Built on Facts

Back in the 1600s science was much less specialized. You didn’t really have biology, chemistry, physics, and even mathematics for that matter as fully separate disciplines. If you did science, you were a “natural philosopher” and that was that. Now even physics by itself could be argued to be about a half-dozen separate disciplines whose overlap is not always so large.

Astronomy is often considered to be a sub-discipline of physics depending on the context, and in fact many universities have a “Department of Physics and Astronomy”. My undergrad university does, my current university was only the “Department of Physics” until quite recently when we greatly expanded the number of astronomy faculty. In any case it’s convenient to have astronomers and earth-bound physicists in the same building since so frequently they’re dealing with the same problems – spectroscopy, high energy particle physics, plasma dynamics, you name it.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying “Holy cow, have you seen the pictures from the new Solar Dynamics Observatory?” They’re just astonishingly impressive.


  1. #1 Robert G.
    April 23, 2010

    So what is the difference between Cosmology and Astronomy anyways?

  2. #2 Alan Law
    April 23, 2010

    I haven’t found the answer to this: is the video in real-time, and if not, what is the time compression ?

  3. #3 Matt Springer
    April 23, 2010

    1: Depends, but usually cosmologists are interested in the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe, and most of their data comes from large scale statistical observations of bazillions of galaxies. Astronomers are interested in particular cosmic phenomena as they happen now, and their observations tend to be of specific objects. This is just a generalization though.

    2: The video is definitely not in real time, but I don’t know what the scale is. Honestly that’s a very good question. I’m vaguely under the impression it’s on the order of a few hours, but that’s really more of a guess. If you find out, let us know!

  4. #4 chance
    April 23, 2010

    Astrology the study (I’d say trial to predict) people’s future in regard to Universe’s composition(position of stars)
    Cosmology is the study of the Universe, of its composition, evolution…etc.

  5. #5 CarpeJeep
    April 23, 2010

    The instrument specs say it is capable of one full disk image every 10 seconds, but I don’t know how many images make up the video or if they included all the images, etc.

  6. #6 home curtains
    April 23, 2010

    I think it depends on where you stare at it. Astrology has nothing to do with it since it can not be proven yet.

  7. #7 andy.s
    April 25, 2010

    Holy. Fucking. Crap.

    By my SWAG, you could fly about 15 earths through that loop at maximum width.

    These .mov’s kick ass. I wonder when we’ll see it in IMAX?

  8. #8 Nomen Nescio
    April 25, 2010

    assuming the youtube video plays back at 30 frames/sec (not necessarily a safe assumption, but i’m not enough of a digital A/V geek to verify it), this clip would have roughly 300 frames. so if it was captured at a frame rate of 1/10 sec, we’d be looking at no less than 50 minutes of observation. guesstimating the speed of motion of those gasses at such a time scale, i’d say probably more time than that was involved, but i can’t be sure.

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