the rovers to take it easy. Logistically, it's just like planning for a very, very long weekend. In past years, for example, we've had Opportunity plant her Mossbauer instrument and just turn it on for a multi-week-long integration. No driving, and only a little science.

It's also a good time for the ops team to take it easy -- you can go on a nice long vacation without missing anything, for example. Or just catch up on email, or whatever.

Eager beaver that I am, though, I spent my first-ever solar conjunction writing some software I'd been... more »

We can't talk to our Mars spacecraft right now because there's a giant flaming ball of gas in the way. No, not Rush Limbaugh -- the Sun.

That joke, like solar conjunction (what we call this Earth-Sun-Mars arrangement) and launch opportunities, happens about every 26 months. Typically, it's a good time for the rovers to take it easy. Logistically, it's just like planning for a very, very long weekend. In past years, for example, we've had Opportunity plant her Mossbauer instrument and just turn it on for a multi-week-long integration. No driving, and only a little science.

It's also a good time for the ops team to take it easy -- you can go on a nice long vacation without missing anything, for example. Or just catch up on email, or whatever.

Eager beaver that I am, though, I spent my first-ever solar conjunction writing some software I'd been thinking about: mPhoto, which was conceived as "iPhoto for MER." It rapidly brought up thumbnails of the latest downlinked images, and it let you see the full-size versions in (anaglyph) 3-D or composed them into uncalibrated color images. You could also save them out as PNGs or JPGs. It was a fast, broadly useful ops tool that I and others soon made a routine part of our daily work.

But this year, for solar conjunction, I'm marrying +Kimberly Lichtenberg​ instead. :-)___

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2015-06-04 07:15:08 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Backed! Of course.

Leonard Nimoy's son Adam has launched a Kickstarter to do a documentary about his father. Check it out: http://bit.ly/LoveOfSpock___Backed! Of course.

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2015-06-03 17:06:25 (2 comments, 4 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

The TSA missed 95% of weapons and bombs smuggled through airport "security" by test teams. Ninety-five percent.

The agency's defenders nearly always offer some variant of "Yes, but they keep us safe!" That was always bogus, for numerous reasons, but it's nice to now have some hard data. I wonder what those defenders will say now?

The best line in the story is the included tweet: "At $8 billion per year, the TSA is the most expensive theatrical production in history." Yup.

The TSA missed 95% of weapons and bombs smuggled through airport "security" by test teams. Ninety-five percent.

The agency's defenders nearly always offer some variant of "Yes, but they keep us safe!" That was always bogus, for numerous reasons, but it's nice to now have some hard data. I wonder what those defenders will say now?

The best line in the story is the included tweet: "At $8 billion per year, the TSA is the most expensive theatrical production in history." Yup.___

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2015-06-01 04:31:50 (5 comments, 4 reshares, 28 +1s)Open 

+Marian Call covers Bowie's "Space Oddity" using only the ten hundred most common used words (David Bowie meets Up-Goer Five). It's sad that "brilliant" isn't one of those words.

+Marian Call covers Bowie's "Space Oddity" using only the ten hundred most common used words (David Bowie meets Up-Goer Five). It's sad that "brilliant" isn't one of those words.___

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2015-05-31 06:54:59 (10 comments, 4 reshares, 32 +1s)Open 

Yes, that.

___Yes, that.

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2015-05-31 06:51:21 (2 comments, 9 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

If you know any girls who think they can't be computer programmers or other kinds of engineers, tell them about Margaret Hamilton. She's an even better role model for female engineers than Ada Lovelace, IMHO.

She's one badass lady, and no mistake.

___If you know any girls who think they can't be computer programmers or other kinds of engineers, tell them about Margaret Hamilton. She's an even better role model for female engineers than Ada Lovelace, IMHO.

She's one badass lady, and no mistake.

2015-05-31 01:08:40 (6 comments, 5 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

So Google asked me to jet up to SF for a day to help show off Google Expeditions, a way to take students on a virtual field trip for essentially no cost using their nifty Cardboard VR headset. They'd set up a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History, and one to some coral reefs -- and one through the life of the very best Mars rover ever, Spirit.

I couldn't say no.

So this is what that was like for me. It's a bit of a whirlwind tour, but that's appropriate, since it was a whirlwind for me, too.

As it turns out, I spent a few hours taking enthusiastic audiences through a criminally abbreviated tour of Spirit's life. All of the hard work had already been done by +Emily Lakdawalla, so I just needed to show up and run my mouth.

I've said for years that the thing I liked best about working on Mars rovers wasn't just joy-riding... more »

So Google asked me to jet up to SF for a day to help show off Google Expeditions, a way to take students on a virtual field trip for essentially no cost using their nifty Cardboard VR headset. They'd set up a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History, and one to some coral reefs -- and one through the life of the very best Mars rover ever, Spirit.

I couldn't say no.

So this is what that was like for me. It's a bit of a whirlwind tour, but that's appropriate, since it was a whirlwind for me, too.

As it turns out, I spent a few hours taking enthusiastic audiences through a criminally abbreviated tour of Spirit's life. All of the hard work had already been done by +Emily Lakdawalla, so I just needed to show up and run my mouth.

I've said for years that the thing I liked best about working on Mars rovers wasn't just joy-riding around other planets. Don't get me wrong, that was great. But the best part is, since the missions share all their images promptly on the Web, anybody who wants to can ride along on the mission with me -- they can be a backseat rover driver, as I say.

This took that to a whole new level. Instead of listening to me ramble about static images, trying to convey in words what I find to be so magic about this experience, the audience could stand there on Mars with me while I told them about it.

Discovering with me, with Spirit, that the rocks we'd come 500 million kilometers to see were, geologically, the wrong kind -- a bust. Finding hope on the horizon, but too far away. Struggling there anyway, against all odds. Climbing a mountain the height of the Statue of Liberty, and then pressing on to its other side. And, last of all, fouling in a cruel Martian tar-pit trap, sinking and gasping for sunlight and then going gently, and finally, to that long sleep.

Glorious.

I hope they had a damn good time. Because I know I did.


If you're a teacher -- or curious -- you can learn more about Expeditions here: https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/___

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2015-05-31 00:07:45 (4 comments, 10 reshares, 46 +1s)Open 

Martian Methane
Or, science journalism offers us all a teachable moment.

So, the MSL methane story has taken a few twists and turns: ESA's Mars Express (MEX) orbiter detected methane in the Martian atmosphere, but then MSL found none on the surface shortly after landing. But later, as the MSL team announced late last year, methane seemingly appeared, hung around for a couple of months, then disappeared again.

This suggests a geological or (less likely) biological process. And it would have to be a geologically recent one, as the radiation at Mars would quickly (in, again, a geological sense) convert methane to CO₂. (Before you get too excited: the methane could have been generated in the distant past and stored somehow -- below the surface, or in now-melting ice -- and some process is simply releasing it now. Even if we favor a biological explanation, methane itselfi... more »

Martian Methane
Or, science journalism offers us all a teachable moment.

So, the MSL methane story has taken a few twists and turns: ESA's Mars Express (MEX) orbiter detected methane in the Martian atmosphere, but then MSL found none on the surface shortly after landing. But later, as the MSL team announced late last year, methane seemingly appeared, hung around for a couple of months, then disappeared again.

This suggests a geological or (less likely) biological process. And it would have to be a geologically recent one, as the radiation at Mars would quickly (in, again, a geological sense) convert methane to CO₂. (Before you get too excited: the methane could have been generated in the distant past and stored somehow -- below the surface, or in now-melting ice -- and some process is simply releasing it now. Even if we favor a biological explanation, methane itself is not evidence of current life.)

But now a NASA scientist -- not on the MSL mission -- comes along with another hypothesis. "Oh, my god," he says, "the methane is coming FROM INSIDE THE ROVER!" (I might be over-dramatizing a bit.)

Now, a priori, this isn't ridiculous. It's worth considering: leaking gas was a proposed cause of the once-mysterious tiny acceleration known as the Pioneer Anomaly, for instance (though it turned out not to be that). And MSL does have a small amount of methane aboard, used to calibrate the rover's nose, the SAM instrument.

The thing is, there isn't a plausible way for that methane to cause this reading. If some Martian gremlin came along and wired up a tube from the methane reserve directly to the sensor that's hooked to the nose, maybe. But then the SAM team would notice a pressure drop in the chamber that holds the methane, and they don't see any such thing.

So on the one hand, we might have a previously unknown mechanism intermittently generating atmospheric methane.

But on the other hand, to buy this new hypothesis, we have to postulate both an unknown mechanism to get the methane from the reserve chamber into the rover's nose and some kind of faulty pressure sensor -- and some way for the methane to show up in MEX's orbital measurements, too.

Is all that strictly impossible? Nope. Here, as happens too often in life, we might just have to live without the kind of absolute certainty we'd like. Instead, we have to weigh probabilities and apply handy mental tools such as Occam's Razor.

And when you apply Occam's Razor to this evidence, I think you have to slice away Curiosity himself as the methane source. To anyone with a different opinion -- including the scientist whose views instigated this article -- I'm cheerfully taking bets.___

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2015-05-30 21:13:25 (14 comments, 3 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

Holy crap. I just discovered that you can Google for, e.g., "set a timer for 10 minutes" -- and it does.

Holy crap. I just discovered that you can Google for, e.g., "set a timer for 10 minutes" -- and it does.___

2015-05-30 01:13:37 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

In just about half an hour (18:37 PST), it will be the start of Sol 1000 for Curiosity. Prepare to celebrate!

I suggested that +Kimberly Lichtenberg​ bake 1000 cupcakes to honor the occasion, but alas, she made only a few dozen. Still: nom nom nom!

In just about half an hour (18:37 PST), it will be the start of Sol 1000 for Curiosity. Prepare to celebrate!

I suggested that +Kimberly Lichtenberg​ bake 1000 cupcakes to honor the occasion, but alas, she made only a few dozen. Still: nom nom nom!___

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2015-05-26 19:50:50 (0 comments, 4 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Bill Nye "The Science Guy" explains how we now totally know the universe is a force for speaking to young white women.

Bill Nye "The Science Guy" explains how we now totally know the universe is a force for speaking to young white women.___

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