Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


“The new A32 Cherrymount link road near Enniskillen will eventually be built on top of the crannog…”

Thu 29 November 2012, 8:28pm
Fermanagh Crannog 2012: bone comb with incised decoration

Tweet The BBC reports, as do other news outlets, the Northern Ireland Environment Minister’s press release on ”the first substantial, scientific excavation of a crannog in Northern Ireland”.  A “huge treasure trove of artefacts” was uncovered – potentially of “international importance” - and the crannog was occupied from at least AD 900 to AD 1600.  The ministerial press […] more »

“Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.”

Sun 14 October 2012, 10:43pm

Tweet Stunning images of record-breaking skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, as he completes his last checklist, steps out of the capsule, and falls to earth.  From a height of 128,097ft (24.2 miles; 39km).  You can also see the flatspin that almost scuppered the attempt to break the sound barrier. The voice on CAPsuleCOMmunications is that of retired US […] more »

National Trust: “However, not everyone agrees with the scientific view…”

Wed 3 October 2012, 11:56am

Tweet The BBC report that the National Trust have amended the controversial exhibition at the new Giants’ Causeway interpretive centre following their announced review of the materials in the display.  But have they fully addressed the problem?  Not quite. Here’s how the revised controversial section of the transcript now reads Today there is a clear understanding among scientists […] more »

“We stared at this patch of sky for about 22 days…”

Wed 26 September 2012, 6:53pm
Hubble 2012 eXtreme Deep Field

Tweet As the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes, the Hubble Space Telescope team have released an updated version of their stunning Ultra Deep Field image – the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) – and they have seen further than ever.  [Image credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and […] more »

Jupiter swallows an asteroid – redux

Thu 13 September 2012, 4:43pm

Tweet As Space Weather notes Around the world, amateur astronomers have been scanning the cloudtops of Jupiter for signs of debris from an explosion witnessed by Dan Peterson and George Hall on Sept. 10th. So far the cloud layer is blank. “Several observers have now obtained excellent images on the second and third rotations after […] more »

“Thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions”

Thu 30 August 2012, 8:18pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July 2011, in May this year Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists published some of their findings.  Now Dawn’s ready to head out on the next leg of its journey - Destination [the even larger protoplanet (dwarf planet)] Ceres, ETA 2015. From the JPL press release “Thrust is engaged, and we are […] more »

“This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go”

Wed 29 August 2012, 7:37pm
Curiosity on Mars: Mount Sharp geology

Tweet More wondrous images from Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, now safely on the Martian surface in Gale Crater.  And it’s only warming up its instruments.  Here’s a panaroma of the landing site and the prime mission target, Mount Sharp. Focusing in on Mount Sharp… [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] But the images that […] more »

Curiosity drops in on Mars – in Hi-res

Thu 23 August 2012, 9:50pm

Tweet Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have started roving on the surface of Mars, but there’s still room for more stunning video of its descent. In high-resolution.  Audio from mission control can also be heard, counting down the critical events.  Video from JPL News This movie from NASA’s Curiosity […] more »

“Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it.”

Wed 22 August 2012, 3:12pm
Curiosity wheel tracks at Bradbury Landing

Tweet Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have damaged one of two sets of wind sensors in its Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) during its dramatic landing on Mars, but it will still be providing daily weather reports from the Red Planet. And, as a JPL/Nasa press release noted yesterday – with moving […] more »

Curiosity: “This is a very low-resolution panorama”

Sat 11 August 2012, 4:45pm
Curiosity 360 Colour Panorama Gale Crater

Tweet Having survived the seven minutes of terror, and landed successfully at Gale Crater, earlier this week Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, lifted its 2m high camera mast.  And took a look at itself.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Then it took a look at its new surroundings.  In colour. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] […] more »

“Guess you could consider us the closest thing to paparazzi on Mars”

Tue 7 August 2012, 4:02pm
MSL Curiosity Descent to Mars

Tweet Another wondrous image from Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  This time the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard snapped the Red Planet’s “newest celebrity” – the Curiosity rover and its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 metre) parachute descending towards Gale Crater. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] From the Nasa/JPL press release “If HiRISE took the image one […] more »

Curiosity: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars”

Mon 6 August 2012, 2:41pm

Tweet If you didn’t manage to catch those ‘seven minutes of terror’ earlier this morning for Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, here’s how it worked out. From NasaTelevision As the Curiosity Rover said on Twitter I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL — […] more »

Curiosity: “It’s like the Olympics for nerds!”

Sun 5 August 2012, 9:09pm
MSL landing site - Gale Crater

Tweet Just a quick reminder that, if everything goes to plan, Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the red planet at 6.30am [BST] tomorrow morning.  As the Curiosity Rover says itself It’s landing day & I’m hours from Mars! Watch my final @nasa prelanding briefing, […] more »

Curiosity: “We’re doing something completely novel, hanging it way out there”

Tue 31 July 2012, 5:24pm
MSL landing site - Gale Crater

Tweet Launched back in November 2011, Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the red planet at 6.30am [BST] on Monday 6 August. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS] They’ve successfully repositioned the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft to keep in touch with Curiosity as it descends into Gale Crater […] more »

“Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the UK Department for Transport”

Thu 19 July 2012, 1:00pm

Tweet As the Guardian reports, US company Odyssey Marine Eploration have announced the recovery of “approximately 48 tons of silver bullion from a depth of approximately three miles” from the SS Gairsoppa, 300 miles off the Irish coast. According to Odyssey Marine This initial recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo […] more »

National Trust: “To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.”

Wed 18 July 2012, 2:05pm

Tweet As the BBC report, after a fortnight of stonewalling and denials, and temporarily closing comments at their press blog, the National Trust has announced that they intend ”to review the interpretive materials” in the controversial section of their Giants’ Causeway Interpretive Centre.  [Have the Geological Society had a word in their shell-like? - Ed] They’re […] more »

Dwarf Planet Gains Fifth Moon…

Tue 17 July 2012, 8:08pm
Hubble image of Plutonian system

Tweet Not that it didn’t already have five moons.  At least.  ANYhoo…  As I was saying this time last year, when Hubble spotted a fourth moon orbiting Pluto.  The Hubble Space Telescope has been looking at the twin dwarf planet system of Pluto and Charon ahead of Nasa’s New Horizons mission expected arrival in the […] more »

Bovine TB and badgers: “This approach has not been tried anywhere else…”

Sun 15 July 2012, 3:26pm

Tweet The different approaches of the various administrations in the UK and Ireland to attempting to eradicate bovine tuberculosis [TB] in wild animals, specifically badgers, are worth noting.  They are all in response to the EU Directive 64/432/EEC which, as the Welsh adminstration’s website notes, ”requires Member States to provide plans showing how they will eradicate bovine TB in […] more »

Memo to the National Trust…

Tue 10 July 2012, 5:26pm

Tweet The “intellectual baboons” behind young-Earth creationism at the National Trust’s Giants’ Causeway Interpretive Centre are singing your praises in letters to the editor and op-eds in the News Letter ‘Caleb’ had engaged over many months with elected representatives and the National Trust on this. The step taken by the Trust is a small, but welcome, […] more »

Giants’ Causeway Interpretive Centre: “The National Trust fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago”

Fri 6 July 2012, 4:07pm

Tweet Which is fine, but misses the point.  The National Trust continues to try to defend its decision to give in to the lobbying of the Caleb Foundation and include young-Earth creationist beliefs in the Giants’ Causeway Interpretive Centre.  [Are they after the crank pound? - Ed]  Maybe… and maybe not. Yesterday’s NT press office blog […] more »

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