Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Science Tab Dump

Because when shit's falling apart around you, the sane man escapes into the wonder of the cosmos...

This article about the seven wonders of our solar system is a good reminder of the incredible scale of what's in our immediate vicinity. Check out some of these examples:
  • Jupiter's Great Red Spot. "A storm," Bova pointed out, "larger than the entire planet Earth that has been raging across the face of the solar system's largest planet for at least four hundred years." But it's just it's great size and height that gives it its distinctive color
  • Olympus Mons, a volcano on Mars, that is so large that it rises above the Martian atmosphere. 
  • The martian canyon Valles Marineris is as long as the United States. (There's a lot of awe about these natural features in KSR's Mars trilogy.) 
Sander van den Berg has animated thousands of stunning real pictures from NASA's Cassini and Voyager satellites in this short video. Wow. The images of the moving clouds of Jupiter and Saturn are mesmerizing.

Many people credit Poe with being the first Horror and Detective writers. Now perhaps he was the first SciFi writer as well? Click through to see Eliza Strickland talk about Poe's poem Eureka, which includes “a spookily intuitive description of the Big Bang theory more than 70 years before astrophysicists came up with the idea."

Get your Sunshine shades on!

More and more scientists are becoming more open to the idea that we might live in a multiverse:
If  modern physics is to be believed, we shouldn't be here. The meager dose of energy infusing empty space, which at higher levels would rip the cosmos apart, is a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times tinier than theory predicts. And the minuscule mass of the Higgs boson, whose relative smallness allows big structures such as galaxies and humans to form, falls roughly 100 quadrillion times short of expectations. Dialing up either of these constants even a little would render the universe unlivable.
To account for our incredible luck, leading cosmologists like Alan Guth and Stephen Hawking envision our universe as one of countless bubbles in an eternally frothing sea. This infinite “multiverse” would contain universes with constants tuned to any and all possible values, including some outliers, like ours, that have just the right properties to support life. In this scenario, our good luck is inevitable: A peculiar, life-friendly bubble is all we could expect to observe.
Many physicists loathe the multiverse hypothesis, deeming it a cop-out of infinite proportions. But as attempts to paint our universe as an inevitable, self-contained structure falter, the multiverse camp is growing.

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