Last Reminder: Phoenix Area Meet-Up TOMORROW, May 22

From commentor / party planner Prescott Cactus:

PHX Balloon Juice Meet Up

Sunday afternoon (3 to 3:30 pm arrival)
Oregano’s Pizza Bistro (the one in Tempe just off I-10 on Elliot.)
1475 W Elliot Rd, Tempe, AZ 85284
Phone: (480) 966-0401

Looking like 10 to 12 !

@ karen marie
@ Suzanne: + one
@ Bumper
@ azlib + one
@ pirate dan + one
@ Jordan Rules (trying)
@ 2liberal (cough-Cough)
@ Prescott Cactus: + one

Come on Arizona, anyone else?

Lurkers, friends & significant others obviously welcome !

Incidentally, RedDirtGirl sent me some pics from the NYC meet-up. I plan to post them tomorrow afternoon / evening, when more people will have the chance to see them.

Last Reminder: NYC Meet-Up TONIGHT

One more update from commentor RedDirtGirl:

Friday NYC Meet-up at Old Town update:

Any time after 6pm at the tavern. As I said, they don’t take reservations, but if I give them a headcount in the afternoon, they should be able to set some space aside.

So far, as of right now, this is what I’ve got:
Me (lurker-instigator) I’ll be there at 6.
Ivan X
Celia and ______
and maybe PsiFighter,
if we are still hanging out when he gets in from…Miami?

MDC and JAFD, we’ll see you at the next one.

Friends & lurkers welcome, of course!

EgyptAir Flight MS804 Update

Despite reports that wreckage from EgyptAir flight MS 804 had been found, the plane is still missing. The airline is reporting that the wreckage that has been recovered is not from their missing aircraft. While it will be impossible to know exactly what happened until wreckage, including the flight recorders, is found, speculation has already begun that it was an act of terrorism. More specifically it has become part of the presidential primary back and forth between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump. What I find interesting about this is that none of the groups that one would expect to have made claims of a successful terrorist attack have done so yet. There is one erroneous report from a news agency I’ve never heard of claiming that an Islamic State’s news agency has claimed responsibility. It sources this to the Islamic State’s news agency, but provides no links to their statement.  The only place that this unsourced report has been referenced is at the notoriously unreliable Gateway Pundit, where its already been updated to indicate that this has not been verified on the Islamic State’s news agency’s twitter feed. The link to that twitter feed goes to an account suspended page.

Whether or not this one seeming erroneous report proves out as true or not, the lack of claims of responsibility are very interesting. There are complete update timelines at both the Guardian and BBC articles I’ve linked to above if you’re looking for updates from responsible news media outlets. The updates provide information on what is known now, such as the behavior of the plane based on its radar returns, prior to the crash. As soon as more detailed information comes out, we’ll update. Please remember that as is the case with every type of incident like this, information is moving quickly between multiple sources involved with the search and investigation, and anything reported within the first 72-96 hours may or may not turn out to be accurate.

Consider the comments an open thread to talk about whatever.

Phoenix Area Meet-Up This Sunday!

One meet-up leads to another. Message from commentor Prescott Cactus:

PHX Balloon Juice Meet Up
Sunday afternoon (3 to 4pm arrival?)
Oregano’s Pizza Bistro (the one in Tempe just off I-10 on Elliot.)
1475 W Elliot Rd, Tempe, AZ 85284
Phone: (480) 966-0401

Oregano’s does NOT take reservations. Once we have half the party present, they will seat us. They said to expect a little wait. 6 confirmed hoping for 10 total.

@Suzanne: + one
@karen marie:
*Prescott Cactus: + one

Awaiting Responses
@piratedan ?
@demz taters: ?
@Corner Stone: If you get stuck in town, we’d love to have you.

Come on Arizona, anyone else?

Lurkers, friends & significant others obviously welcome.

Leave a comment below if you’re planning to be there, or if you have questions. Or you can email me (click on my name in the right-hand column, or annelaurie at verizon dot net) and I’ll pass your message along to Prescott Cactus (aka Gary).

NYC Meet-Up — This FRIDAY, 5/20, Old Town Bar, 6pm

After previous discussions, Commentor RedDirtGirl has agreed to call the Old Town Bar and make reservations — I estimated six-plus people, so if you plan to be there, leave a comment below and let’s see if we can get a better head count.

The Old Town Bar is located at 45 E 18th St (Phone (212) 529-6732). It’s got a long history, is easy to reach by public transit, the burgers are good, and there’s a quiet area upstairs for conversation.

Somebody be sure to take pictures, send ’em to me and I’ll post them afterwards, so the rest of us can be properly envious!

And speaking of meet-up envy… readers from other areas have expressed interest in getting together, and this should be a great time of year to do so (after the worst potential weather delays / before everyone goes on vacation). All it takes is a willingness for at least one person to propose a date and maybe a venue, and wishes can come true!

Here’s a list of potential party people, from the comments:

Pittsburgh area – GEG6

Los Angeles – James E Powell (‘after the 6/7 primary’), Ruemara (‘Comic-con-ish’), BillinGlendale CA

Phoenix area – Prescott Cactus, Suzanne, PirateDan

San Francisco – Major Major Major Major

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Amir Khalid (one never knows… )

Public Service Reminder: Democratic Debate Tomorrow Evening, 9pm EST

Just in case anyone needs to adjust their busy weekend schedules. Per Politico:

The debate will last two hours and begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time…

CBS News says there will be no opening statements. Candidates will have 60 seconds to respond, 30 seconds for rebuttals and follow-ups, and 60 seconds for closing statements.

The debate will air on CBS and stream for free at No cable subscription is necessary. CBS will also air the debate on its radio affiliates, meaning anyone with network TV, radio or Internet access can take it in…

There will be four people involved in moderating the debate, with Dickerson taking the lead as the principal moderator. Dickerson–known for acerbic questions asked on “Face the Nation” every Sunday–will get help from his CBS News colleague Nancy Cordes, the network’s congressional correspondent. Two local journalists will also pitch in on the panel with Cordes: KCCI’s Kevin Cooney and the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich. Cooney has been a stalwart of local politics and breaking news for decades and is retiring this month

US News & World Report also plans to stream the debate, here. And I’m assuming the Guardian will liveblog the event as usual, although my weak search skills can’t find a direct link.

Further details, from Politico:

With only three candidates on stage, CBS News plans to delve deep into the issues with each candidate and have taken advantage of the smaller pool by doing some intense research.

Moderator John Dickerson and his team met with each of the campaigns for more than an hour to discuss the major issues at play in the race, sources on the campaigns said, describing the pre-interview as “informational in nature.”…

“[Dickerson] and his team were very interested in getting to better know the senator’s stand on a wide spectrum of issues, what he would do about income inequality in this country,” said Bernie Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs. He said they discussed issues where there are real differences between the candidates — including gun control, the death penalty and raising taxes on the middle class. “John Dickerson’s a smart, impressive guy who cares a lot about the issues,” Briggs said. “I’m sure we’ll see a smart, issues-oriented debate.”…

“The beauty of having just three candidates is that you can spend more time on each issue and with each candidate,” [CBS News correspondent Nancy] Cordes said. ” You don’t feel like you need to jump from topic to topic so quickly that you never get to explore what it is that the candidate would do and how they deal with perhaps some of the drawback of the plans they have proposed. We can go beyond the 35- or 45-second talking point you hear in their stump speech all the time.”

For Good Times in Brookline And Cambridge

A few events tomorrow and Friday for your infotainment pleasure.

First, I’ll be doing a reading/book talk on The Hunt for Vulcan at Brookline Booksmith, a fine indy bookstore in scenic Coolidge Corner.  (279 Harvard St., to be precise). That would be tomorrow, Thursday November 12 at 7 p.m.  Books to be signed, of course.

I have to add that Tikka’s grown tired of waiting for his:

Tikka and HUnt

For some background on the book and the events that drove me to it, here’s a Boston Globe piece I published a few weeks ago on Einstein’s general relativity at 100; here’s a piece that went up yesterday at The Atlantic‘s joint that gives a taste of the story the book tells; and here’s a piece at Gizmodo that adds a little background into how and why I actually got off my ass and wrote the damn thing. (Spoiler alert:  I blame someone often discussed on this site.

Next, in semi-direct competition with my gig at the bookstore…(See! I can rise above shameless self-promotion on rare occasions) my department at MIT is putting on what looks to be a really interesting event:  an MIT Communication Forum presentation on “Women in Politics: Representation and Reality”


Think Veep comes to Washington.  That’ll take place at 5 p.m., tomorrow, November 12, so I guess if you were a glutton for punishment you could take that one in, dash across the river, and still get in on some planet Vulcan action.  Shameless I am.  The forum is free and open to the public, and will take place in MIT Building 3, room 270. (That link takes you to the MIT interactive map. Basically Building 3 is the second hallway on your right off the long (Infinite!) corridor that starts at the main entrance to campus at 77 Massachusetts Ave. Go upstairs and wander down — towards the river —  till you find room number 270.

Finally, on Friday, November 13, the MIT Program in Science Technology and Society and the Physics Department are hosting a sneak preview of the NOVA film “Inside Einstein’s Mind.”


The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the film and on the centennial of the discovery of the General Theory of Relativity.

That part of the evening’s festivities will be moderated by your humble blogger and will feature my colleague, physicist and historian of science David Kaiser, joined by two of David’s physics colleagues, Tracy Slayter and Scott Hughes, science writer Amanda Gefter, and NOVA’s Chris Schmidt.  It all happens between 7 and 9 p.m., in room 32-123 — which is the big auditorium on the ground floor of the Stata Center, the great big honker of a Gehry building at the intersection of Vasser and Main Streets.  Interactive map advice here.

Come to some, come to all, and if you can’t (or won’t) you can still get your hands on the book, online* and/or at the local bookstore I thoroughly encourage you to support — and then watch the film on Wednesday, November 25th at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Images: Tikka, of course, photographed by yours truly.

Henry Gillard Glindoni, John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I, by 1913.

Thomas Bartholin, Head transect from Anatome ex omnium veterum recentiorumque observationibus, 1673.

Barnes and Noble/Nook here; iBooks here.