Archives for December, 2010

What’s in the Universe?

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” -Aldous Huxley Earlier this week, I told you the story of how we went from a Universe that was — at one time — almost perfectly smooth, full of tiny, random fluctuations in density, to the…

How did we get here?

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack You may find yourself in another part of the world You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife You may ask yourself: well… how did I get here? -Talking Heads Yesterday’s…

Weekend Diversion: Happy Everything

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” -Voltaire All over the world, there are celebrations going on today. Yes, it’s Christmas, but there’s a much older reason to celebrate. I’m not talking about Roman festivals, Ancient Greek celebrations, or even old Hebrew traditions, although I…

Hubble for the Holidays: A Bauble of a Bubble

“When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievability of the thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes.” -Tycho Brahe Supernovae are the most spectacular death-knells of the largest stars in our Universe. Nearly all…

Hubble for the Holidays: Have a Cigar!

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the Universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” -Edwin Hubble I promised you, this week, we’d be taking a look at the power of the Hubble Space Telescope. Yesterday, we looked at Eta Carinae, but today, I decided to look a little farther. Have a listen to…

Hubble for the Holidays: Eta Carinae

“We find them smaller and fainter, in constantly increasing numbers, and we know that we are reaching into space, farther and farther, until, with the faintest nebulae that can be detected with the greatest telescopes, we arrive at the frontier of the known Universe.” -Edwin Hubble There’s really only one way to appreciate just how…

“You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.” -Steve Prefontaine But there are lots of amazing ways to propel yourself forward, indeed. Listen to one of the greatest musical groups of our times, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, as they perform Victor Wooten‘s song, Sex In A Pan,off their album UFO Tofu.…

Celebrate This Winter Solstice Like No Other!

“The moon is eclipsed through the interposition of the earth… Anaxagoras was the first to set out distinctly the facts about eclipses and illuminations.” -Euripides, in Hippolytus, 431 B.C. As we all know, the Earth revolves around the Sun while it rotates on its axis. The rotation causes day-and-night every 24 hours, while the revolution…

What is Science? What is Hype?

“The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.” -Stephen Jay Gould Tuesday, I talked about an alternative theory to cosmic inflation. Whereas cosmic inflation gives you a uniform, flat Universe, that’s the…

“Nullius in Verba. (Take nobody’s word for it.)” -Motto of the Royal Society You know the drill. New ideas come out all the time. Sometimes they’re new theories, sometimes they’re old theories with a new twist, but regardless, we need to ask the question: How good is your theory? For whatever it’s worth, I came…