Space from the cheap seats

by lestro

A couple of students over at MIT apparently took this picture with a rig that cost them less than $150 total:

The two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.

Of course, all this would be pointless if the guys couldn’t find the rig when it landed, so they dropped a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone inside the box for tracking. Total cost, including duct tape? $148.

Ridiculous.  So that shot above, what’s the deal with that?

The picture you see above was shot from around 93,000 feet, just shy of 18 miles high. To give you an idea of how high that is, when the balloon burst, the beer-cooler took forty minutes to come back to Earth.

And just in case you want to try this at home, they will be posting instructions here.

Amazing. Who needs NASA anyway?


aliens respond “who is paul and how did he die?”

by lestro

Apparently on Tuesday NASA beamed the song “Across the Universe” toward the North Star. And now, some other people think that by sending them the Beatles, we are asking for trouble. Dig:

“I have no fear that NASA’s latest transmission exposes Earth to any danger from aliens,” he tells The Daily Telegraph.

“However, I do believe that even symbolic transmissions from Earth deserve broad-based discussion before hitting “send.”

“Although one-time transmissions to distant stars stand little chance of being intercepted, they do set a precedent for intentionally making ourselves known to other civilizations.”

“I think the more important question is what we would want to say about ourselves to other worlds, and that’s something deserving of global input,” he says.

First of all, do you know anyone who doesn’t like the Beatles? We don’t want to talk to any aliens who don’t like the Beatles. They’re The Beatles. I mean, come on.

But beyond that, my first thought was that it was a marketing ploy for the movie that was released on DVD tuesday?

It was the anniversary of the song being recorded, but still…