JPL Open House 2014 (Part 2)

On October 12th, Doug spent the day at the 2014 iteration of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Open House. You can read the first Lofty installment HERE, but there’s more! It was a day full of space-nerd goodness, and one of the highpoints was Site 18: “Flying Saucers for Mars.” This particular site was dedicated to a project known to researchers by the acronym … Continue reading JPL Open House 2014 (Part 2)

JPL Open House 2014

This past weekend, October 11th and 12th, marked the return of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) annual Open House. The 2013 event was canceled due to the federal government’s budgetary issues. The Lofty Duo has attended JPL’s Open House in previous years, but this year only Doug was able to make the trek up and around Los Angeles to JPL’s home in Pasadena. JPL’s … Continue reading JPL Open House 2014

Lofty Ambitions Anniversary: 4 Years!

It was an unusually busy spring for the Lofty Duo. Doug was the conference coordinator for Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson, and Anna took on a new book project while still trying to work on her book about the history of the space program. Our transition into a summer schedule was abrupt, and it’s caused us some reflection. One of the things … Continue reading Lofty Ambitions Anniversary: 4 Years!

Space Probes

While the word probe is used conversationally to mean to examine physically or refers to an instrument designed for that sort of physical examination, the word probe comes from a Latin word meaning to test or the result of such a test, proof. Today, we celebrate both senses of this word and the spacecraft that embody both meanings, that carry out our examination and testing … Continue reading Space Probes

Duck! It’s an Asteroid!

If you’re celebrating today, you’re probably celebrating Lincoln’s birthday, a welcome mid-winter holiday for us as children growing up in Illinois. Or maybe you’re celebrating the natal day of Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist and geologist who was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln in 1809. By mapping out his theory of natural selection, Darwin changed the way we think about ourselves, our … Continue reading Duck! It’s an Asteroid!

NASA Social #EarthNow: SMAP

We’ve devoted two previous post to the #EarthNow NASA Social that took place at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Monday, November 4th. (Start with Part 1 HERE.) This week’s post is all about SMAP, yet another NASA mission acronym, this one standing for Soil Moisture Active Passive. That climate change has some kind of effect on agriculture is obvious. The EPA webpage entitled Climate … Continue reading NASA Social #EarthNow: SMAP

JPL & EarthNow (Part 2)

To start with our first post on “JPL & Earth Now,” click HERE. On Monday, November 4th, one of us—Doug—participated in the #EarthNow NASA Social at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, just up the road a bit in Pasadena. We’re huge fans of the NASA Social program, and this was the fourth such event (the others being GRAIL, Dryden, & Dryden Airborne Science) that at least one … Continue reading JPL & EarthNow (Part 2)

JPL & EarthNow

On Monday, November 4, Doug woke early and headed to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, for the EarthNow NASA Social. The day was devoted to showing how JPL helps us understand the Earth and our climate and to take a sneak peek at several upcoming missions, including SMAP, RapidScat, and OCO. NASA adores acronyms, and we enjoy learning the lingo. SMAP means … Continue reading JPL & EarthNow

Palomar Observatory: Bigger Is Better (Part 6)

The tag cloud for our blog is a litany for aviation, science, and space exploration. Air Shows, Nobel Prize, Radioactivity, and Space Shuttle are among the keywords that are featured prominently. Only one abstract concept appears in the list: Serendipity. The first page of Google results will tell anyone who bothers to look that Serendipity is “a happy accident” or a “fortunate mistake.” The road … Continue reading Palomar Observatory: Bigger Is Better (Part 6)

Palomar Observatory: A Man and Big Dreams (Part 5)

To begin where we did in this story, with our own trip to Palomar Observatory, start with PART 1. In the second half of the 19th century, Chicago grew at an unprecedented rate: from 4,000 people in 1833 to one million in 1890. This is not the unprecedented of today’s hyperbole-inclined, media-saturated world. This is the unprecedented of Merriam-Webster: “not done or experienced before.” To … Continue reading Palomar Observatory: A Man and Big Dreams (Part 5)