David Schneider built his own radio telescope out of roof flashing, an empty paint thinner can, a free software-defined radio app, USB receiver, and a length of coaxial cable. The whole project cost him less than $150 and he's already used it to detect galactic hydrogen and monitor the motion of our Milky Way galaxy's spiral arms. (With a radio telescope, you look for and measure radio-frequency radiation emitted by astronomical objects.) From IEEE Spectrum:
Point at Cygnus and you’ll receive a strong signal from the local arm of the Milky Way very near the expected 1420.4-MHz frequency. Point it toward Cassiopeia, at a higher galactic longitude, and you’ll see the hydrogen-line signal shift to 1420.5 MHz—a subtle Doppler shift indicating that the material giving off these radio waves is speeding toward us in a relative sense. With some hunting, you may be able to discern two or more distinct signals at different frequencies coming from different spiral arms of the Milky Way.
Don’t expect to hear E.T., but being able to map the Milky Way in this fashion feels strangely empowering. It’ll be $150 well spent.
French physicist Jean-Pierre Luminet hand-plotted this image of a black hole in 1978, said to be the the first based on data rather than artistic speculation. From Wikipedia: 1979 – He created the first “image” of a black hole with an accretion disk using nothing but an early computer, lots of math and India ink, […]
In Switzerland, the state-owned Swissmint says today that a 2.96-millimeter (0.12-inches) gold coin created with Albert Einstein’s face on it is the smallest in the world.
Researchers in Berlin claim to have succeeded in re-creating the sound of the voice of an Egyptian person who died 3,000 years ago, and was entombed as a mummy.
Thanks to a series of progressive movements throughout the United States, more and more states are allowing people to smoke in the great outdoors with absolute freedom. Unfortunately, most pipe-makers have been slow to catch up with this new reality, which leads to avid smokers stuffing a cumbersome glass pipe in their pocket every time […]
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