On This Date: 5 Anniversaries for April 20

Looking for something to ponder or celebration today, April 20? Here you go! 1862: Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard prove that spontaneous generation doesn’t happen. If you’re still hoping that something can come from nothing, you’re more than 150 years behind the times. 1902: Pierre and Marie Curie radium chloride, the first compound of radium to be isolated in a pure state. In 2013, the FDA approved … Continue reading On This Date: 5 Anniversaries for April 20

Sharp Miracles (or who is Lizzie Siddal?)

Anna’s new poetry chapbook Sharp Miracles is available from Blue Lyra Press and at Amazon. The poems are in the voice of Lizzie Siddal, who was an artist’s model, painter, and poet in the 19th century. If you purchase the book (it’s a 3-in-1 volume!), then go to the BONUS page on Anna’s website, which includes links to the paintings to which some of the poems refer. … Continue reading Sharp Miracles (or who is Lizzie Siddal?)

5 Visible Planets

EarthSky offers readers “updates on your cosmos and world.” Today, they posted a guide to viewing the five visible planets in October 2015. And which planets might these be? MERCURY Of the eight planets in our Solar System, Mercury is both smallest and closest to the Sun. This past April, the spacecraft MESSENGER crashed into Mercury after orbiting the planet for four years, twice as long … Continue reading 5 Visible Planets

5 Years: A New Plan (at least for a while)

We began this blog five years ago, in July 2010 (HERE is the initial plan we laid out). Over the last five years, we have never missed a Wednesday post, and we’ve often posted beyond the regular Wednesday edition. To celebrate this five-year mark for Lofty Ambitions and to shake things up a bit here, we’ve decided to post lists of five things, at least … Continue reading 5 Years: A New Plan (at least for a while)

Five French Scientists

We’re in Paris for a week. See last week’s post for information about the A380 we flew. Here are five French scientists we’d like to meet while we’re in France, if only they were still alive. These scientists represent the kind of thinking we appreciate, thinking outside the box and searching for novel connections. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Okay, she was a naturalized French citizen, but … Continue reading Five French Scientists

On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 1)

It’s been a while since we wrote an “on this date” post to share a few reasons to celebrate science or space, right here, right now. The holidays seems a great time to toast to some perhaps hidden historical gems for nerds. December 24 1955 NORAD—the North American Aerospace Defense Command, made famous to us 40-somethings in the film War Games—began to track Santa’s annual … Continue reading On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 1)

5 Women Who Should Have Won the Nobel Prize

It’s Nobel Prize season! The three big science categories—physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry—were just announced on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Of the eight science winners, how many are women? Zero! That’s the usual number of women in the annual mix. No female scientist has been awarded a Nobel Prize since 2009. In “The Nobel Prize: Where are All the Women?” we wrote about the … Continue reading 5 Women Who Should Have Won the Nobel Prize

Palomar Observatory: Hale (Part 4)

To go back and begin reading this series from our initial visit to Palomar Observatory, start with PART 1. When the big book of facts is finally written, it’s possible that George Ellery Hale’s contributions to changing the United States into a techno-scientific nation will outshine those of all others. Hale, eventually, spearheaded the building of Palomar Observatory, the biggest telescope in the world at … Continue reading Palomar Observatory: Hale (Part 4)

Plutonium at Its Worst and Best

  This week marks the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively, in 1945. Tens of thousands died on those dates, and more people died, as a result of radiation sickness, in the weeks and years following. War reveals human beings at their worst. Nuclear weapons represent our largest, surest capability for self-destruction. In commemoration for that time, … Continue reading Plutonium at Its Worst and Best

The Top 15 Reasons for Space Exploration (and Mars in Particular)

We spent today at Planetfest 2012, listening to more than a dozen speakers, each with some connection to and great enthusiasm for space exploration in general and the current mission to Mars in particular. As we await tomorrow night’s landing of the Mars rover Curiosity on the Martian surface, we share with you the reasons we heard today for bothering with such an endeavor. LORI … Continue reading The Top 15 Reasons for Space Exploration (and Mars in Particular)