Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, for a presentation by the Secret Science Club. Last night's program involved the screening of two episodes of NOVA.
The first episode was At the Edge of Space, which detailed the efforts of a team of scientists to observe electrical phenomena known as sprites. The episode was a wonderful look into the day-to-day work of an international team of scientists, working from the International Space Station and from facilities on the ground. The episode was lent an air of poignancy as the scientists were working on a project that had been pursued by Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia. This episode features breathtakingly beautiful footage of upper atmospheric phenomena.
The second episode was Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday? This episode dealt with the search of asteroids which have orbits which bring them in proximity to the Earth. An extended sequence depicted the detective work of Physicist Mark Boslough, who investigated the breakup of the Chelyabinsk meteorite pver Russia. Another asteroid "detective" who received star billing is Ed Lu of the B612 Foundation, which is developing a satellite which will be able to detect previously undetectable asteroids approaching the Earth from the direction of the sun. The episode also touched on potential efforts to defend the Earth from impact, including a hilarious scene of a very enthusiastic fellow with a very, very big gun. Finally, the economic potential of asteroid mining is discussed, with a particular focus on the water content of asteroids, and it's potential use in producing rocket fuel for further space exploration.
On another note, I think I have found my new favorite beer... Founders Breakfast Stout. This is a sweet stout with the merest hint of bitterness and a whopping 8.3% alcohol content. It comes highly recommended. Crack open a beer, load the videos, and get a taste of the Secret Science Club lifestyle!