Halloween 2012 – An Art Project


This year I diverted a lot of free time from other hobbies and focused on one project; something you might think a complete waste of time. This year, and I do mean the entire year, I made a haunted house. The following are the details—and my attempt at justifying such behaviour.

Why, you might ask—must a blog about rationality, reason, skepticism, art and astronomy—be so encumbered with posts about… Halloween?

“I used to come here for science, or at least pretty pictures, guldangit! Why is this fool posting stuff about zombies and ghouls that I don’t believe in! I HATE this Brad Blogspeed!”

Whoa. Easy partner. Maybe I should explain my Halloween obsession a little before you write this blog off forever. Perhaps by the end I’ll be able to convince you of the following: that this spooky project was indeed my first ever cross-media art exhibit—something I’ve wanted to do forever—oh-so cleverly disguised as a haunted house.

Read the rest of this entry


The United States Congress wants to cancel Hubble’s successor. A very short film about why they shouldn’t. 

NOTE: Scroll down to skip directly to the video. If you enjoy it, please come back to learn more.

In a recent chat with Callum Sutherland of Milky Way Musings, he told me about the Save the James Webb Space Telescope video contest. Callum had released a short sample of his submission, at the time still in production, and suggested I put one together as well. The contest seeks to raise awareness of the impending cancellation of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the United States Congress, and the wealth of scientific opportunities that would be jettisoned along with it.

Breathtaking Footage of the Sun

A while back I posted some neato, full frame images of the sun. I called that article Look Upon the Sky God, because it tickled me to think about how audacious we were as a species to look directly into the face of our cosmic begetter.

If you don’t go for the whole supernatural deity idea, then you have to admit that the sun is the closest thing there is to something worth worshiping. It provides all the energy life uses to even exist*; how dare you make eye contact?

Rolling Ball Exhibit (Video)
by George Rhoads

A trip to the Science Centre reveals lots of fun science, a little bad science, and a giant machine filled with rolling balls. So I made a video!

Yesterday was another hot one in southern Ontario, and I had children to entertain. The wife had lady guests coming over to the house and preferred a sans-rugrat atmosphere for the occasion, so I was politely asked if I could handle the tots myself for the day; and elsewhere.

I considered the Zoo for a bit, but soon the heat had me contemplating air-conditioned possibilities. Just then it hit me. The Science Centre, of course!* Even though I’m obviously a big fan of science, I hadn’t been there since my eldest was just a year old, and I’m not sure why. Maybe at the time I’d been disappointed that my still-drooling infant wasn’t sufficiently impressed by the dispersal of light through a prism, but whatever the reason, I hadn’t been back in a few years.

How the Aurora Borealis Works

The Aurora Borealis
by Per Byhring

From what I can tell, I get three kinds of readers here on Brad Blogspeed. There’s the design nerds, then there’s the science nerds, and finally there’s the design/science nerds. (I’m not counting family who I bully into reading the blog against their will as a separate group, although I suppose I could.)

In any case, people in the latter two categories probably don’t have trouble visualizing the process of how the Aurora Borealis comes to exist, but I’m sure many others do. That’s where Per Byhring, forskning.no, and the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo come in.

Vidpicks on Vimeo!


Recently I’ve received enormous reader pressure to gather all the videos I feature on the blog into one, easy to navigate location. Well, to be honest nobody’s actually said it out loud, but I’m quite sure I have a handle on my audience, and that’s what you all wanted, right?


Anyway, I hate to deny any request, whether it be real or imaginary, so here it is! Vidpicks is my new channel on Vimeo where I’ll post all the videos you’ve seen shared on the blog. (after a minimal delay from the original post) While I can’t put YouTube clips on the page, since most of the stuff I send your way comes from Vimeo, I thought this was the best avenue. Perhaps I’ll do a YouTube channel at some point in the future as well, but I digress. Subscribe to the Vimeo page to stay connected with an easy-to-browse resource of informative and inspiring works of art and science. Have a look through some or all of them at your leisure. It’s a great way to waste time when you’re supposed to be doing something more constructive, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

It’s the Apocalypse! Let’s Dance!

Y’all know the world ends in two days right? Although members of doomsday cults aren’t necessarily known for their math skills, by some combination of slide-rules and communing with the dead a group of them have determined that our number is up.  At least according to one very vocal and cocksure denomination of the Christian faith, on May 21st, it’s all over folks.
Magnetic Movie
by Semiconductor

This video is over 3 years old, but I just discovered it today. Apologies if you’ve seen it already, but if you haven’t, you simply must check it out.

Here’s a great example of how animation can show us that which is hard to imagine. I’ve seen diagrams of magnetic fields before, but watching the little invisible buggers come to life as they do in this short film was beyond cool. What a great idea for a scientific visualization.

Screaming Babies


A little comedic interlude for you this morning, dear readers.

I saw the original clip of these two little guys yesterday and laughed at it, but it was just begging for some subtitles to be added. So I did!


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VseGZfhmtUo?wmode=transparent]

Rockin’ the Aurora

In The Land Of The Northern Lights
by Ole Christian Salomonsen

I saw the aurora once, completely unexpectedly. My wife and I were driving up to the cottage late one night when suddenly this green light started to ripple across the sky. I stopped the car, got out, and observed it for a few moments before I figured out what was going on, and thereby narrowly avoided wetting myself.

Seriously, for whatever reason the idea that the northern lights were above just didn’t occur to me at first, and it was a little scary. I can only imagine the various kinds of magic that pre-scientific people would have attributed to such a haunting but heavenly sight.
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