Archives for June, 2010

The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no body yet has thought about that which everyone sees. -Arthur Schopenhauer Most of you who’ve been reading Starts With A Bang for a while have seen this picture come up many, many times. Why do I…

Weekend Diversion: Road Trip time!

“Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world; but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned.” -James A. Baldwin Sometimes, good things happen. And sometimes, you need to get out there, however down you’re feeling, and make them happen. For me,…

“The Universe is made mostly of dark matter and dark energy, and we don’t know what either of them is.” -Saul Perlmutter When I was starting out as a graduate student, one of the most exciting (and daunting) tasks facing me was to piece together a scientifically accurate and useful picture of the Universe, including…

Measure the tilt of the Earth today!

A person without a shadow should keep out of the sun, that is the only safe and rational plan. -Adelbert von Chamisso A few years ago, there was a rumor going around that the Earth’s axis had shifted, and that we were no longer inclined to the Sun at 23.5°. Well, guess what? Today, June…

Four years of football are calculated to breed in the average man more of the ingredients of success in life than almost any academic course he takes. -Knute Rockne Of course, academics are (mostly) on summer vacation right now, so the worst you’re likely to run into is getting stuck behind a school bus on…

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” -Helen Keller If you’ve been paying attention, you heard that the Kepler mission, earlier this week, announced the discovery of 706 candidate planets orbiting stars in its field of view. And…

“We are all captives of the pictures in our head — our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.” -Walter Lippmann For a long time, humans have wondered about life on other worlds, and about worlds around other stars. Until the 1990s, this was mostly speculation and hope. But…

“If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him — it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known…

Weekend Diversion: Art imitating Space!

“All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” -Oscar Wilde It isn’t only the wonders of the Universe themselves that impress me. Oftentimes, just as spectacular are the technological achievements that have brought those wonders to us. (Or, in the case of…

“If we lived on a planet where nothing ever changed, there would be little to do. There would be nothing to figure out. There would be no impetus for science. And if we lived in an unpredictable world, where things changed in random or very complex ways, we would not be able to figure things…