Wednesday, 14 September 2011

JWST nearly saved!

YAY! The James Webb Space Telescope is currently under threat from the US Congress, has been given a reprieve by the Senate. We still have to wait for reconcilliation I think, which means it could still end up a casualty, but for the moment lets celebrate the win for science that this represents.

Here's a link to one of my favourite scientist bloggers, Ethan Seigel from Starts with a Bang, with some details.

Starts with a Bang

(First post of Bud of the Week will defintely appear by this weekend. :) )

Bud of the Week

I'll be doing a regular(ish) set of posts on "Bud of the Week". These are the buds which come past my bowl and into my vape and deserve a mention and a pic to share.

First one coming tonight!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Many more topics from the JREF. Choose one by commenting!

More topics for my "what to blog about" call...

The sorry decline in the standard of junk email is an indictment of our failing society.
Also bad speling and sentence construction. And tupos.

Seven Mind-blowing Integers that are Actually Used for Listing Things

Seventeen Incredible Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped (Because They Totally Are)

Five Fictional Characters who Defied Death in Amazing Ways

Seven Key Scientific Breakthroughs that Came from Accidently Running Folded Up Shopping Lists Through the Laundry

Six Supreme Court Justices who Don't Have Unbelievably Strange Hobbies

Eight More Amazing Integers that are Actually Used for Listing Even More Things

Five Well-Known Restaurants that All Charged Someone $250 for a Cookie Recipe

Seven Classic Carnival Acts that are Imitations of Mollusc Behavior

Six Excuses You Won't Believe were Actually Used to Justify Saying "****" a Lot in Cracked Articles

History of the resealable sandwich bag?

Some of these are hilarious, but I really like the last one. And all someone has to do to get me to blog about it is to repeat one of these titles in the comments section! (now open to any commenters, sorry 'bout that)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Blog topics from the JREF

Some of the readers here probably know me better as "nvidiot" from the JREF forums. As I'm only starting the blog, and haven't really come up with many topics to discuss whilst I get my head around the process, I made a thread calling for blog topics. This is the result:

Should we really take the Sabbath this seriously?

Is gathering sticks really "working"?

How do you pronounce YHWH anyway?

How about blogging about trying to find topics to blog about?

Is our Universe just one single electron inside a much greater Universe beyond?

Calculating the Diameter of The Event Horizon of the Formless...

Squids: Tentacled Menace, or Spirit Guides to a New Understanding of Beingness?

Why Paula Abdul Should Be President

The Political Subtext of "Mr Belvedere"

Does Penis Smell Matter?

Explodable Precocious Upholstery Fandango

Towards Intersecting Feminist Continuums In The Post-Gaga Paradigm

Why Carson Daly Sucks And Should Be Murdered, Parts 1 - 120.

And finally:

The blog should be dedicated to tacos.

So to those precious few readers who have seen this blog and even fewer who have seen this post, and just to make it interesting, I will make a post on any one of those topics, but only the very first one to be mentioned in the comments here.

Will be an interesting exercise I think. :)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

LRO takes awesome images of the Apollo landing sites

Found this via a link on JREF and FreeThoughtBlogs via Zingularity

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.

At the Apollo 17 site, the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the last foot trails left on the moon. The images also show where the astronauts placed some of the scientific instruments that provided the first insight into the moon's environment and interior.

"We can retrace the astronauts' steps with greater clarity to see where they took lunar samples," said Noah Petro, a lunar geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a member of the LRO project science team.

All three images show distinct trails left in the moon's thin soil when the astronauts exited the lunar modules and explored on foot. In the Apollo 17 image, the foot trails, including the last path made on the moon by humans, are easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar rover, which remains parked east of the lander.

"The new low-altitude Narrow Angle Camera images sharpen our view of the moon's surface," said Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). "A great example is the sharpness of the rover tracks at the Apollo 17 site. In previous images the rover tracks were visible, but now they are sharp parallel lines on the surface."

Now I work in an industry filled with woo, of all kinds. Some of this includes the idea that we never went to the moon. Of course, these people will never be convinced by any orbital pictures, because they can claim they were "obvious fakes".

But for the rest of us who find the idea that we landed on the moon more than evidenced by the facts, these pictures are just another nail in the coffin of no lunar landing lunacy.

I love the idea of these tracks and remains lasting hundreds if not thousands of years on the surface of the moon, with future explorers finding them again and marvelling at how much we did with so little knowledge. The fact that those who landed there all came back safely is mostly a testament to the sheer engineering willpower of an entire military industrial complex bent on a single task. Some of that is just luck though, as so much could have and often did go wrong.

Humanity is a temporary spark in this part of the galaxy, and how long we last is up to us. If we don't, at least there will be some long lasting testament to our existence on the moon, even if we leave nothing behind here on Earth.

George Hrab

One of my favourite skeptical celebrities (for lack of a better term, and yes I know he hates it) is George Hrab. His Geologic podcast is always entertaining and informative, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, but always worth listening to.

I have noticed in listening to his back catalogue that he's leaned away from the funny lately, and I haven't seen many of the old favorites like indestructible bastards and other skits, but I'm sure it's an evolution of style rather than an abandonment of it.

He has also released a number of excellent albums too, the latest of which I have in my iPod rotation, called Trebuchet. If you're into astronomy you may listen to the 365 days of Astronomy podcast, for which George did the title song, Far.

So here's to George Hrab! If you're interested in listening to his podcast, or his albums, look for Geologic Podcast in iTunes, or go to

P.s. The orchid in my first post was Laeliocattleya Blueboy. :)

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Welcome to The Skeptical Stoner. I'm just a regular guy working in the horticulture industry, who enjoys science, skepticism, and most of all, cannabinoids.

I don't know how often I'll update this blog, or what exactly the content will be, but whatever it is, I sure hope you enjoy it.

Hopefully I'll have something more substantial for you all this evening, but in the meantime please enjoy the following picture of one of my orchids, a Laeliocattleya whose name at the moment escapes me. I'll attempt to update that this evening when I get back to the plant label.