Saturday, December 24, 2016

One Christmas Eve

Forty-eight years ago tonight — December 24, 1968 — the crew of Apollo 8 saw things that no human being had ever seen before with their own eyes, including the far side of the moon and the earth rising over the lunar horizon. So it’s understandable that the moment called for a little reading of some pleasant poetry from a book called Genesis.

HT to NTodd.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Short Takes

73 Syria aid groups suspend cooperation with U.N.

Wells Fargo hit with $185 million in fines for setting up fake accounts.

NASA launches probe to bring back pieces of an asteroid.

Car with gas cylinders near Notre Dame in Paris baffles police.

Dozens stuck overnight at 10,000 feet in the air over the Alps.

FAA issues warnings about Samsung smartphones on planes.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Short Takes

Primary results from California, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana.

President Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Modi to discuss, among other things, climate change.

Syrian leader Assad vowed to retake all of the land held by armed rebels.

Stephen Hawking says black holes are not “the eternal prisons,” meaning some things might make it through.

Colin has gone post-tropical and is heading out to sea.

The Tigers beat the Blue Jays 3-2 in 10.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Short Takes

Reformists make gains in Iranian elections.

Seriously, Donald Trump doesn’t know who David Duke is?

Suspect in Virginia cop killing is identified as a Pentagon sergeant.

Air strike targets suspected ISIS convoy in Libya.

SpaceX scrubs third launch attempt this week.

And the Oscars went to…

Friday, February 12, 2016

Making Cosmic Waves

This is amazing.

A team of scientists announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. (Listen to it here.) It completes his vision of a universe in which space and time are interwoven and dynamic, able to stretch, shrink and jiggle. And it is a ringing confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

More generally, it means that a century of innovation, testing, questioning and plain hard work after Einstein imagined it on paper, scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.

Conveyed by these gravitational waves, power 50 times greater than the output of all the stars in the universe combined vibrated a pair of L-shaped antennas in Washington State and Louisiana known as LIGO on Sept. 14.

If replicated by future experiments, that simple chirp, which rose to the note of middle C before abruptly stopping, seems destined to take its place among the great sound bites of science, ranking with Alexander Graham Bell’s “Mr. Watson — come here” and Sputnik’s first beeps from orbit.

“We are all over the moon and back,” said Gabriela González of Louisiana State University, a spokeswoman for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, short for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. “Einstein would be very happy, I think.”

Members of the LIGO group, a worldwide team of scientists, along with scientists from a European team known as the Virgo Collaboration, published a report in Physical Review Letters on Thursday with more than 1,000 authors.

“I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time,” said Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists.

“Everything else in astronomy is like the eye,” he said, referring to the panoply of telescopes that have given stargazers access to more and more of the electromagnetic spectrum and the ability to peer deeper and deeper into space and time. “Finally, astronomy grew ears. We never had ears before.”

From Close Encounters of the Third Kind after the aliens return people who haven’t aged after being gone thirty years:

Scientist 1: Einstein WAS right!

Team Leader: Einstein was PROBABLY one of them!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Short Takes

Neener, Neener — Trump and Bush trade shots over who was president on September 11, 2001.

Hawaii declares state of emergency over homeless crisis.

Super typhoon leaves 2 dead, thousands displaced in the Philippines.

U.S. will require drones to be registered.

Astronaut Scott Kelly sets a record for the most time for an American in space.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Short Takes

China devalued their currency to stabilize their place in the world market.

Right-wing armed militia freaks show up to “patrol” Ferguson with assault rifles.

Greece is on the verge of clinching a deal for a new bailout.

The EPA is hard at work to clean up its ten-million gallon mess in Colorado and New Mexico.

Watch the skies: The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week.

The Tigers lost 6-1 in K.C.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Short Takes

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter dropped in on Baghdad.

Autopsy results on Sandra Bland showed injuries consistent with suicide.

Secretary of State John Kerry went to Capitol Hill to persuade Congress to approve the Iran nuclear deal.

NASA mission discovers another Earth-like planet 1,400 light years away.

The Tigers lost 3-2 to the Mariners in extra innings.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Far Encounter

Today is the day that the New Horizons spacecraft will pass by Pluto.

New Horizons Trajectory 07-14-15

It’s worth noting, that when Pluto was first discovered, we had no idea what it was really like and speculations ran wild. We still don’t know a lot about it, but we’re already discovering exciting things like the chaotic shapes and orbits of its moons, there’s nitrogen at its north pole, and it’s bigger than we thought.

All seven instruments aboard New Horizons will be actively collecting data during the flyby, but we won’t hear anything from the spacecraft about its encounter until just before 9:00 p.m. ET. This is because New Horizons can’t take and send data back simultaneously. So in order to learn as much as possible about Pluto and its moons, the spacecraft will focus solely on the flyby for a period of 24 hours (tonight through tomorrow night).

“Following closest approach, on Wednesday and Thursday, July 15 and 16, there will be a series of “First Look” downlinks containing a sampling of key science data. Another batch of data will arrive in the “Early High Priority” downlinks over the subsequent weekend, July 17-20. Then there will be a hiatus of 8 weeks before New Horizons turns to systematically downlinking all its data.” – Emily Lakdawalla

Within that 24 hour period, the images New Horizons captures of Pluto will go from having a resolution of 15 km/pixel to 100 m/pixel. So get ready to hold on to your hats when those images start coming in.

It will take months for all the data to come in, so this will be a gift that keeps on giving.  And then it’s heading out, following the Voyagers into the rest of the universe.

Saturday, April 25, 2015