In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, 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

 

Many people object to “wasting money in space” yet have no idea how much is actually spent on space exploration. The CSA’s budget, for instance, is less than the amount Canadians spend on Halloween candy every year, and most of it goes toward things like developing telecommunications satellites and radar systems to provide data for weather and air quality forecasts, environmental monitoring and climate change studies. Similarly, NASA’s budget is not spent in space but right here on Earth, where it’s invested in American businesses and universities, and where it also pays dividends, creating new jobs, new technologies and even whole new industries.

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (via thedragoninmygarage)

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

Continue

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).

futurist-foresight:

A look at  SpaceX's Dragon V2 cockpit.
space-pics:

The evolution of spacecraft cockpits: the 1960s to todayhttp://space-pics.tumblr.com/


Video of Elon Musk—the real life Tony Stark— unveiling the Dragon v2 and explaining why it’s a game changer, aside from its sexy aesthetics. http://youtu.be/yEQrmDoIRO8

futurist-foresight:

A look at  SpaceX's Dragon V2 cockpit.

space-pics:

The evolution of spacecraft cockpits: the 1960s to today
http://space-pics.tumblr.com/

Video of Elon Musk—the real life Tony Stark— unveiling the Dragon v2 and explaining why it’s a game changer, aside from its sexy aesthetics. http://youtu.be/yEQrmDoIRO8

policymic:

How many Earth twins are out there? Hundreds possibly

NASA’s recent discovery of Kepler-186f, the first habitable Earth-sized planet is big news in humankind’s long search for extraterrestrial life.

A universe full of exoplanets: Thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to hunt planets across the universe, we’ve managed to find around 1800 exoplanets so far, many of which have been discovered in just the last year or so.

Read moreFollow policymic

(Source: micdotcom)

But if the universe were only 6,500 years old, how could we see the light of anything more distant than the Crab Nebula? We couldn’t. There wouldn’t have been enough time for the light to get to Earth from anywhere farther away than 6,500 light years in any direction. That’s just enough time for light to travel a tiny portion of our Milky Way Galaxy… To believe in a universe as young as 6 or 7 thousand years old, is to extinguish the light of most of the galaxy.

Cosmos w/ Neil deGrasse Tyson

From Wired.com

A stunning 360-degree mosaic of images shot by Nasa contains more than half of the stars in the Milky Way. The images have been captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of Nasa’s GLIMPSE360 project — or to give it its full title, Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire. It’s a big name alright, but a project of this magnitude does justify it at least.

The panoramas have been stitched together from more than two million photos that have been captured using infrared light over the course of ten years. As you might expect, the use of infrared light allowed the Spitzer to illuminate and capture much more of the galaxy than can be seen simply by using natural light. Visible light is frequently blocked out by a dust that infrared light can easily penetrate. Stars and other objects emit infrared light, which is then picked up by the Spitzer’s detectors.

The stars that we can see are around 1,000 light-years away, but the panoramic photo captured by Spitzer shows stars that are 100,000 light-years away. The blue stars in the image are quite close to us, whereas the red patches are “dusty areas of star formation”. The blue haze in the image is starlight from mature stars thats are packed so tightly together that they cannot be individually identified.

The Spitzer launched in 2003 from Cape Canaveral and is the fourth and final project of the Nasa Great Observatories program. Originally it was thought that the mission life of the telescope would be two and a half years, which could possibly be extended to five. Most of the instruments on board are no longer usable as the telescope’s liquid helium supply has been exhausted. However some of the wavelength modules on the infrared camera are still operable and in use as part of the Spitzer Warm Mission.

From Wired.com

A stunning 360-degree mosaic of images shot by Nasa contains more than half of the stars in the Milky Way. The images have been captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of Nasa’s GLIMPSE360 project — or to give it its full title, Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire. It’s a big name alright, but a project of this magnitude does justify it at least.

The panoramas have been stitched together from more than two million photos that have been captured using infrared light over the course of ten years. As you might expect, the use of infrared light allowed the Spitzer to illuminate and capture much more of the galaxy than can be seen simply by using natural light. Visible light is frequently blocked out by a dust that infrared light can easily penetrate. Stars and other objects emit infrared light, which is then picked up by the Spitzer’s detectors.

The stars that we can see are around 1,000 light-years away, but the panoramic photo captured by Spitzer shows stars that are 100,000 light-years away. The blue stars in the image are quite close to us, whereas the red patches are “dusty areas of star formation”. The blue haze in the image is starlight from mature stars thats are packed so tightly together that they cannot be individually identified.

The Spitzer launched in 2003 from Cape Canaveral and is the fourth and final project of the Nasa Great Observatories program. Originally it was thought that the mission life of the telescope would be two and a half years, which could possibly be extended to five. Most of the instruments on board are no longer usable as the telescope’s liquid helium supply has been exhausted. However some of the wavelength modules on the infrared camera are still operable and in use as part of the Spitzer Warm Mission.

jtotheizzoe:

If the moon were only 1 pixel on your screen, how big would the rest of the solar system be?
Just click this link, I beg you, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Absolutely amazing. Fantastic work by designer Josh Worth.
For a a different look at the problem of cosmic distance, check out my video “How Big is the Solar System?”:

And for lots more fun ways to look at the scale of the universe maybe watch this one called (naturally) "The Scale of the Universe":

jtotheizzoe:

If the moon were only 1 pixel on your screen, how big would the rest of the solar system be?

Just click this link, I beg you, and prepare to have your mind blown.

Absolutely amazing. Fantastic work by designer Josh Worth.

For a a different look at the problem of cosmic distance, check out my video “How Big is the Solar System?”:

And for lots more fun ways to look at the scale of the universe maybe watch this one called (naturally) "The Scale of the Universe":

The Universe From 10 Billion Lightyears

This picture is arguable one of Herschel’s most profound images. If you are tired of seeing the same old sky day after day, take some time to gaze at this beauty. It is sure to give you a different perspective. Similar to the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, in this image, every speck of light is an entire galaxy, each containing billions of stars billions of light-years away.

In this photo, the telescope shows us the very distant universe. It is the cosmos as it existed some 10 billion years ago (meaning that the light from these glittering beacons took 10 billion light-years to get here). In other words, these tiny specks are extremely young galaxies that appeared shortly after the Big Bang. But of course, keep in mind that “young” is a relative term, but applicable when talking about a universe that is some 14 billion years old.

One of Herschel’s primary mission objectives was to resolve the hazy background seen in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image – that is where this picture comes in. This resolution helps scientists to peel back the curtain on the early universe and answer important questions. The problem with looking at galaxies that are so young and so distant is that, at this epoch in the universe’s history, galaxies were rather close together. To understand the problem, consider the following:

Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, exists as a part of a large supercluster that is centered about 60 million light-years away. And of course, we aren’t the only supercluster in the universe. There are others. Many others. Yet, the closest neighboring supercluster of galaxies is an astounding around 300 million light-years away (it would take us billions and billions of years to get there using modern technology).  However, for comparison, 10 billion years ago, galaxies were only 20 to 30 million light-years apart on average. That makes them rather difficult to image accurately because it is hard to differentiate one from the other.

Herschel used SPIRE, one of its wide field mapping instruments, to take these images. You’re looking at an area covering about 15 square degrees, which is about 60 times the apparent size of the full moon. Professor Asantha Cooray, of the University of California, commented on the significance of this image, stating, “Thanks to the superb resolution and sensitivity of the SPIRE instrument on Herschel, we managed to map in detail the spatial distribution of massively starforming galaxies in the early universe. All indications are that these galaxies are busy. They are crashing, merging, and possibly settling down at centers of large dark matter halos.”

The Universe From 10 Billion Lightyears

This picture is arguable one of Herschel’s most profound images. If you are tired of seeing the same old sky day after day, take some time to gaze at this beauty. It is sure to give you a different perspective. Similar to the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, in this image, every speck of light is an entire galaxy, each containing billions of stars billions of light-years away.

In this photo, the telescope shows us the very distant universe. It is the cosmos as it existed some 10 billion years ago (meaning that the light from these glittering beacons took 10 billion light-years to get here). In other words, these tiny specks are extremely young galaxies that appeared shortly after the Big Bang. But of course, keep in mind that “young” is a relative term, but applicable when talking about a universe that is some 14 billion years old.

One of Herschel’s primary mission objectives was to resolve the hazy background seen in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image – that is where this picture comes in. This resolution helps scientists to peel back the curtain on the early universe and answer important questions. The problem with looking at galaxies that are so young and so distant is that, at this epoch in the universe’s history, galaxies were rather close together. To understand the problem, consider the following:

Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, exists as a part of a large supercluster that is centered about 60 million light-years away. And of course, we aren’t the only supercluster in the universe. There are others. Many others. Yet, the closest neighboring supercluster of galaxies is an astounding around 300 million light-years away (it would take us billions and billions of years to get there using modern technology). However, for comparison, 10 billion years ago, galaxies were only 20 to 30 million light-years apart on average. That makes them rather difficult to image accurately because it is hard to differentiate one from the other.

Herschel used SPIRE, one of its wide field mapping instruments, to take these images. You’re looking at an area covering about 15 square degrees, which is about 60 times the apparent size of the full moon. Professor Asantha Cooray, of the University of California, commented on the significance of this image, stating, “Thanks to the superb resolution and sensitivity of the SPIRE instrument on Herschel, we managed to map in detail the spatial distribution of massively starforming galaxies in the early universe. All indications are that these galaxies are busy. They are crashing, merging, and possibly settling down at centers of large dark matter halos.”