Archives for January, 2013

The Solar Storm of a Lifetime

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” -Alexander Graham Bell Imagine a beautiful, clear day. The Sun is shining, the skies are clear, and you couldn’t ask for a nicer day. All of a sudden, the Sun itself appears to brighten, just for…

Messier Monday: The Owl Nebula, M97

“A wise old owl lived in an oak The more he saw the less he spoke The less he spoke the more he heard. Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?” -The Immortal Poet Bromley To your naked eye, the night sky appears littered with thousands of individual points of light: the…

Weekend Diversion: The Methuselah of Mars

“In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.” -John Archibald Wheeler Sometimes, things get difficult. Sometimes, there are challenges you have to face that you never even expected, much less were prepared for. And sometimes, it seems like there’s no point in even holding on to hope that things will get better.…

Quantum Reality

“I asked the Zebra, are you black with white stripes? Or white with black stripes? And the zebra asked me, Are you good with bad habits? Or are you bad with good habits? Are you noisy with quiet times? Or are you quiet with noisy times? Are you happy with some sad days? Or are…

When the Universe was twice as hot

“Hell must be isothermal; for otherwise the resident engineers and physical chemists (of which there must be some) could set up a heat engine to run a refrigerator to cool off a portion of their surroundings to any desired temperature.” -Henry Albert Ben One of the most amazing ideas to come out of our observations…

“Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it.” -Vaclav Havel But the spiral is more than a metaphor or a mathematical shape, it’s also the most common feature observed in the galaxies out there in the Universe. There are 27 spiral galaxies…

Weekend Diversion: Our years of shared songs

“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe I don’t always have all the answers, but every weekend I strive to bring you something interesting — in some form or other — to…

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us—there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, or falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.” -Carl…

The Evolution of Starlight

“Aristotle taught that stars are made of a different matter than the four earthly elements— a quintessence— that also happens to be what the human psyche is made of. Which is why man’s spirit corresponds to the stars. Perhaps that’s not a very scientific view, but I do like the idea that there’s a little…

“The ruins were just a reminder that what had been was no longer. That everything we are will be gone someday. That I will be forgotten.” -Megan Miranda Some four-and-a-half billion years ago, a ultra-massive cloud of cold gas and dust collapsed, giving rise to thousands of stars of all different types, from hot, massive,…