Archives for September, 2009

Is String Theory an Unphysical Pile of Garbage?

Before you ask yourself, “what kind of incendiary title is that,” let me put this in perspective. In 2001, I started graduate school at the University of Florida, and in 2002, I took one of the most difficult year-long courses a physics student can take: Quantum Field Theory. This was both the best and worst…

Our Nearest Galactic Neighbor

Andromeda, also known as M31, is the nearest large galaxy to us. At “only” 2 million light-years away, it gives us the best chance to study another spiral galaxy besides our own. I get particularly impressed by the high resolution images we can get, since it’s so close to us. Andromeda looks like this in…

Going to space for $150!

No, not you personally. But if you’ve ever thought about sending anything up into space, you may want to listen to this story about a couple of MIT students. For less than $150 in parts, with an amazing ease of assembly, they managed to send a device up to the brink of space, take some…

Are we not good enough for Darwin?

Yesterday, I read something in international news that made me so mad I needed to share it with you: That’s right; my home country, the United States, will not distribute this film. There was no problem for the movie Expelled, a poorly argued anti-evolution flop that grossed just $7,598,071 despite appearing on more than 1,000…

Q & A: Sailors Delight? Fact or Fiction?

Last week, we got a chance to talk about why the sky is red toward sunset and sunrise but blue everywhere else: the atmosphere. Red light passes through the atmosphere pretty well, but blue light gets scattered more easily. When you look to the horizon at sunset/sunrise, the light passes through a tremendous amount of…

Weekend Diversion: The Movies

Like to go to the movies? Like movie theatre popcorn/candy/slushies/etc.? And do you also like surreal humor? Take a listen and look at Mastodon‘s “Cut you up with a Linoleum Knife”. It isn’t the normal music I listen to, but it’s one of my favorite movie openings ever. But this totally amuses me this weekend,…

How many in the Quintet today?

Perhaps my favorite of the new Hubble pictures is this one of Stephan’s Quintet (and click here for the 1000 pixel wide version): It’s so stunning that it was chosen as today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. But yesterday, I got a very interesting question to go along with it: These galaxies are far away,…

The New and Improved Hubble in Brief

Yesterday, I linked to the Hubble Site, where they’ve got a collection of stunning new images taken using Hubble’s new camera, the Wide-Field Camera 3: But why would you bother to go there? After all, you know that I’ll just show you all the gorgeousness here! Hubble is an astounding telescope, because it’s so good…

Guess who’s back?

Remember saying goodbye to Hubble’s old camera, WFPC2? This servicing mission was months ago, now, so perhaps you’ve forgotten about this 19 year old telescope. Well, the new camera, WFC3, is finally ready to make its debut. Plans include surveying the Kuiper Belt, looking at newly forming planets, better measuring dark energy, and a new,…

Red sky at night… but why?

Sure, we’re all familiar with sunsets, and how they appear to turn the entire sky close to the horizon red at night. But it turns out it isn’t just the Sun, and it isn’t just the sky. If you look at the Moon at either Moonrise or Moonset, guess what color it appears to be?…