Really Old Stars?

One sees them a lot around here, given the town I’m in, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

There’s a Spitzer telescope press release about the possible discovery of the most early stars detected to date. These would be the very first stars to have formed in the universe. Remembering that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, pause for a moment to be impressed by the claim of Kashlinsky, Arendt, Mather and Moseley that these stars appeared less than a billion years after the big bang. You should also read some discussion in John Baez’ recent post. [Update: See remarks from Ned Wright at the end of this post.]

The new milestone on the timeline of the universe’s history, if this is correct, would look roughly as in this image (from the press release):

timeline of the universe from spitzer

Extraordinary claims (like this one) require extraordinary evidence, and so there’ll no [...] Click to continue reading this post

Funky Fresh Air

james brown image from concertshots.comOh, man! Right now I’m seriously jammin’ along to NPR’s Fresh Air. Why? It is a retrospective on James Brown (you’ve heard the news, I imagine). Terry Gross (the show’s presenter) has lined up a 2005 interview with him, and also has cut in interviews with Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, etc. It’s all about his music’s history – the influences, the influenced, the ideas, the groove, the politics, the movement, the Movement, and so much more.

If you’ve not listened to James Brown’s music before, this is a good chance to learn what it’s all about. (Image right from concertshots.com.) [...] Click to continue reading this post