Illustris TNG is a theoretical astrophysics project that created the most detailed simulation of the universe to date, and it turns out that black holes influence the distribution of dark matter. Read the rest
Using a Google Maps overlay, Solar System Maps shows how large the solar system would be if Earth or other celestial bodies were much smaller than the are. Here's "Earth the size of a basketball," centered on SFO. The outermost ring is Pluto's orbit.
If Jupiter were the size of a tennis ball, Pluto's orbit could still encompass the British Library, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament. Read the rest
Is there anybody out there? If we don't listen for the answer, we certainly won't hear it. Over at the Planetary Society, Jason Davis posted an excellent survey of the past, present, and future of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It begins in 1959 with Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison's historic paper "Searching for Interstellar Communications" and Frank Drake's Project Ozma, the first scientific SETI search:
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One year later, the National Academy of Sciences hosted an invitation-only meeting at Green Bank to discuss how to go about conducting further SETI research. The eclectic, interdisciplinary group included Drake, Cocconi, Morrison, the biochemist Melvin Calvin (who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry during the meeting), Bernard Oliver, who was the vice president of research and development at Hewlett-Packard, the young Carl Sagan, and the scientist John Lilly, who had recently published a controversial book arguing dolphins were an intelligent species.
With a nod to Lilly's book, the participants dubbed themselves "The Order of the Dolphin." One product of the meeting was the Drake equation, which attempts to predict the number of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way able to contact Earth. The equation includes variables such as average star formation rate, the number of habitable planets per star, and the number of planets where intelligent life could evolve.
For the rest of the 1960s, SETI research remained mostly dormant, aside from a few searches in the Soviet Union. Starting in 1971, two Project Ozma follow-ups named Ozpa and Ozma II used bigger dishes and listened to more stars.
You are no doubt aware that models of our solar system are not to scale. These guys went to Black Rock Desert to create a scale model of our solar system, starting with an Earth the size of a marble. This required seven miles of empty desert to add the other planets (not including Pluto). There's an awful lot of space between these little spheres.
My god, it's full of stars. Artem Mironov's photo of the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex won the Royal Museums Greenwich's 2017 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. He captured this glorious image at Hakos Farm in Windhoek, Namibia. Below: Oleg Bryzgalov's image of the M63 star streams and Sunflower Galaxy, taken at Rozhen Observatory, Smolyan Province, Bulgaria, won in the Galaxies category; Alexandra Hart won the "Our Sun" category for her photo of Mercury's transit across the Sun as seen from Preston, Lancashire, UK; and Jason Green was rated the "Best Newcomer" for his image of the Cone Nebula (NGC 2264) taken from Frenegal de la Sierra, Badajoz, Spain.
“No, I don’t like that at all. I don’t even know what that means”
Not sure what [Isaacs] Mizrahi's excuse is, but you gotta love his "let a man set this silly woman straight" tone with his own silliness. As for [Shawn] Killinger, an avid Christian, perhaps she got her science from Genesis in Sunday school. Check out the model's reaction at 0:39! I like to imagine she models to put herself through an astrophysics Ph.D.Read the rest
The always-excellent maker of animated explainer videos, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell just released a new video that explains what black holes are, explains what information is, and then goes into the way that black holes are the cause of something called "The Information Paradox." The takeaway: we all might be stretched on a flat screen, just imagining that we are in three dimensions. Read the rest
Best solar eclipse 2017 video ever.
In the NASA image above, today's total solar eclipse is seen above Madras, Oregon. Photo by Aubrey Gemignani for NASA. Below, our moon blocks out the sun during the solar eclipse in Depoe Bay, Oregon.
"May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace."
Frank Reynolds anchored from New York, with live reports from former science correspondence Jules Bergman and reporter Bob Miller. Live images from Portland, Oregon, Washington state's Goldendale Observatory and Helena, Montana.
It might seem strange, and certainly cold comfort to those who suffered and still suffer, but his wish has been mostly granted. The world has a lot to lose.