courtesy of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), just in time for Halloween. As all of you who are fans of the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" know, there is no sound in space (technical reason: sound is just waves moving in air - the air equivalent of water waves resulting from dropping a rock in a puddle, so no air in space means no sound in space), so JPL has taken some interesting light signatures are converted them into audio files, which are available here. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
... in the NY Times today about the Manhattan Project, specifically that it is called the "Manhattan Project" for a reason since it started in Manhattan, which the initial research being conducted in the basement of Pupin Hall at Columbia University. It discusses some of the different sites in Manhattan where related work was carried out, and is worth a read. Granted, it isn't particularly relavant to Astronomy, per se, but of potential interest regardless.
Don't forget to turn in for the special Halloween show tomorrow!
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 10:03 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
... is now online here. The program of this episode is the following:
- News: NASA announces "retirement" of FUSE (ultraviolet) satellite, ESO decommissions TC-1 part of the Double Star mission, Rosetta mission to asteroid and comets approaches Earth for a boost and course correction, Integral (hard X-ray) satellites marks five very productive years from launch.
- Recent Results: Genesis mission measurement of Ne and Ar isotropic composition of solar wind, chemical composition of near-Earth asteroid Apophis measured, Solar mission Ulysses flew through ion tail of comet - discovered much longer than expected, new results from long Chandra (X-ray) observation of Galactic supernova remnant G292.0+1.8, black hole in "nearby" galaxy M33 has been measured to have a mass of 16 times that of the Sun - the most massive black hole created by a single star that we currently know of, bright optical flash seen in galaxy M85 not from stellar merger but a low energy supernova explosion.
- Interview with Prof. Rothman of Princeton University on detecting gravitons, available by itself here.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 3:28 PM
for a day? The Cassini mission is sponsoring a contest for students in Grades 5-12, where you get to control where Cassini points for 90 minutes. Details, rules, etc. are available at here. If you have any related science questions, please ask and I'll do my best to answer. Good luck, and don't forget about the Catch a Star contest!
Also, Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena recently announced two conferences for high school science/physics teachers, go here for more info.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 9:57 AM
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I've decided to devote the Halloween edition of this show to pseudo-science: what it is, how to identify it, and what distinguishes science from pseudo-science. I would love to answer any questions you might have, as well as present a list of the wackiest theories out there. Please email them to me or leave them in the comments field below. No guarantees, and this not a contest (contests have rules and are complicated), but if you send me a question/wacky theory and your address (don't leave them below for security's sake) I will send you an Astronomy-related goody or two.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 11:50 AM
is finally online (sorry for the delay) and available here. As promised last week, this was an all-news and events show. Don't worry, I got plenty of interviews for you, and they will return starting tomorrow. On this show, I discussed:
- Recent Events: Google Sky now has multi-wavelength data from AEGIS survey of distant universe, NASA has announced plans to put its lunar archives online as well, site for Giant Magellanic Telescope has been chosen, telescope transporter for ALMA has been built, Allen Telescope Array now online, SOFIA - a mid-infrared telescope attached to a Boeing 747 - beginning test flights, NASA will carry two Russian made science instruments on next two missions to Mars. Dawn mission's engines works well. Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity extended one more year.
- Competitions and Conferences: ESO announced "Catch a Star" competition for students (more info below in a previous post), Jet Propulsion Lab announces two conferences for science teachers (more information at http://education.jpl.nasa.gov).
- Solar System: New short-period asteroid has been identified, Asteroid renamed in honor of Sputnik, peculiar isotope of CO2 identified in atmosphere of Venus, Pluto-bound New Horizons mission makes precise measurements of Jupiter's magnetosphere, Cassini mission to Saturn celebrates 10 year from launch, patches on Saturn moon Iapetus due to boiling and condensation of water ice, outflows from Saturn moon Enceladus connected to fractures resulting from tidal heating, Saturn moon Titan has lakes on its South Pole and has methane rain showers.
- Galactic Results: Dust disks observed around three nearby stars forming Pluto-sized object, Earth-like planet possibly will form around a nearby star, observations of young star cluster reveal most massive stars actually binaries, new distance measured to Orion Nebula, new "most luminous" supernova explosion identified (SN 2005ap), evidence of cosmic ray production in supernova remnants.
- Extragalactic and Cosmology Results: Evidence for dust production in winds of material powered by supermassive black holes in centers of galaxies, identification of a very low mass galaxy at very early times, Dark Matter has long lifetime, properties of Dark Energy could be inferred from distribution of neutral hydrogen at very high redshifts.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 10:59 AM
Friday, October 12, 2007
is now also online. For more information on the CMB, inflation, etc., please check out the following pages:
- Introduction to the Cosmic Microwave Background: http://background.uchicago.edu/~whu/beginners/introduction.html
- WMAP Cosmology 101 - Cosmic Microwave Background: http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni/uni_101bbtest3.html
- LAMBDA: http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 4:07 PM
is now online. This program is a little different from the others, since (to fit in my interview with Dr. Dan Babich), it is devoted solely to the Cosmic Microwave Background and I didn't discuss any news and discoveries from the last week. Don't fear though, next week's show (10/17/07) will probably be entirely devoted to news and I will cover events that happened from 10/3 - 10/10...
If you have any questions, comments, etc. please leave them below or email them to me and I'll answer them on-air.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 3:57 PM
Monday, October 8, 2007
... is finally online. The program was:
- Meteorite hits Peru, evidence that asteroid impact responsible for end of Pleistoscene era, nearby supernova explosion probably not responsible for odd isotope of Iron found deep in the ocean floor, Oxygen was present in Earth's atmosphere before "Great Oxidation Event", astronomers modeling atmospheres of wide variety of Earth-sized planets for future observations of transiting planets.
- NASA announces design for new lunar rover to build future Moon base, NASA runs new Lunar Collision observatory to study the distribution of nearby space rocks.
- NASA will send Stardust to Comet Tempel 1 hit by Deep Impact to study the crater left behind, Stereo observed a comet losing its tail due to a collision with a "coronal mass ejection" from the Sun, SOHO discovers a new, short-period "periodic" comet arounds the Sun, Mars rover gets to its located in Victoria Crater, Dawn is working just fine, variability seen in outer rings of Uranus.
- Very Large Telescope (VLT; and yes, that is the telescope's name) discovers dust ring in Ant Nebula, around red giant star which will one day form a planetary nebula possible likely the Ant Nebula
- X-ray emission from magnetar XTE J1810-197 used to infer size of area which caused a large outburst of X-ray emission and strength of surface magnetic field.
- Very bright outburst of radio emission seen in the direction of the Small Magellanic Cloud, but not from this object. Origin is still completely unknown.
- Interview with Dr. Dan Babich of Cal Tech, talking about the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Full interview will be broadcast this Wednesday! I apologize for the weird audio format of the interview (my questions coming out of the left channel, his answers out of the right, and will rectify this for future shows).
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 1:20 PM
On the first radio show, the quest was James Battat of Harvard University discuss the APOLLO project, which measures the distance from the Earth to the Moon with millimeter (!) accuracy to test General Relativity. On astro-ph/ (a great resource by the way) they have posted several papers:
APOLLO: the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation: Instrument Description and First Detections http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/0710.0890
The First Lunar Ranging Constraints on Gravity Sector SME Parameters http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/0710.0701
Testing for Lorentz Violation: Constraints on Standard-Model Extension Parameters via Lunar Laser Ranging http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/0710.0702
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 9:51 AM
Well not literally, unfortunately. But ESO is sponsoring a new competition called Catch a Star, which has lots of great prizes - including trips to Astronomical observatories in Chile and Austria. For more info, please go to http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/eduoff/cas/cas2008/index.html
and good luck!
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 9:24 AM
Thursday, October 4, 2007
While I know that this technically isn't Astronomy related, today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. Sputnik was definitely not an Astronomical satellite, though the famous radio "beeps" it emitted aren't that different from the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) that can be used to test General Relativity, but starting the so-called "space race" or "space age" it is indirectly responsible for a lot of the wonderful Astronomical satellite that have been launched and will be launched, and without these facilities and investments our understanding of the Universe would be much, much smaller than it is today.
Since I wasn't alive when Sputnik was launched, I am very interested in hearing any stories any of you might have about it... Please leave them below, I'd be fascinated to read them.
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 10:52 AM
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
... worth one under construction? As I mentioned on last week's show, two weeks ago a group of Astronomers went to Capitol Hill to lobby for increased funding for Arecibo, a giant radio dish in Puerto Rico, which is in danger of being closed due to support the construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). As one would imagine, among Astronomers this is a very divisive issue. On one hand, people argue that Arecibo and other installations (e.g. the Very Long Baseline Array - VLBA) have already done their best science and should be closed to make room for new facilities. On the other hand, the capabilities of Arecibo and VLBA are not currently replacable, and are still doing good science, and therefore should remain open especially since they are relative inexpensive relative to the cost of new facilitie. Additionally, since the new facilities won't be available for a decade, there will be a painful gap -- especially in training future astronomers to use the new facilities when they come online -- if telescopes are closed now.
The procedure by which these decisions are made is complicated. The relevant funding source is the National Science Foundation, which is funding agency (full disclosure, I am currently being paid by the NSF, and this radio show is a direct result of their financial support), which makes decisions based on the recommendations of panels of Astronomers on what is required to do the best science in the future. There are many more examples of this problem, with the Arecibo & VLBA vs. ALMA debate going on now.
What do you think? Do you think a high-expense / likely high-reward versus a lower expense / possible high-reward but most likely smaller steps is the correct approach for Astronomy? Discuss below...
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 5:05 PM
Sorry, for the late update (I know I should have done this earlier), but a mp3 version of my interview with Prof. Chromey of Vassar College which I aired last week is available here. I apologize in advance for the not-so-great sound quality. If you have any questions on what he said, please email me and I'll do my best to answer them.
I also hope to post a mp3 version of last week's show online soon...
Posted by You'd Prefer an Astronaut at 5:02 PM