In Shelf Life Episode 5 we get to learn how astronomers collect baseline data over time, and collate it into a meaningful picture about how stellar phenomena change in periods as short as generations. The common belief in scientific circles used to be that stellar events either happened overnight, like supernovas, or took tens of thousands to millions of years to evolve to the next stage. Recently some museums have been compiling the images of the night skies taken on photographic plates as far back as the 1890s into a huge database, and then processed the results to show small pieces of sky over that 130 year span. What they discovered was that lots of stars fluctuate over a decade or two much more than anyone suspected, rather than remaining unchanged for the lifetimes of civilizations. I can’t wait to find out what new insights we gain with this as a baseline supposition as we process still more collections of data that we were never able to put together before computers made it easy.

The second Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian world premiere actually took place at the Smithsonian in DC, which was totally appropriate. The third film in the series takes place at the British Museum, so I can make a good guess where its premiere will be held. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb doesn’t seem to have a home page yet, but it won’t be hitting the big screen until December, so there is still time. I really do like this franchise, and I am quite happy they didn’t just make one movie and give up on the concept. In fact, it should be good for another 50 or so films, when you look at how many museums there are in the world of the caliber of the ones they started with.

He is called the God of Manga because he not only wrote some of the most iconic Manga of all time, including Astro Boy, but he basically invented the system of Manga and Anime creation and marketing in use to this day. Earlier this month Google opened up an online version of the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum with a huge number of exhibits and displays for those of us who can’t get to western Japan and see the real thing. If you are a fan of Manga and Anime, you want to check this one out. Expect to spend some time there, because there is a lot to see and read. You could always follow your visit by getting some of the original Manga and reading it, even a lot o the older stuff is still available.

Going to be in Washington, D.C. in May? Then you might want to attend the second annual The Future Is Here Festival at the Smithsonian on May 16th, 17th and 18th. Some of the speakers will include Patrick Stewart, Brian Greene, Adam Steltzner, George Takei, Stewart Brand, Sara Seager, Kim Stanley Robinson, David Brin, and The Mythbusters… and that’s just on one day! At the higher ticket levels the event also includes priority seating on Saturday night for the national premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past at the National Museum of American History, and Patrick will be taking questions from the audience afterwards.