tried to convert them to real money at the same time. Yeah, that would make it drop and would shut down the exchanges.
Keep mining those bitcoins!
Not in the slightest. MtGox has been in a death spiral for almost half a year. Please read my earlier response.
The most interesting astronomy gear I've seen the results of recently are from a Pentax digital SLR camera that does image stabilization by moving the sensor, and has a GPS in it. Apparently there's a mode you can use to tell it to track the sky for a really long exposure, so my friend who had it was able to take some good galaxy pictures.
Does your friend post any of these pictures? I'd love to see some.
Programmers do it bit by bit.