One year from today, our knowledge of the cosmos could dramatically change (if all goes according to plan)

The nearly US$10 billion James Webb Space Telescope is set to take off aboard an Ariane 5 rocket one year from today.

Scientists and space enthusiasts of all stripes are excited about what this successor to the Hubble Telescope will further our understanding of the cosmos. Forbes science writer Jamie Carter:

“Webb” will study the solar system, directly image exoplanets, photograph the first galaxies, and explore the mysteries of the origins of the Universe. By detecting infrared light, Webb will be able to look further back in time than any other telescope thus far.

Webb is the most ambitious and complex space science telescope ever constructed, and tantalizingly soon it will be the plaything of scientists ... or, at least, that’s the plan.

Then the sad reality of how our world and the timelines for everything might be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally conceived in the 1990s and at first expected to launch in 2007, Webb has been beset by delays—the latest being COVID-19—but at the time of writing the massive telescope was safely in its cleanroom at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, and March 30, 2021, was still the target date for Webb’s launch. However, there could be an announcement on April 15, 2020 about a new schedule.

Read the rest of the Forbes piece. Read the rest

Galactic knives

I can't speak as to how good/sharp/functional these knives are** but they sure do look cool. This is the Cosmos Series by Chef's Vision and each knife in the set is printed with a "stunning color image of the unfolding universe." Incidentally, they're the number one "Amazon's Choice" for the search "knives for men."

**A set of six of these knives costs $49.95, which I think tells you everything you need to know about their quality.

(Geekologie) Read the rest

Hypnotic animation of how a star-forming galaxy forms

IllustrisTNG, a next-gen simulator for cosmological events, created this beautiful animation of a "late-type" star-forming galaxy. It's fascinating to watch how mind-boggling mass and energy on a mind-boggling time scale looks familiar to observable phenomena on earth. Read the rest

Cool collaborative student animation of Sagan's "The Pale Blue Dot" speech

The Pale Blue Dot was made as a tribute to Carl Sagan "as the final project for the Animation 01 course at Ringling College of Art and Design." Read the rest

'Voyage of Time,' Terrence Malick IMAX film with Brad Pitt narration, is an awesome cosmic meditation

You know what America needs right now? A little perspective.

For that, I recommend you head to your local IMAX theater and see Terrence Malick’s “Voyage of Time: The Imax Experience.” It's a psychedelic meditation on the history of the cosmos that's very kid-friendly, and a wonderful reminder of the big, big picture. Read the rest

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Carl Sagan's Cosmos: The Meat Planet (with pork volcano)

"A giant planet with a liquid interior full of liquid beef and pork, into which a thousand earths would fit."