Friday, November 16, 2007

Scooped X 2

So, I've been working diligently on a couple of stories for UT. One, about antimatter explosions that power supernovae, took me a while because I was waiting for the researchers to get back to me, and then when they did get back I had more questions for them. If you had googled "pulsational pair instability" before yesterday, you would have gotten almost nothing but the research paper itself, and a couple of links to the homepages of the researchers. This is not to say the research is completely obscure, or this is no interest, just that the most prominent sources were the pages of the original source.

Well, I finished up my story at school, and went home last night to cook dinner and finish some final editing on it. And then I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Scientific American's "60-Second Science". What where they talking about? Dr. Stan Woosley and his research on pulsational pair instability supernovae. I was both bummed out and pissed off that I got scooped on this story. Sure, there's worse people to be scooped by than Sciam, and it's kinda reassuring to know that I'm working on some of the same research that an internationally renowned science magazine is covering, but still, I would have rather had the scoop.

On top of that, I found out this morning that New Scientist scooped me on this story, though I think my coverage is more general (though their detail about the Stirling engine power source makes me envious that I didn't think of describing it that way...). Again, New Scientist is in the big leagues, but it would have been nice to beat them to it.

I consider myself, after this, to be entering a higher bracket of reporting than what I was doing before, which means more is at stake, and also that I'll probably be doing more articles, which is frackin awesome.

I was working on these the other day, looking up the Stirling engine on Wikipedia and converting Celsius to Fahrenheit for the Venus article, and I thought, "How did I get to this point? I never imagined I would be spending my evenings sifting through papers about antimatter explosions in the center of stars and the Carnot efficiency of Stirling engines." It's weird; I've always been a dork, and though I had some inkling that my dorkiness would be rewarding in some vague fashion, I never thought that it would involve getting paid to write about things that interest me. I love, love, love working for UT. It's like getting paid to go to school, only it's more fun than school and my teacher is hella cool.

The supernova article is finished, but Fraser is still editing and such, so I'll have a link later today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have some more cool images for you to drink in with your eyes. The first is of the Dark Side of the Earth as seen by the Rosetta spacecraft. You can make out some of the continents by their light pollution. Cool, no? Oh, and the bright ring around the Earth is the Sun on the other side.

The second is an image of a piece of art I bought from Vera Brosgol. I've been a longtime fan of her art, for 4 or 5 years, and she has some stuff for sale on her site. Sure, I could have just downloaded the image and put it on my desktop (I did that, too), but I wanted the actual print. I like supporting starving artists on my starving science writer/teacher's salary. It's too funny, and has to do with bikes and pretty ladies, both of which I am enamored with. To top it off, the guy riding the bike is wearing "pedal pusher" pants, and has a bunch of baguettes in the basket. Also, his hair is just like mine right now, so I like to imagine that it's me pedaling the bike. I think I made that face pretty often when running Cycles...

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