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Design of the Universe

November 24th, 2008 Comments off

I watched a TED video recently by George Smoot entitled “The design of the universe”.  Smoot is an astrophysicist who gave a talk about the overall structure of the expanding universe with special attention paid to the interplay of dark matter and the visible matter that we observe today.  He had a number of interesting visualizations especially one that let you see the distribution of dark matter throughout the universe (simulation of course).  What struck me was the overall amount of dark matter vs. visible matter, and more interestingly the lattice structure of the dark matter.  It was interesting to see that something on a macro scale that is beyond my imagination looks almost identical to a microscopic scale (fractals ahoy!)  The video is about 18 mins long and well worth it.

Link: The design of the universe – George Smoot

Categories: Astronomy, Link, Science, Video Tags:

Earth: The Biography – National Geographic Channel

July 25th, 2008 Comments off

Earth - The Power of the Planet - Programme 3 We’ve been watching Earth The Biography on the National Geographic Channel (in HD) over the last week.  It’s a fascinating series on how the Earth was formed thru today on how the Earth’s systems sustain us (air, water, land).  The series is narrated by Iain Stewart, evidently a well known scientist.  Stewart is an excellent narrator and his enthusiasm is infectious.  I learned a lot from this series and absolutely loved the visual way that they illustrate all of their points.  The photography and cinematography were just beautiful, especially in HD!  A couple of things that I learned that were surprising:

A staggering 40 million tons of dust is transported from the Sahara across the Atlantic to the Amazon rain forest every year by the wind.  (Atmosphere)

and Methane is being released from permafrost in Siberia.  There is so much being released that you can light it on fire even if the gas is nestled in solid ice!  (You have to see it to appreciate it.)

Definitely worth watching!

Links: Earth: The Biography, Iain Stewart

Categories: Geology, Link, Review, Science Tags:

When We Left Earth – Discovery

July 2nd, 2008 2 comments

Astronaut-EVA I’ve been watching the space travel history program on Discovery HD called When We Left Earth.  It was absolutely fascinating to learn about the history of the entire US space program from Mercury to International Space Station.  I was an avid fan of NASA when I was growing up (who wasn’t?) so it was really interesting to revisit my memories and emotions of the Challenger explosion (1986, I was in 8th grade in Texas) as well as the Colombia disintegration (2003, married, Chicago).  I still remember our math (or science?) teacher walking into our class in 1986 telling us that Challenger had exploded and we all couldn’t believe it.  If I remember correctly they let us go home early and the whole walk home my friends and I kept thinking they must’ve survived, they must’ve ejected not knowing that there were no escape/safety systems at the time.  We stayed glued to our televisions the entire night waiting for some news to give us hope.  I found the Colombia incident to be just as shocking but this time found out from Internet news sites after I woke up and had breakfast.  The same types of feeling ensued 🙁

I definitely enjoyed the detailed interviews they did with players during each of the major moments.  Armstrong’s views on the moon landing.  Loved hearing from the real Gene Kranz and have more respect for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and how much it felt connected to the real events.

If you get a chance, it’s worth watching!

Links: When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions

Categories: Link, Review, Science, Space Travel Tags:

26 days to Large Hadron Collider activation!

June 11th, 2008 Comments off

image

Via Gizmodo 🙂

Categories: Physics, Science Tags:

Bad Astronomy Blog » The Universe is 13.73 +/- .12 billion years old!

March 8th, 2008 Comments off

080997_5yrFullSky_WMAP_512B Good Morning Silicon Valley had a quick link to a story by Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy Blog.  It was Phil’s explanation of recent findings published by NASA (from data collected over the last five years) about the content makeup and more definitive age of the universe.  The latest results are because of observations made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).

Things that I found interesting were the age of the universe (13.73 billion years), the fact that the universe is mostly dark energy / dark matter and that the variance in temperature across the observable universe is incredibly minute.  Both the Bad Astronomy blog and NASA’s site are worth the read if you have time.

Links:  Bad Astronomy Blog » The Universe is 13.73 +/- .12 billion years old! , NASA – WMAP Mission Results

Categories: Astronomy, Link, Technology Tags: