The Sun's Shadow

Stumbling to find a light switch in the dark

World Not Wiped Out of Existence

The Large Hadron Colliderhas been fired up and the planet still exists! They have not started smashing particles yet but even then the planet will still exist. The collider has been designed in the hope of capturing the after image of the Higgs Boson. Which would be a major discovery for the standard model of physics…the scientists involved in the project project having the results once they begin the collisions in 2009.
What I find really interesting is that Stephen Hawking is betting against finding the Higgs boson

“The LHC will increase the energy at which we can study particle interactions by a factor of four. According to present thinking, this should be enough to discover the Higgs particle,” Hawking told BBC radio.

“I think it will be much more exciting if we don’t find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of 100 dollars that we won’t find the Higgs,” added Hawking, whose books including “A Brief History of Time” have sought to popularise study of stellar physics.

I think it will be exciting either way… we either learn something fundamental about the universe or we get to go back to the drawing board and come up with new hypothesises to build in to new theories… in either case it is likely that our under standing of the universe and its origins will grow. We are now on the edge of science looking as far in to the past as we can and hoping it will give us a better understanding of today going in to tomorrow.


September 10, 2008 Posted by | Academic, Astronomy, History, Opinion, Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth Come Back

Fox news has an article up regarding the resurgence of people who believe the Earth is flat. However before we dive in to the meat of this just look at how the article begins.

Global warming? Somewhat controversial. Evolution? Even more so. Still, there’s one well-founded scientific notion that everyone can agree upon: The Earth is round, like a ball.

Global warming somewhat controversial not to science, the controversy is if man is the main cause of the warming or to a lesser degree are we contributing to accelerated warming. There is no real controversy on if the planet is getting warmer.

Evolution is only controversial to those who reject science altogether. Poor reporting to start out, but they get the Earth is a sphere correct.

“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-Earthers,” Tennessee-based computer scientist and society member John Davis tells the BBC. “Many use the term ‘flat-Earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Maybe that is because the term does imply blind faith, ignorance, and anti-intellectualism, the notion is absurd. The article does point out the response from the flat earth believers to evidence that the Earth is a sphere.

The moon landings? Faked, say the flat-Earthers. Satellite images of the Earth? Fake, fake, fake.

Ah yes its all a fake, they believe the lunar landings were a hoax… come on… and satellite images are fake too, this is nothing short than alleging a world wide conspiracy of governments and scientists… COME ON. Of course we treat these ideas with scorn they are ridiculous, absurd, laughable.

SO what does the earth look like?

This is how a flat earth believer thinks the world looks

This is how a flat Earth believer thinks the world looks

Folks this is not a joke, I wish it were, but people are serious in the belief that the Earth is flat, I want to laugh but this is just too sad.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Nonsense, Science, Skepticism | , , , | 2 Comments

Aliens Have Made Contact

At least that is the claim that has been made by Dr. Edgar Mitchel former NASA Astronaut. Dr. Mitchel was being interviewed on a radio show and made the following assertions.

“I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we’ve been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real,” Dr Mitchell said.

Then he can identify them why refer to them as UFO’s, they are no longer unidentified they are then alien spacecraft capable of interstellar travel. Does he have any technical information he can share of their more advanced technology?

“It’s been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it’s leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.

“I’ve been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes – we have been visited. Reading the papers recently, it’s been happening quite a bit.”

It’s a massive worldwide cover up among many nations to conceal the truth that immensely more advance alien species has been visiting earth, but why the cover up? Isn’t this the plot to the X-Files? You can read the full article of what Dr. Mitchel said here

This not the first time Dr Mitchel has made this claim regarding UFO’s or even a pseudoscientific claims. He claims that the Roswell crash really happened meaning it was not project mogul He is also an avid ESP researcher and he privately conducted ESP expirements on the moon.

Dr. Mitchel is long on hypothesises but short on the evidence… he clearly claiming to have been brought in on the supposed UFO cover up. He surely should be able to identify other members of the conspiracy something other than we just have his word for it if he was on the inside who else was on the inside. I don’t mean to totally discount his word but I would prefer something to corroborate it or supported with some evidence. Perhaps a few more NASA personnel and astronauts coming forward with a similar experience. I would love nothing more than to find out about the existence of alien life outside earth, I think that for many people it would be a monumental point in the history of humanity to know there is other intelligent life and we are not alone wow that would just be awesome. Unfortunately all we have here is the claims of one man and nothing to support them.

July 25, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Science, Skepticism | , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Terraform Mars

Should the next mission to Mars include seed packets? The analysis of the soil from the phoenix lander showed it has the nutrients to grow plants

“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past, present or future,” said Samuel P. Kounaves of Tufts University, who is leading the chemical analysis, during a telephone news conference on Thursday. “The sort of soil you have there is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard.”

Its like the soil in the back yard… well how do you do! We need to take Mars from red and make it green! Unfortunately even though the soil may have nutrients that could support plant life the rest of the planet is not so hospitable to life…

Mars today is cold and dry, and the surface is bombarded by ultraviolet radiation, making life unlikely, but conditions could have made the planet more habitable in the past.

There is hope because as they note life is unlikely but not impossible, it may have existed earlier in martian history and maybe with our intervention if can exist again in its future… The biggest issues is that Mars is a dead planet and what I mean by that is it has a solid iron core that has cooled and hardened, unlike the earth with a molten iron core. Mars could still be in the so called “goldilocks zone” as it has the conditions that could potentially support life. The problem is since the core is cold, there is no magnetic field to protect the planet which left it at the mercy of the solar wind the UV radiation. The magnetic field for Earth for comparison is generated by our molten iron core, which because of the size of the planet creates the internal pressure and heat to keep the core molten(note massive over simplification)… Mars was not so lucky it only has one tenth the density the of Earth does and half our equitoral diameter. Basically due to its small size the planet cooled too rapidly. 

How can we then terraform the planet, is it even possible on a theoretical level? Here are just some un-supported idea’s in the big sense not a practical one.

  • Total Recall type reaction to reactivate the core of Mars
  • Restore the magnetic field
  • Plant, Plant, Plant, Plant….

I know right now this is more science fiction than anything especially since my basis is a 1990 Sci-Fi classic, but just imagine if we could bring Mars back what it would be like to be able to go and walk about an alien world, and that world would be within our reach, not across the stars light years away but the very next planet in the solar system.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Sci-Fi, Science | , , | Leave a comment

View Sunspots in Grand Central Terminal

Do you like fun simple science you don’t need a degree to have fun with? I do! There a pretty cool way you can study or at least check out sunspots from inside Grand Central Terminal Of course I feel obligated to give the normal disclaimer never look directly in to the sun unless you would like to damage your eyes… and you will if you look in to the sun… Anyway back to the astronomy in the terminal.

take a plain white sheet of paper to the terminal’s Grand Concourse around 2:30 p.m. or a half-hour each way, when the sun shines straight along Park Avenue. (The exact times vary.) The day should be sunny, clear and cloudless.

The southern wall of the Grand Concourse, facing 42nd Street, has semicircular grills high up, with small curlicued spaces like those in a leafy tree. Many of those spaces act like the aperture of a pinhole camera, reflecting an image of the sun that, when it reaches the floor, will be 8 to 12 inches wide. The smaller grill spaces will produce dimmer but sharper solar images on your paper.

Right now the forecast calls for rain in the city this weekend which would be my first opportunity to check this out… but if it turns out to nice I will definate spend a few minutes checking this out.

Grand Central Terminal fun fact… many people mistakenly believe the name of the train station is Grand Central Station its not that would be the post office.

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, New York, Science | , | Leave a comment

Pluto Is Not The First Planet We Lost…

I was reading through yahoo news and came across the on going saga of Pluto our former last planet in the solar system. Pluto has again been re-classified as now a Plutoid, it had been called a dwarf planet I believe all dwarf planets are now to be called Plutoids. Science has had to make changes like this before and infact this is not first time we “lost” a planet, more on that later, first I wanted to point out a few of the choice quotes from the linked article.

“I think it’s a planet. But me and my friends, we talk about it sometimes and we go back and forth,” said Natalie Browning, 9, sitting in a park in Manhattan with her family. “Right now, I’m not 100 percent. I’m just 75 percent” sure that Pluto is a planet.

Natalie’s mom, Bobbie Browning, said, “You’ve got kids with textbooks saying that Pluto is part of the solar system and a planet, and teachers have to say it isn’t [a planet].”

Yes, the text books are now out of date, and all kids should be given the proper information.

“Students who have just learned about the concept of dwarf planets must now be taught the new concept of plutoid,” said Janis Milman, who teaches earth science at Thomas Stone High School in Maryland. “This will lead to confusion in the classroom and resistance to learning the new terms, because the students will question, why learn something that might change again in a year or so?”

Wow, so we are not teaching children science is provisional? Pluto was not arbirarily re-classified, the point is Pluto doesn’t fit as a planet in the way the other planets do, and if we include Pluto as a planet then we are going to also need to include other objects in the solar system as planets too… as noted by the title of the post Pluto is not the first planet to have its planet designation reassigned.

“Time has always been taken in the classroom to ponder the origin of Pluto. When Pluto became a dwarf planet, along with Eris and Ceres, it made it easier to explain why an object of Pluto’s small stature could be classified,” high-school teacher Milman said. “Now we will just need to teach them more new definitions.”

Milman added that “dwarf planets” is an easier term for students to grasp compared with plutoids. “Objects of Pluto, Eris and Ceres’ size are too small to be called planets so they were called dwarf planets. That was easier for the students to understand,” she said.

This teacher got it exactly right she gets a GOLD STAR, for an extra one get them to understand Plutoids!

“My fourth graders still consider Pluto a planet,” said Bev Grueber, a science teacher at North Bend Elementary in Nebraska. “We do extensive oral reports on the planets to meet a state standard, and everyone jumps for joy when they get Pluto. Last year, I left Pluto out of the draw and they asked where it was, so they still consider it a planet regardless of what the space scientists tell us the definition of that planet is.”

Wrong and Ms. Grueber you need to explain the situation better to your students, allowing them to persist in a false notion is doing them a disservice.

I could go on here but what’s the point in cherry picking quotes I think you get my point here, science is provisional and needs to change as we get better more accurate information and should always continue to do so.

At one point there was another planet between Mars and Jupiter… Ceres its now a dwarf planet likely soon to be a Plutoid and by far the largest object in the asteroid belt. At the time of it discovery it in the 19th century it was considered a planet it wasn’t until 50 years after it discovery when scientist began to discover large asteroids the classification of Ceres was challenged and changed to dwarf Planet. This is the nature of science to refine our understanding, challenge our assumptions and correct or adjust what needs to be corrected. It happened to Ceres and it also happened to Pluto.

I grew up with Pluto we all did, I get it I liked it too my Solar Quest game is no longer accurate but hey science isn’t made possible by our likes and dislikes it is where the evidence leads us… and unfortunately for Pluto one of these things isn’t like the other…

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Education, Science | , , | Leave a comment