Monday, May 31, 2010

Mega road trip

Leaving tomorrow for a mega road trip to Seattle (via Moab, UT) for most of June.  I'll try to post some interesting things along the way.

Ancient Astronomy course

I'm excited about a new course I'll be teaching next fall but enrollment's a bit low so I thought I'd advertise it.  It's a fully online course on Ancient Astronomy.  Here's the description...

This online course will examine the earliest origins of astronomy, our oldest science. The first half of the course will introduce students to the night sky. Topics covered will include the movements of the Earth and other solar system objects; the phases and cycles of the Moon; the origin of seasons, solstices, equinoxes, and eclipses; constellations and celestial navigation; and how ancient astronomers used their observations in developing civilization’s earliest calendars.

The second half of the course will be a broad survey of the historical development of astronomy from ancient times up to the scientific revolution of the Renaissance Period. Cosmologies from representative cultures around the world will be examined along with significant archaeoastronomy sites including the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Newgrange, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, Chaco Canyon, the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, and others.

This course is followed by an optional January 2011 fieldtrip to the Yucatan area of Mexico to further study Maya archaeoastronomy.

No prerequisites and it's on the SUNY Learning Network (SLN) even though it's offered through SUNY Ulster County Community College.  That means you can take it even if you're a student somewhere else (it's online, you can take it from anywhere in the world!).

If you're interested in learning more, feel free to contact me and if you're interested in registering/costs/etc., contact the SUNY Ulster Registrar's Office at 845-687-5075 or 1-800-724-0833.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ken Ham's Creation Museum

Interesting preview at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) of a book by Daniel Radosh titled Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.

The excerpt recounts an interesting visit to the Answers in Genesis infamous Creation Museum in northern Kentucky.  Young-Earth Creationists truly live in a bizzaro world.

Read it here...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Martin Gardner (1914-2010)

Martin Gardner (1914-2010) passed away on Saturday, May 22 at the age of 95.  He wrote Mathematical Games for Scientific American magazine for 25 years and dozens of books and articles on recreational math and pseudoscience.

I grew up reading Gardner along with Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Jay Gould.  They all made science and math interesting for the intelligent reader.

All dead and gone now.

I'm feeling old.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Richard Dawkins clip

I viewed this on Pharyngula recently.  Amusing clip on the difference between religion and science by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Long time between posts

Busy with end of semester stuff.  Here's a grab bag of stuff I found interesting.

Dot Physics has an good short post titled It's Good to Be Wrong.  Reminds me of students in my geology labs complaining the labs are hard because they don't know any of the answers.  Of course not, you have to work to get the answers.  If you knew all the answers and could just fill it out and go home it's busy work, not a learning experience.  It's much better to try and end up with an incorrect answer than to not try at all.

New research has shown genetic overlap between modern humans (in Eurasia) and Neanderthals - evidence of interbreeding.  The standard view has been we're separate species - Home sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.  It seems we're really subspecies - Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.  Given my occipital bun, along with a Finn and German ancestry, probably means there are a few Neanderthal genes floating in my gene pool!

Fun website where you can make your own movies at  My wife and I have been making crazy ones and posting them on Facebook.