Nov 13

In 2009, I sent this little tweet, which enjoyed many RTs (including one from @BadAstronomer).

The next year, I decided to transform the idea into manga form. Again, it was blogged by the lovely Bad Astronomer. The drawing has appeared in a few of my talks as well.

This year, I was thrilled to find out that my creation jumped from cyberspace to meatspace! The Chicago Skeptics celebrated Carl Sagan Day by eating apple pie and drinking Cosmos! Amazing! I’m glad they joined the fine Mayhew tradition!

Nov 5

Tomorrow, November 6th, is Carl Sagan Day! Whether or not you participate in the organized events or the above activities, you can share in the celebration with this special piece I sketched up just in time for the 2nd annual all-day celebration of the famous astronomy, skeptic, and science educator. Send it to your friends!

And now that you know the artist’s beverage of choice you can help her celebrate and buy her a drink:

Downloads:

| wallpaper 1600×1200 | wallpaper 1920×1200 | iPad |

Update: Nov.6th is when the 2nd Annual Carl Sagan Day event takes place. Nov. 9th is Carl Sagan’s birthday. There are several events taking place throughout the month, but “Carl Sagan Day” is taking place, this year on Saturday the 6th.

Sep 25

This had already been posted on PZ Myers‘ mega-traffic blog, Pharyngula, but I wanted to post it here too, since it is so awesomely nerdtastic!

Carl Sagan – ‘A Glorious Dawn’ ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

I have some super geeky fan devotion of my own to post; Darwin, Einstein, Sagan, and Newton…all drawn in manga ‘bishounen’ style! No, I’m not kidding—-I have Charlie and Albert sketched already and am inspired to finish & colour all four, after having seen this awesome display of nerdom!

Sep 3

There’s a movie coming out about the end of the world called 2012. It’s based on modern-day myths that the Mayans predicted the world would end in 2012 and that there are scientific facts which support their claims. This is wrong.

The film has some new ads out that look like real commercials for an organization setup to shelter people from the devastation. Unfortunately, there are many woo-artists who have been spreading the 2012 myth for quite some time now. This major motion picture is drawing more attention to this so-called Mayan prophecy.

Griffith Observatory has a nice page on their site which debunks the 2012 myth, here. This is appropriate, since most of the myth’s claims are astronomical (no pun intended).

THERE IS NO PLANETARY ALIGNMENT on December 21st, 2012. Even if there was, planetary alignments WON’T DESTROY THE EARTH.

THERE IS NO GALACTIC ALIGNMENT of our solar system either. Our galaxy is too huge to have a midpoint that you could pinpoint to a specific year.

THERE IS NO MYSTERIOUS PLANET headed our way to destroy us. Government agencies aren’t hiding evidence of a Planet X or Planet Niburu.

Now, here comes the really silly part; guess what? THE MAYAN CALENDAR DOESN’T END IN 2012. Yes…the claim that’s the basis of the 2012 myth isn’t true either. The Mayans never made any 2012 apocalyptic predictions. Part of their calendar ends–which had many cycles–but a new one begins.

So, you probably shouldn’t be concerned about the world ending in 2012. At least, not any more than you do any other year. Our own calendar ends too—-on December 31st. I predict some people may even have a party!

Feb 26

deathskies-350

…actually, it was just sitting in the mailbox this morning—-but it should’ve arrived this way! Yep, my very own copy of Death from the Skies signed by the totally awesome Bad Astronomer, Dr. Phil Plait. And yes, he’s lucky enough to be getting a manga goody bag of…goodness. I’m assuming it will arrive via magic ninjas or team of sailor scouts…

Do you want your very own manga goodies by mangaka Sara E. Mayhew? Great! You can get your copy of Secrets of Sorcerers Vol. 1 over at Amazon! Unfortunately, if you want a print copy of Legend of the Ztarr, for now you’ll have to call up Viz and tell them they should publish it…

Jan 1

Oh how I luvs the Bad Astronomer. I believe I first came across Dr. Phil Plait’s astronomy blog when I was searching the interwebs to check up on a claim by some astrology proponents. It actually wasn’t that long ago when I got my first taste of new agers trying to make astrology sound sciency. I was pretty amazed at how easy it is to disprove all the pseudoscience claims. Thus, began my journey into the world of scepticism.

Though I’m just a hobbyist astronomer, I can turn into a bit of an astronomonster when the subject of astrology is brought up. There is just so much that is wrong about astrology. The first major hint that there might be something wrong with this kind of model is that it was invented by humans who thought the universe was geocentric. That’s basically all it takes to shatter astrology: discovering that our solar system revolves around the sun. But new agers don’t trouble themselves with silly things like laws of physics. Too bad, because Dr. Phil does such a nice job of explaining!

If you do manage to convince them that astrology can’t possibly work (I’ve never been successful), the last argument is that their experience in using astrology works for them. Ah, mon amie, it’s confirmation bias and the Forer effect that create the illusion that astrology works. “The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.” The personality models of astrology are all highly generalized so that each zodiac has pretty much the same chance of describing anyone, regardless of when they were born. It’s simple; the personality models of the zodiac are highly generalized and the personalities of people are highly complex. Of course you’re going to get a match.

It’s really simple to test astrology to see if it actually works in describing people’s personalities based on the month they were born. You simply take the traits each zodiac proposes, but then blind what zodiac (aka, birth month) the set of traits is from, and have people rate how accurately it describes them. If people end up highly rating or being matched with the ‘correct’ zodiac at a rate no better than chance, then it’s clear the model doesn’t work as it claims. This is exactly what happens each and every time astrology is tested.

Confirmation bias is the trick behind making most forms of divination, including astrology, ‘work’. Basically, it’s when we count the hits and not the misses. We do this often because we’re pattern seeking creatures. The example I use most often to describe confirmation bias is the myth that more accidents/births/craziness happens during a full moon. This is statistically untrue; when you compare lunar cycles to rates of crime/accidents/births etc. there are no relationships. But then why do so many reputable sources, like nurses and police officers, swear that this myth is true? It’s because they are just going by the memory of their own experience; they’re only recalling the times where a full moon matched up with a crazy night, and made no mental note of those crazy nights where there was a quarter moon or crescent. This happens in astrology too; we remember the times when the model did work, and don’t make a connection when it doesn’t. We may ignore the times when we met someone who didn’t match up very well with their zodiac, or just focus on the traits of their zodiac that do match with them.

Sep 13

If I could be in anything else, besides a mangaka, and had a magic wand that could make me a professional in any other field, then I would choose to be an astronomer. I think, most likely, I’d like to be a planetary scientist. I bought a telescope a couple years ago and love going out in the backyard for some stargazing. The first planet I saw was Jupiter, on a really clear summer evening. The small town I live in doesn’t have much light pollution, which is nice. It amazed me that this little instrument could turn what was otherwise just a really bright ‘star’ in the sky into a glowing planet with tiny specks of moons around it. Then there’s Saturn…homg, RINGS~! Ha ha, it’s them Jovian planets that impress the ladies (or at least, this lady).

I did this little doodle a few months ago. I have since chopped off my hair. It was really cloudy and rainy here this summer, so I didn’t get to use my telescope much. My family doesn’t really seem interested in what I look at in the sky, so I mostly get excited all by me onesies, ha! Perhaps, I’m easily amused, but looking through an eyepiece at this dot in the sky and seeing a real planet really geeks me up inside and it blows my mind that it’s so big and so far away–LIKE, WOW~a whole other planet!

This past week, I spent some time in North Bay, about a 2.5 hour drive south of where I live. Usually, nerdtasticly cool people to hang out with have to be imported here, to Kirkland, for me to get the chance to chat non-digitally. But this time, I made the journey down from the k-hole and enjoy latenight caffeine beverage loitering in the Bay. If you mention the LHC around my family you either get a response of “…..?” or “Um, like, that’s totally gonna make a black hole thingy and destroy the Earth, like, omg“–so it’s nice to get away from their adorable hicksvilleness.

On the drive back up to the ‘Shire’ (this only refers to the small part of Kirkland that I’ve hobbitised with second breakfast and no adventures), I listened to the Astronomy Cast podcast. It was the first time I’d heard the show, and this particular episode was done live from Dragon Con and the discussion was from a panel that dealt with scientific facts and/or mistakes in science fiction–from Trek, Battlestar Gallactica, to Dr. Who. I really enjoyed it so I’m checking out more of their episodes!