Category Archives: Physics

It’s neither black nor a hole

NPR: Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole.

“Researchers at the Event Horizon Telescope project say they were able to create an image of a black hole by using a network of eight radio telescopes to create “a virtual telescope dish as large as the Earth itself,” the National Science Foundation says.

The breakthrough, Doeleman said, came after a decade of work to align the myriad working parts of the project and gain the highest resolution possible from the Earth’s surface. Finally, in April of 2017, he said, “all of the dishes in the Event Horizon Telescope swiveled, turned and stared” at the core of M87. From that data came the image that was released Wednesday.”

See also: XKCD: M87 Black Hole Size Comparison.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem”

For the past few days I’ve been listening to the most recent episodes of the Brady Heywood Podcast about the Apollo 13 mission:

These five episodes apparently were almost a year in the making, but they are excellent. Of course I knew the story of Apollo 13 beforehand, and I’ve read books about it and watched the movie (starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell) several times, but this recount was very gripping and and had the right balance between the technical aspects and the human side for my taste. Highly recommended!

I think I found them recommended on Ask MetaFilter a little while ago, but cannot seem to find the link any more, sorry.

“We came in peace for all mankind”

NPR: How Do You Preserve History On The Moon?

“Historic preservationists are hoping that the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this summer will persuade the United Nations to do something to protect Neil Armstrong’s footprints in the lunar dust.

Some of his boot marks are still up there, after all, along with other precious artifacts from humanity’s first steps on another world. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind tools and science equipment, a plaque that read, “We came in peace for all mankind” and the U.S. flag, which has likely been bleached white by five decades of harsh ultraviolet light.

Other than a dusting of lunar soil or the random micrometeorite impact, Tranquility Base has been an untouched time capsule since the astronauts departed — though that could change as more nations and even commercial companies start to explore the moon.

“There has never been historic preservation off our planet. It’s a really difficult subject,” says Michelle Hanlon, a law professor and space law expert at the University of Mississippi who co-founded For All Moonkind, a nonprofit group devoted to protecting historic sites in space.”

“North is on the move”

NPR Science: As Magnetic North Pole Zooms Toward Siberia, Scientists Update World Magnetic Model.

“North is on the move, and that’s a problem for your smartphone’s maps.

Earth’s geographic north pole is fixed. But the planet’s magnetic north pole — the north that your compass points toward — wanders in the direction of Siberia at a rate of more than 34 miles per year.

That movement may seem slow, but it has forced scientists to update their model of Earth’s magnetic field a year earlier than expected so that navigational services, including map-based phone apps, continue to work accurately.”

NPR: The North Magnetic Pole Is Shifting East, Fast. “NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Nature reporter Alex Witze about a rapid shift in the Earth’s magnetic poles.”

“If the answer here doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.”

3Blue1Brown: The most unexpected answer to a counting puzzle and So why do colliding blocks compute pi? and How colliding blocks act like a beam of light…to compute pi. (YouTube, 5:12min and 15:15min and 14:40min)

The connection between the initial experiment and the calculation of π is surprising, and finding two different solutions in physics is even more astounding. The videos are extremely well done, and the presentation helps a lot with understanding the mathematical manipulations.

Mind. Blown.

Link via Futility Closet.