In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

mindblowingscience:

The 5 Massive New Telescopes That Will Change Astronomy Forever

The biggest building boom in the history of astronomy is upon us. In Chile and Hawaii and in space, astronomers are getting powerful telescopes that dwarf the current state-of-the-art instruments. When the mountain blasting and the mirror polishing are all done, we will have the clearest and most detailed views of outer space ever.

This boom has long been in the works for years, as billion-dollar telescopes don’t just fund and plan themselves.Now, these telescopes are starting to break ground. “If it all plays out as expected and budgeted,” writes Dennis Overbye in the New York Times, “astronomers of the 2020s will be swimming in petabytes of data streaming from space and the ground.” Let’s take a closer took at what these billion-dollar telescopes can do for astronomy in the decades to come.

Read all about these 5 amazing telescopes at Gizmodo

A Universe Not Made For Us: Carl Sagan on Religion and Geocentrism/Anthropocentrism

If you fold a paper in half 103 times it'll get as thick as the [observable] Universe

The myth: You can’t fold a paper in half more than eight times.* The reality: Given a paper large enough—and enough energy—you can fold it as many times as you want. The problem: If you fold it 103 times, the thickness of your paper will be larger than the observable Universe: 93 billion light-years. Seriously.

teded:

Scientists believe dark energy makes up about 68% of the universe and dark matter about 27%. That leaves just 5% for us and everything we can actually see. 
But what’s the dark stuff made of?
From the TED-Ed Lesson Dark matter: The matter we can’t see - James Gillies
Animation by TED-Ed

teded:

Scientists believe dark energy makes up about 68% of the universe and dark matter about 27%. That leaves just 5% for us and everything we can actually see.

But what’s the dark stuff made of?

From the TED-Ed Lesson Dark matter: The matter we can’t see - James Gillies

Animation by TED-Ed

Watch: Breathtaking Time Lapse Video Shows Star Exploding

Ever wonder what an exploding star looks like?

NASA has released this incredible time lapse video showing the enormous explosion of a red star called V838 Monocerotis, located some 20,000 light years away.

The breathtaking images were captured by NASA’s Hubble telescope over a four-year period.

Watch: Breathtaking Time Lapse Video Shows Star Exploding

Ever wonder what an exploding star looks like?

NASA has released this incredible time lapse video showing the enormous explosion of a red star called V838 Monocerotis, located some 20,000 light years away.

The breathtaking images were captured by NASA’s Hubble telescope over a four-year period.

What is Astrophysics?


Astrophysics is a branch of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe. It has two sibling sciences, astronomy and cosmology, and the lines between them blur.

In the most rigid sense:

-Astronomy measures positions, luminosities, motions and other characteristics

-Astrophysics creates physical theories of small to medium-size structures in the universe

-Cosmology does this for the largest structures, and the universe as a whole.

In practice, the three professions form a tight-knit family. Ask for the position of a nebula or what kind of light it emits, and the astronomer might answer first. Ask what the nebula is made of and how it formed and the astrophysicist will pipe up. Ask how the data fit with the formation of the universe, and the cosmologist would probably jump in. But watch out — for any of these questions, two or three may start talking at once!

Goals of astrophysics

Astrophysicists seek to understand the universe and our place in it. At NASA, the goals of astrophysics are “to discover how the universe work, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars,” according NASA’s website.

NASA states that those goals produce three broad questions:

How does the universe work?
How did we get here?
Are we alone?

It began with Newton

While astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, theoretical astrophysics began with Isaac Newton.
Prior to Newton, astronomers described the motions of heavenly bodies using complex mathematical models without a physical basis. Newton showed that a single theory simultaneously explains the orbits of moons and planets in space and the trajectory of a cannonball on Earth. This added to the body of evidence for the (then) startling conclusion that the heavens and Earth are subject to the same physical laws. [Related: How Isaac Newton Changed the World]

Perhaps what most completely separated Newton’s model from previous ones is that it is predictive as well as descriptive. Based on aberrations in the Newtonian orbit of Uranus, astronomers predicted the position of a new planet, which was then observed and named Neptune. Being predictive as well as descriptive is the sign of a mature science, and astrophysics is in this category.

Milestones in astrophysics

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Lawrence Krauss on Life, the Universe and Nothing

Consider that the information recoverable by any civilization over the entire history of our universe is finite in an ever-expanding universe.

Anonymous asked
I was just wondering how you think all the matter in the universe was put into an extremely dense mass at the beginning of time. Also, how do you measure the beginning of time when if the big band theory is true, this existence now could be the trillionth time the universe has re-expanded.

The way I understand it, which is humbly, matter and mass did not exist in that ‘pre-universe’ state. What you had was infinite potential energy to form matter, which formed some 300,000 years afterward, as the universe cooled. Also, the whole idea of a point in space for this density to occupy loses it’s meaning when there isn’t even any space. It was nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

It’s important to realize that our common conceptions of time, spatial dimensions, matter and the forces that would pertain to squishing all the matter into a tiny space; they’re all useless for understanding the singularity at the front of the Big Bang as they did not exist yet. The theory itself is about how the universe expands, not so much about how it was compacted before it expanded. Mainly because, so far, our empirical reach has only taken us back to within a fraction of a second after the expansion had already begun. The singularity really represents a point, in rewinding the expansion of the universe, where the maths break down.

Learn more:

Cosmology 101: Big Bang - http://youtu.be/xsQ1XmqEe6M

What Is The Evidence For The Big Bang? - http://youtu.be/xtrYF_hxxUM

This series will explain the key concepts and processes in the theory as well as the observational evidence and current areas of research in the theory- http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6150D61BB71657A6


I don’t think there is a way of measuring time beyond, or prior to, the Big Bang as time is part of space and neither existed. As far as we’ll ever know or as far as it will ever apply to us, measurable time began at the moment of expansion (the Big Bang).

thenewenlightenmentage:

The Big Bang’s Identity Crisis
Think of the Big Bang, and you probably imagine a moment in time when matter, energy and space itself all burst into existence at once. Yet many astrophysicists now believe that the “Big Bang” was actually two distinct events: first the inaugural instant of space and time, and second the generation of most of the “stuff” that populates that space. So, which really deserves to be called the Big Bang?
Ambiguity has plagued the expression “Big Bang” since its origin. When British astronomer Fred Hoyle coined it during a radio interview in 1948, he meant it as the ultimate put down. Hoyle refused to believe that the universe had a beginning, a first moment of time and a genesis of all matter and energy. Rather, he thought that the cosmos maintained itself in a “steady state” through a slow trickle of particles into reality. He hypothesized a “creation field” that would gradually generate new matter to fill the gaps between galaxies moving away from each other, keeping the overall density of the universe the same.
Continue Reading

thenewenlightenmentage:

The Big Bang’s Identity Crisis

Think of the Big Bang, and you probably imagine a moment in time when matter, energy and space itself all burst into existence at once. Yet many astrophysicists now believe that the “Big Bang” was actually two distinct events: first the inaugural instant of space and time, and second the generation of most of the “stuff” that populates that space. So, which really deserves to be called the Big Bang?

Ambiguity has plagued the expression “Big Bang” since its origin. When British astronomer Fred Hoyle coined it during a radio interview in 1948, he meant it as the ultimate put down. Hoyle refused to believe that the universe had a beginning, a first moment of time and a genesis of all matter and energy. Rather, he thought that the cosmos maintained itself in a “steady state” through a slow trickle of particles into reality. He hypothesized a “creation field” that would gradually generate new matter to fill the gaps between galaxies moving away from each other, keeping the overall density of the universe the same.

Continue Reading

Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

(via whats-out-there)