Tag Archives | Astronomy

Separation of Church and Space?

(photo courtesy of NASA)

(photo courtesy of NASA)

via University of Dayton:

Whether you believe the Philae probe’s landing on a speeding comet is a monumental advance or a colossal waste might depend on your religion, according to a University of Dayton researcher.

Many in the space community see the landing as a critical step in colonizing the solar system, such as NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green who said, “I truly believe that a single-planet species will not survive long. It’s our destiny to move off this planet.” (see CNET article)

Yet Evangelical Protestants are much surer Jesus will return in the next 40 years than that humans will make significant strides in space exploration, according to research by University of Dayton political science assistant professor Joshua Ambrosius.

“Evangelicals have been hesitant to recognize the discoveries of modern science — from evolutionary origins to climate change,” Ambrosius said. “The data show that this overall attitude extends into space.”

Ambrosius used data from the General Social Survey and three Pew surveys to compare knowledge, interest and support for space exploration among Catholics, Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Jews, Eastern religions and those with no religion.

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Guidestoned 2014 Documentary Kickstarter

“Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.”
– Oscar Wilde

Help us dig up the Time Capsule.

Let’s dig up the Time Capsule together.

Guidestoned 2014 Kickstarter

Over the past 2 years some fellow filmmakers and I have been filming a documentary surrounding the Georgia Guidestones that we have appropriately dubbed Guidestoned. What has interested us more than the monument and its designers is people’s collective perception of its message. Which was surprisingly positive in person, something I admit was unexpected. Throughout filming the documentary we met groups of people ranging from Mormon Missionaries that travel the world, to a crystal ball stealing Nazi biker gang, and everything in between. Mostly all were welcoming and kind, save a few. This documentary is filled with so many different perspectives. Folks show their true character, which the Guidestones tend to bring out in people.… Read the rest

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Curious Signal Could Be Dark Matter Pouring From The Sun’s Core

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via io9:

This could be historic: Astronomers from Leicester University have detected a strange signal in the X-ray spectrum that appears to be a signature of ‘axions’ — a hypothetical dark matter particle. It could take years to confirm, but this may be the first direct detection and identification of dark matter.

The study has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of dark matter and the way our Universe works. Though it has never observed directly, astronomers are certain dark matter exists because, without it, galaxies would just unravel and fly apart. Moreover, even though it doesn’t emit or absorb light, it exerts gravitational pull on celestial objects we can observe. To put it bluntly, it’s dark matter that holds the Universe together — and it may comprise up to 85% of all the stuff within it.

The idea of axions has been around for a while. It was postulated by the Peccei-Quinn theory in 1977 to resolve a nasty problem in quantum physics.

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NASA Contemplates Deep Sleep Option for Mars Mission

During interplanetary transit, the crew would receive low-level electrical impulses to key muscle groups to prevent muscular atrophy. ©SPACEWORKS

During interplanetary transit, the crew would receive low-level electrical impulses to key muscle groups to prevent muscular atrophy. ©SPACEWORKS

via Discovery News:

A NASA-backed study explores an innovative way to dramatically cut the cost of a human expedition to Mars — put the crew in stasis.

The deep sleep, called torpor, would reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures. Torpor also can occur naturally in cases of hypothermia.

“Therapeutic torpor has been around in theory since the 1980s and really since 2003 has been a staple for critical care trauma patients in hospitals,” aerospace engineer Mark Schaffer, with SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta, said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto this week. “Protocols exist in most major medical centers for inducing therapeutic hypothermia on patients to essentially keep them alive until they can get the kind of treatment that they need.”

Coupled with intravenous feeding, a crew could be put in hibernation for the transit time to Mars, which under the best-case scenario would take 180 days one-way.

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The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson - NAC Nov 2005.jpg

Are you a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson? You know, the fellow who took picked up the mantle of Cosmos from Carl Sagan. He’s definitely the most famous astronomer of our time, but as with anyone reaching certain heights of fame, he’s now attracting critics, Rich Lowry of Politico among them:

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a very famous and popular scientist. He even has a TV show. And wears a cool astronomical vest. Only he’s not infallible.

This rather basic truth has been established over the past couple weeks, over much resistance and at the cost of much abuse, by Sean Davis of the lively new conservative website, the Federalist.

Davis dug into a handful of just-so stories repeated by Tyson in his public lectures, the point of which is to make himself — and by extension, his audience — feel superior to the dolts who aren’t nearly as scientific as he is.

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Live Webcast of Supernova

X-ray, Optical & Infrared Composite of Kepler's Supernova Remnant

X-ray, Optical & Infrared Composite of Kepler’s Supernova Remnant

This was brought to my attention by a science loving Disinfonaut.

via I Fucking Love Science:

Located 38 million light years away in the constellation Dorado, visible in the Southern Hemisphere, the intermediate galaxy NGC 1566 appears to have had a recent supernova. The event was discovered within the last week by researchers in Chile collecting data for the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASASSN).

The supernova candidate, dubbed ASASSN-14ha, cannot readily be seen with the average amateur telescope. To make up for that unfortunate fact, the folks at Slooh Community Observatory will be doing a live broadcast of observations from Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile (PUC).

“Supernovae are the most violent events in the universe. And among the most useful, since their brightness can help pin down the distance to their parent galaxy,” Slooh astronomer Bob Berman stated in a press release.

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Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy Containing a Supermassive Black Hole

 

Artist's View of M60-UCD1 Black Hole Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI-PRC14-41a

Artist’s View of M60-UCD1 Black Hole
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI-PRC14-41a

How awesome is this?!

via Nasa.gov:

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

The black hole is five times the mass of the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is inside one of the densest galaxies known to date — the M60-UCD1 dwarf galaxy that crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th of our galaxy’s diameter.

If you lived inside this dwarf galaxy, the night sky would dazzle with at least 1 million stars visible to the naked eye. Our nighttime sky as seen from Earth’s surface shows 4,000 stars.

The finding implies there are many other compact galaxies in the universe that contain supermassive black holes.

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Laniakea: Our home supercluster

Laniakea is our home supercluster in which the Milky Way lies in the outskirts. This video really puts things into perspective.

via The YouTube page:

Superclusters – regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies – are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian.

 

h/t Laughing Squid.

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Why I believe we’ll find aliens – leading expert on search for intelligent extra-terrestrial life

By plaits via Flickr

By plaits via Flickr

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Seth Shostak, SETI Institute

The Conversation organised a public question-and-answer session on Reddit in which Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, explained why searching for intelligent life is so important and why we may soon find it.


Why are we continuing the search? For instance, isn’t it true that radio waves become almost indistinguishable from background noise just a few light years from their origin?

We can detect radio waves from billions of light-years away, and without a whole lot of trouble, either. The idea that they become indistinguishable from noise at some small distance is incorrect. With a big enough antenna, you can always find the signal.

But the broader point is that we now know two things that we didn’t know 20 years ago. First that planets, including ones that might be like Earth, are incredibly plentiful in the visible universe.… Read the rest

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Ancient Peruvian Astronomy Lab Uncovered

So this is awesome: archaeologists have found an ancient astronomy lab where it’s speculated that ancient people would track star movement.

Peruvian archaeologists found carvings that depict the stars and have lasted thousands of years. Silvia Depaz/Andina/Peru This Week

Peruvian archaeologists found carvings that depict the stars and have lasted thousands of years. Silvia Depaz/Andina/Peru This Week

via International Business Times:

Archeologists have stumbled upon a site where ancient people observed the stars thousands of years ago in Peru, a country famous for using drones to help uncover and map archeological treasures, as Reuters reported.

Excavators working on a complex at Licurnique, in the country’s northern region, have uncovered evidence of an “astronomical laboratory,” that dates back between 3,500 and 4,000 years, according to Peru This Week.

“Astronomical [observations] were engraved on a flat-surface rock, which were used to track stars,” its report said. It added that the petroglyphs were likely used in forecasting rain and weather patterns to help farmers. “It is worth exploring without a doubt.”

Continue reading.… Read the rest

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