This idea that we somehow have to be “fair” about everything is how we wind up having Bill Nye getting into public discussions about climate change, a spectacle my colleague Daniel D’Addario recently noted mistakenly gives the whole fiasco attention and credibility “as an entertaining, wacky debate between two personalities.” It’s how we wind up continuing on in a nation in which three out of ten people take the Bible literally, and an alarming nearly 40% believe in intelligent design. Roughly 18% of Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth Should we have a debate about it? Should we hear out the “sun revolves around the earth” faction?
In our zeal for balance, we have allowed ignorance to be perpetuated. We send our kids to schools where the “Christian Perspective” is given weight as historical fact. We talk about the “debate” over climate change as if it’s a “debate” and not a scientifically supported serious warning. We let other people’s ignorant arrogance run roughshod over our own misguided attempts at open-mindedness.
“Cosmos” isn’t trying to pick a fight. It’s a love letter to the triumph of investigation over superstition. It’s not perpetuating an agenda, other than maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson’s perfectly sane advice that you “don’t try to use the Bible as a textbook.” Or as Carl Sagan once said, “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”❞
Diagrams of the planet Saturn, 1759, by astronomer Sir William Herschel, from a journal he kept documenting his research on telescopes. (Herschel has been prominently featured in the new version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.) (Linda Hall Library)
This is an incredible shot of a thunderstorm lighting up the skies over Bolivia as seen from the ISS. At the moment the astronaut snapped the photo, a lightning bolt tore through the cloud, illuminating it from within. It definitely has an eerie apocalyptic feel to it.
(Image credit: NASA; Description credit: Phil Plait, Slate)
A solar eclipse from the Moon
Has a solar eclipse ever been seen from the Moon? Yes, first in 1967 — but it may happen again next week. The robotic Surveyor 3 mission took thousands of wide angle television images of the Earth in 1967, a few of which captured the Earth moving in front of the Sun. Several of these images have been retrieved from the NASA archives and compiled into the above time-lapse video. Although the images are grainy, the Earth’s atmosphere clearly refracted sunlight around it and showed a beading effect when some paths were blocked by clouds. Two years later, in 1969, the Apollo 12 crew saw firsthand a different eclipse of the Sun by the Earth on the way back from the Moon. In 2009, Japan’s robotic Kaguya spacecraft took higher resolution images of a similar eclipse while orbiting the Moon. Next week, however, China’s Chang’e 3 mission, including its Yutu rover, might witness a new total eclipse of the Sun by the Earth from surface of the Moon. Simultaneously, from lunar orbit, NASA’s LADEE mission might also capture the unusual April 15 event. Another angle of this same event will surely be visible to people on Earth — a total lunar eclipse.
Image credit: NASA, Surveyor 3; Acknowledgement: R. D. Sampson (ECSU)
To those of you in Scotland, Dame Jocelyn Bell “Should have won the Nobel Prize” Burnell, who discovered radio pulsars, will be speaking at Satellite 4’s EasterCon in Glasgow in two weeks.
50 years on
Ciaran Duffy is commemorating 50 years of female astronauts through art.
Inspired by the womeninspace Tumblr, Duffy started with a portrait of Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space), and followed with Eileen Collins (the first female commander of a shuttle), Sally Ride (the first American woman in space), Mae Jemison (first coloured woman in space), Svetlana Savitskaya (the first woman to do a spacewalk), Peggy Whitson (first female commander of the International Space Station) and the date April 14th 2010 (the date with the highest number of women in space simultaneously).
The paintings are almost cartoon like, but also serene and reflective. We just thought you’d like them as much as we do.
Image: three of the portraits, Credit: Ciaran Duffy (here or hellociaran link above)
In honor of last night’s Cosmos episode with William Herschel I wanted to highlight another stunning image from the Herschel Space Observatory.
This image shows Vela-C, a giant molecular cloud where stars are being born, as viewed at far-infrared wavelengths. Vela-C is the most massive component of the Vela Molecular Ridge, a vast star-forming complex in the plane of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Located roughly 2300 light years away, Vela-C saw the onset of star formation less than a million years ago – relatively recently on astronomical timescales. Massive, as well as low- and intermediate-mass, stars are being born in this region, making it an ideal laboratory to study the birth of different populations of stars.
(Copyright: ESA/PACS/SPIRE/Tracey Hill & Frédérique Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/Irfu - CNRS/INSU - Univ. Paris Diderot, France)
I’m participating in the Kiltwalk this year to raise money for ScienceGrrl Glasgow, an association that promotes women in science and encourages young girls to get into science. Super important stuff! When I was little I didn’t even know women could be scientists until one day in middle school a friend of mine told me about Marie Curie. Had things been different, maybe I would have spent the rest of my life thinking that scientific studies weren’t for me because I was a girl, so it feels to me like the work this association does is incredibly important
Here’s the justgiving page:
If you can share this link/reblog this/donate I will love you forever. If you donate, give me your address and I’ll even send you a cool postcard!
ILLUMINATED CODE FROM SPACE
Bioartis Haari Tesla (behance) - "Macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek Neo-Platonic schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In the system the midpoint is Man, who summarizes thecosmos." - I was doing some researches and I found experiment with miniatures of space so I decided to try my own. The result has been nebulae, galaxies and supernovae transformed into microorganism.
oh my god more tiny things