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Reading helps me remember September 14, 2007

Posted by truthspew in astronomy, cartoons, Chris Jones, International Space Station, NASA, Rose Bowl, Space Exploration, Space Shuttle, They Might Be Giants, Too Far From Home.
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Right now I’m reading “Too Far From Home” by Chris Jones. It’s the story of Expedition 6 to the International Space Station

It talks about Expedition 6’s experience in the light of the Columbia tragedy (STS-107).

But Jones touches on the entire history of the shuttle program. In chapter 7 titled “Earthshine” he talks about the first flight of Columbia. I remember it well, April 14, 1981. I was a junior at LaSalle Academy (Beware, heavy Flash usage!) in Providence, RI.

In the minutes leading up to the landing they piped in the chatter on the communication channel between NASA and the shuttle over the school PA system. In addition I happened to be in a classroom that had a television in it so we were able to watch the shuttle come in for a landing at Edwards Air Force base.

I did question the practicality of such a vehicle even then. But it’s key role in assembly of the ISS made it worthwhile.

There have been many advances made in materials research as well as repairs to platforms like the Hubble Telescope named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, the man who discovered the red shift and confirmed the theory of the expanding universe.

Hopefully I’ve given you all enough to chew on. It’s a very good book and a delightful read, particularly when you consider that Jones is a sports writer.

Now playing: Jamiroquai – Light Years [Live]
via FoxyTunes.


Animaniacs – Yakko's Universe January 4, 2007

Posted by truthspew in animaniacs, astronomy, cartoons, Monty Python, science, YouTube.
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So the Animaniacs tackle cosmology/astronomy. How very nice – The universe is a mind boggling huge place. So huge in fact that we use a little symbol for infinity.

Even our own Milky Way is huge.

Ok, light travels at 3×10^8 m/sec. Do the conversion to miles yourself.

Anyhow – the nearest galaxy is what, Andromeda 2 million light years away from the Milky Way Galaxy which is about 80,000 to 100,000 light-years in diameter, about 250,000 to 300,000 light-years in circumference, and outside the Galactic core, about 1,000 light-years in thickness.

Even traveling at the speed of light it’d take 80,000-100,000 YEARS to traverse from the middle to edge of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Lets say we manage to get to half the speed of light. To traverse the thickness of the bulge in the Milky Way would take 2,000 years.

Anyways, here’s Yakko giving us a comical but technically accurate rendering of the galaxy and universe.

And then of course that was based on this Monty Python skit: