What’s New?

Yes—this blog is active! And I’m sticking around this time!

And I have YOU to thank for changing my mind. Read this post to find out why.

Now, to get you up to speed on what’s going on around here…

  • This post isn’t going to be up forever. Just long enough to keep you apprised of a couple of changes I’m making to this blog.
  • All content that does not reflect my brand—science—has been removed, and can be found at the Old Content Archive if you want to see it again. This link is also on my “Find Me Online” page in the menu.
  • The menu design and organization has been finalized!
  • Category names and organization have been finalized!
  • Sidebar is complete and finalized!
  • Blog Facebook page now available!
  • Science at Your Doorstep is on Twitter!
  • ALL CONTENT IS BEING SLIMMED DOWN, REORGANIZED, AND EDITED TO REFLECT MY CURRENT WRITING ABILITY. This may cut into time I would otherwise spend on posting new material.
  • This post, my last post, and my About page are currently up to date on what I’m doing with this blog, so feel free to check them out if you’re confused.
  • By all means, feel free to follow! Click the WordPress follow button or, if you don’t use WordPress, the email follow button in the sidebar!

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Magnitude and Intensity

I originally published this post to my now-inactive blog, so if you know me from back when the Old Content Archive was ftlofacts, you’ve read this already.

If you know me from Science at Your Doorstep, then read on! It’s all new material!

I have to warn you, this is an astronomy post but it’s very mathy. If you love math, stick around—I’m glad to have you! If math makes you want to puke, then please, just click elsewhere; I’ve got plenty other posts for you. I’d hate to put you off astronomy entirely.

Ok, we’re talking about astronomy here. We all knew math would come along eventually, right?

Last time around, we talked about the way stars are named and classified based on what constellations they’re in and how bright they are compared to the other stars in that constellation.

For example, here’s Orion. I’ve shown you guys this image before. As I’ve explained before, this is a depiction of Orion as a way to map out the sky, not as a picture in the heavens. As you can see, many of the stars within Orion are accompanied by little squiggles.

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Those little squiggles—as I have also explained before—are Greek letters, used to rank the stars according to brightness within any one constellation. Star charts have the added benefit of being visual diagrams, and can rank brightness according to the size in which the stars are drawn.

But I’ve also mentioned before that stars are all at varying distances from us. Some are quite close—Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light-years away—and some are insanely far. Yet some of the farthest stars, such as Sirius, are the brightest in the sky. And some of the closest ones—like Proxima Centauri—are some of the dimmest.

Astronomers have a way to calculate most things. How do they calculate the apparent intensities of these stars? Continue reading

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Stars: Naming and Brightness

So, this post builds a bit on constellations. I know it’s been a while since I’ve talked about them, so I’ll give you a brief recap before we dive into stars, their names, and their brightness.

pegasusMeet Pegasus, and the constellations surrounding it. As I said in my last post, constellations are just regions of space.

Yes, they are named after mythical beasts and ancient queens, but for scientific purposes, all that matters are the regions they denote.

This way, astronomers can easily find obscure, faint objects in the sky.

And telescopes can be easily programmed to find the same objects for those with less experience.

Keep in mind, though, that constellations only appear to fall in the same horizontal plane over Earth’s surface.

Some of these stars, even in the same constellation, are light-years apart from one another.

So, in that case, the brighter stars must be closer to us and the dimmer stars farther away, right?

Wrong. Continue reading

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Pseudoscience

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You may have heard of a common pseudoscience—astrology. Astrology is a pseudoscience because it’s a set of beliefs that seem to be based on scientific ideas, but really, it fails to obey even the most basic rules of science.

What are the basic rules of science, then? Continue reading

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I’m posting again on this blog!

Yes, you read that right. I’m back to posting on Far Beyond the Stars! (Update: I’m referring to the blog now known as Science at Your Doorstep.)

Call me crazy, everyone, but I can’t help myself.

I was just checking over my stats. Looking at all the hundreds of views my posts here have gotten over the past four years. Reading through the names of the nearly 200 followers who have stuck with me this long.

Can I really abandon that?

I think not.

You know…it occurs to me, I only left this blog because I wanted to set up a more clear brand. But I shouldn’t have tried to be anything different from what I am. I’m a science blogger at heart, aren’t I? Nothing more, nothing less.

Some time ago, I published a poll on this blog asking what my brand was. It asked you, based on this blog’s layout, title, and header image, what kind of content you expected from me here. The answer was unanimous. Science posts.

And somehow, I managed to be disappointed.

At the time, I wanted my blog to be more than science. I had somehow convinced myself that I had oodles of non-sciencey things to say and no one was reading them. I wanted to start over, this time with a new brand. Activism, not science.

Ahem. Not science? What kind of writer did I even think I was?

What kind of posts are the majority here on Far Beyond the Stars? Science.

What kind of pages are the majority here? Science.

What kind of stories are the majority here? Science fiction.

Okay…um…as a science writer, I don’t know how I managed to avoid crunching those numbers.

Everyone—you were right. Science is my brand. I left you for For the Love of Facts and, exactly one year in, decided to narrow my focus from five different topics down to—yes, you guessed it—science.

I left you for a blog where I would, eventually, write the very posts you had been so eager to read, day after day, month after month, year after year, faithfully and without fail.

I’m lucky none of you have left me. I checked, and this blog still has the nearly two hundred followers that I earned over the course of four years. I didn’t deserve that.

But I want to thank you. For sticking with me, for holding on when I lost my direction, and for knowing all along what I was, from the beginning, meant to write. I love you all, and I’m sorry for leaving you. But I’m back now.

I’m posting again on Far Beyond the Stars. For good, this time.

Now, here’s a few things that are going to change.

I’m going to narrow my focus down from posting about everything under the sun to just the science posts that you and I both want. I’m going to get a custom domain name, because the url—scienceatyourdoorstep.wordpress.com of all things—is one thing that drove me away in the first place.

(Update: For the sake of clarity, that new url is ScienceAtYourDoorstep.com)

Want to read my other stuff? I won’t stop you. I’m going to export it to For the Love of Facts, which will—yes—be renamed to suit its new purpose, so that it’s all still available and so that I haven’t started up that new blog for absolutely nothing.

(Update: “For the Love of Facts” mentioned above is now “Old Content Archive.”)

Want to follow me? Please do! I’m back at this blog, and I’m not leaving again, and if I want to shake things up, well, I’ll just shake things up, won’t I? Not just leave like some toddler throwing a tantrum.

Maybe I’ll set up a posting schedule. Maybe I won’t. It all depends on what I want to write. Because I know I’d be a fool to order the muse around now.

Thanks for sticking with me for four years, and I look forward to many more years to come!

Posted in Announcements | Tagged | 6 Comments

Elements and Compounds

Ooh, finally, it’s time to talk about elements and compounds.

This is the part where I explain the periodic table. And, as you may know, the periodic table is pretty much the most important table in all of chemistry.

Remember it?

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All the little boxes on this “table” are elements, the simplest form of matter. You literally can’t break these down further. What’s the difference between an element and a substance, you ask?

Okay, well, think of it this way. In my post on matter and its forms, I used water as an example of a substance. Water has its own physical and chemical properties, it’s not a mixture of anything, and no matter how many times you divide it up, you’ll still have the same thing.

But water can be divided up into different things chemically. Continue reading

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Guest Post—Collision of Science and Belief

This is a guest post I did over on A Momma’s View. Fantastic blog, by the way—I recommend you check it out. I write one of these for her every month. This is a science post and has a little bit of everything, but the overarching theme is discerning the difference between fact and belief (and science versus religion). A huge thanks to the Momma for letting me post on her blog!

A Momma's View

Emma’s Blog, For The Love Of Facts, is a very new one and yet it’s not. Emma was blogging under the name of Perse before on Far Beyond The Stars. For a long time she has been writing amazing guest posts for me and I’m thrilled to witness her new journey with her new blog. I am really excited that Emma will continue to write posts for me on occasion and that I can feature one of her great posts today. I hope you will enjoy it just as much as I did…

View original post 1,108 more words

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Earth as a Greenhouse

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My plan for Thursdays’ climate science posts is to prove a negative: that global warming can’t not be happening.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t understand the science behind it well enough to start proving negatives yet.

That’s why I’m going to take you through the science first and understand it myself, before I start eliminating all other possible reasons for the average global conditions we’re seeing today.

Throughout these posts, if you think something needs clarifying or if I’ve gotten something wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

First up for discussion is the greenhouse effect, the most important term you’ll ever hear in relation to global warming. Continue reading

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Types of Mixtures

The easiest way to explain mixtures in chemistry is to talk about food, so congrats to all you food bloggers! Today’s your special day!

Garden-Salad-1

Think about mixtures in terms of cooking, and there isn’t much I need to tell you. A salad, like the one pictured above, is a mixture. So is chicken noodle soup. So is…hmm, so is lemonade.

I told you we’d be talking about lemonade soon.

Even air is a mixture—of different gases. Believe it or not, we don’t just breathe in oxygen. In fact, if we breathed in pure oxygen, it would be poisonous. We inhale a little bit of nitrogen, too.

A mixture is—by textbook definition—a physical blend of two or more substances. Continue reading

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What Matters?

really hated to leave you guys hanging on the posts for last week.

So I decided to offer you a little treat—the chemistry post that I wasn’t able to finish on time for its intended date on February 15th.

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The simplest approach to chemistry is to start basic.

Not basic as in acids and bases, ha-ha…sorry, bad chemistry joke.

I mean basic as in, what the heck even is chemistry?

I admit that I’m better versed in astronomy than chemistry. I’ve studied chemistry for exactly one year of my life—last year, 12th grade. Astronomy, on the other hand, has been my strong suit and my passion for several years.

For me, these Wednesday posts are like a refresher course. I don’t actually remember everything I’ve learned. Good thing I bought a copy of the textbook.

So, I’ll start simple—because chemistry is the study of breaking complex things down to the simplest bits possible. It’s the opposite of astronomy. Astronomy studies huge, mind-blowing phenomena. Chemistry, on the other hand…is mind-blowingly small.

It’s the study of matter. Continue reading

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How it Doesn’t Work

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There’s a certain rule in the scientific community—that talking about how something doesn’t work is boring, and it’s much more worth one’s time to just come out and say how it works.

But we’ve already done that a hundred times over with global warming, and still, people doubt the facts. Well, I’m going to give my fellow scientists a bit of a leg-up in the debate: I’m going to prove a negative.

I’m going to prove that global warming can’t not be happening.

And I’m going to do that by studying real data and examining real scientific papers. I’m going to boil it all down to a series of simple posts. Simple enough that you don’t have to be a scientist to follow along, I promise.

Before we begin, I feel you should know that I am by no means an expert on this subject. I’m a college student majoring in English and Astronomy, not in any sort of environmental science. But I’m doing my best to learn!

Without further ado…a short introduction to the science behind global warming! Continue reading

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