Thursday, August 27, 2009

Planet Quest

The search for extraterrestrial life doesn’t happen only in science fiction. Startling discoveries are being made and new missions are being planned. Scientists are discussing questions like: Are there earth like extrasolar planets in our galaxy and if so how do we find them? What makes a planet or moon habitable? What is life and how does it begin? How can life be recognized on distant worlds? Is live likely to be microbial or more complex or even intelligent? Find the answers in the following books.

Amir D. Acsel Probability 1

Jeffrey Bennett Beyond UFOS

Alan Boss The crowded universe

Peter Ward and David Brownlee Rare Earth

P.C.W. Davies Cosmic jackpot

David Grinspoon Lonely Planets

David Koerner and Simon Levay Here Be Dragons

Seth Shostak Confessions of an alien hunter

Seth Shostak Sharing the Universe

Peter Ward Life As We Do Not Know It

Stephen Webb If the Universe is Teeming With Aliens Where Is Everybody

First direct image of a planet around a star like sun

Exoplanet Exploration NASA


Looking for a gig?

Here's a great web site for free-lancers (and really anyone looking for temporary work). Blended Technologies has combined all the appropriate Craigslist postings from ALL Craigslists and the ads from a few other sites into one list. What distinguishes this from ordinary meta-search engines is the ability to "train" the search. Based on the posts you click on, the site learns what you're interested in and begins to give the more appropriate jobs higher priority. The more stars you click on, the better trained it becomes. There is a geographic limiter, but no keyword search. I tried searching the Boston area and discovered that there are numerous gigs for web designers and programmers and not so many for carpenters or machinists. If you're looking for gigs--from moving furniture to modeling to programming--give Gigbayes a try. (Thanks to Research Buzz for the tip.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Food Blogs

In 2005, Julie Powell published her cooking blog which became a popular book. That book was recently made into a feature film titled Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

Four years later there are countless food blogs and publishers are buying the rights to many of these. Here are some scheduled to come out in the fall.

The Foodie Handbook by Pim Techamuanvivit

The Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann

Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm

Make it Fast, Cook it Slow (all glutenfree recipes) by Stephanie O'Dea

Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

(Drummond's transition from city life to ranch wife).

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook (Asian recipes) by Jaden Hair

On a Dollar a Day by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard (A monthlong experiment to eat for $1.00 a day)

Browse the websites and look for these and other cookbooks at the Wellesley Free Library in the coming months.


Monday, August 17, 2009

PC Magazine's Top 100 Websites for 2009

There's more "best of" or top-whatever list on the Internet than you can shake a stick at, but I promise I'm not wasting your time by directing you to PC Magazine's Top 100 Websites for 2009. The list has two major divisions, between classic websites such as Twitter, and undiscovered websites. You might be surprised by some of the classic websites you haven't yet discovered, such as the online image editor Picnik, but for my money the undiscovered websites are the most fun. Looking for public domain sheet music? Check out the IMSLP website. Trying to figure out if the halibut that's been sitting in your freezer is still edible? Look no further than The list has already turned me on to a few websites I'll be sure to use frequently--such as the Pandora-killer Grooveshark (which lets you create playlists of songs you want to listen to) and the real-estate finder HotPads--so this is a list I'll be coming back to for some time.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Need Computer Tutoring--Word, Excel, Outlook, Windows?

Have you been struggling with how to use some of the software programs you have or even a Windows Operating System?
, an online resource offered by the Wellesley Free Library, has expanded their unique test and resume offerings to include interactive tutorials (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced) for:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Powerpoint
  • Access
  • Outlook
  • WordPerfect
  • Windows
Sign in quickly to from our list of databases to explore these new courses. You only need your library card number to try it out from home. Once you have connected to the site, look for the Computer Skills Section.

While you are there, check out the courses and tests on job skills (resume writing and interviewing) as well as tests for college prep (ACT, PSAT, SAT, AP), Graduate School (MCAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT), jobs (Nursing, Civil Service, Law Enforcement, teaching), and even U.S. Citizenship. SH

Sunday, August 9, 2009

William Tapply

William Tapply, a well-known and popular mystery writer, died two weeks ago.  Tapply was prolific and wrote about 40 books over a period of 25 years.  His more recent titles centered around the character of Brady Coyne, a Boston lawyer.  His last novel - published in 2008 - was Hell Bent.  Tapply was a professor at Clark University in Worcester.  


Friday, August 7, 2009

Sounds a lot like Beetle Juice

Betelgeuse photo NASA, Orion photo The Hundred Greatest Stars, by James B. Kaler

This is the star Betelgeuse it’s about 640 light years away. That is, the light we see from this star takes 640 years to reach the earth. Betelgeuse started life as hot, blue, class O star only around 10 million years ago, which makes it much younger then our Sun. Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in the constellation of Orion and is the eleventh brightest star in the sky.

This star is an ancient massive red giant and is so large that if placed in our solar system in would engulf Earth, Mars and the inner planets half way out to Jupiter. Betelgeuse is surrounded by a huge complex pattern of nested dust and gas shells, the result of eons of mass loss. Clearly a highly evolved star, Betelgeuse has burned all of its hydrogen fuel supply. Betelgeuse will fuse together its remaining elements collapsing the core and causing the star to blow up as a supernova sometime in the next 10 to 1000 years. If it were to explode today, Betelgeuse would shine as bright as the Moon, would be seen in daytime sky, and would cast shadows on the ground. What other effects would the earth experience from such an explosion?

Find out with these books.

The Hundred Greatest Stars, by James B. Kaler

The Stars of Heaven, by Clifford A. Pickover

Death from the skies! : these are the ways the world will end, by Philip Plait

Cosmic Catastrophes: Supernovae, Gamma-Ray Bursts, and Adventures in Hyperspace, by J. Craig Wheeler

What If the Moon Didn't Exist? : Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been, by Neil F. Comins

The Origins of the Future: Ten Questions for the Next Ten Years, by John Gribbin

See also

STARS a comprehensive suite of pages that tell the stories of stars and their constellations.