Astronomers have mapped the cosmic watershed in which our Milky Way Galaxy is a droplet. The massive structure, which the research team dubs the Laniakea Supercluster, extends more than 500 million light-years and contains 100,000 large galaxies.
There are not that many coming attractions that people actually seem to want to see; there are fewer that feel like they are defining some kind of moment in cinema. But there does seem to be one small weird thing going in trailers: The adults are thinking about the stars, and the teens are too. Everyone is suddenly terrified of infinity and it's making them all fall in love.
Here is the new trailer for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar:
"The earliest sunset really comes in the first week in December, and the latest sunrise occurs in early January. Yet December 21 really is the shortest day of the year. Why?" —Click the link to get the Science stuff on solstices and orbital curvatures and whatever; the important thing to take away here is that the days of early darkness are over! I mean, in the sky. In your own life darkness will continue to come earlier with each passing page of the calendar until you wake up in the morning to discover that it is dark in your soul already and the sun [...]
Haven't we already figured out what happens to animals if we blast them into space? Isn't sending them up there now just asking for trouble? Like, taking the chance that they will pass through some cosmic gamma rays and come back as super-rodents bent on revenge? I mean, that is my understanding of how space travel works. I could be wrong. Anyway, if nothing else it seems kind of cruel, although I guess it is probably better than living in Russia.
We live on a small-ish planet orbiting a standard G-type main-sequence star floating through the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way, which is itself a standard barred-spiral galaxy among so many others in the Virgo Supercluster. But it's a nice planet, even if there are probably 17 billion just like it, just within our own minor galaxy. And NASA has just announced that another galaxy has been confirmed as the biggest measured so far, at five times' the size of our own puny galaxy.
The spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for decades. Now a [...]
It was 40 years ago when humans last made the effort to visit another heavenly sphere, on the Apollo 17 mission that launched on this day in 1972. But astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt didn't just walk on the lunar surface—they also drove around in a dune buggy, and also skipped around while singing songs. Nixon was so angry about this expression of joy that humans were banned from every visiting the moon again.
Our overwhelming reliance on space technology makes us acutely vulnerable were it to ever break down or be deliberately sabotaged. For those gathered at the conference on national security and space at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) yesterday it was an issue they felt needed to be confronted more [...]
In the modern world we’re never more than a glance away from a digital display of today’s date or the time to the nearest second. The use of GPS devices in cars or even in our own pockets with smartphones has all but eroded the art of map-reading and navigation. This is all exceedingly convenient, of course, but I think that many of us in developed nations are feeling increasingly disconnected from the fundamental principles and processes that support our lives, sensing that our basic skills are atrophying and perhaps feeling anxious of being a little too reliant on the magic of modern technology.
Guess what people on the Internet have discovered? Life on Mars! But it is not, according to current theories, Martian. It's a … ground squirrel, or perhaps a regular Martian rock that looks a little like a ground squirrel from a certain angle and a certain light. The very large NASA image from the rover Curiosity is here, so you can spend the next hour or so looking for Waldo the Martian Ground Squirrel, or you can just accept the conclusion of this UFO blog:
A lot of people are emailing me saying that this squirrel was part of a NASA experiment to test how long it [...]
Here is the kind of space math that is completely appropriate for 2012: SpaceX founder Elon Musk says he's preparing for a permanent Mars colony stocked with 80,000 wealthy humans in their 40s. Are you in your 40s right now? Too late! This won't happen for another decade, or more. Are you poor and 30? Well maybe you've got a shot, but probably not. Do you have a degree from a good school and maybe a new job at Facebook or Twitter or Google? You might get to be a "new pilgrim," on Mars! You'll even get to enjoy gardening, the latest craze for people who build APIs [...]
Would you like to take a tour of the earth from space? Then please allow Dr. Justin Wilkinson of the International Space Station to be your guide. Fair warning: If today's shockingly dingy weather is making you sleepy, the twinkly music in the background here is certainly not going to do anything to help. Anyway, enjoy. It's pretty beautiful. Yes, even the moon part. [Via]
All coffee is good, from the shittiest diner to the most annoyingly rigorous high-end shop, except for coffee that comes in a pod and claims to be annoyingly rigorous and high end, but which is actual garbage that has been toasted, ground up, dehydrated and put into a non-biodegradable plastic coffin. And now that coffee is in space, which is a good reason to never leave this big dumb rock with all of its perfectly fine non-garbage coffee.
In Chelyabinsk the men are tough. So tough there is a meme among Russians depicting the tough men from Chelyabinsk acting out their audacious toughness: shouldering a dead horse through a peat bog, using a chainsaw to shave, having sex with a giant scorpion. When the meteor 60-feet-wide and weighing more than the Eiffel Tower shot towards Chelyabinsk at 41,000 miles-per-hour and burst into a fireball brighter than the sun, the tough men of Chelyabinsk looked up at the sky and cursed quietly. When the fireball exploded 14 miles above Chelyabinsk it did so with a force 30 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The subsequent shockwave [...]
Are you stupid about science and things? I am! I can barely do math. So after several years of study, I can tell you, fellow dingbat, what you need to know about space before seeing terrifying and wonderful space movie Gravity. It really is as good as everyone says. Here's one tip about seeing this film: when you can, keep your eyes on the horizon line. I was worried I was gonna heave a little, in part from visual orientation problems but also from anxiety. Throwing up in a movie theater is the third worst place to throw up. The second worst is the subway. We'll get to the [...]
The heroic Iranian monkey who supposedly rode a rocket into space last week returned to Earth with strange new powers. For instance, the monkey's distinctive face mole was completely gone when the creature was photographed by government officials upon landing. The creature's white-blonde hair had changed to brunette, too, much like the hair of Moses changed from black to white after he spotted the Hebrew God cowering under a bush. What other mutant powers could the Persian primate have developed while exposed to dangerous gamma rays or whatever, in orbit?
With just over a week remaining before the Mayan Apocalypse, the situation around Planet Earth has been anything but calm. If you've been busy getting drunk at Christmas parties, you may be blissfully unaware of the huge flying mountains that have very nearly obliterated our world. But the asteroids are only half of the story: broken comets, secret meteor storms and a mysterious robot space shuttle are also haunting our skies this week.