Science > Written History > Fortune Telling

One of the reasons I love science is that it actually does allow us to look into the past and future, beyond our existence in the present.  Written history gives us a perspective of a person who was around before any human currently living on Earth, and allows us to piece together the history of our culture.  This is very important, so no disrespect to historians and their work.  Much disrespect to fortune telling though.  It’s a waste of energy involving a person who fishes for information for a living.  But let’s talk about Science. Since we just passed Canada...

Motivation Monday: Uncertainty

In the world of science, there is no definite measurement.  In any quantity, there is what we call an uncertainty.  In a simple example, let’s say you were using a ruler to measure the length of a rope.  You line up the rope along the ruler, and take a reading.  But how sure are you that the rope was perfectly lined up with the end of the ruler? How certain are you that your reading was correct? There is always uncertainty.  It extends more broadly in life. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been in the working...

Even More Visions of the Future

You’ve seen the planets, now let’s look at some of the best moons to visit in the solar system, ala the romanticized art deco style! Ceres is like a gas station for that long trip to Jupiter, treated as an icy rock that is not the best tourist destination.  Enceladus is a lot like the spacefarer’s version of Yellowstone park, with the southern hemisphere geysers being the appeal. My two favourites are Titan and Europa.  Titan’s colour scheme and view of Saturn are gorgeous, but the best part is the paddle boats in the hydrocarbon seas.  The most interesting visit...

Predicting a Supernova

Predicting the death of a star is easy.  If we know how massive it is, and what stage of life it’s in, we know that it should explode eventually, within a set timeframe of many hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years.  But on human timescales, that is just not good enough.  What if we could predict a supernova explosion within a few months? For something that lives for so long, this would be a triumph in our understanding of the universe.  Over the past couple of years, this is exactly what happened.  Here’s how. A supernova is one of the most...

A History and Future of the Universe

Data is beautiful.  There is elegance in the artful manipulation of data to communicate information.  I love to see new ways to communicate science to the layman and give an understanding of the collective human knowledge.  So I had to post this timeline of the universe infographic, containing events from the beginning of the universe all the way up to the death of the Sun.  This is obviously just the tip of the scientific iceberg so to speak, but some of the highlights chosen cross several disciplines of science and are truly significant events in history. Enjoy the truly beautiful...

The Past and Future Mars

The Past: Mars has water, and it used to have a lot more.  If modern Mars had the ocean it once had, it would evaporate off into space quickly because there is no heavy atmosphere to help keep it pressurized and in liquid form.  Mars would have had a thicker atmosphere in addition to it’s magnetic field in order to keep all that water in one place.  So where did the atmosphere go? And if there was such a thick atmosphere, how does it account for the fingerprint of excess Carbon-13 and a lack of Carbon-12 found on the red planet...

Planetary Nebulae

Some of the most gorgeous, ghostly, and variable objects in the universe are planetary nebulae.  They are all formed in a similar process, as a low-mass star (like our Sun) sheds it’s outer layers of gas and dust, heating them to a glow as they disperse over hundreds of millions of years.  A few Billion years from now, the Sun will undergo the same major state change.  When this happens, perhaps other species in the far future will gaze upon it and marvel at its beauty. One of the difficulties in studying a planetary nebula is measuring it’s distance from...

Flying Past Pluto

The high resolution data keeps on coming in from New Horizons, now far beyond the dwarf planet Pluto.  Using some of the images as the craft flew by, mission scientists were able to create a fantastic video that gives you some perspective as if you were flying along yourself.   We can see Charon and other moons during the early and later stages of the fly-by, with the orbits overlaid, giving perspective on how the Plutonian system’s mechanics work.  As the craft approaches Pluto, time slows down to appreciate the closest approach and see the stunning detail revealed in the...

Astrophotography Reflections

I was doing my daily check of some astronomy and space news sites to see what was happening today, as I do every morning before I decide what to write about in my daily blog post.  I looked at today’s astronomy picture of the day, a gorgeous work of astrophtographic art showing Mt.Rainier and dozens of meteors, all in front of the sharp filaments of gas of the Milky Way. As a newbie in the world of astrophotography, I look at this picture and try to think about how it was done.  Did he take a foreground shot to get...

Motivation Monday: Positivity During the Toughest Times

The real world can be a harsh place.  Sometimes it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong has done just that.  It can hurt even more when you have just been on a streak of forward motion, and then it feels as if the ground has fallen beneath your feet. Maybe you’re working hard, every day, and you just feel bogged down, like you’re making no progress toward your goals, and you wonder why you bother in the first place.  This can happen in more than one area of life, and sometimes it can really put a damper on your motivation...