"Why? Because we’re rapidly approaching the last time we can ever watch Cosmos as just “Cosmos.”
Fox’s new series begins sometime early next year, starring the ever-so-excellent Neil deGrasse Tyson in the main role.
I’m excited about it, but once it airs, there will be two Cosmos series. Our brains will inevitably make comparisons between the staging, special effects, themes, music, etc. Think of how the Star Wars trilogy changed after Episode One.”
This image of Neptune was taken on 11 August 2006 with the Palomar Observatory’s 200-inch (5-meter) Hale Telescope and its Adaptive Optics system. The Adaptive Optics system removes the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere to produce very high resolution images.
Don Banfield of Cornell University collected and processed the data to produce this false color image. The image was recorded in three near-infrared wavelengths: “J” centered at 1.250 microns, “H” at 1.635 microns, and “Ks” at 2.150. The images were combined as red, green, and blue to create this false-color image. A wide assortment of clouds can be seen at Neptune’s atmosphere.
"No one was more stunned than I over the media attention given to my flurry of tweets posted this past Sunday, each commenting on some aspect of the Bullock-Clooney film Gravity. Hundreds of references followed in blogs and news sources, including television’s Inside Edition the Today Show, and Brian Williams’s NBC Nightly News.
What few people recognize is that science experts don’t line up to critique Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Man of Steel or Transformers or The Avengers. These films offer no premise of portraying a physical reality. Imagine the absurdity of me critiquing the Lion King: “Lions can’t talk. And if they could, they wouldn’t be speaking English. And Simba would have simply eaten Pumba early in the film.”
The converse is also true. If a film happens to portray an awesome bit of science when there’s otherwise no premise of scientific accuracy, then I’m first in line to notice. In Chicken Little, for example, the hexagonal sky tiles, each mirroring what lies beneath them, was brilliant. So too are the factory-made doors in Monsters, Inc. As portrayed, they’re, functional wormholes through the fabric of space-time. In A Bugs Life the surface tension of water, which makes it ball up in small volumes was accurately captured at the Bug Bar, and for the little fella’s makeshift telescope.
To “earn” the right to be criticized on a scientific level is a high compliment indeed. So when I saw a headline proclaim, based on my dozen or so tweets, “Astrophysicist says the film Gravity is Riddled with Errors”, I came to regret not first tweeting the hundred things the movie got right: 1) the 90 minute orbital time for objects at that altitude; 2) the re-entry trails of disintegrated satellites, hauntingly reminiscent of the Columbia Shuttle tragedy; 3) Clooney’s calm-under-stress character (I know dozens of astronauts like that); 4) the stunning images from orbit transitioning from day to twilight to nighttime; 5) the Aurorae (northern lights) visible in the distance over the polar regions; 6) the thinness of Earth’s atmosphere relative to Earth’s size; 7) the persistent conservation of angular and linear momentum; 8) the starry sky, though a bit trumped up, captured the range and balance of an actual night sky; 9) the speed of oncoming debris, if in fact it were to collide at orbital velocity; 10) the transition from silence to sound between an unpressurized and a pressurized airlock; … and 100) the brilliantly portrayed tears of Bullock, leaving her eyes, drifting afloat in the capsule.
So I will continue to offer observations of science in film — not as an expression of distaste or disgust but as a celebration of artists attempting to embrace all the forces of nature that surround us.”
Russiaâs Security Council is reportedly considering a ban on supplying the US with powerful RD-180 rocket engines for military communications satellites as Russia focuses on building its own new space launch center, Vostochny, in the Far East.
'Reportedly, when the Energia booster with the Buran space shuttle was launched in November 1988, the massive concrete bays paving the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan were flying around like dry leaves, due to the immense power coming from the four RD-170 engines, which blasted the 2,400-ton rocket booster into space. '
In the past few decades, the United States and the Soviet Union have accomplished something that — unless we destroy ourselves first — will be remembered a thousand years from now: the first close-up exploration of dozens of other worlds. Together we have found much out there that is magnificent, instructive and of practical value. But we have found no trace, no hint of life. The Earth is an anomaly. In all the solar system, it is, so far as we know, the only inhabited planet.
We humans are one among millions of separate species who live in a world burgeoning, overflowing with life. And yet, most species that ever were are no more. After flourishing for one hundred fifty million years, the dinosaurs became extinct. Every last one. No species is guaranteed its tenure on this planet. And humans, the first beings to devise the means for their own destruction, have been here for only several million years.
We are rare and precious because we are alive, because we can think. We are privileged to influence and perhaps control our future. We have an obligation to fight for life on Earth — not just for ourselves but for all those, humans and others, who came before us and to whom we are beholden, and for all those who, if we are wise enough, will come after. There is no cause more urgent than to survive to eliminate on a global basis the growing threats of nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, economic collapse and mass starvation. These problems were created by humans and can only be solved by humans. No social convention, no political system, no economic hypothesis, no religious dogma is more important.
The hard truth seems to be this: We live in a vast and awesome universe in which, daily, suns are made and worlds destroyed, where humanity clings to an obscure clod of rock. The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We would prefer it to be otherwise, of course, but there is no compelling evidence for a cosmic Parent who will care for us and save us from ourselves. It is up to us.
By Carl Sagan, The Meaning of Life (via crookedindifference)
The cameras on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this rare look at Earth and its moon from Saturn orbit on July 19, 2013. Taken while performing a large wide-angle mosaic of the entire Saturn ring system, narrow-angle camera images were deliberately inserted into the sequence in order to image Earth and its moon. This is the second time that Cassini has imaged Earth from within Saturn’s shadow, and only the third time ever that our planet has been imaged from the outer solar system.
Earth is the blue point of light on the left; the moon is fainter, white, and on the right. Both are seen here through the faint, diffuse E ring of Saturn. Earth was brighter than the estimated brightness used to calculate the narrow-angle camera exposure times. Hence, information derived from the wide-angle camera images was used to process this color composite.
Both Earth and the moon have been increased in brightness for easy visibility; in addition, brightness of the Moon has been increased relative to the Earth, and the brightness of the E ring has been increased as well.
The first image of Earth captured from the outer solar system was taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 in 1990 and famously titled “Pale Blue Dot”. Sixteen years later, in 2006, Cassini imaged the Earth in the stunning and unique mosaic of Saturn called “In Saturn’s Shadow-The Pale Blue Dot”. And, seven years further along, Cassini did it again in a coordinated event that became the first time that Earth’s inhabitants knew in advance that they were being imaged from nearly a billion miles (nearly 1.5 billion kilometers) away. It was the also the first time that Cassini’s highest-resolution camera was employed so that Earth and its moon could be captured as two distinct targets.