Archive for the ‘space’ Tag

A Busy Day for Space Fans   Leave a comment

blackhole

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.

 

The Unexplainable Universe   Leave a comment

600px-CMB_Timeline300_no_WMAP

The universe, as credited to Wikipedia

Ever lay on your back on a summer night, looking up at the sky and think to yourself, “Where does it all end?”

Or begin.

Or go.

Or…

Ask a person to explain the universe is and guaranteed you’ll receive an answer just as expansive.  Frustrating to conceive of an area that defies convention.  For that’s what it is: an enigma.

Sure, scientists the world over have struggled to define just exactly what it is that the Earth inhabits and how it came about to be.  Mathematical calculations summarize what is perceived to be forces governing its structure, but as soon as one explanation arises, another takes its place.

Take, for instance, the recent talk  about finding traces of waves of the original big bang isn’t all it seemed to be.  Could be interstellar dust, although optimism remains that perhaps evidence of the Big Bang is still present in the astronomer’s findings.  And not to discount their discovery, because if they truly do find remnants of all that is, ever was and will be, my God, that’s like touching the face of eternity.

Though I’m not a scientist, I do wonder how an event so enormous, so unfathomable to most mortals, could have left a trail of crumbs in its wake.  It has been determined that the universe began 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years ago, more or less.  That’s all calculation, the only tool available to determine its age.  It’s also calculated that the observable universe is 48 billion light years in size.  Nothing to sneeze at, of course.  These numbers are only the result of of the logic of numbers and not the result of a person who stood at the rim and said, “Well, then, here we are…at the end.”  Unless, of course, you’re a person named Doug who’s actually hitchhiked your way from one end to the other.  In my opinion, he’s in a place to know at present, but he’s not giving up his secrets anytime soon.

My mind shuts down when I contemplate the enormity of all there is.  It gets worse when I attempt to ponder what caused its creation.  That Big Bang came out of…what?  What was before it?  Could it be that there was a universe that lived, breathed and died before it?  Or perhaps time bent backwards and regenerated its youth to live in another incarnation?

Will we ever know the answer?

Only the eternal reaches of the universe and time can tell.

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