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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."
-Leonardo da Vinci

Soaring about 30,000 feet above Whiteville, Tennessee, on April 29, 2013.

HALO Tandem Skydive... Almost seven years after I first posted a Blog entry about this awesome jump, I finally got the chance to do a 30,000-foot High-Altitude, Low-Opening (HALO) tandem skydive yesterday. The HALO jump took place at an airfield in west Tennessee (at West Tennessee Skydiving)...courtesy of the awesome folks at HALOJumper.com. Here are the stats from my skydive:

- 25,000 feet: The altitude at which all of the jumpers aboard the aircraft had to activate the portable oxygen tanks on our flight suits, and lower our goggles... (The pilot had to wear an oxygen mask of his own.)

- 29,190 feet: The exact altitude where my tandem instructor and I exited from the aircraft (a Super King Air)...

- minus-39° Fahrenheit: The outside temperature when we exited from the Super King Air...

- 5,500 feet: The altitude at which the parachute opened above the drop zone at the airfield...

- 2 minutes, 12 seconds: The exact length of the free fall...

- 7 minutes: The approximate time it took to descend towards the drop zone and land after the parachute was deployed...

- #121: I'm the 121st civilian to do a HALO jump...


and

- #1: I'm the first Filipino American ever to perform a 30,000-foot tandem skydive!

Needless to say, this experience was awesome! The only downside was that, for reasons I'm too lazy to mention here, my videographer was unable to exit the plane with us...so I only had the cool footage (posted above and below) that were taken with GoPro cameras strapped to both of my gloves to commemorate the jump. Oh well. Check out these amazing pics from this spectacular skydive...and then click on the link below to view more kick-ass photos from my free fall over west Tennessee! And then dish out money that you can otherwise use as a down payment on a new car to perform your own HALO tandem jump... Carry on.

LINK: Click here for more images from my HALO tandem skydive

Getting seated as the Super King Air gets ready to take off for my HALO tandem skydive, on April 29, 2013.

Waiting for the Super King Air to reach 30,000 feet, on April 29, 2013.

The free fall as seen from a GoPro camera attached to my left glove, on April 29, 2013.

Staring at my left GoPro camera after the parachute opens, on April 29, 2013.

Coming in for a landing at the West Tennessee Skydiving drop zone, on April 29, 2013.

Touchdown at the West Tennessee Skydiving drop zone, on April 29, 2013!

My HALO Jump certificate.

"Sometimes you have to go up so high to realize just how small you really are."
-Felix Baumgartner (October 14, 2012)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An image of the Laser Weapon System aboard the U.S. Navy warship USS Dewey.
John F. Williams / U.S. Navy

The Laser Weapon System... Check out these photos as well as a video showing an experimental weapon successfully shooting down an unmanned drone using an energy beam fired from a U.S. Navy warship. Pretty awesome... Note to North Korea (and Iran, but specifically North Korea): albeit still in the development stages, we have actual Star Wars-type weaponry to go with a (permitted) nuclear arsenal that will shut you up in a heartbeat. So ease up on the war talk, son. (This is the first and last time you'll hear me sound ghetto like that on my Blog.)

A screenshot from a U.S. Navy video showing an unmanned drone being shot down by the Laser Weapon System aboard the USS Dewey.
U.S. Navy / Youtube



Friday, April 26, 2013

Photo of the Day... This pic makes me embarrassed to be called a Christian (I'm Catholic, to be exact). Just kidding! Okay no I'm not.

So which school in Texas was this quiz taken at?
Image courtesy of I f**king love science - Facebook.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Hubble Space Telescope after it is docked with space shuttle Atlantis during STS-125 on May 13, 2009.
NASA

Happy Birthday, Hubble! Today marks 23 years since the iconic telescope was launched aboard space shuttle Discovery on STS-31. I have the sudden urge to watch Hubble 3D at the California Science Center (again) to commemorate today's anniversary...assuming, of course, the awesome 2010 IMAX film is still showing at the museum. I'll visit the science center anyway, just to see Endeavour in person once more. Space exploration rocks.

One of the Hubble Space Telescope's latest images: a photo of Comet (C/2012 S1) ISON that HST took as the comet was 386 million miles from the Sun on April 10, 2013.
NASA, ESA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute), and the Hubble Comet ISON Imaging Science Team

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quote of the Day, Part 2...

"Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too."

-― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quote of the Day...

"A guy and a girl can be just friends, but at one point or another, they will fall for each other... Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever."

-― Dave Matthews Band

Friday, April 19, 2013

Upon hearing that the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect was taken into custody, a police officer grins while the crowd cheers behind him in a Boston suburb...on April 19, 2013.
Julio Cortez / AP

Well-done, Boston!

The suspects behind last Monday's Boston Marathon bombing are finally neutralized...as of April 19, 2013.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An artist's concept of Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star (smaller and cooler than our Sun) that is located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.
NASA / Ames / JPL - Caltech

Kepler Update... Despite the fact that the spacecraft is one bad reaction wheel away from having its prolific mission cut short, Kepler keeps delivering the goods.

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Kepler Discovers its Smallest Habitable Zone Planets (Press Release)

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the "habitable zone," the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.

The Kepler-62 system has five planets: 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f. The Kepler-69 system has two planets: 69b and 69c. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-sized planets.

Two of the newly discovered planets orbit a star smaller and cooler than the sun. Kepler-62f is only 40 percent larger than Earth, making it the exoplanet closest to the size of our planet known in the habitable zone of another star. Kepler-62f is likely to have a rocky composition. Kepler-62e orbits on the inner edge of the habitable zone and is roughly 60 percent larger than Earth.

The third planet, Kepler-69c, is 70 percent larger than the size of Earth, and orbits in the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. Astronomers are uncertain about the composition of Kepler-69c, but its orbit of 242 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our neighboring planet Venus.

Scientists do not know whether life could exist on the newfound planets, but their discovery signals we are another step closer to finding a world similar to Earth around a star like our sun.

"The Kepler spacecraft has certainly turned out to be a rock star of science," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The discovery of these rocky planets in the habitable zone brings us a bit closer to finding a place like home. It is only a matter of time before we know if the galaxy is home to a multitude of planets like Earth, or if we are a rarity."

The Kepler space telescope, which simultaneously and continuously measures the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, is NASA's first mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Orbiting its star every 122 days, Kepler-62e was the first of these habitable zone planets identified. Kepler-62f, with an orbital period of 267 days, was later found by Eric Agol, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Washington and co-author of a paper on the discoveries published in the journal Science.

The size of Kepler-62f is now measured, but its mass and composition are not. However, based on previous studies of rocky exoplanets similar in size, scientists are able to estimate its mass by association.

"The detection and confirmation of planets is an enormously collaborative effort of talent and resources, and requires expertise from across the scientific community to produce these tremendous results," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the Kepler-62 system paper in Science. "Kepler has brought a resurgence of astronomical discoveries and we are making excellent progress toward determining if planets like ours are the exception or the rule."

The two habitable zone worlds orbiting Kepler-62 have three companions in orbits closer to their star, two larger than the size of Earth and one about the size of Mars. Kepler-62b, Kepler-62c and Kepler-62d orbit every five, 12 and 18 days, respectively, making them very hot and inhospitable for life as we know it.

The five planets of the Kepler-62 system orbit a star classified as a K2 dwarf, measuring just two-thirds the size of the sun and only one-fifth as bright. At seven billion years old, the star is somewhat older than the sun. It is about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.

A companion to Kepler-69c, known as Kepler-69b, is more than twice the size of Earth and whizzes around its star every 13 days. The Kepler-69 planets' host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type. It is 93 percent the size of the sun and 80 percent as luminous and is located approximately 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

"We only know of one star that hosts a planet with life, the sun. Finding a planet in the habitable zone around a star like our sun is a significant milestone toward finding truly Earth-like planets," said Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute in Sonoma, Calif., and lead author of the Kepler-69 system discovery published in the Astrophysical Journal.

When a planet candidate transits, or passes in front of the star from the spacecraft's vantage point, a percentage of light from the star is blocked. The resulting dip in the brightness of the starlight reveals the transiting planet's size relative to its star. Using the transit method, Kepler has detected 2,740 candidates. Using various analysis techniques, ground telescopes and other space assets, 122 planets have been confirmed.

Early in the mission, the Kepler telescope primarily found large, gaseous giants in very close orbits of their stars. Known as "hot Jupiters," these are easier to detect due to their size and very short orbital periods. Earth would take three years to accomplish the three transits required to be accepted as a planet candidate. As Kepler continues to observe, transit signals of habitable zone planets the size of Earth that are orbiting stars like the sun will begin to emerge.

Ames is responsible for Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Relative sizes of habitable zone exoplanets (discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft) and Earth as of April 18, 2013.
NASA / Ames / JPL - Caltech

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hundreds of spectators flee after an explosion takes place at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Food for Thought... Newton, and now this: Was is it about New England that causes people living there to be f**ked in the head? (Won't jump to conclusions that this attack involved foreign individuals.) My condolences to those affected by today's bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Police officers stand guard near a fallen runner after an explosion takes place at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why The Black Mamba Rules All... Is there a reason why Dwyane Wade needed a wheelchair even though he injured his shoulder? And I'll never forget Paul Pierce's "miraculous recovery" from whatever he got hurt from during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Hail Kobe.

Why Kobe Bryant has four more NBA titles than these Eastern Conference players.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Los Angeles Clippers Made History Today... They won their first Pacific Division title and season series sweep of the Lakers after defeating their STAPLES Center co-tenants, 109-95, earlier today...

Good for them.

Do you think the L.A. Clippers will hang a banner celebrating their 2012-'13 Pacific Division title up on the rafters at STAPLES Center? Hmm.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Is this a scene from THE EXPENDABLES 3? No, because Chuck Norris supposedly won't be in the third film.

Those Wacky North Koreans... With all of the brouhaha taking place between Pyongyang and the rest of the world recently, it's only predictable that people would post memes poking fun at the rogue Asian regime. The meme below is particularly amusing, though also disconcerting in that one (not facetiously?) wonders if K-pop star Psy may be best buddies with people in Kim Jong-un's gang (or the secret twin brother of the Communist leader, hah). Psy did, after all, sing a song about killing Americans back in 2004...and "Gangnam Style" all but dominated American pop culture for much of last year. Just as how high-tech devices built by smart Japanese people are turning average Americans stupid. Will stop before I go off on a tangent there.

Oh, and it's 'warmonger,' not 'war mongler.' Still funny though.

Doesn't Psy bear an uncanny resemblance to Kim Jong-un? Or are Korean dudes naturally chubby?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

As Jeanie Buss looks on, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson congratulates Shaquille O'Neal during his jersey retirement ceremony at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, on April 2, 2013.

Photos of the Day... Shaq's legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers has been immortalized on the rafters inside STAPLES Center tonight...despite the fact it almost wasn't the case two years ago, when he tried to win a championship with the hated Boston Celtics. Whatever. Congrats, Big Fella.

Despite the fact his last name and number was apparently printed on the wrong side, Shaq's jersey hangs next to those of other Laker legends on the rafters at STAPLES Center, on April 2, 2013.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports