We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
Tired of movie sequels? Good news, The Sequel Is Dead -- The Universe Is Where It's At [more inside]
Rebuild the Universe an incremental game that starts with the smallest unit possible to end with the universe itself. Bonuses, special effects and more await you in this incremental game.
Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?” It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.
Experience just how big the Universe is, using this interactive graphic made by 14-year-old Cary Huang. Click on individual objects for factoids.
"Maybe the Big Bang never happened because the universe never began because it has always existed." Scientific American magazine revisits the decade-old idea that we live in a "Rainbow" universe (where different wavelengths of light experience spacetime differently and where the big bang may never have happened) following the publication of new physics research on the subject.
Stefan Haustein's Timeline pulls timelines from Wikipedia, parses them and puts them into a coherent zoomable view.
MediAvengers: Earth's Mightiest Gossip is a blog of media parodies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Chandra Sky Map - Joe DePasquale runs through the process of creating the map and some helpful tips for using the interactive tool.
Cosmography of the Local Universe. From the comments: "Best video display of our Universe and our exact position in it to date.... [more inside]
Kosmos allows you to explore a virtual, computer-generated 3-d universe from your browser. Background, screen shots and hardware requirements. (Requires WebGL and a little time to load on slower computers.) [more inside]
"A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all". (Audio link of interview at top left corner of page, other relevant links at bottom of page)
January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
eXtreme Deep Field (1.4 MB JPG) is the deepest-ever view of the universe - a new assemblage of 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs focused on a small area at the center of the original Ultra Deep Field. With a cumulative exposure time of 2 million seconds, XDF shows approximately 5,500 galaxies - some of them 10 billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
The start of the Universe should be modeled not as a Big Bang but more like water freezing into ice, according to a team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. Results published this month in Physical Review D (abstract) (via ABC Science). [more inside]
How Big is the Universe? Measured with a protractor. Lots of Pictures!!!
Gillian James charts the connections in the Stephen King universe* Meanwhile The Guardian is rereading King begining with Carrie and Salems Lot, CNN has discovered The Gospel of Stephen King, and in further Castle Rock news a new movie version of It is being made.
* Not including The Dark Tower
* Not including The Dark Tower
Earth in perspective:
- Stratocam takes the most beautiful landscape satellite photographs from Google Maps, as voted on by visitors, and switches them every few seconds, with a fullscreen mode.
- ChronoZoom is an interactive, zoomable HTML5 timeline of the entire history of the universe, from the Big Bang to Homo Sapiens, with embedded video and lectures.
The Scale of The Universe 2 (give it a minute to load)
The size of the known universe - A six and a half minute video which provides a view of the scale of the universe.
Hi. Here's Stephen Colbert (out of character) and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson having an 85 minute conversation about science, physics, and the universe.
"...I'm here to present to you - not lectures that are part of some curriculum; but in fact, I've combed the universe for my favorite subjects, and I'm going to spend twelve lectures bringing those favorite subjects to you." Renowned astrophysicist and television host Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the various aspects of our universe in twelve separate half-hour long lectures (MLYT). [more inside]
My assumption has always been: If something like a soul exists, and it affects our consciousness in any manner, then it must be detectable by some scientific device. I find it difficult to imagine that something can interact with my physical body without leaving any physical trace. But though I find it hard to imagine, is it possible for something like a soul to interact with me without leaving any physical trace?
What does a Higgsless universe mean for science? The Higgs Boson is quite important to the standard model of physics. If it exists, it plays a major role in explaining how particles acquire mass. There’s a distinct possibility that the Higgs Boson may not even exist. Stephen Hawking made a famous bet that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) wouldn't find it. So far both the LHC and Tevatron, another massive particle accelerators have both searched much of the energy ranges we expected to find the Higgs with no luck. So, then, what does it mean if we don’t find the Higgs at all?
When we talk about dark matter and its alternatives, we are talking about no less a task than explaining the structure of every large object in the Universe. On the largest scales dark matter blows all of its competitors away. In terms of explaining the large-scale structure of the Universe, not a single one of dark matter's alternatives comes close to mirroring its success. But of course, that doesn't stop the sensationalist headlines from rolling in. We are understandably uncomfortable with the notion that we are not the most important thing in the Universe. We've just successfully figured out where the new material to form the Milky Way's young stars is coming from: high-velocity intergalactic gas clouds! About a Sun's worth of gas falls into the Milky Way (on average) every year, and this resupplies the Milky Way's gas reserves, which get eaten up as new stars form over billions of years. But what about the other, larger mystery? What about reproducing the structure of the Milky Way itself?
Marcus Chown's top 10 bonkers things about the universe.
"Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way!" [more inside]
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. " -- Douglas Adams [more inside]
Renowned theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed gave a series of five Messenger lectures on "The Future of Fundamental Physics" at Cornell University two weeks ago. 1 3 4 5 [more inside]
The Universe, with relative scales. Who knew there were earthworms 7m long? Or that drinking water involves Mickey Mouse heads?
The ancient Hebrew Conception of the Universe. Mayan Interdimensional Star Map. A scale model of the orbits of the planets in our solar system. More by Michael Paukner (via).
Planck telescope reveals ancient cosmic light. "The picture is the first full-sky image from Europe's Planck telescope which was sent into space last year to survey the oldest light in the cosmos. It took the 600m-euro observatory just over six months to assemble the map. It shows what is visible beyond the Earth to instruments that are sensitive to light at very long wavelengths - much longer than what we can sense with our eyes." [more inside]
I take massive NASA images and make them easily viewable. Milky Way. Carina. To zoom, click on the pics. All Hubble Images Sorted by Resolution. Excellent Video Narrated by Morgan Freeman [clip from Cosmic Voyage]. [more inside]
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.
"You have no idea how big that is. This is giant on a scale where it's not just that we can't see what's doing it; it's that the entire makeup of the universe as we understand it can't be right if this is happening."
Welcome to the Universe - III: The Size of Things . . .we take a breif trip through the Solar System and beyond to see the size of the Universe. A youtube video by AndromedasWake about the scale of the Universe.
One of the hardest things for people to understand about the universe is just how big it is. There are three approaches typically used in describing its size. The first, the song, was pioneered by Monty Python (NSFWish, wireframe of naked woman) and then done just as masterfully by the Animaniacs. The second, the zoom method has been featured twice before here on the blue. The third method is the comparison method (skip to 1:30, unless you like looking at a image of the solar system with terrible distorted orbits), yielding some truly beautiful videos (this one found via the fantastic Bad Astronomy blog). These videos go, at most, as far as looking at the local cluster or the Virgo Supercluster. There are two videos that attempt to show the size of the entire universe, one unsuccessfully (although with great music) and one successfully. (Warning, all links except the first one, are to YT videos). [more inside]
New burst vaporizes cosmic distance record. "NASA's Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers have found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age. The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen."
Exit Mundi's thoughts on the latest anticipated apocalypse: the coming apocalypse in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 A.D.. (No kidding.) [more inside]
Is the Multiverse Real? Discover takes a look at theories that our universe is one of many. This blogger adds some interesting commentary. via
Beyond the Reach of God. Thought experiments involving the God-universe and the Nature-universe, the Turing-complete Game of Life, and a lot of insightful back-and-forth in the comment section, to boot. One of the most interesting and thought-provoking essays I've read on the Internet in a very long time, by Eliezer Yudkowsky on his blog, Overcoming Bias (via).
Mysterious New 'Dark Flow' Discovered in Space. "As if the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy weren't vexing enough, another baffling cosmic puzzle has been discovered. Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can't be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon 'dark flow.' The stuff that's pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude." [more inside]
An Interactive Space Simulator "Smash planets together, introduce rogue stars, and build new worlds from spinning discs of debris. Fire a moon into a planet or destroy everything you've created with a super massive black hole. You can simulate and interact with our solar system: the 8 planets,160+ moons, and hundereds of asteroids, the nearest 1000 stars to our Sun, and our local group of galaxies." [31Mb, Windows only, sorry, but see inside for similar Mac and Linux apps] [more inside]
Astronomers find a giant hole a billion light years across & located 8 billion light years away from us. They believe it could be evidence of another Universe at the edge of ours.
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