January 13th, 2013
That is a lot of Earth-sized planets. A lot. For instance, look at what NASA estimates for our galaxy alone:
Since the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars, there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized worlds out there.
And then there are the countless billions of galaxies besides our own. I wonder if we’ll ever make it to even just one of them?
October 2nd, 2012
Jean-Henri Fabre, circa 1879 in Souvenirs Entomologiques:
We all have our own talents, our special gifts. Sometimes these gifts seem to come to us from our forefathers, but more often it is difficult to trace their origin.
A goatherd, perhaps, amuses himself by counting little pebbles and doing sums with them. He becomes an astoundingly quick reckoner, and in the end is a professor of mathematics. Another boy, at an age when most of us care only for play, leaves his schoolfellows at their games and listens to the imaginary sounds of an organ, a secret concert heard by him alone. He has a genius for music. A third—so small, perhaps, that he cannot eat his bread and jam without smearing his face—takes a keen delight in fashioning clay into little figures that are amazingly lifelike. If he be fortunate he will some day be a famous sculptor.
To talk about oneself is hateful, I know, but perhaps I may be allowed to do so for a moment, in order to introduce myself and my studies.
Reading just this first page of his now classic book of entomology was enough for me to grab the free ebook English translation.
/via Boing Boing.
June 15th, 2012
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the archive of The Infinite Monkey Cage Podcast – a very scientific and nerdy podcast about astrophysics among other things. It stars Brian Cox of the Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System series – which I adore.
May 13th, 2011
Justin Blanton recently linked to an article that claims there are anatomical clues in the development of the human embryo that, by looks alone, may prove that we are descended from fish.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some people that look like fish and some that look like monkeys but that doesn’t mean they were descended from them in some evolutionary chain. It just means their ugly.
The article also incorrectly states that there is fossil record proof that we are descended from fish. So far there has been no direct link in the, still very incomplete, fossil record that definitively proves the theory of evolution whatsoever. Any article that states otherwise is overstating the matter. Scientist have built hypothesis based on, what they consider, evolving bone structures from the earliest time of life to now. Several commonalities between the bone structures of all living things. But that does not mean that they evolved. It means they were made by the same designer.
Consider this; an architect designs 10 houses to his own taste. Some of the elements of these homes will, no doubt, be very similar because they were all designed by the same guy. Is it without question that, if there is a designer of all life, that several elements will be similar throughout all of his works? I don’t think so.
I do not believe there is a conflict between a belief in science and a faith in a creator but many do. Oh, and I’ve asked Justin to have a public forum someday to chat about our conflicting ideals but he’s scared.
November 17th, 2010
A caller phoned unto Ira Flatow’s Science Friday and asked Michael A’hearn – one of the principal scientists studying the recent comet fly-by – why A’hearn described the age of these comets in “the billions and trillions and kajillions”. To be fair, A’hearn never went above 4.5 Billion years to describe anything during the program.
A’hearn’s rebuttal was astute. He said that if God created the universe then “he created it to work in certain ways” and that by studying it – they could figure out the age of things. He went on to say that he didn’t see why God would have deliberately tried to “dupe” us into believing the age of things.
In other words, if all the hard evidence points to the universe having an explosive beginning billions of years ago – the Big Bang theory – then why should we believe anything else?
I believe in God and creation and I also believe in hard evidence that science has provided. I think it is safe to say that the universe is very old and had an incredible beginning. Something from nothing would have been incredible indeed. How God did that may remain a mystery to man for a very long time – to this point A’hearn answered Flatow’s further questions in this way.
“Do you think it is within our grasp to understand the origin?” – Ira Flatow
“I certainly can believe that we will get to a point where we can no longer understand the physical processes. The classical theory of the universe The Big Bang theory had a beginning. And that would have been the point that God created the universe. But he could have created it in many ways. And the way in which he created it is up to us to find out.” – Michael A’hearn
“You don’t have a conflict in your own mind of believing in God and believing in Science?”- Ira Flatow
“No I don’t.”- Michael A’hearn
Neither do I.
January 12th, 2010
Interesting comparison between the knowledge of science and the knowledge of man by the always quotable Henry David Thoreau:
“Science does not embody all that men know, only what is for men of science. The woodman tells me how he caught trout in a box trap, how he made his trough for maple sap of pine logs, and the spouts of sumach or white ash, which have a large pith. He can relate his facts to human life. The knowledge of an unlearned man is living and luxuriant like a forest, but covered with mosses and lichens and for the most part inaccessible and going to waste; the knowledge of the man of science is like timber collected in yards for public works, which still supports a green sprout here and there, but even this is liable to dry rot.”
I also like the bit where he mentions that a lot of man’s knowledge ends up going to waste – presumably because it is lost with the man at death. Henry David Thoreau, though, didn’t live in a world with blogs and Twitter. If more people would spout out knowledge through these channels, instead of negativity, I think Henry’s thoughts could be outdated.
January 28th, 2009
Last night, somewhere between the hours of 2:00am and 4:00am (yes, I was awake, lying in bed, watching TV) I watched an incredibly good documentary on PBS called THE ATOM SMASHERS which is part of the Independent Lens series.
Being a fan of science, I found this documentary very educational and entertaining and it helped to catch me up-to-date on some of the developments of subatomic research. Many of us have seen the headlines about CERN – but there is more much to the story about the research they will be doing at CERN. People have been doing this research for years.Â PhysicistsÂ at Fermilab, a government-funded particleÂ accelerator, have been searching for the Higgs boson before the idea for CERN was conceived. THE ATTOM SMASHERS reflects on their journey, struggles, successes, and failures.
I found itÂ riveting.
Source: PBS – Independent Lens – THE ATOM SMASHERS.
Photo credit: PBS.
June 20th, 2008
Today is the first day of Summer here in North America. Â The sun will shine longer today than any other day this year. Â But one must not forget about the rest of the world. Â Those on the other side of our planet are experiencing the direct opposite; the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year.
So, by way of review here are the many names of the solstice. Â This being copied directly from Wikipedia.
- SummerÂ solsticeÂ andÂ winterÂ solsticeÂ are the most common names. However, these can be ambiguous since seasons of theÂ northern hemisphereÂ andÂ southern hemisphereÂ are opposites, and the summer solstice of one hemisphere is the winter solstice of the other.
- Northern solsticeÂ andÂ southern solsticeÂ indicate the direction of the sun’s movement. The northern solstice is inÂ JuneÂ onÂ Earth, when the sun is directly over theÂ Tropic of CancerÂ in theÂ Northern Hemisphere, and the southern solstice is inÂ December, when the sun is directly over theÂ Tropic of CapricornÂ in theÂ Southern Hemisphere.
- JuneÂ solsticeÂ andÂ DecemberÂ solsticeÂ are an alternative to the more common “summer” and “winter” terms, but without the ambiguity for which hemisphere they are intended. They are still not universal, however, as not all people on Earth use a solar-based calendar where the solstices occur every year in the same month (as they do not in theÂ Hebrew calendar, for example), and the names are also not useful for other planets (Mars, for example), even though these planets do have seasons.
- First point ofÂ CancerÂ andÂ first point ofÂ Capricorn. One disadvantage of these names is that, due to theÂ precession of the equinoxes, theastrological signsÂ where these solstices are located no longer correspond with the actualÂ constellations.
- TaurusÂ solsticeÂ andÂ SagittariusÂ solsticeÂ are names that indicate in which constellations the two solstices are currently located. These terms are not widely used, though, and until December 1989 the first solstice was inÂ Gemini, according to officialÂ IAUÂ boundaries.
- TheÂ LatinÂ namesÂ Hibernal solsticeÂ (winter), andÂ Aestival solsticeÂ (summer) are sometimes used.
Now you know. Â If you live anywhere in the northern hemisphere get outside today and enjoy the first day of our summer. Â If you live anywhere in the southern hemisphere find a good book and a cup of soup.
October 20th, 2006
“Scientists create a kind of invisibility shield by bending microwaves” I find this intriguing of course but I’m of the belief that they are not even close to having anything of real worth. Though I’d love to see a demo.
An interesting quote was: “We did this work very quickly . . . and that led to a cloak that is not optimal,” said co-author David Smith, also of Duke. “We know how to make a much better one.”
This group took about 5 months to accomplish this from inception to development to testing and that is definitely noteworthy. Though I’d still like to see a demo and perhaps some real data rather than a press release.
Oh, also of note is that even though this came through the Canadian Press, CBC still thought it better filed under Oddities on their site. That gave me a chuckle.
(via Mike via IM)
[tags]science, invisibility, cloak[/tags]