Blogs

Name the next Mars rover!

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in cooperation with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures' movie WALL-E from Pixar Animation Studios, will conduct a naming contest for its next Mars rover. The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled for launch in 2009.

Image: Artist's concept of the Mars Science Laboratory roving the surface of the Red Planet.  Image: NASA/JPLThe contest began November 18, and is open to students 5 to 18 years old who attend a U.S. school and are enrolled in the current academic year. To enter the contest, students will submit essays explaining why their suggested name for the rover should be chosen. Essays must be received by January 25, 2009. In March 2009, the public will have an opportunity to rank nine finalist names via the Internet as additional input for judges to consider during the selection process. NASA will announce the winning rover name in April 2009.

Disney will provide prizes to students submitting winning essays, including a trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover is under construction. The grand prize winner will have an opportunity to place a signature on the spacecraft and take part personally in the history of space exploration.

The Mars Science Laboratory rover will be larger and more capable than any craft previously sent to land there. It will check whether the environment in a carefully selected landing region ever has been favorable for supporting microbial life. The rover will search for minerals that formed in the presence of water and look for several chemical building blocks of life.

Information about the contest is available at: MarsRoverName.jpl.nasa.gov .
More information on Mars Science Laboratory can be found at: MarsProgram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

 

Entry forms and a selection of books about Mars are available from a special display in our library's Youth Services area!

 

Think hard, write well, and good luck!

New Spam Attacks Lure with Current Events

In this article from Government Computer News, we learn that email spam attacks are attempting to lure people based on their interest in President-elect Obama's victory or the current economic crisis.

I personally received one of the Obama emails within a day or two after election day.

New Site for Kids Teaches Business Concepts

The US Federal Trade Commission has launched a site that teaches kids to be smart consumers.

The site, You Are Here places kids in an mall environment. In this interactive site, kids can learn about advertising: evaluating ads for reliable claims, and creating an ad for a shoe store.

It's a Mystery 10/30/08

Award-Winners

More 2008 mystery awards have been handed out for books written in 2007 and there are two novels which have nearly swept the various awards. 

Astronomy: Journey to Palomar on TV

A new PBS documentary about the history of American astronomy premiers Monday, Nov. 10. Entitled The Journey to Palomar, the film is about George Ellery Hale and the building of the giant telescopes at the Yerkes, and Mount Wilson Observatories, and Hale's crowning achievement at Palomar.  The 90-minute program premiers nationwide on PBS November 10.

The filmmakers write, "More than a science film, The Journey To Palomar is the story of America's 'can-do' spirit at its very best. The combination of Hale's dramatic personal story set against the backdrop of American history and humankind's reach into the far corners of the universe creates a film with appeal to viewers of all ages."

Lala.com, a cool music site

Lala.com is a music site that has been around for awhile, but it has changed its model. Here is what it offers:

  • song downloads (mp3 format, DRM-free) for 89 cents.
  • streaming any song in their catalog for free the first time you listen to it.

Sidewalk astronomy: a good night

A sidewalk astronomy event took place tonight, a part of Westlake Porter Public Library's Customer Appreciation Week. Two amateur astronomers from the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association set up their telescopes near the north end of the library's parking lot and invited visitors to take a look at some amazing celestial objects. After dicey late-afternoon cloud cover the sky cleared in time for setup at 7:30 and viewings from 8:00 to 9:15 PM.  Curious visitors got good views of Jupiter, the Hercules Star Cluster (M13), the Ring Nebula (M57), and the great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). The Ring Nebula was very difficult for most viewers to spot in the eyepiece but it was actually presented well in both telescopes. M13 --a globular collection of several hundred thousand stars-- was a beautiful sight. Andromeda Galaxy was its usual fuzz-ball self but not bad at all, the light from its trillion stars a subtle beauty through the telescope. Jupiter, some 492 million miles distant, was best viewed shortly after sundown. Good moments of seeing revealed multiple cloud bands in addition to the two big equatorial belts, and patient viewers got a good look. Seeing was unsteady at lower angles and as the planet sank lower in the sky, occasional good seeing ended and the planetary disk was unsharp. Thanks to those who braved the chilly temperatures for a good night of sidewalk stargazing!

Prescription Drug Safety Information from the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has launched a single Web page that provides safety information for prescription drugs. The site includes information in a range of categories including:

  • Drug Labeling
  • Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS)
  • Studies and Clinical Trials of Approved Products Required by FDA or Agreed to by the Application Holder
  • Registries and Clinical Trials
  • Latest Safety Information
  • Using Medicines Safely

By launching this single page, the FDA has made this information much easier to find.

Ebooks and Audiobooks: A Presentation

I had the pleasure to give a presentation to the Northeast Ohio PC Club (NEOPC) about ebooks and audiobooks.

I discussed not only the library's Netlibrary service, but also ebook readers and audio book devices.

It's a Mystery 10/07/08

Season's Readings

 

Though we may not be ready, many holiday-related mysteries will soon be appearing in our new book section.  Here is a sampling:

A Christmas Grace - by Anne Perry - Now a holiday tradition, this sixth Christmas mystery, featuring Perry's popular Victorian sleuth Thomas Pitt, tells the chilling story of a storm-wracked coastal village that hides a terrible secret.