Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!
One of my new years resolutions is to blog a bit more and post more often than once a month. Let's hope this is one of the resolutions that work for longer than 3 days ;-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How to destroy the world with scientific experiments

I think I'll have to pick up posting for a bit ;-)

You might have heard that the LHC, the large Hadron Collider, at CERN in Swtzerland started up again this week. It is NOT going to destroy the earth (see my old post here), nontheless it's a nice opportunity to post a link from DarkRoastedBlend again dealing with Apocalyptic Scientific Experiments

Here's to teasers of what to expect:

Monday, November 02, 2009

What a day!

In principle, the idea was simple! Take a train to the airport, board a flight to Frankfurt, take another train to Heidelberg and check in with a friend, who was kind enough to be the host for a few nights.

Well, what can I say? It turned out to be not simple at all but rather to be quite a nightmare.
All went well before I left home. I got up, had breakfast (yes, surprisingly I do have that sometimes), checked emails, prepared a few things for my stay 'at home' and set off to the train station. It had even stopped raining, so at that point, I was quite pleased with myself when I walked there, it's just a short (~10 minute) walk. I got a ticket (only two counters open, but that part worked well) and approached the platform. There were already around 150-200 people waiting for the train. And then it all started to go horribly wrong. The train DID turn up, but it was tiny, not nearly enough space for all of us. We all managed to cramp in, but I wouldn't call it comfortable, especially with the perspective of having to stand at the entrance for another hour and a bit. Ok, I'm young (?), I'm fit (???), so ok. Everything was normal (train stopped at every small station) down to Derby, made his usual 20 minute stop there and set off again.

Well, no, it didn't.

After some time they apoligized for the de;ay, due to a staff problem at Derby. Apparently the driver had decided he had worked enough and had set off, without his replacement driver being there. So after another 10 minutes of waiting and no information what was happening, they were searching for the train driver "John Holmes" (or whatever) to report to Platform 6a, he might be needed there. He indeed would have been. Only, ..., he never came. So after another 15-20 minutes, they gave up and simply canceled (!) the train. Amazing, never had that before. A train canceled, which had made it for 20-30 kilometers and was packed with people already. Great. The best thing was that they didn't even announce it for a while, only the electronic signs on the platform said so, it took them another 5 minutes or so to do it by speaker, by which time of course everybody knew and had left already.

Don't worry, it got worse!

Already very annoyed, because I was already 30 minutes late by then to what I had planned (Being german, I had, luckily, planned to be at the airport 2 hours before my flight), everybody moved to platform 1 where the next train was scheduled for Birmingham New Street, where I had to change train to get to the airport. A train turned up in time. Early actually, but then it stood there, everybody was piling up, waiting for the doors to open,.... and then, after 8 minutes or so, it left again, now running a few minutes late, NOT having opened the door, so the people who wanted to go IN were still OUTside, the people that wanted to get OUT (Yes, there were people inside!) were still INside. Amazing. Two weird novelties on one day!

And it got worse!

They then announced another train to Birmingham just 4 minutes later (so by now 1 minute to change platform). So everyone sprinted to the stairs, over the bridge, to the train, cramped in (by now loads of people who wanted to take a train had arrived at the station),... but then had to wait for another 10 minutes for the train to leave. 10 minutes in which nothing happened. No fast trains went by that we had to wait for, no driver, amazingly, was missing. Nossing, nada, Rien, Nüx.
Eventually, the train set off (I was now 1 hour late, so only one hour for check-in and security, so started to get nervous) and I arrived at Birmingham.

And there it got worse.

As usual, the train didn't just go to the train station. No, no, english trains don't do that. It stopped 200 meters before for no apparent reason (no fast trains were going by, I think the driver should have been in still) and just stod there for 5 minutes. So at the time we were arriving, we were 10 minutes late again, but I made it to the platform for my connecting train in time (I had 2 minutes). Only, that train had left early!!! So I asked for the next train. Platform 1a, ok. Ran over, train was scheduled for 14:37 (my flight was 15:50, so by now I was running short of time!).

Aaaand,... it got worse!!

14:37: no train.
14:42: the signs changed to "delayed, expected 14:41
14:46: the signs changed to "delayed, expected 14:44
Funny, that, if only I wasn't in such a hurry.
14:48: the signs changed to "delayed, expected 14:47
I finally found some guy from the train company (cross country to name it!!) and asked him whether the train will eventually arrive, because I was already late by a lot and had to catch a flight. His answer (seriously!): "I have no idea!" !!!! What kind of an information politics is that? "But there is a train on platform 2 in 2 minutes that goes there as well (nobody said that on the loudspeakers), it's a delayed (of course) train for London Euston, originally scheduled for 14:10, now expected at 14:50". So some people (me amongst them) went over, the platform was packed with other people, apparently there hadn't been ANY train to the airport for about an hour, the train arrived, everybody (well ,nearly, not enough space for everybody) got in. And then the announcement (!): "The 14:50 train to London Euston has been cancelled!!!". Aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!
After some confusion and some very angry people leaving the train (I wonder what upset them) it turned out that the train scheduled for 14:50 was canceled. But this one was scheduled for 14:10, so it wasn't it! Again, what kind of an information policy is that? Amazingly, another 10 minutes later, the train did set off and I did get to the airport.

Believe it or not, it did get worse!

35 minutes (!) for check-in and security. I managed to check in my luggage, which at least assured me that they will not fly without me and went through security (amazingly, that was smooth). I saw "Gate opens in 5 minutes", so it was slightly later then I thought (by that time it was 15:35, so check-in should have started really), so got some sandwich and drinks. Amazingly, it turned out, it was more like 20 minutes until they called us to the gate. When we got there, the people there were confused and did know nothing, no plane is outside, so what should they check in?? Everybody went back for another 20 minutes and then they called us to the same gate again. The plane had arrived and was ready for boarding. We boarded. After all that had happened that day already, I was picturing myself going to tomorrow meeting either in the same clothes that I was wearing now because they had lost my luggage, or injured because the plane had crashed. I expected anything then.

And then, no kidding, it did get even worse.

The engines started, we didn't move. We didn't move for 10 minutes, the plane was around 35-40 minutes late already (not sure, I had to switch off my mobile, aka my watch). Then the engines stopped and some technicians came in and it looked a bit worrying. After some further delay, the problems seemed solved and we set off to the runway, accelerated and were on our way to Frankfurt. I thought it was finally over. And then: "Dear ladies and gentlemen, we are currently over London, but due to some technical problem we have to turn around and go back to Birmingham". NOOOOOO!!!! I have an important meeting! I need to go to Frankfurt!

Back at Birmingham, they had us wait for a taxi to the terminal for 10 minutes, then another 15 minutes until the bus arrived to pick us up and amazingly, they didn't open the door for another 10 minutes or so. It was then 7 o'clock, in principle I had assumed to be in Frankfurt by that time after a relaxing day. But no, I was still in Birmingham after around 8 hours of traveling and nowhere near where I wanted to be. Their plan was apparently to organize another plane (the one we've been in had to stay on the ground!) and take off at 8pm or so, so I might get to Frankfurt, at least, today. I called my sister who lives there to check whether she'd be there in case I would not get a connection train to Heidelberg where Eva also promised she would still open the door if I came late. I met a few other germans that were on the same plane and have had similar problems already. One guy will take the same plane back next week as I do, so I'll meet him again then for another (hopefully, a smoother) journey. One girl wanted to fly the day before from London, was driven there by friends (from Wales), and was then sent to the wrong gate (nice!), so went back to Wales and being driven to Birmingham today. Her parents are waiting at the airport since 6 o'clock. That is 6 hours in the end! Only parents would to that!

Serious question:
Are all transport connected companies rubbish in UK? I really cannot believe this. It would be so funny if you read something like this on the web. Experiencing this myself, I can tell you, it's not nearly as much fun as it sounds!

It turned out, they did find another plane somewhere, flew it over and we started boarding again at 8:20. That should make it around 11 in Frankfurt, rather than 19:50 as we expected initially, what felt like (nightmarish) years ago. I am currently writing (not posting, no WLan up here) this on the plane, and have been here for a while now, so I'd guess, we might eventually make it to Frankfurt. It's quite a shaky flight, but in case it doesn't crash (which would fit the day, but would be rather unpleasant and you would likely not be reading these lines), I would at least be there.

Let's just wait what other surprises the german train system and the tram system in Heidelberg still hold for me.

Sorry, whoever is reading this (if anybody is reading this), for the lengthly post. I just needed to say this to get some steam out. I really hope all the bad things happened today and tomorrow will go better. Good in fact. I hope the continuing bad luck will stop eventually. Keep your fingers crossed, please!

Of course it did not go smoothly. We finally landed at 23:48, which is 2 minutes (!) short of the 5 hours delay which would give us a full refund! At least when they count touch-down. If they count being at the gate, we should be able to get it.
We arrived at Terminal 2 in Frankfurt and I said goodbye to my newly found friends. Terminal 2 turned out to be bad, because, once I made my way to the shuttle bus and the train station at the airport, I had missed the last "good" train (0:28) to Heidelberg by 2 minutes (being back in germany, that train was in time of course! And the one at 0:39 that I was counting on only goes on sunday. And because it was after 12 am THIS counted as monday!). Seriously, if I ever read a book with this story, I would think it would be exaggerated and unrealistic.
There is another train to Mannheim at 1:27, arriving there at 2:00. I have decided to take this and then take a taxi or whatever from Mannheim to Heidelberg. Maybe I should walk. Seems to be the most reliable after all. I think I should then be at Evas place at 2:30 or so. Apologies for waking you up that late, Eva. :*

I could have stayed with my sister in Frankfurt, but I really prefer to be in Heidelberg in the morning that tomorrow at least has a chance of going as planned. I really hope, it does. Another day like this and I am not sure what's going to happen! I will have a few individual days off this week and I feel, I deserved them!

Terrified of what's coming next!

And what did we learn today?
Never take english trains!
Never fly with Flybe, it's worth spending 20 pounds more for Lufthansa. Unfortunately, I have just booked my christmas flights with Flybe 2 days ago.
Ironically, there is a train connection with the Euro-Star that brings me to Heidelberg in 11:20 hours! Maybe I should take that next time!

The whole thing reminded me a lot about Bodo Wartkes "Reisetagebuch" which I had posted before. Here it is (it's in german).

Update again:
I did make it at around 2:30, after 14 hours of traveling. The train connection is3 hours faster!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Riechling erklärt Relativitätstheorie

Matthias Riechling is a very good cabaretist in german television.
In this video, he 'is' Albert Einstein and explainsgeneral relativity. It's german, it's funny and worth watching.
I am posting this because today, I will be running around as Albert Einstein at the Space Day at Nottingham Castle. That should be a laugh. In case somebody asks awkward questions, I will just answer in german :D

Happy Halloween and dressing up!

Embedding is disabled, so you'll have to watch it here:
Matthias Riechling erklärt Relativitätstheorie

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gigagalaxy Zoom

Being an astronomer in the end, I thought, I should post something astronomical as a change.
This link leads to a project done by ESO.

It's called the 'Giga Galaxy Zoom', and basically, it is a huge zoomable image. Of you go there, click on the 'zoom' button and use the java application to zoom around in the milkyway. It's a stunning picture and has been taken with a rather small telescope (well, for todays professional comparison, that is), a 2.2 meter mirror telescope at La Silla in Chile, using the Wide Field Imager, which was incidently also used to get data for the Combo-17 survey, one of the surveys that I am using for my science. It's kind of the 'motherÄ project of bith GEMS and STAGES which are the actual data I'm using to examine how galaxies evolve over time. Combo-17 determined the colors of galaxies very acurately and was able to derive redshifts (distances or 'ages') of the galaxies we look at. It's a cool instrument with a rather big field of view, which is why ESO chose it for this project.

Here are some small example pictures. They are only tiny cutouts from the project, but give a good impression of the quality.

Go on, have a look on

You can download some pictures (25 MB files, but not the 800 MB full resolution data, though) here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Feynman thoughts

Referring to an older post a few days/weeks ago, I have found more oldies and goodies by Richard Feynman. Both of these videos are again the starting points of a series of videos that you can watch on youtube. Again, he explains the world and science in the Feynman-tpical way. I'd like to get there at some point, but I think that will be an illusion, that way might be too long.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mr. Bean, invisible drum kit and piano

Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is such a great mime. In these movies, he's playing an invisible drumkit or piano, respectivly. I wonder whether he actually played the drum for real, he looks very professional in miming it. The piano is not as good, but still great to watch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


There is a giant hexagonal structure at the pole of Saturn. It was first detected by the Voyager spacecraft in 1969, and it is still there! It's similar to the 'vortec' a wind around the poles that we can also find on earth, but it not hexagonal here, neither is it that stable. Weird!

Check it out:

Manthy Python meets Star Trek

I found this completely by accidents, following links from the Carl Sagan video, but isn't it amazing how it works together? Star Trek and Monthy Python!? A fantastic idea!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

Yes, I know, this has been on many blogs before, even some of friends (who told me they are not territorial about their content), so I thought I'd pass it on. It's a brilliant little astronomy song.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Feynmans fun

This is the sixth part of a longer series. It's an interview with Richard Feynman, the brilliant physicist. He explains why an mirror does change left and right, but not up and down. Isn't it cute what physicist can be amused about?
If you want to see the complete series, please start here. It's worth it, and everybody can learn a lot. He's got a very nice and clean way of describing things. THe only reason, I am not posting all of them is because it's 12 parts and it would be a bit long.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Micky Universe Song

Mickys Universe Song. Puts things in a perspective. No more word needed.

Films/movies, clichees and weird facts!

A great article (in german!) about (true) clischees in movies. Things that are always done the same way. It's quite an eye-opener and actually hillarious to read:

Spiegel Eines Tages

Some examples:
- If the hero fights against a whole army, they always attack him one after the other, never all at once.
- Animals always make a sound when they enter the scene. Never does a cat just silently walk in.
- The cars of the bad guys always explode when the have an accident. The car of the heros can have the worst crash ever, they will never explode.
- The bad guys never run downstairs when they are chased, they always take the staircase upwards. That just makes the better fight on the rooftop.
- There is always a stand with vegetables on the streets that can be demolished in a car chase.
- All secret services seem to store their most important data (e.g. codes for nuclear weapons) on CDs that get lost.
- There is always a way INTO a house, but never an open escape route. Then suddenly all the doors are locked.
- Ships always sink at night, people always reach the lonely islands by day.

Related to movies, this is the story of a very famous sound file, the Wilhelm scream. It appears in thousand of films and when you watch this you will never be able to see one of them without noticing. Promise!

And a small compilation of the Wilhelm scream in movies. Amazing. I have never noticed before that everybody screams the same way ;-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thunderstorm over Frankfurt

Here's another video from a thunderstorm. This time it's in Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
Still awesome, I like thunderstorms as long as I don't stand exposed to the flashes ;-)

If you printed the Internet!

This is what you would need and get if you were mad enough to actually print the internet. I think that's interesting. Interesting enough to post it. I wonder how you'd print youtube, though? I guess, you wold only print the texts from webpages and ignore the pictures and videos.
(Found on

In the end, I am quite happy nobody tries to do that!


It's mean, but it's interesting. This is a test in which children are given a marshmallow and they are told that they can either eat it immediately, or they can wait and will then get another marshmallow in a few minutes time in case they did NOT eat the first one. It is SO mean to see them struggle, you can really see them thinking about what to do. All in all, I think they are doing quite well.

Here's the link, I cannot embed it unfortunately.

Link: Marshmallow test

Friday, September 25, 2009

Unique earth maps and other maps

I found these maps and I think the are fantastic.
All these and many, many more similar ones can be found at Worldmapper. Have a look around, they even have interactive versions of all these maps. If you have a closer look at some of them, it's quite interesting what you can find. Search without limit ;-)

All these maps show the world but the area of the individual countries has been weighted ad changed according to certain values. To start of with, this is kind of a normal map (for comparison) with the sizes correlated to the countries land area:

Weighted by total population. Where DO people live?

Weighted by net immigration. Where would people LIKE to live?

Weighted by mens income. How much do people earn in different places?

Weighted by alcohol consumption. Look, a map where germany is REALLY big!

Weighted by adult literacy. How many people can read?

Weighted by Child labour. If you live in africa or india, it's likely you have been working as a child.

Then again, you are not likely to read this (Weighted by the number of internet connections).

Weighted by toy exports. Are ALL toys produced in China nowadays??

And finally, the shocker: Weighted by HIV prevalence. No comment required.

More Maps:

The world according to Americans:

The world according to Texans:

Loosely related to this (it's also a map), I have also found the 'Map of humanity', which I found quite interesting. Please click for higher-resolution.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The LHC, Atlas detector

These pictures show the Atlas detector at the (new) LHC particle accelerator at the CERN in Geneva. It's I think the biggest detector ever built and one of the most complex structures ever built, too. The data output and analysis of this experiment will be simply staggering. You can join LHC@home if you want to help them do this job by offering abit of CPU time on your computer. There are other (some say even more useful projects within Boinc that you can join, e.g. climate change science, cancer research and similar).

About the LHC, please don't be afraid that it will destroy the earth, it is not going to happen!
If you don't believe me, please regularly check this website:

More pictures of the LHC can be found at DarkRoastedblend (as usual):

Most beautiful fractals

Here's three really beautiful fractals for everyone to admire.

These and more can be found on:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How the Space Station was assembled

The title says it all. Nice flash website (sorry, can't embed it here).

Thunderstorm in time lapse video

A very nice time lapse video of a thunderstorm.

Showdown with Zeus -- a lightning storm timelapse from Lucasberg (Joey) on Vimeo.

Simply beautiful!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Hubble Images

They have done it! After the last service mission earlier this year and some extensive testing of the instruments, Hubble is now back online and produces the first stunning images with the new cameras. Below you can find an example, higher resoultion pictures of the images can be found here. Take a look, they are great and so finely detailed, it's just amazing. Especially Stephan's Quintet is beautiful. Although pretty famous before, noone has ever seen it like this.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Best signs ever!

Oh man, I love this series at Darkroastedblend. Check it out for fantastic signs from all over the world. Simply hillarious!

Possibly one of the best signs I have ever seen is this one:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How men and women argue!

Without words :D

Bodo Wartke Reisetagebuch

For a change something in german. Bodo Wartke is a german songwriter. He's very funny and one of his peoms is the following. If you'd rather listen to it than read it, try on Last fm or in case you have spotify in stalled, use this link
(I have copied this text from his webpage

Mein Reisetagebuch


Liebes Tagebuch,

ich schreibe Dir heute aus dem Reisezentrum der Deutschen Bahn. Ich habe grade viel Zeit zu schreiben, denn ich will mir einen Fahrschein kaufen. Die ca. 300 anderen Leute, die außer mir hier sind, wollen sich auch einen Fahrschein kaufen, drum habe ich mir, um die Wartezeit zu überbrücken, ein bißchen Arbeit und was zu lesen mitgebracht: "Harry Potter Band 1-7".

Die Deutsche Bahn hat schon wieder ein neues Preissystem. Wenn man seinen Fahrschein z.B drei Tage vor Abfahrt des Zuges bucht, kostet er weniger. Ich bin deshalb schon seit vorgestern hier. Leider bin ich seitdem noch nicht an die Reihe gekommen, aber dafür kenne ich die meisten anderen hier schon mit Vornamen. Ab und zu lade ich sie in mein Zelt ein, und wir kochen uns was Leckeres auf meinem Campigkocher. Ich hoffe, mein Konservenvorrat reicht noch bis nächsten Dienstag, da fährt nämlich mein Zug.

Nächster Dienstag, früher Morgen

Liebes Tagebuch,
es könnte sein, dass ich heute doch noch rechtzeitig drankomme. Sie haben nämlich einen zweiten Schalter aufgemacht. So kriege ich zwar keinen supergünstigen Frühbucher-Sparpreis mehr, dafür aber vielleicht – und das ist ja auch nicht schlecht – meinen Zug.

Dienstag, früher Nachmittag

Liebes Tagebuch,
der Bahnbedienstete am Schalter hat mir meinen Fahrschein netterweise doch zum supergünstigen Frühbucher-Sparpreis verkauft. Mein Zug hat nämlich schätzungsweise drei Tage Verspätung. Zum Glück, denn vom gesparten Geld kann ich meinen Konservenvorrat wieder auffrischen.


Liebes Tagebuch,
als ich vorhin in den Zug eingestiegen bin, haben mir alle vom Bahnsteig gewunken. Es war herzzerreißend, aber es ist tröstlich zu wissen, dass ich sie bei meiner Rückkehr in zwei Wochen eh fast alle wiedersehen werde. Mein Zelt habe ich einem armen Geschäftsmann geschenkt, der versucht hatte, sich seinen Fahrschein am Automaten zu lösen.

Der ICE, mit dem ich jetzt fahre, ist sehr voll, doch ich habe einen Stehplatz vor dem Klo ergattern können. Hier kann ich mich schön anlehnen, zumindest solange die Klotür sich nicht öffnet. Aber die fünf Leute, die drin sind, kommen eh selten nach draußen; es sei denn, es muß mal jemand aufs Klo.


Liebes Tagebuch,
wegen der maroden Gleise fährt der Zug heute langsamer als er eigentlich könnte. Das macht aber nichts. So können wir in aller Ruhe die malerische Landschaft genießen. Das Wetter ist traumhaft, und es sind viele Fahrradfahrer unterwegs. Sie winken uns immer fröhlich zu, wenn sie an uns vorbei fahren.

Vor jedem Bahnhof gibt der Zugchef über Lautsprecher die Anschlußzüge der letzten paar Monate durch, die wir übrigens fast alle noch erreichen. Er wünscht allen Fahrgästen, die aussteigen, zum Abschied noch einen schönen Tag und bedankt sich bei Ihnen für das Reisen mit der Deutschen Bahn.

Aber aussteigen tut eigentlich kaum jemand, denn dazu sind ja nur die in der Lage, die einen Stehplatz in unmittelbarer Nähe zu einer Tür ergattert haben - und das sind ja meistens die, die grade erst eingestiegen sind.

Anschließend übersetzt der Zugchef seine gesamte Durchsage immer nochmal auf englisch. Schließlich ist der ICE der "official transport partner" für die Fußball-WM. Die ist zwar schon vorbei, aber hier an Bord befinden sich noch einige Endspielbesucher, die damals in Berlin zugestiegen sind. Unter ihnen sind tatsächlich ein paar Engländer, sie verstehen aber kein Wort von dem, was der Zugchef sagt. Er sagt nämlich Sätze wie "szänk ju foa trewelling wis Deutsche Bahn" oder "Wie wisch ju ä pläsent Johnny."

Neben mir steht ein Engländer, der Johnny heißt. Er freut sich jedes mal, auch wenn er den Rest der Ansage nicht versteht, über die persönliche Begrüßung. Dies sei in England nicht so, erklärt er mir. Er fange an Deutschland immer mehr zu mögen. Er könne sich sogar vorstellen hier zu leben, zumal eh nicht klar sei, ob er seine Heimat jemals wiedersehen werde.

Der Zugchef macht schon wieder eine Durchsage. Diesmal empfiehlt er uns - erst auf deutsch, dann auf englisch - ein paar Gerichte von der Speisekarte, die für uns im Speisewagen vom freundlichen Service-Team aufgetaut werden, z.B. ein Croissant mit Butter und Honig für 7 Euro 90. Das hört sich verlockend an, aber die meisten Passagiere haben nur D-Mark dabei und zum Speisewagen zu gelangen ist sowieso unmöglich, denn hier ist absolut kein Durchkommen.

Auch nicht für den Schaffner, deshalb erleichtern wir ihm die Arbeit und kontrollieren unsere Fahrscheine gegenseitig. Hin und wieder brauchen wir ihn aber doch, wenn es darum geht, Fahrscheine für die Passagiere nachzulösen, die seit der Abfahrt des Zuges hier geboren wurden.


Liebes Tagebuch,
der Zug ist vorhin mitten in der Nacht wieder mal auf offener Strecke stehen geblieben. Der Zugchef hat gerade über Lautsprecher durchgegeben, die Ursache für die kleine Verzögerung im Betriebsablauf sei diesmal keine von Vegetation überwucherte Signalanlage sondern ein brennender Triebwagen.

Um der ansteigenden Hitze im Inneren des Zuges entgegenzuwirken, werden vom freundlichen Service-Team von der Mitropa gekühlte Getränke verteilt. Leider ist nur noch Kaffee da. Immerhin. Der Strom ist grade ausgefallen. Doch der Flammenschein spendet genügend Licht, so dass ich Dir diese Zeilen noch schreiben kann:

Liebes Tagebuch, ich bin so froh, dass ich nicht mit dem Auto gefahren bin! Ich hätte sonst nie so viele liebe, nette Menschen kennengelernt. Selten erlebe ich eine Reise so bewußt, intensiv und naturverbunden. Schön, dass es in dieser schnelllebigen Zeit noch so etwas gibt wie die Deutsche Bahn...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Kseniya Simonova Sandpainting

Amanda Bauer posted this in her blog astropixie and I thought it was great, so I wanted to pass it on the the 2-3 people who read this ;-)
Kseniya Simonova is a ukrainian sand artist who recently won "ukraine's got talent." In this (what seems to be the final or some other TV show) she interprets the situation of the Ukraine during the second world war, including the invasion and occupation by german troops.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

morning glory clouds?

Here's something weird.
It's another picture from Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD) and it shows some unusual cloud constellations observed in Australia. They can't really explain how the appeared (I think some clouds seen in Bavaria sometimes have similar, although not as pregnant, shapes. And we learned in physics how they were formed. That doesn't seem to apply here.
If you have any idea, join the discussion on APOD ;-)

Besides, I think the name is hillarious! ;-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The story of stuff

Here's an interesting link that I found on the web the other day. It's the story of resources (from extraction to disposal, called the 'materials economy'), told by Annie Leonard. It's a nice wrapup and another nice starting point to think about our way of living.


Why Pluto isn't a planet!

I'm a bit annoyed by the (again) upcoming discussion about this, so I'll quote some numbers here.
One of the most important (and impressive) numbers on the subject is the so-called Stern-Levison parameter Λ. Basically this is the ratio between the mass of an object and the total mass of all the objects on it's orbit. When you compare the numbers in the wikipedia table linked below, you will easily see that there is a fundamental difference between what (most) scientists call a 'planet' and what (again most) scientists call a plutoid or an asteroid.
Please everyone, accept that Pluto is something different. This has nothing to do with scientists not 'liking' pluto or being 'anti-american' (Yes, seriously, I read that this would be the case because pluto is the only former planet that had been discovered by an american. And indeed, the community that wants pluto to remain a planet seems to be much stronger in america). I also read about one article suggesting to abandon the word 'planet' altogether and rather use 'earth-like/rocky planet', 'gas-giant planet' and 'plutoid', I second that. Gas-giants and earth-like planets are something different still.

Now, the Stern-Levison parameter Λ for most of the big objects in the solar system (btw, something orbiting another object in the solar system than the sun, is a moon, independent of it's size, shape and other parameters) can be found here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

IAU against light pollution and beautiful MilkyWay pictures

The IAU (International Astronomical Union) had released an article about Light Pollution last week because our skies get more and more lightened and polluted so we can see less and less stars (in principle, 5000 stars should be seen with the naked eye, but in soome places you can only see ~150). Many people have never even seen our own galaxy, the Milkyway.
The stars and galaxies have always been a great inspiration for artists, painters and poets. A source that we are about to loose.

Aditionally, the light pollution has large effects on the environment, both by using power to run the light and directly on animal populations.

In the last days, quite a few great pictures of the milkyway popped up in the web. As it fits the above resolution, I wanted to post and share them (click for full resolution):

Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (, TWAN)

Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (, TWAN)

Credit & Copyright: Larry Landolfi

Credit & Copyright: Tom @ timescapes from Timescapes (found on Amandas Blog Astropixie)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world - And general thoughts

I've discovered this video when I was browsing DarkRoastedBlend yesterday (one of the amazing websites where you can find loads of nice stuff, I'm pretty sure that will pop up here from time to time).

Reference has to be given to Jon Rawlinson who made this film. Thanks. The pictures are just stunning and the calm music really emphasises the beauty and the grace with which the animals move in the waters. Absolutely fantastic!

Somehow it's a bit shocking that they really have 3 big (but still young) whalesharks in the - still small compared to open water - aquarium tank. Whalesharks are sharks, but to humans they are not dangerous at all (they eat plancton, don't even have propper teeth). They are also the biggest living species of fish on earth, they have been reported to grow to over 13 meters in length and weighing over 12 tons.

On the other hand the whole scenery is just amazing and makes me remember a few nice dives that I had in the last years (though, unfortunately, I did never see Mantas and/or whale sharks in open water, friennds have and they told me about it. Certainly on my ToDo-list).

The underwater world is really, really beautiful, it's a bit unfortunate, that the tank in the video is just an empty tank, I have seen other aquaria (e.g. Monterey, California) where they have more realistic and lively tanks. I think, THIS should be the way to keep fish (Having said that there ARE fish that DO live in open water, not on reefs or shorelines, whalesharks travel a lot and probably don't mind empty tanks more than lively tanks.

Here's a video from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I really love diving. In the old question about holidays 'mountains or sea?', I did usually say mountains a while ago, but I have converted to sea since I made my diving license. Being totally out of your own habitat really takes you into a different world and I can only recommend it to anybody to at least try it out. I have never yet met anybody who did not like it when they tried it on a nice spot (2 meters visibility is NOT a nice spot!). It's just fantastic to see things moving all around you, something you would rarely see even in the deepest rainforest. Everything is so colorful (which you can only catch when your camera is working unfortunately, I need a new one), peaceful, silent ... nearly ruminent. You can really leave everything behind you. And when the animals acutally start interacting with you (turtles and sharks may come really close and observe you, doplhins and seals start playing), this is simply breathtaking.

Sometimes when I see films like these or even longer films like BBC documentaries, Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Home and others, I really love them, our planet is so breathtakingly beautiful (do I dare say even more beautiful than astronomical pictures?). It's so sad that mankind does care so little about it and keeps destroying it for sheer profit.

I just cannot (or don't want to) believe how poeple treat animals, how we shoot elephants for their ivory, hunt whales (for 'scientific' reasons or better to say: to eat them), destroy and poison big and ancient forests to get the valueable ores beneath them, burn every little bit of coal and oil that we can find and which took millions of years to be generated, overfish the oceans, poison the land and the sky, cut down the rainforests, e.g. on Borneo, destroying the last habitats of the last free orang utans (Watching Hannes Jaenicke in german television made me really sad, those animals are so human! Same mimic, same feelings. See Trailer here, full film searching for 'Hannes Jaenicke: Einsatz für Orang-Utans' on ZDF Mediathek, german, sorry. Help the Orang Utans by spending money to BOS, make your christmas presents a bit smaller this year).

And then the companies that cut down all the trees forests to plant oil palm trees ship the oil to europe and western countries, put it in nearly every food you can buy and, worse, sell them as 'alternative fuel', telling you that if you burn them you actually save the environment because it's 'renewable energy'. THAT is sarcastic and certainly NOT what people wanted!

I can only hope that our generation finally understands a few things and that we REALLY change the way we use and exploit the world. I'll keep trying to make my small contribution and I can only hope than millions and billions of intelligent people think the same way. People have to realize that we do not only destroy the beauty, but also the fundament on which our societies are built. I still want to have a planet left that I can hand over to my (hypothetical) children without being asked why we didn't take a bit more care!

(I got carried away, sorry for that)

Monday, August 10, 2009

How do people spend their time?

I thought that was an interesting link:

It's an interactive graphics showing how people (in US) spend their time of day split by gender, employment status,...
It's quite interesting to play around with it, give it a try.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Picasa Album online

After a good fight in the last days with finally organizing my camera photos at home, some of the pictures and albus are now online on my Picasa webpage at:

After organizing this, I can now start to post real things, maybe I'll start tonight.