So many media headlines today regarding the observation of both light (EM spectrum, not just visible/optical light) and gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars. Lots of visualizations. Big science in action. Here’s a sampling of headlines: Gravitational waves from kilonova collision of neutron stars discovered – The Washington Post Gravitational waves: So many new toys… Continue reading Kilonovas and multi-messenger astrophysics
As noted previously, quantum physics has struggled with infinities. A recent Space.com article on black holes reminded me of another part of that saga. Black holes serve as touchstones in several ways. Wiki: … there are some theoretical circumstances where the end result is infinity. One example is the singularity in the description of black… Continue reading Beyond the infinity of black holes
Much in the media over the years, the Cassini–Huygens space mission ended today with the controlled re-entry of the Cassini orbiter into Saturn’s atmosphere after over 13 years there. Wiki: Cassini–Huygens, or more commonly, Cassini, is a Flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft which was planned, built, launched, and operated in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and… Continue reading Cassini finale — historic Saturn mission ends
I’ve followed news and documentaries on the Voyager probes over the decades. A friend recently wrote: Did you happen to see the recent retrospective on the Voyager space crafts on PBS? 1 Great show! Fascinating to see how much their work and their “baby” meant to the scientists and engineers — now in their 80s.… Continue reading The Golden Record — “We offer friendship across the stars”
There’s a lot of media coverage on the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. More attention than I remember for any eclipse event. These events have been noteworthy throughout history. Varied reactions and interpretations. This Space.com article “How Eclipses Drove 2,000 Years of Math: A Q&A With Stephen Wolfram” (August 18, 2017) highlights… Continue reading Eclipse as tale of computation
Imagine a survey where you ask “How old is the universe?” as a multiple choice question: 1,000’s of years 100,000’s of years Millions of years Billions of years Other _______________ What would you expect as a result? Quite a mix? Well, among scientists this question is essentially settled, as indicated in some Space.com articles. “How… Continue reading Age of universe — implications?
Asymmetric gravitational interactions between two bodies produce gravitational waves.1 Such perturbations in space-time are so small that only the most massive interactions have been detected by LIGO, which uses laser interferometry and is “the largest and most ambitious project ever funded by the NSF.” While there was speculation about gravitational waves prior to Einstein’s theory… Continue reading Surfing space-time — gravitational waves
Space.com posted an article on June 15, 2017, which is a good summary of this topic — “What is dark matter?” Roughly 80 percent of the mass of the universe is made up of material that scientists cannot directly observe. Known as dark matter, this bizarre ingredient does not emit light or energy. So why… Continue reading Hidden in plain sight — dark matter
This Space.com article “Hotspot for Cosmic Rays: Touring the Telescope Array Project in Utah” published on May 27, 2017, reminded me that while CERN’s LHC is the current champ of colliders on Earth, other particles which have been raining down on us for billions of years are colliding with Earth’s atmosphere at even higher energies —… Continue reading Up in the sky — faster than a speeding LHC proton
While studying physics this past year, I noticed tension between theoretical and experimental physicists, especially between younger quantum field theoreticians and veteran particle physicists — regarding deep reality and the various formulations of quantum mechanics (addressed in another post). Revisiting some archived debates, this philosophical question (“Is reality digital or analog?”) was posed in an essay… Continue reading Is reality digital or analog?