Archive for the ‘Albert Einstein’ Tag

A Busy Day for Space Fans   Leave a comment


Credits: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

So where does one begin on a day like today? I can’t honestly say what story could top seeing a photograph of an actual black hole. But the news certainly is fascinating. And check out the link. There’s a complete picture of Messier 87, a giant galaxy some 55 million light years away, located in Virgo.

Einstein theorized in a paper published in 1915 that star’s light rays curved around the sun during an eclipse. That meant the stars appeared about 1.75 second of arc away from their positions.

In May 29, 1919, when a six-minute total eclipse in Brazil caused British astronomer Arthur Eddington to determine that light rays from other stars bent when subjected to the gravitational field of our sun.  He proved this through the use of photographs, and others have proven it since.

Jump to 2016. MIT graduate student Katie Bouman created the algorithm that produced the first image of the black hole. Her contributions seem to be a bit underreported, but thanks to her work, we now see the image pictured above.

Falcon Heavy launching 400 x 600

Credit: Kennedy Space Center

The second big story (to me at least) is Falcon Heavy. It was supposed to launch today, but thanks to high winds aloft, we’re going to have to wait until tomorrow. But the cool thing about it is its three boosters, all expected to land perfectly. I’m always fascinated by this new generation of rockets. Elon Musk, for all his faults, is a genius. Not only did he create a better class of rockets, partly recyclable, he also made their capsules so sleekly modern.

And lastly, on April 11 NASA will host a teleconference on its study of its astronaut twins, Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly. This eagerly-awaited report will detail how Scott Kelly was affected by living in the ISS for 340 days, as compared to his twin brother, Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth. So far, these are the only twins who have both served on the ISS, and, as such, are uniquely qualified for this important study.


Worming One’s Way Through Space   Leave a comment

What’s your preferred method of space travel?  Is it this?

ds^2= - c^2 dt^2 + dl^2 + (k^2 + l^2)(d \theta^2 + \sin^2 \theta \, d\phi^2).

Or this?

ds^2= - c^2 \left(1 - \frac{2GM}{rc^2}\right)dt^2 + \frac{dr^2}{1 - \frac{2GM}{rc^2}} + r^2(d \theta^2 + \sin^2 \theta \, d\phi^2).

I know, I know.  Pretty hard to decide which one to choose.

Allow me to provide you with a clearer example.   This is a depiction of the first equation:


CorvinZahn – Gallery of Space Time Travel (self-made, panorama of the dunes: Philippe E. Hurbain)

This is the second:


Credit: Allen McC

Give up?  Here’s a clue:  There’s a connection between this:


…and the space it occupies.

And the answer is…WORMHOLES!

Okay, okay, maybe I’ve gotten a bit esoteric for you.  I’ll get simple.

The first mathematical equation is otherwise known as traversable wormhole, or one that allows you to move from one end of the universe to the other.  The second one represents a Schwartschild wormhole that, for the most part, is a black hole that allows travel usually in one direction, but also connects one universe to the other.

The definition of a wormhole is a method within the theory of relatively of moving from one point in space to another without crossing the space in between.  To properly explain a wormhole properly means one has to drag out the big guns (i.e. Einstein) and spew forth a lot of verbiage that’s guaranteed to gloss over the heartiest of eyeballs.  A short history of the term is this: Albert Einstein and his colleague  Nathan Rosen came up with the basic principles of wormholes and their relation to time and space in the 1935 and called their concept the “Einstein-Rosen” bridge.  John A. Wheeler, an American theoretical physicist coined the term wormhole in 1957.

Science fiction writers have jumped on the concept ever since.  Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, Iain M. Banks, John G. Cramer, Stephen Baxter and many, many others have all used wormhole technology to develop their plots, as well as popular shows as the Stargate franchise.

With wormholes, one easily solves the problem of traveling great distances in short times, as long as you don’t exceed the speed of light (a wormhole no-no).  Just about anything can travel through them as well.  The mightiest of space vehicles right down to tiny gnats can zoom through distant reaches to discover, conquer or just make new friends.  It’s a simple device that captures everyone’s imagination because it’s so freeing and limitless.  Need to get someplace?  Hook up to a wormhole, and in seconds, you’re there.

In Stargate SG-1, the cast would travel so quickly through these things that bullets came flying right out of the gate, thanks to the wormhole.  Conversely, robotic probes made their way out into the new planet, seeking information regarding conditions.  True, a proper stargate was needed to connect two points together.  It wasn’t without its risks, either.  Wormholes invite all sorts of malfeasance, if one isn’t careful.  Evil characters often took advantage of this plot device and wreaked havoc, threatening Earth and its inhabitants over and over again.

Next time you look up at the sky and gaze at the stars, think about this: somewhere out there lurks a bridge to another time.  One day, maybe soon, some thing might be transversing it to visit.



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