Picture of the Week #50

Part of the Peekskill Meteorite. American Museum of Natural History, Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, August 2006.

This is a fragment of one of the more famous meteorites to fall to earth. It is well-known for two reasons - first, it was caught on video (since it conveniently entered our atmosphere during high school football games!) and second, because it hit a woman's car.

I *knew* this weather was driving me crazy

I had a conversation with a few people a couple of weeks ago and I hypothesized that the endless heat and lack of clouds was causing a form of the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that usually is associated with cold northern climates in winter. Well... this article came through Twitter from the Austin American Statesman today:

Meltdown! If you think the heat is making you crazy, you're probably right By Helen Anders AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A University of Arizona study found that the hotter it is, the more likely you are to honk your car horn at somebody (and, one must assume, the more likely that person is to return a salute of his or her own.)

And a University of Michigan study concluded that the hotter it is, the more Major League Baseball batters get hit by pitches.

We don't need a study to tell us that heat prompts us to make excuses for practically everything. "It's too hot," we say, to work out, cook, walk the dog, join a friend for lunch, shop ... you name it.

What we're suffering from here is cabin fever on the scale of a North Dakotan winter. We hunker down in the air conditioning. We emerge only to get into our cars, turn on the air conditioning, go to our air-conditioned jobs, return home and re-hunker.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness calls the syndrome seasonal affective disorder, whose acronym is the highly apt SAD. Most cases happen in winter, but the alliance says 10 percent happen in the summer. People get depressed, can't sleep, don't want to eat and get all agitated.
Full article

Picture of the Week #48

The Rosetta Stone. British Museum, May 1998.

This week is the 210th anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in Egypt. When you visit the British Museum now, the stone is in an upright glass case, which is nice because you can see all of the stone now. But of course, you can't surreptitiously touch it any more. ;)

Picture of the Week #47

Section of a mission control console from the Apollo era at the “To the Moon” exhibition at the LBJ Library. April 2009.

Picture of the Week #46

Mercury Capsule "Big Joe". National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, September 2006.

From the information plaque:

Height: 2.9 m (9 ft. 4 in.)
Weight: 1,159 kg (2,555 lb)

On September 9, 1959, NASA launched this unmanned Mercury spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a suborbital flight that lasted 13 minutes. It was the second Mercury launch and the first using an Atlas booster. The flight helped NASA evaluate the booster, the new ablative heat shield (designed to burn away during reentry to dissipate heat), the capsule's flight dynamics and aerodynamic shape, and spacecraft recovery systems and procedures.

The heavily instrumented "Big Joe" was the most massive American spacecraft launched up to that time. Its internal design was different from the manned version, but its success paved the way for the beginning of manned Mercury launches in 1961.