Yesterday, I forgot to point you to the press release from the observatory itself. There, you will find more information about the opening, on November 3rd, and about how to actually get there. They are forbidding access to the parking lot, and so you either take a shuttle bus, or you walk or cycle. It is depressing to me that people are already complaining about having to walk up a small hill from the picnic sites below (people who walk up are generically referred to as â€œhikersâ€, in the press release, which would give someone the impression that you need special equipment or something just to walk up the hill. Sigh.).
Anyway, some chatter from the press release. Letâ€™s start out with 4th District Councilmember, Tom LaBonge, a veritable Paul Dirac of understatement and wall-flower-hood: […] Click to continue reading this post
COBE is the experiment that really blazed the trail for all the wonderful physics that was to come from WMAP, and various other experiments such as Boomerang. And Planck is about to fly as well, giving even more precise information about our universe.
I was an undergraduate when this was announced. [Update: Oops…not quite: I had just started graduate school. Thanks Chad!] It was a wonderful feeling that all of us students had, partly gleaned from the feelings of our lecturers, I suspect. The thing that struck us as most appealing (I think) was the idea that the black body radiation spectrum (click on the image on the right for larger) that we’d been learning about in the abstract, during lectures, was sort of “out there”, writ large…. as large as can be in fact, on the whole universe! It’s always good to learn that physics -or any field- is still alive, especially when you’re still on the cusp of making a career in it. […] Click to continue reading this post
As mentioned before, I am really excited about the re-opening of the Griffith Park Observatory. See this earlier post. [Update: See post about my viisit here.] [Further Update: After reading the rest of the post, be sure to read the comments (starting here) for some commentary on the planetarium show … Click to continue reading this post
Well, before disappearing into a long session of thinking about some funny behaviour my strings are up to (more later) I’d like to do a quick report on the departmental colloquium that I went to just now. We had Gary Zank, the Director of the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics of the UC system (he’s based out of UCR) give us a talk entitled: “Particle Acceleration in Cosmic Plasmas”, and it was quite fascinating (and very well presented).
It is all about the physics of cosmic rays […] Click to continue reading this post
I forgot to tell you about this. The name Eris has been officially chosen by the International Astronomical Union for the astronomical body so many wanted to be called Xena. (Keck image, left) Eris is the goddess of discord and strife, by the way. The moon of the body, that … Click to continue reading this post
This is the penultimate line in an article today in the Science Times: â€œSometimes how the blood is splattered on the wall tells you more about what happened than the body,â€ It is a quote from Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute, in the context of understanding the origins … Click to continue reading this post
I learned from New Scientist just now that various researchers working on modified gravity theories are casting doubt on the direct evidence of Dark Matter that was presented by Douglas Clowe and collaborators a few weeks ago. Recall an earlier post on it, here, and Sean Carroll’s post with more … Click to continue reading this post
The BBC’s Radio 4 starts a new programme about astronomy tonight. Called “The Cosmic Hunters”, it sounds as though it will be rather good, so do tune in. It will be on Wednesdays at 9:00pm. It will be discussing various areas of recent research, using some of the optical telescopes … Click to continue reading this post
This is the lovely composite Hubble space telescope picture that is going around, showing the debris of a supernova – a star’s explosion. This is Cassiopeia A, and the explosion happened in 1680 AD, our time. See HST’s website for more on this , and discussion on the Bad Astronomy … Click to continue reading this post
[Updated, see below.] You’ll recall the news I reported about a number of members of the astronomy and planetary science community asking people to sign a petition to get the IAU to reconsider their Prague decision to accept the planetary definition that resulted in the “Pluto demotion”. See this link … Click to continue reading this post
I learned from an article in New Scientist by David Shiga that there have been recently found four more small satellite galaxies of our Milky Way galaxy. The satellites are dwarf galaxies a few hundred to a few thousand light years across. The tiny galaxies are thought to be the … Click to continue reading this post
…And from serious protests of the previous post to humourous (fictional!) ones. Go check out the Worth1000 photoshop competition on the subject, linked here. Some of them are great! Here’s one I liked: Creator’s caption: “Don’t argue with him, the man’s a genius.” -cvj
So despite the announcement yesterday, reliable sources tell me that some members of the astronomy community are hoping that there is still maybe a small window of opportunity for Pluto. Some members of the community are preparing a petition which protests the IAU planet definition! They don’t agree with the … Click to continue reading this post
I learned a new term from a producer at a television studio the other day (in a context I do not know if I’m allowed to blog about yet): “Spinach TV”. I love it. This is a term expressing the idea of television programming that is supposed to be “good … Click to continue reading this post
So you’ll recall that when we thought we had twelve planets we started trying to think of new mnemonics to help people remember the planets’ ordering. For example, from Yvette: My Very Educated Mother Canâ€™t Justify Someone Using New Planetary Conventionsâ€¦ oh no, they havenâ€™t named the last one yet!!! … Click to continue reading this post