Archives for July, 2011

“And all your future lies beneath your hat.” -John Oldham Yes, with all the space, astronomy and astrophysics I do here, I can still recognize that there are things of great beauty and importance happening here on the lower 50% of our gaze. For this weekend, I’ve got a sweet song by Railroad Earth: Neath…

What the WMAP image means

“It has been rightly said that nothing is unimportant, nothing powerless in the universe; a single atom can dissolve everything, and save everything! What terror! There lies the eternal distinction between good and evil.” -Gerard De Nerval (For Rich C. and Sili, for their questions on this post.) The humble hydrogen atom — one proton…

“To correct a natural indifference I was placed half-way between misery and the sun. Misery kept me from believing that all was well under the sun, and the sun taught me that history wasn’t everything.” -Albert Camus Our Sun has been shining brightly for over four billion years now, giving light, heat, and energy to…

Was the Universe born with Black Holes?

“Birth and death; we all move between these two unknowns.” -Bryant H. McGill One of the most remarkable consequences of the Big Bang is that the Universe as we know it — full of planets, stars, galaxies and life — hasn’t been around forever! Because the Universe is expanding and cooling, it was hotter, denser,…

Weekend Diversion: For a Young Soul

“Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” -Oscar Wilde For those of you who don’t typically listen to soul singers, you may want to have a listen to this. There’s always something about live performances that bring out their best, and…

We’re going to see a black hole!!!

“A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective.” -Edward Teller The idea of black holes has gone from a curious thought experiment to a theoretical likelihood to a near-certainty —…

Energy: Five Good Questions

“Almost every way we make electricity today, except for the emerging renewables and nuclear, puts out CO2. And so, what we’re going to have to do at a global scale, is create a new system. And so, we need energy miracles.” -Bill Gates Energy is one of the most important topics facing our modern, industrialized…

Science could have it all wrong. But…

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” -C. S. Lewis Many of you are a little bit skeptical that I talk about things like the History…

“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” -e. e. cummings While the rest of the United States gets swept over by a heat wave, the weekend here in Portland, OR gives us…

“At the last dim horizon, we search among ghostly errors of observations for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and it will not be oppressed.” -Edwin Hubble It still boggles my mind that a scant 100 years ago, many of the…