Science of the Solar System

I just finished an online course on the science of the solar system, taught by Mike Brown (alias Plutokiller) of Cal Tech. It was pretty great! I learned a lot. Brown did an excellent job presenting it — as I couldn’t help but notice from the few guest lectures along the way; they weren’t bad, but I kept wishing they were as good as Brown’s. (Pro tip: Look at the camera, guys!)

I feel like I now know more (or perhaps I should say, am less ignorant) about Martian geology than terrestrial, which leads me to think maybe a geology course sometime.

Also, as an indirect result of taking this course, I now own a chondrite and an iron meteorite. No achondrites, no pallasites, yet.

 

Onondaga Brew Crawl: Seneca Street Brew Pub

We came, we crawled… five of us were there Friday for the inaugural outing of the Onondaga Brew Crawl, “there” being Seneca Street Brew Pub in Manlius. I had their pale ale, which was all right, and the Erie Canal Amber Waves, which I liked better. (Seneca Street recently bought Erie Canal, so both were technically their beers; they had a number of other breweries’ beers on tap too.)

The tasting room’s small and it takes some doing for a group of more than two to sit together and converse. We pulled some small tables together but at the cost of constricting traffic flow somewhat. It was fairly quiet when we got there around 7 pm, crowded and noisy by the time we left around 8:30.

County brewing

County brewing

It was getting so I couldn’t keep track of all the breweries springing up in the Syracuse area, so I made a spreadsheet and a map.

I remember being semi-excited, semi-bemused back in 1990 when Hungry Charlie’s converted to a brewpub. Chuck’s was a student party bar near the SU campus and the idea of putting a brewpub there struck me as strange. Must’ve struck others as strange, too, because the place closed within months. Then the tanks came out and the Coors came back.

The Syracuse Suds Factory opened not long after. I wasn’t very impressed on my one visit there but they’re still in business. Then the Empire Brewing Company whose beer was better and food was good; noisy, but we used to go there weekly anyway. They closed abruptly at some point, then reopened.

The Middle Ages Brewing Company, a microbrewery, also started up in the 1990s, with beer names and labels that never did much for me but some good beers. Another microbrewery, Relyea, didn’t last very long (and their closing resulted in my getting a huge supply of bottle caps with an “R” on them at the local homebrewing supply store.)

Fast forward to 2016 and there are by my count twelve brewpubs, nanobreweries, microbreweries, and megabreweries (the Anheuser-Busch facility in Baldwinsville) operating in Onondaga County with four more planned. One of them is even in the family, well, my soon-to-be-ex-wife’s family; her cousin and his wife are farming hops and setting up brewing operations on the property their grandfather bought in the 1940s and where we were living up until 2011. In fact their brewhouse is what used to be our storage shed, which moved with us up to Parish and back, and served a short term as our chicken coop. Trust me, it’s been cleaned.

I added another eight out-of-county-but-sort-of-close breweries, seven operational and one planned, as the second page of the spreadsheet and a second layer on the map.

We have a small group (Facebook) who are planning on monthly visits to these breweries, or at least the ones that sell beer on premises. Our first was the Seneca Street Brew Pub in Manlius, last Friday. The way things are going, we won’t have to repeat ourselves very soon.

 

Food trucks and brews

I would’ve had a better time at the Syracuse Food Truck Festival if it hadn’t been raining. And if it hadn’t involved standing in lines a lot, but when you’ve got 25 food trucks and several thousand people attending, I don’t know how you can avoid that. Anyway, we got some nice burrito bowls from Hot Rosita’s Grill Food Truck and ice cream (Perry’s) from, I dunno, some ice cream truck, and I got beers from Great Lakes Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery (IPA and pale ale, respectively, both good) while Kenny got a smoothie. Can’t complain about the food or the beer… well, I could complain about the grapefruit IPA and the raspberry beer I was offered but declined, but not about the ones I drank…

#MarsWalk Day 134, 807.7 km

#MarsWalk Day 134, 807.7 km

Another 100 km down. Sunday was the first Cycle in the City ride of the year which accounted for 25 km of the approximately 64 I covered this week. Sunday also was the day I passed the 25% mark… I’m a quarter of the way there.

Not much to see though. From the daytime IR mosiac it looks like I’m near the head of a channel leading back into that low area I just hiked through.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.24.59 PM

 


MarsWalk spreadsheet

MarsWalk kmz file (for Google Earth — View >> Explore >> Mars)

#MarsWalk Day 127, 744.5 km

#MarsWalk Day 127, 744.5 km

Not much of interest on Mars or its surrogate, Earth, this week. Decent, unexceptional distance, no noteworthy milestones or landmarks. Except, well, here’s last week’s picture again, from the THEMIS Day IR mosaic:

Screenshot 2016-05-06 20.44.42

See the prominent little crater near bottom center? I went bang through the middle of it on Wednesday.

Here’s the same area in the THEMIS Night IR mosaic:apsus night IRNot exactly a lot more interesting, generally, except for that even littler crater to my north. What the heck’s going on there? It and the surrounding area are much more bright (relative to the rest, at least) in the infrared at night than in the day.

What’s happening there is, well, I don’t know. Clearly it’s warmer at night than the surrounding area. Looks like it has to do with ejecta from the crater: maybe it’s darker, so it absorbs more heat during the day? Why not the other craters, though? Maybe this is a much more recent crater, and the ejecta around the other craters has lightened with exposure?

Apparently I’m not the only person who thought this crater looked interesting, because HiRISE took a picture of it. Here is the IRB color version (cropped):crater may 2016Wow. So what’s an IRB color? According to their information sheet, that means “3-color image consisting of IR, RED, and BG images. The IR and BG images have been warped to line up with the RED.NOMAP image” I love it when they define acronyms in terms of acronyms. They don’t go out of their way to say so explicitly, but apparently this means images in infrared, red, and blue-green wavelengths.

So why the blue streaks? “Dust (or indurated dust) is generally the reddest material present and looks reddish in the RGB color and yellow in the IRB color. Coarser-grained materials (sand and rocks) are generally bluer (or sometimes purplish in IRB color) but also relatively dark, except where coated by dust. Frost and ice are also relatively blue, but bright, and often concentrated at the poles or on pole-facing slopes. Some bedrock is also relatively bright and blue, but not as much as frost or ice, and it has distinctive morphologies.” In this image the blue streaks are stronger on the south side of the crater — facing the north pole — so my guess is it’s likely to be frost.


MarsWalk spreadsheet

MarsWalk kmz file (for Google Earth — View >> Explore >> Mars)

#Chocolate review: Guittard Épique 70% cacao

#Chocolate review: Guittard Épique 70% cacao

2016-05-07 22.03.57Let’s see what it says on this label:

“Origin: Central America, South America, Carribean”. In other words, it’s from somewhere in the western hemisphere.

“Varietal: Forastero, Trinitario, Criollo”. In other words, it’s chocolate. (Those are basically the only three varieties of chocolate.)

“Bittersweet chocolate with dried red fruit notes and anise end notes”. Really. Someone with a more sensitive palate than mine, maybe, could pick up on the dried red fruit and anise notes. Or indeed on more than trace amounts of flavor at all, which is what I got.

I mean, this stuff isn’t unpleasant. And the texture’s fine. But as dark chocolate goes, it’s remarkably tasteless.

“Blend No. 49”. Maybe No. 50 will be better.

#MarsWalk Day 120, 705.9 km

#MarsWalk Day 120, 705.9 km

I’ve crossed the 700 km mark.

I was going to say there wasn’t much interesting around me on Mars, again, and then (using JMARS again) I tried looking at the THEMIS Day IR layer. THEMIS being the Thermal Emission Imaging System on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, an infrared-and-visible camera, and it makes the area look a lot more interesting than in the imagery used by Google Earth, or the MOLA layer. I’m about in the center of this:Screenshot 2016-05-06 20.44.42Yikes. You can see the smooth area I was in last week at the top, and I’m heading into slightly less smooth terrain, but take a look to the west there: a river! About 25 km away. In fact, look closely to the west of that and you see a whole dendritic network feeding into it to further south:
Screenshot 2016-05-06 20.47.15

That former river is Apsus Vallis, from the classical name of a river in Macedonia. Beyond that I don’t know anything, but it for sure was wet there once.


MarsWalk spreadsheet

MarsWalk kmz file (for Google Earth — View >> Explore >> Mars)