Category Archives: Physics

Blick auf den blauen Punkt im All

re:publica 2015 – Alexander Gerst: Blue Dot Mission – Sechs Monate Leben und Arbeiten auf der ISS. (YouTube, 1:12h)

“Man sieht Krieg. Wir haben Bomben und Raketen fliegen sehen über Gaza. […] Wenn es wirklich intelligentes Leben im Universum gibt und die uns irgendwann mal besuchen kommen, dann wäre das das erste, was die sehen. Wir sind eine Spezies, die sich auch intelligent nennt, und das erste, was man von uns sieht ist, dass wir unsere Lebensgrundlange, die sehr zerbrechlich ist und sehr begrenzt ist, zerstören und uns gegenseitig umbringen. Das ist das, was man von außen sieht, und ich wüsste nicht, wie man irgend jemandem erklären sollte, warum wir das tun.”

(Zitat ab 0:36:53)

Damals wurde Gerst auch gefragt, wie die Chancen stehen, dass er noch einmal ins All fliegt. Heute kann er auf seine zweite Mission, Horizons, im Jahr 2018 zurückblicken.

(Hinweis: Die Kommentare unter dem Video sollte man besser überwiegend nicht lesen… aber das versteht sich bei YouTube eigentlich von selbst.)

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.”