Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Space Elevator

The Vision
Climbers ascend a ribbon, 100,000 km long, strung between an anchor on Earth and a counterweight in space. Connecting Earth and space in a way never before possible, the space elevator will enable us to inexpensively and completely expand our society into space.

White Hole

In astrophysics, a white hole is the theoretical time reversal of a black hole. While a black hole acts as a vacuum, drawing in any matter that crosses the event horizon, a white hole acts as a source that ejects matter from its event horizon. The sign of the acceleration is invariant under time reversal, so both black and white holes attract matter. The only potential difference between them is in the behavior at the horizon.
Black hole event horizons can only "suck up" matter, while white hole horizons ostensibly recede from any incoming matter at the local speed of light, so that the infalling matter never crosses. The infalling matter is then scattered and reemitted at the death of the white hole, receding to infinity after having come close to the final singular point where the white hole is destroyed. The total proper time until an infalling object encounters the singular endpoint is the same as the proper time to be swallowed by a black hole, so the white hole picture does not say what happens to the infalling matter. Ignoring the classically unpredictable emissions of the white hole, the white hole and black hole are indistinguishable for external observers.
In quantum mechanics, the black hole emits Hawking radiation, and so can come to thermal equilibrium with a gas of radiation. Since a thermal equilibrium state is time reversal invariant, Hawking argued that the time reverse of a black hole in thermal equilibrium is again a black hole in thermal equilibrium.This implies that black holes and white holes are the same object. The Hawking radiation from an ordinary black hole is then identified with the white hole emission. Hawking's semi-classical argument is reproduced in a quantum mechanical AdS/CFT treatment, where a black hole in anti-de Sitter space is described by a thermal gas in a gauge theory, whose time reversal is the same as itself.


In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that is essentially a 'shortcut' through space and time. A wormhole has at least two mouths which are connected to a single throat. If the wormhole is traversable, matter can 'travel' from one mouth to the other by passing through the throat. While there is no observational evidence for wormholes, spacetimes containing wormholes are known to be valid solutions in general relativity.
The term wormhole was coined by the American theoretical physicist John Wheeler in 1957. However, the idea of wormholes was invented already in 1921 by the German mathematician Hermann Weyl in connection with his analysis of mass in terms of electromagnetic field energy.
The name "wormhole" comes from an analogy used to explain the phenomenon. If a worm is travelling over the skin of an apple, then the worm could take a shortcut to the opposite side of the apple's skin by burrowing through its center, rather than travelling the entire distance around, just as a wormhole traveler could take a shortcut to the opposite side of the universe through a hole in higher-dimensional space.

Stephen Hawking

Born: 8 January 1942
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Best Known As: The author of A Brief History of Time.

Fullname: Stephen William Hawking

Stephen Hawking is considered the world's foremost living theoretical physicist. He's an expert on black holes whose stated intention is to unify quantum mechanics with Einstein's general theory of relativity, forming a single theory to explain the origin (and end) of the universe. Hawking, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, is the author of the best-selling book A Brief History of Time and something of a celebrity: he has made guest appearances on the TV shows Star Trek and The Simpsons. Hawking has suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease) since he was a young man and is confined to a wheelchair.
In 1979 Hawking took the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. According to Hawking's own site, "The chair was founded in 1663 with money left in the will of the Reverend Henry Lucas, who had been the Member of Parliament for the University. It was first held by Isaac Barrow, and then in 1663 by Isaac Newton."

Further Reading

Stephen W. Hawking's work can best be approached by reading his books, which include Is the End in Sight for Theoretical Physics (1980); A Brief History of Time (1988); and Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays; Sources on Hawking and his work include John Boslough, Stephen Hawking's Universe (1985); Alan Lightman and Roberta Brower, editors, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (1990); Michael Harwood, "The Universe and Dr. Hawking, " New York Times Magazine (January 1983); Elizabeth Devine, et al., editors, Thinkers of the Twentieth Century (1983); David Blum, "The Time Machine, " New York (October 1988); Kitty Ferguson, Stephen Hawking: A Quest for a Theory of the Universe (1992); Melissa McDaniel, Stephen Hawking: Physicist (1994); Harry Henderson, Stephen Hawking (1995). See also Russ Sampson, "Two Hours with Stephen Hawking, " Astronomy (March 1993); Publishers Weekly (February 12, 1996; March 10, 1997); Michael Lemonick, "Hawking Gets Personal, " Time (September 27, 1993); and Robert J. Deltete, "Hawking on God and Physical Theory, " Zygon (December 1995); Stephen Hawking also has his own web page at

Monday, November 24, 2008

Metric expansion of space

The metric expansion of space is the averaged increase of metric (i.e. measured) distance between objects in the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion—that is, it is defined by the relative separation of parts of the universe and not by motion "outward" into preexisting space. Metric expansion is a key feature of Big Bang cosmology and is modeled mathematically with the FLRW metric. This model is valid in the present era only at relatively large scales (roughly the scale of galactic superclusters and above). At smaller scales matter has clumped together under the influence of gravitational attraction and these clumps do not individually expand, though they continue to recede from one another. The expansion is due partly to inertia (that is, the matter in the universe is separating because it was separating in the past) and partly to a repulsive force of unknown nature, which may be a cosmological constant. Inertia dominated the expansion in the early universe, and according to the ΛCDM model the cosmological constant will dominate in the future. In the present era they contribute in roughly equal proportions.
The metric expansion leads naturally to recession speeds which exceed the "speed of light" c and to distances which exceed c times the age of the universe, which is a frequent source of confusion among amateurs and even professional physicists. The speed c has no special significance at cosmological scales.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today in History

Sputnik 5 was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. Launched on August 19, 1960, it paved the way for the first human orbital flight less than eight months later with Vostok 1. Sputnik 5 was a USSR artificial Earth satellite from the Sputnik space program. It was in fact the second test flight of the Vostok spacecraft, and therefore it is sometimes called Korabl-Sputnik 2 ("korabl" is Russian for "ship").

2 dogs - Belka ("Squirrel") and Strelka ("Little Arrow" or "Pointer")
40 mice
2 rats
A variety of plants
Mission parameters
Mass: 4,600 kg
Perigee: 287 km
Apogee: 324 km
Inclination: 64.95°
Period: 90.72 minutes
NSSDC ID: 1960-011A
Mission highlights
A radio station in Bonn, Germany, was among the first to pick up the signal. On the 3rd orbit, a Swedish radio station confirmed this.
The spacecraft carried two dogs, Belka and Strelka, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants on-board. The spacecraft returned to earth the next day and all animals were recovered safely. The spacecraft also carried a television camera which took images of the dogs.
Shortly after the landing, one of Strelka's puppies was sent to Jacqueline Kennedy as a present from the Soviet Union.

Monday, August 11, 2008

World Facts

THE EARTH Estimated Weight (mass) (5,940,000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons)

Estimated Age 4.6 billion years

Population 6,446,131,714

Surface Area (510,066,000 sq km)

Land Area (148,647,000 sq km) 29.1%

Ocean Area (335,258,000 sq km)

Total Water Area (361,419,000 sq km) 70.9%

Type of Water (97% salt), (3% fresh)

Circumference at the equator (40,066 km)
Circumference at the poles (39, 992 km)
Diameter at the equator (12,753 km)
Diameter at the poles (12,710 km)
Radius at the equator (6,376 km)
Radius at the poles (6,355 km)

Orbit Speeds

The earth orbits the Sun at (66,700 mph), (107,320 km per hour)

Sun Orbit

The earth orbits the Sun every 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds

To convert km (kilometers) to miles, multiply kilometers by: 0.621371 To convert sq km (kilometers) to sq miles, multiply kilometers by: 0.386102

Pacific (155,557,000 sq km)
Atlantic (76,762,000 sq km)
Indian (68,556,000 sq km)
Southern (20,327,000 sq km)
Arctic (14,056,000 sq km)

Note the Southern Ocean was approved in 2000 by the International Hydrographic Organization. It is now the fourth largest ocean.

Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean 35,827 ft
Puerto Rico Trench, Atlantic Ocean 30,246 ft
Java Trench, Indian Ocean 24,460 ft
Arctic Basin, Arctic Ocean 18,456 ft

Pacific Ocean (35,827 ft) (10,924 meters)
Atlantic Ocean (30,246 ft) (9,219 meters)
Indian Ocean (24,460 ft) (7,455 meters)
Caribbean Sea (22,788 ft) (6,946 meters)
Arctic Ocean (18,456 ft) (5,625 meters)
South China Sea (16,456 ft) (5,016 meters)
Bering Sea (15,659 ft) (4,773 meters)
Mediterranean Sea (15,197 ft) (4,632 meters)
Gulf of Mexico (12,425 ft) (3,787 meters)
Japan Sea (12,276 ft) (3,742 meters)

MAJOR SEAS (by size)
South China (2,974,600 sq km)
Caribbean (2,515,900 sq km)
Mediterranean (2,510,000 sq km)
Bering (2,261,100 sq km)
Gulf of Mexico (1,507,600 sq km)
Arabian Sea (1,498,320 sq km)
Sea of Okhotsk (1,392,100 sq km)
Sea of Japan (East Sea) (1,012,900 sq km)
Hudson Bay (730,100 sq km)
East China (664,600 sq km)
Andaman (564,900 sq km)
Black (507,900 sq km) Red (453,000 sq km)

Australia, (7,617.930 sq km) is widely considered part of a continental landmass, not officially an island. But without doubt it is the largest island on the planet, and when combined with Oceania, the smallest continent on Earth. Greenland (2,175,600 sq km)
New Guinea (792,500 sq km)
Borneo (725,500 sq km)
Madagascar (587,000 sq km)
Baffin (507,500 sq km)
Sumatra (427,300 sq km)
Honshu (227,400 sq km)
Great Britain (218,100 sq km)
Victoria (217,300 sq km)
Ellesmere (196,200 sq km)
Celebes (178,650 sq km)
New Zealand (south) (151,000 sq km)
Java (126,700 sq km)
New Zealand (north) (114,000 sq km)
Newfoundland (108,900 sq km)

Nile, Africa (6,825 km)
Amazon, South America (6,437 km)
Chang Jiang (Yangtze), Asia (6,380 km)
Mississippi, North America (5,971 km)
Yenisey-Angara, Asia (5,536 km)
Huang (Yellow), Asia (5,464 km)
Ob-Irtysh, Asia (5,410 km)
Amur, Asia (4,416 km)
Lena, Asia (4,400 km)
Congo, Africa (4,370 km)
Mackenzie-Peace, North America (4,241 km)
Mekong, Asia (4,184 km)
Niger, Africa (4,171 km)

Caspian Sea, Asia-Europe (371,000 sq km)
Superior, North America (82,100 sq km)
Victoria, Africa (69,500 sq km)
Huron, North America (59,600 sq km)
Michigan, North America (57,800 sq km)
Tanganyika, Africa (32,900 sq km)
Baikal, Asia (31,500 sq km)
Great Bear, North America (31,300 sq km)
Aral Sea, Asia (30,700 sq km)
Malawi, Africa (28,900 sq km)
Great Slave, Canada (28,568 sq km)
Erie, North America (25,667 sq km)
Winnipeg, Canada (24,387 sq km)
Ontario, North America (19,529 sq km)
Balkhash, Kazakhstan (18,300 sq km)

DEEPEST LAKES (By Greatest Depth)
Baikal, Russian Fed. (5,315 ft)
Tanganyika, Africa (4,800 ft)
Caspian Sea, Asia-Europe (3,363 ft)
Malawi or Nyasa, Africa (2,317 ft)
Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan (2,303 ft)

#1 Asia - (44,579,000 sq km)
#2 Africa - (30,065,000 sq km)
#3 North America - (24,256,000 sq km)
#4 South America - (17,819,000 sq km)
#5 Antarctica - (13,209,000 sq km)
#6 Europe - (9,938,000 sq km)
#7 Australia/Oceania - (7,687,000 sq km)

CONTINENTS (by population) 2005 est.
#1 Asia - (3,879,000,000)
#2 Africa - (877,500,000)
#3 Europe - (727,000,000)
#4 North America - (501,500,000)
#5 South America - (379,500,000)
#6 Australia/Oceania - (32,000,000)
#7 Antarctica - (0)

CONTINENTS (by the number of countries)
#1 Africa - (53)

#2 Europe - (46)
#3Asia - (44)
#4 North America - (23)
#5 Oceania - (14)
#6 South America - (12)

LARGEST COUNTRIES (by land mass)
Russia 17,075,400 sq km, (6,592,846 sq miles)
Canada 9,330,970 sq km, (3,602,707 sq miles)
China 9,326,410 sq km, (3,600,947 sq miles)
USA 9.166,600 sq km, (3,539,242 sq miles)
Brazil 8,456,510 sq km, (3,265,075 sq miles)
Australia 7,617,930 sq km, (2,941,283 sq miles)
India 2,973,190 sq km, (1,147,949 sq miles)
Argentina 2,736,690 sq km, (1,056,636 sq miles)
Kazakhstan 2,717,300 sq km, (1,049,150 sq miles)
Sudan 2,376,000 sq km, (917,374 sq miles)

Vatican City 0.44 sq km, (0.17 sq miles)
Monaco 1.95 sq km, (0.75 sq miles)
Nauru 21.2 sq km, (8.2 sq miles)
Tuvalu 26 sq km, (10 sq miles)
San Marino 61 sq km, (24 sq miles)
Liechtenstein 160 sq km, (62 sq miles)
Marshall Islands 181 sq km, (70 sq miles)
Seychelles 270 sq km, (104 sq miles)
Maldives 300 sq km, (116 sq miles)
St. Kitts and Nevis 360 sq km, (139 sq miles)

San Marino (301 AD)
France (486 AD)
Bulgaria (632 AD)
Denmark (950 AD)
Portugal (1143 AD)
Andorra (1278 AD)
Switzerland (1291 AD)

YOUNGEST COUNTRIES Kosovo (February 2008)
Montenegro (July, 2006)
Serbia (July, 2006)
East Timor (2002)
Palau (1994)
Czech Republic (1993)
Eritrea (1993)
Slovakia (1993)
Bosnia/Hertzegovina (1992)

Luxembourg ($45,360)
Switzerland ($44,355)
Japan ($41,010)
Liechtenstein ($40,000)
Norway ($34,515)

Mozambique ($80)
Somalia ($100)
Eritrea ($100)
Ethiopia ($100)
Congo, DNC ($100)

COUNTRIES WITH MOST LAND BORDERS (The Most Neighboring Countries) China (14) Russia (14)
Brazil (10)
Congo, Germany and Sudan (9)
Austria, France, Tanzania, Turkey and Zambia (8)

Mount Everest 8850m (29035ft) Nepal/China
Qogir (K2) 8611m (28250ft) Pakistan
Kangchenjunga 8586m (28169ft) Nepal
Lhotse 8501m (27920ft) Nepal
Makalu I 8462m (27765ft) Nepal
Cho Oyu 8201m (26906ft) Nepal
Dhaulagiri 8167m (26794ft) Nepal
Manaslu I 8156m (26758ft) Nepal
Nanga Parbat 8125m (26658ft) Pakistan
Annapurna I 8091m (26545ft) Nepal

The dormant volcano Mauna Kea (on the Big Island of Hawaii) could be considered the tallest mountain in the world. If you measure it from its base in the Hawaiian Trough (3,300 fathoms deep) to its summit of 13,796 feet, it reaches a height of 33,476 feet.

Mount Everest 8850m (29035ft) Asia
Aconcagua 6959m (22831ft) S. America
Mount McKinley 6194m (20320ft) N. America
Mount Kilimanjaro 5963m (19563ft) Africa
Mount Elbrus 5633m (18481ft) Europe
Puncak Jaya 4884m (16023ft) Oceania
Vinson Massif 4897m (16066ft) Antarctica

LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD Languages spoken by the most people (Native speakers only)
Chinese Mandarin 1 billion +
English 512 million
Hindi 501 million
Spanish 399 million
Russian 285 million
Arabic 265 million
Bengali 245 million
Portuguese 196 million
Malay-Indonesian 140 million
Japanese 125 million
German 100 million
Vietnamese 83 million
Korean 78 million
French 77 million
Chinese, Wu 77 million
Javanese 75 million
Chinese. Yue 71 million

COUNTRIES (Highest Density) (people per square km)
Monaco 16,205
Singapore 6,386
Malta 1,261
Maldives 1,164
Bahrain 1,035
Bangladesh 1,002
Vatican City 920
Barbados 648
Nauru 621
Mauritius 603

COUNTRIES (Lowest Density)(people per square km)
Mongolia 2
Namibia 2
Australia 3
Botswana 3
Iceland 3
Suriname 3
Libya 3
Mauritania 3
Canada 3
Guyana 4

COUNTRY POPULATION (smallest) (February, 2006 numbers)
Vatican City 920
Tuvalu 11,640
Nauru 13,050
Palau 20,300
San Marino 28,880
Monaco 32,410
Liechtenstein 33,720
St. Kitts 38,960
Marshall Islands 59,070
Antigua and Barbuda 68,720

COUNTRY POPULATION (largest) (February, 2006 numbers)
China 1,306,313,800
India 1,080,264,400
USA 295,734,100
Indonesia 241,973,900
Brazil 186,112,800
Pakistan 162,419,900
Bangladesh 144,319,600
Russia 143,420,300
Nigeria 128,772,000
Japan 127,417,200

Sahara, North Africa 3,500,000 sq. miles
Arabian, Middle East 1,000,000 sq. miles
Great Victoria, Australia 250,000 sq. miles
Rub'al Khali, Middle East 250,000 sq. miles
Kalahari, Southern Africa 225,000 sq. miles
Syrian, Middle East 200,000 sq. miles
Chihuahuan, Mexico 175,000 sq. miles
Thar, India/Pakistan175,000 sq. miles
Great Sandy, Australia 150,000 sq. miles
Gibson, Australia 120,000 sq. miles
Sonoran, S.W. USA 120,000 sq. miles
Mohave, S,W, USA 54,000 sq. miles

Atacama, Chile SA 54,000 sq. miles
Namib, S.W. Africa 13,000 sq. miles

Gobi, China 500,000 sq. miles
Patagonian, Argentina 260,000 sq. miles
Great Basin, S.W. USA 190,000 sq. miles
Kara-Kum, West Asia 135,000 sq. miles
Colorado, Western USA 130,000 sq. miles (also called the Painted Desert} Taklamakan, China 105,000 sq. miles
Iranian, Iran 100,000 sq. miles

Longest Wedding Dress and Most valuable pair of jeans

Most valuable pair of jeans
Levi Strauss & Co
$60,000 (£33,230)
June 15, 2005
An original pair of Levi Strauss & Co (USA) 501 jeans aged over 115 years old were sold by Randy Knight (USA) to an anonymous collector (Japan) for $60,000 (£33,230) through internet auction site eBay on June 15, 2005.

Longest Wedding Dress Train
Andreas Evstratiou
1,362 m (4,468 ft 5.94 in)
Paphos, Cyprus
February 18, 2007
The longest wedding dress train measured 1362 m (4468 ft 5.94 in) and was created by Andreas Evstratiou (Cyprus) of the bridal shop, Green Leaf, in Paphos, Cyprus, on the February 18, 2007.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

World's Most Luxurious, Tallest and First 7 Star Hotel

The Burj Al Arab is a most luxurious and first 7 star hotel in the world located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At 321 metres (1,053 ft), it is the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. However, the Rose Tower, also in Dubai, which has already topped Burj Al Arab's height at 333 m (1,090 ft), will take away this title upon its opening. The Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 metres (919 ft) out from Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. It is an iconic structure, designed to symbolize Dubai's urban transformation and to mimic the sail of a boat.
The hotel cost $650 million to build.

The Rose Tower is a 333 metre (1,093 feet), 72-story skyscraper on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Originally, the tower was to be 380 m (1,247 feet) high, but its projected height was reduced in further design modification. Construction began in 2004. ACC (Arabian Construction Co.) was the general contractor. On 24 October 2006, the building reached its full height with the addition of the spire. Although the tower was expected to open in April 2008, it still had not opened by July 2008. Once open, it is expected to become the world's tallest hotel. This hotel, known as "Rose Rotana Suites," will surpass both the 321 m (1,053 ft) Burj Al Arab, and the incomplete 330 m (1,083 ft) Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea.

World's Smallest Post Office

The World's Smallest Post Office is in Ochopee Florida 34141. It was formerly an irrigation pipe shed for the J.T. Gaunt tomato farm. The 8'4" x 7'3" building was converted to a Post Office in 1953. There is room for one postal worker and one customer inside.

World's Heaviest Lemon and Apple

Heaviest Lemon
Aharon Shemoel
5.265 kg (11 lb 9.7 oz)
Kefar Zeitim, Israel
January 8, 2003

The world's heaviest lemon weighed 5.265 kg (11 lb 9.7 oz) on January 8, 2003 and was grown by Aharon Shemoel (Israel) on his farm in Kefar Zeitim, Israel.

Heaviest Apple
Chisato Iwasaki
1.849 kg (4 lb 1 oz)
Hirosaki City, Japan
October 24, 2005
The heaviest apple weighed 1.849 kg (4 lb 1 oz) and was grown and picked by Chisato Iwasaki at his apple farm in Hirosaki City, Japan October 24, 2005.

World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore. The final capsule was installed on 2 October 2007, the wheel started rotating on February 11, 2008 and it officially opened to the public on March 1, 2008. The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008.
Reaching 42 stories high, the Flyer comprises a 150 m (492 ft) diameter wheel, built over a three-story terminal building, giving it a total height of 165 m (541 ft). Each of the 28 air-conditioned capsules are capable of holding 28 passengers each, and a complete rotation of the wheel takes approximately 30 minutes.

Cost: $180 million US

The Beijing Great Wheel is a proposed Observation wheel for Beijing, TChina. At the time of its completion in late 2009, it will be the highest and largest in the world. It is planned to stand at 208 m (680 ft) and will carry up to 1,920 passengers. This will make it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, significantly higher than both the current record holder, the 165 m (540 ft) Singapore Flyer, and the proposed 185 m (610 ft) Great Berlin Wheel.

Cost: around £200 million Euro

What is the largest flower in the world?

The flower with the world's largest bloom is the Rafflesia arnoldii. This rare flower is found in the rainforests of Indonesia. It can grow to be 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 pounds! It is a parasitic plant, with no visible leaves, roots, or stem. It attaches itself to a host plant to obtain water and nutrients. When in bloom, the Rafflesia emits a repulsive odor, similar to that of rotting meat. This odor attracts insects that pollinate the plant.

Another enormous flower found in Indonesia is the Amorphophallus titanum, or Titan arum. It is also known as the "corpse flower" for its unpleasant odor. Like the Rafflesia, the Titan emits the smell of rotting flesh to attract pollinators. Technically, the Titan arum is not a single flower. It is a cluster of many tiny flowers, called an inflorescence. The Titan arum has the largest unbranched inflorescence of all flowering plants. The plant can reach heights of 7 to 12 feet and weigh as much as 170 pounds!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

World's New Most Expensive Home

Mukesh Ambani dream's home. Where?? Mumbai, India. How Much?? Nearly cost $2 billion. How many story?? 27. How height?? 550 ft. How many elevator? 9. How big?? 400,000 sq ft. How many housekeeper? 600 staff members to maintain the house, it will be ready by January 2009. Mukesh Ambani at $43 billion richest in India and 5th richest in the world.

Inside the World's First Billion-Dollar Home

World's Fastest and Longest Cars

The Bugatti Veyron is the world's fastest production car. It can reach a top speed of 248 mph (400 km/h).

The longest car in the world is 30.5 Meters
it's a limosine, and has such luxeries as a swiming pool, bar, and even helicopter landing pad on the back!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890), the Dutch painter who cut off his own earlobe, died on this date in 1890, two days after shooting himself in the chest with a pistol. The postimpressionist painter suffered from depression and epileptoid seizures, which caused him to leave home and move to a house in Arles, France. He was joined there for a time by Paul Gauguin. Though he was a prolific artist — he completed nearly 900 paintings, over 1,000 drawings, 150 watercolors, plus letter sketches and graphic designs — Van Gogh succeeded in selling only one painting in his lifetime. Since his death, his paintings have been sold for many millions of dollars, including the Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which went for $82.5 million in 1990.

Grave of Vincent Van Gogh
Quote: "I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture." — Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How long would it take Earth's fastest space ship to reach Proxima Centauri?

To date, humans have launched only four space probes that will eventually leave the solar system. These vehicles will likely travel across the depths of space for millions of years to come. NASA launched all four of these remarkable craft during the 1970s to make the first close-up studies of the gas giants in the outer solar system. Following their historic visits to our largest planetary neighbors, the four vehicles followed paths that will carry them beyond the edge of the solar system and into interstellar space.

The first of these space probes was Pioneer 10 that was launched in 1972 and visited Jupiter a year later. Pioneer 10 is currently traversing what we believe to be the edge of the solar system. Unfortunately, the vehicle's power source, a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG), has decayed to the point that it can no longer provide enough electricity to operate the probe. Pioneer 10 stopped transmitting signals to Earth on 23 January 2003 when the craft was over 7.6 billion miles away. The trajectory of Pioneer 10 will bring the vehicle close to the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus (The Bull) in about 2 million years.
A twin spacecraft named Pioneer 11 also visited Jupiter in 1974 and continued on to make a flyby of Saturn in 1979. Pioneer 11 too is now on its way into deep space as it heads towards the constellation Aquila (The Eagle). The spacecraft should pass close to one of the stars in that constellation in about 4 million years. Pioneer 11 has also stopped transmitting to Earth, and its final signal was received in November 1995.
Two more NASA probes that built on the successful missions of Pioneer 10 and 11 were the Voyagers. Voyager 1 also visited Jupiter and Saturn and is presently sailing towards the outer limits of the solar system. The craft is headed towards the constellation Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), a star of which it will fly close to in about 300,000 years. Voyager 2 flew past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune during its Grand Tour of the solar system, but the probe is now headed towards the star Sirius in the constellation Canis Majoris (The Big Dog). Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and Voyager 2 will pass close to it in about 160,000 years. Both of the Voyager probes are still transmitting and are expected to continue sending signals to Earth until around 2020 when their power sources decay.
The two Voyagers will be over 10 billion miles from the Sun by then, and it is hoped they will provide the first scientific measurements of the edge of the solar system and the beginnings of interstellar space. The prevailing theory accepted by most researchers says that the edge of the solar system consists of three boundaries called the termination shock, heliopause, and bow shock. The termination shock is believed to mark the transition in the velocity of the solar winds emanating from the Sun from supersonic to subsonic speeds. Even further away is the heliopause, which scientists conjecture is a region where the solar wind ceases to exist. Beyond may lie a bow shock bombarded by galactic cosmic rays. However, these theories of the solar system's outer reaches remain unproven. Only the Voyager probes may be able to provide scientists with any answers about the true nature of this region of space anytime soon.
All four of these distant space probes used the gravitational attraction of the planets they visited to slingshot themselves onto the trajectories they currently follow. These gravitational assists accelerated the vehicles to some of the highest speeds ever reached by manmade objects. Traveling slowest of the foursome is Pioneer 11 at about 26,000 mph (42,000 km/h) with respect to the Sun. Pioneer 10 is currently moving at a rate of over 27,000 mph (44,000 km/h) while Voyager 2 is speeding along at about 36,000 mph (58,000 km/h). The fastest probe, however, is Voyager 1 with a velocity of nearly 39,000 mph (63,000 km/h). Given its greater speed, Voyager 1 currently holds the record as the
fastest interplanetary spacecraft and has passed the Pioneers to become the farthest manmade object from the Sun.
None of these four spacecraft is traveling towards our closest star Proxima Centauri that lies about 4.2 light years away. If Voyager 1 were headed in that direction, however, it would still take the vehicle over 73,000 years to get there!


The Helios, which holds the record for fastest manmade object, was a series of two spacecraft launched in the mid-1970s to study the Sun. Both probes were developed through cooperation between the US and West Germany with scientists from both nations providing experiments and NASA providing the launch vehicle and booster. Helios 1 was launched in December 1974 and Helios 2 in January 1976, both reaching the Sun within about three months.

What made the Helios missions so unusual was that the two craft made incredibly close passes to the Sun resulting in very high orbital speeds. These high speeds resulted from the fact that both probes were placed into very elliptical, or eccentric, orbits around the Sun. When a probe is placed into a circular orbit, its speed remains a constant. For example, the Space Shuttle orbits the Earth in a circular or nearly circular orbit at a constant speed of between 17,000 and 18,000 mph (27,355 to 28,960 km/h). When in a highly elliptical orbit, however, a vehicle will reach very high speed when it is close to the body it is orbiting but slow down considerably when it is far away.
The Helios missions both orbited in this manner, with a furthest distance (or aphelion) of nearly 1 Astronomical Unit (AU), which is the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun. Meanwhile, the closest approach (or perihelion) of the Helios probes was about 0.3 AU. The eccentricity of such an orbit is about 0.54 with a period of about 190 days. The maximum speed of Helios 2, which achieved its perihelion distance of 0.29 AU on 17 April 1976, is quoted as about 150,000 mph (241,350 km/h). By applying some simple equations of orbital mechanics, we can confirm that such an orbit would indeed result in a perihelion velocity of 153,800 mph (247,510 km/h). For comparison, the aphelion speed of Helios 2 turns out to be only 45,360 mph (72,985 km/h) at its farthest distance of 0.983 AU. This massive differential between the vehicle's maximum and minimum speeds graphically illustrates how much an elliptical orbit varies from the circular orbit discussed earlier.
The reason the Helios probes were given such unusual orbits is that they were intended to make various measurements of the interplanetary space between the Sun and Earth. Each probe was equipped with ten experiments including high-energy particle detectors to measure the solar wind, magnetometer readings of the Sun's magnetic field, measurements of variations in electric and magnetic waves, and a micrometeoroid experiments. The two probes completed their primary missions by the early 1980s but were still sending data as late as 1985. Though they are no longer functional, both craft remain in their eccentric orbits around the Sun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today in History

Comet Hale-Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) was probably the most widely observed comet of the twentieth century, and one of the brightest seen for many decades. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, twice as long as the previous record holder, the Great Comet of 1811.
Hale-Bopp was discovered on 23 July 1995 at a very large distance from the Sun, raising expectations that the comet could become very bright when it passed close to the Sun. Although comet brightnesses are very difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy, Hale-Bopp met or exceeded most predictions for its brightness when it passed perihelion on April 1 1997. The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997.
The passage of Hale-Bopp was notable also for inciting a degree of panic about comets not seen for decades. Rumours that the comet was being followed by an alien spacecraft gained remarkable currency, and inspired a mass suicide among followers of a cult named Heaven's Gate.
The comet was discovered by two independent observers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, both in the United States. Hale had spent many hundreds of hours searching for comets without finding one, and was tracking known comets from his driveway in New Mexico when he chanced upon Hale-Bopp, with an apparent magnitude of 10.5, near the globular cluster M70, in the constellation of Sagittarius, just after midnight. Hale first established that there was no other deep-sky object near M70, and then consulted a directory of known comets, finding that no known objects were in this area of the sky. Once he had established that the object was moving relative to the background stars, he emailed the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the clearing house for astronomical discoveries.
Bopp did not own a telescope. He was out with friends near Stanfield, Arizona observing star clusters and galaxies when he chanced across the comet(Mikkel) while at the eyepiece of his friend's telescope. He realised he might have spotted something new when he checked his star atlases to find out what other deep-sky objects were near M70, and found that there were none. He contacted the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams via telegram. The following morning, it was confirmed that this was a new comet, and it was named Comet Hale-Bopp, with the designation C/1995 O1. The discovery was announced in International Astronomical Union circular 6187.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is anyone looking for extraterrestrial life?

Despite the fact that alien life forms have never been discovered, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (or SETI, as it is called) remains a popular pursuit. Astronomers (scientists specializing in the study of matter in outer space) believe that if life does exist on other planets, we now possess the technological capability of finding it and perhaps even communicating with it.
Most modern SETI missions use radio telescopes—instruments consisting of a large concave dish with an antenna at the center, tuned to a certain wavelength, that receive and process radio waves. The radio telescopes, tuned to nearby stars, listen for signals that may have been sent by alien civilizations.
The first large-scale SETI experiment, called Project Ozma, was begun by astronomer Frank Drake (1930-) in 1960. Drake conducted Project Ozma at the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia. The object of the experiment was to search for signs of life in distant solar systems through intergalactic radio waves.

Unidentified flying object (UFO) expert J. Allen Hynek (1910-1986) developed the following scale to describe encounters with extraterrestrial beings or vessels:
Close Encounter of the First Kind— sighting of a UFO at close range with no other physical evidence.
Close Encounter of the Second Kind—sighting of a UFO at close range, but with some kind of proof, such as a photograph, or an artifact from a UFO.
Close Encounter of the Third Kind— sighting of an actual extraterrestrial being.
Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind— abduction by an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who invented the telescope?

Hans Lippershey (ca. 1570-1619), a German-Dutch lens grinder and spectacle (glasses) maker, is generally credited with inventing the telescope. This is because in 1608 Lippsershey became the first scientist to apply for a patent for the telescope. (A patent is a grant made by a government that allows the creator of invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.) Two other inventors, Zacharias Janssen and Jacob Metius, also developed telescopes around this time. Modern historians consider both Lippershey and Janssen to be likely candidates for the title of "inventor of the telescope," with Lippershey possessing the strongest claim.

Georges Lemaître

Scientific research shows that the universe has been expanding at an accelerating rate; this is said to be due to the dark energy that makes up some 70 percent of the total energy density of today's universe. This discovery further bears out the big bang theory, which had been first proposed by astrophysicist and cosmologist Georges Lemaître in 1927. LeMaître, who was born on this date in 1894, stated that the universe began some 20 billion years ago with the violent explosion of a small mass of matter at extremely high density and temperature.

Georges Henri Joseph Éduard Lemaître (July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer at the Université catholique de Louvain.
Lemaître proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his 'hypothesis of the primeval atom'.

After studying humanities at a Jesuit school (Collège du Sacré-Coeur, Charleroi), Lemaître entered the civil engineering school of the Catholic University of Leuven at the age of seventeen. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, he paused his studies to engage as a volunteer in the Belgian army. At the end of hostilities, he received the Military Cross with palms.
After the war, he undertook studies in physics and mathematics and began to prepare for priesthood. He obtained his doctorate in 1920 with a thesis entitled l'Approximation des fonctions de plusieurs variables réelles (Approximation of functions of several real variables), written under the direction of Charles de la Vallée-Poussin. He was ordained a priest in 1923.
In 1923, he became a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Cambridge, spending one year at St Edmund's House (now St Edmund's College, Cambridge). He worked with the astronomer Arthur Eddington who initiated him into modern cosmology, stellar astronomy and numerical analysis. He spent the following year at Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Harlow Shapley, who had just gained a name for his work on nebulae, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he registered for the doctorate in sciences.

On March 17, 1934, Lemaître received the Francqui Prize, the highest Belgian scientific distinction, from King Léopold III. His proposers were Albert Einstein, Charles de la Vallée-Poussin and Alexandre de Hemptinne. The members of the international jury were Eddington, Langevin and Théophile de Donder. Another distinction that the Belgian government reserves for exceptional scientists was allotted to him in 1950: the decennial prize for applied sciences for the period 1933-1942.

In 1936, he was elected member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
In 1941, he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Belgium.
In 1946, he published his book on L'Hypothèse de l'Atome Primitif (The Primeval Atom Hypothesis), a book which would be translated into Spanish in the same year and into English in 1950.
In 1953 he was given the very first Eddington Medal award of the Royal Astronomical Society.
During the 1950s, he gradually gave up part of his teaching workload, ending it completely with his éméritat in 1964.
At the end of his life, he was devoted more and more to numerical calculation. He was in fact a remarkable algebraicist and arithmetical calculator. Since 1930, he used the most powerful calculating machines of the time like the Mercedes. In 1958, he introduced at the University a Burroughs E 101, the University's first electronic computer. Lemaître kept a strong interest in the development of computers and, even more, in the problems of language and programming. With age, this interest grew until it absorbed him almost completely.
He died on June 20, 1966 shortly after having learned of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, proof of his intuitions about the birth of the Universe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Three Great Space Telescopes

The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility or SIRTF) The name chosen was that of Dr. Lyman Spitzer, Jr., the first to propose placing telescopes in space, in the mid-1940s. The US$ 800 million Spitzer was launched on Monday 25 August 2003 at 1:35:39 (EDT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Launch vehicle: Delta II 7920H ELV
Mission length: 2.5-5+ years
Mass: 950 kg (2090 lb)
Orbit Location: the Sun

Orbit period: 1 year
Diameter: 0.8 m
Focal Lenght: 10.2 m

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is a satellite launched on STS-93 by NASA on July 23, 1999. It was named in honor of Indian-American physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who is known for determining the mass limit for white dwarf stars to become neutron stars. "Chandra" also means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.
Launch vehicle: Space Shuttle Columbia STS-93
Mission length: 4 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes, 18 seconds
Mass: 4,790 kg (10,600 lb)

Orbit period: 64.2 hours
Diameter: 1.2 m (3.9 ft)
Focal Lenght: 10 m (33 ft)

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST; also known colloquially as "the Hubble" or just "Hubble") is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in April 24 1990. It was named in honor of the American astronomer, Edwin Hubble. Although not the first space telescope, the Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, and is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope
Mass: 11,110 kg (24,250 lb)
Orbit period: 96–97 minnutes
Diameter: 2.4 m
Focal Lenght: 57.6 m
Orbit location: low Earth orbit

Hubble Deep Field

Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the most important image ever taken by humanity.
In late September 2003 Hubble Space Telescope took this picture about 47 billion light years away.

In this NASA handout, a view of deepest view of the visible universe ever achieved are seen in a Hubble Telescope composite photograph released March 9, 2004. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) photograph is a composite of a million one-second exposures and reveals galaxies from the time shortly after the big bang.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dark Energy, Dark Matter

What is dark energy? More is unknown than is known — we know how much there is, and we know some of its properties; other than that, dark energy is a mystery — but an important one. Roughly 70% of the Universe is made of dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 25%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Then again, maybe it shouldn't be called "normal" matter since it is a small fraction of the Universe!

Ocean and Earth System

Just by looking at images of Earth from space, it's clear that the ocean is a significant piece of the Earth's story. In fact, the ocean represents over 70% of the Earth's surface and contains 97% of all water on Earth. The ocean stores heat like a "fly wheel" for climate. Its huge capacity as a heat and water reservoir moderates the climate of Earth. Within this Earth system, both the physical and biological processes of the ocean play a key role in the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and climate variability.

Even if you live nowhere near the ocean, you will still experience the ocean's influence in our Earth system. Most of the rain that falls on landcomes from the tropical ocean. The ocean is the primary driver of weather and climate and can give us clues to global phenomenon such as El Niño. The phytoplankton (microscopic plants) that live in the ocean are responsible for almost half the oxygen you inhale and play a vital role in the carbon cycle. Far inland from the ocean, fields of crops enjoy rainwater that traveled through the water cycle and spent a few days or perhaps thousands of years cycling through the ocean.