Saturday Link Rundown

I want to read, study, and play video games, but instead I’m falling asleep. I’ve had all the tea that I can stand, I’m warm and comfortable, and there’s a thunderstorm rumbling as it builds outside.

Before I do fall asleep, I need to feel as though I’ve accomplished something., however small. I’ve been stockpiling interesting links, so here they are, in no particular order, for your weekend browsing pleasure.

President Macron’s Twitter

How Many People are in Space?

Be the match for someone who needs bone marrow. 

The Weather Channel has gotten interesting lately.

Stuff in Space

 

 

The Resistance is Still On- Link Rundown

Have you been to the EPA website, lately? They do still have one, and quite a few gory details of recent activity are spelled out on the front page. There is a tradeoff to all of the reviews and “reforms” that are in store. It’s worth the effort to honestly consider the cost of what we are losing, and to ask what we will get in return.

epa.gov

There has been enough time since the presidential election shook the collective consciousness of the nation that we’re all settling back into everyday life. I’ve been putting all of my focus on my serial and novella, lately, and I have been neglecting SPQR just a little. However, there are still ways to help. The most pressing is the March for Science which, yes, has gained traction.

March For Science

I do love the idea of marching for something rather than against. If you can’t go to DC or attend a local march, there is a virtual marching option, or you can donate.

 

Also, Here’s something to give you a few laughs, if you need them.

President Supervillain

MST3K The Return

 

Here, also, is a faint ray of hope. It’s time for us to look forward, and build toward the future.

Deep Space Gateway

Major Announcement

I’ve finished the project I hinted at in the past- a novelization of the first part of The Coven.  It has been rearranged in a chapter format for kindle, and there is new content only available on the kindle version.

The first book of what will be The Coven series, Stellar Visions, is free on kindle this weekend.

The amazon link is available here and below.

 

stellar_visions

 

Tuesday Link Rundown

Today, we explore actual advances in the field of science.

 

I’m a little late to the party, but this is still fascinating. Nasa has discovered 7 exoplanets orbiting a dwarf star. They’re calling the system TRAPPIST-1. I don’t support Neil deGrasse Tyson’s proposal to name them after the 7 dwarfs. Imagine: planet Grumpy.

 

NASA’s Explanation

 

Here’s something else I’ve seen popping up here and there- a new theorized quasiparticle.

Eurekalert

 

And this is pretty cool- a new primate has been discovered.

 

Primate Teeth

Link Rundown: Positive Change

Saving the world doesn’t always involve inspiring acts of bravery; the project needs funding, as well.

If you are interested in giving, and would like your dollars to do as much good as possible, here are some resources that may help.

GiveWell

Centre for Effective Altruism

Animal Charity Evaluators

Cool Earth

Also, here are some links for those who want to give a little extra to help some worthy institutions.

PBS

NPR

NEA

National Parks

Monday Link Rundown: Attention Citizen Scientists

If you are a layperson, there are still opportunities for you to contribute to scientific progress. Below are some links to interesting research projects where amateur scientists can contribute.

 

The 4*P Coma Morphology Campaign is asking for amateur and professional images of comet 45P/HMP and comet 41P/TGK.

 

4*P Coma Morphology Campaign

 

You can do comet hunting with the SOHO mission- instructions are found here.

 

Guide to SOHO Comet Hunting

 

Also for amateur astronomers, the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA). By timing and observing lunar and asteroid occultations, scientists hope to discover double stars and understand the lunar terrain better, among other benefits.

Citizen Science Alliance

IOTA

 

This project also caught my eye, as the last time I went down to a local park for some stargazing, I was assaulted with a cacophony of frogs.

 

FrogWatch USA
These are just a few projects, but there are many more available here.

 

 

Alice through the Prism- Part III

 

Alice Through the Prism

Part III- Sightings

 

Alice looked up at the cloudless sky, which was unnaturally empty. Where there should be stars, there was only a vague, silvery glow. It felt as though the football stadium, in its bright bubble of light, was suspended in an empty universe.

Then a steady drumbeat started, rumbling in Alice’s stomach and stirring up her heartbeat, and she was back on earth, in the world of team spirit and football.

The drums beat faster and faster, and a fanfare joined in. The cheer squad, pom-poms waving, ran onto the field. A small, short haired girl in a cheerleading uniform followed close behind, turning handsprings.

Alice stood up, intending to pull Lucy off of the field, but Lucy jumped out of her last handspring, waved at the crowd, and then fell into formation with the other cheerleaders. As Alice watched the cheerleaders perform their first routine, it was plain that they’d all practiced it together.

Alice sighed. Sure, Lucy was crazy, but she had deserved to be on the cheer squad. Alice vaguely wondered if Kaitlyn had been forced to put Lucy on the squad- after all, Lucy’s talent had made it fairly obvious that Kaitlyn was playing favorites when choosing the new squad mates, but Kaitlyn looked fairly happy. In fact, Alice could have sworn she saw Kaitlyn wink at Lucy, and Lucy wink back.

Alice wandered to the edge of the field, where she took a few pictures of the cheer squad and a few more of the football players as they tore through the paper banner. Then she headed for a bare spot on the bleachers to get a good view of the whole field.

Just then, the cheering in the stadium gave way to boos.

The opposing team’s marching band was filing into the stadium. The two drum majors in front were carrying a large, blue and gold cage between them. They were flanked by flag girls, who both carried large banners that read:

All Hail the Wombat

Alice tried to frame the scene for a picture, but just then the bleachers shook, and when Alice steadied her hands, the band’s formation had broken up.

“Sorry I’m late,” said Brendan, who had apparently been the culprit. The bleachers shook again as he sat next to Alice. “Did I miss anything?”

“Now much. We’re booing the Wombats’ mascot, now.”

“Do they have a real wombat in that cage?”

“I think so- it looks real from here.”

“I wish the district would outlaw live mascots. It’s cruel.”

“Why don’t you ask the district to outlaw them? Use your clout as student council president.”

Brendan snorted. “We both know how much power I really have. By the way, who is the new cheerleader- the one who just did the double backflip. That’s not Lucy, is it?”

“That’s Lucy- I’d recognize that backflip anywhere. I guess she made the team, after all.”

Brendan bit his lip, bus said nothing.

“I know she’s a little strange,” Alice said, “but-”

“She’s not just strange- she’s a drug dealer.”

“A drug dealer? Lucy?”

The cheer squad was forming a pyramid, with Lucy at the very top. Lucy pulled her foot up behind her to touch the back of her head, and then she was tossed up into the air and caught again.

“Lucy doesn’t seem the type. She’s ambitious- maybe a little too ambitious.”

“That’s why she does it. She calls the drugs ‘performance enhancers.” She and her friends are trying to get the whole school hooked on them. The lunch she gave you was laced with the stuff.”

“How do you know this?” Alice asked.

“I know because she told me.”

Alice fell silent, fiddling with her camera settings to avoid an awkward silence. Alice wasn’t sure she should take this claim any more seriously than Lucy’s claim that she was a cyborg, and yet, why would Lucy incriminate herself? Even if she really had tried to drug Alice, why would she confess?

 

#

 

“We’re getting trounced out there.”

Alice, having taken enough depressing shots of the first two quarters of the game, let her camera dangle from the strap around her neck and stood.

“I’m going to get some water- you want anything?”

“No, I’m fine,” Brendan said. “The halftime show is starting- look.”

Brendan pointed to the field, where Kaitlyn was dragging the quarterback off of the field, waving the team playbook in the other hand.

Alice laughed, “well, have fun. Let me know if she kills him.”

When Alice turned to head toward the concessions, however, she heard a familiar voice call her name.

“Alice! Wait up. I have some more evidence for you.”

“Hi Lucy,” Alice said, slowing down so that Lucy could catch up to her. “Congrats on making the squad.”

“Thanks,” Lucy said. “Listen- I’ve been thinking, and I guess you’re going to need more than a thumb trick to convince you that I’m a cyborg. I’ve decided to give you a whole lot of easily-digestible bits of evidence until you’re convinced.”

“Ok,” Alice said. “As long as you don’t do anything weird.”

Lucy paused. “Um- Alice, that’s the whole point of this. You need weird evidence for a weird phenomenon. Besides, weird is what I’m all about.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed. Just keep your shirt on this time.”

Lucy laughed. “Ok- ok. Now for my evidence- do you see that vending machine, over there?”

Lucy pointed to a soda machine that stood a little ways from the concession stand.

“That soda machine is in a really inconvenient place- I think it should be moved.”

Lucy walked over to the soda machine, wrapped her arms around it, and lifted it off the ground. She walked a few feet over to the left, as far as the cord would allow her to go, and dropped it back down with a loud thud.

“Hey!” a tiny, white-haired man leaned out of the concession window and shook his fist at Lucy. “Don’t bang on the machine. If it took your money, call the number on the side.”

Lucy stuck her tongue out at the man, and turned back to Alice.

“So- what do you think?”

Alice walked over to the machine and attempted to pick it up. She couldn’t find an angle to get a good grip on it to pick it up, and even her attempts to push it over to its original spot were fruitless.

“That’s a pretty good trick,” Alice finally conceded.

“Trick? It’s not a trick. I have super-strength. My skeletal structure is reinforced with a super-rare metal alloy, and my joints are all hydraulic.”

Alice raised her eyebrows. “If you have super-strength, then why would you need to take performance enhancers?”

Alice didn’t know what answer she expected to this question, which may have been the reason she asked. If Lucy had been anyone else, she would have expected a denial, and perhaps an accusation that Brendan was lying. Alice thought that Lucy might simply laugh it off.

Instead, Lucy spoke matter-of-factly. “I distribute the performance enhancers, but I don’t really need to take them, myself.”

“So Brendan was right? You’re a drug-dealer.”

“Oh no- I’m not a drug dealer. I would never take money for the stuff. I’m just performing a public service.”

Before Alice could reply, a cheer rose from the stadium- the game was starting once more.

“Ooops! I’m late for the second half,” Lucy said. “By the way, stick around after the game. Something awesome is going to happen.”

Lucy waved at Alice, and ran back to the field, kicking her feet up behind her.

 

#

 

The second half of the game passed much quicker than the first. The home team had rallied, and Alice was kept busy taking picture after picture of amazing plays, between which she took notes.

In the end, the home team won. The cheerleaders chanted a victory cheer, and the crowd went wild.

“G-R-E-A-T, that’s what spirit means to me, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, the only limit is the sky!”

Just then the stadium lights all went out, and the cheering turned into nervous laughter. The cheer squad and the marching band went silent.

After a few moments of darkness, the sky began to glow silver. It grew brighter and brighter, dazzling Alice’s eyes until she had to look away. A strange music, soft and pure like a heavenly choir, swelled around her, seeming to come from all directions. Then there was a loud *whoosh* and the sound of music faded away. The silver light dimmed, and Alice looked up again in time to see a globe of silver light soar over her head and disappear over the horizon.

The stadium lights switched back on, and the crowd exploded into chaos.

“Hey-” shouted a band member over the noise. “Where’s the wombat?”

Alice picked up her camera and zoomed into the wombat’s cage. Sure enough, the wombat was gone.