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… and you can watch the ISS! June 27, 2009

Posted by Sarah in astro 2.0.
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Don’t freak out that the ISS is watching you – just wave back! A new service called Twisst has just been launched on Twitter to send users alerts of ISS passes at their location, based on the location information they have listed on their profile*. ISS twitter feeds already existed of course, from the OverTwitter project, which has twitter feeds for satellite passes over many world cities. An aside to OverTwitter is OverRSS, which allows users to sign up to an RSS feed of satellite passes for any location of your choice. Twisst combines the two by converting the location registered to the Twitter profile to co-ordinates, and automatically sends the alert at the right time for the right place. All you need to do is follow @twisst. (more…)

Astronomers lead the pack on Arxiv June 18, 2009

Posted by Sarah in astro 2.0, science.
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The growing success of Arxiv, 1991-2009 (Ingoldsby, 2009)

The growing success of Arxiv, 1991-2009 (arxiv.org)

How much of the research record in physics can actually be found on Arxiv? How accurately does Arxiv reflect what is happening in physics today? On the whole, not so well, says the American Institute of Physics. Over at the Scholarly Kitchen, Philip Davis reports on a presentation given at a science editors’ conference by Tim Ingoldsby of the AIP that shows a highly inconsistent coverage of the literature on Arxiv between the different fields of physics research. (more…)

Do you .Astronomy? June 16, 2009

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One of the most interesting and fun meetings I attended in 2008 was a workshop in Cardiff called .Astronomy, where I met lots of great people who are all active in internet-based astronomy in some shape or form: education, outreach, robotic observing, virtual observatory software, blogging, podcasting, twittering, citizen science and everything in between. I came away feeling very inspired and a little starry-eyed, and I’ve written a number of posts about the conference itself and more cool projects and ideas I’ve spotted since. (more…)

Mobile sky mapping May 17, 2009

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Google have just released a fab new application for their Android phones, called Sky Map. When you point your phone at the sky, Sky Map can automatically load a map of the bit you’re looking at. Or if you’re looking for Mars, it can actually direct you to it on the sky, in a very cool “icy-cooler-bit warmer now-warm-hot-scorching-yes you’ve got it!”-stylee.

One of the main developers on the project is a software engineer who used to work on AstroGrid, John Taylor (h/t to Andy for flagging that up). Check out the video below from the application launch at the recent Google Searchology event (the sleek promo video is here).

TED Prize: Searching for life in the Universe February 15, 2009

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One of the winners of the annual TED prize, announced at the organisation’s annual conference in Long Beach last week, is astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter, Director of the SETI Institute in California. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is a kind of super-club of creative minds from those fields set up in 1984 who meet a few times  year to discuss Big Ideas.

There’s a lot of lofty rhetoric involved and they could easily be accused of being a kind of elitist international country club for geeks. But I think there’s more to it: talks from the TED conference are made freely available at their website for everyone to watch and there is some genuinely good stuff there: originality,creativity, and an awareness of and concern for global issues. TED talks have been viewed online more than 100 million times and translated into 25 languages. Many of TED’s ‘Brain Trustees’ have impressive track records in turning innovative ideas into success -Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Craig Venter, Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins are just a few of the names on their list.

The TED prizes are awarded annually to three of these creative minds, who get a $100,000 cheque and $1 million in support funding, as well as opportunity to tap the networks and resources of the powerful TED community, to help realise “One Wish to Change the World”. Dr. Tarter’s wish for changing our world is to “ empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”