The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Cosmic Journeys is a documentary series on various astronomical and space-related subjects, e.g. supermassive black holes, Apollo 12, whether the universe is infinite and many more. The creators, SpaceRip have a lot of other, shorter videos online as well. They are indexed here. Most, if not all, of the videos are available in HD.
On July 17th, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth. After just seven months in orbit, WISE -- a precursor to the planned James Webb Space Telescope -- has returned more than a million images that provide a close look at celestial objects ranging from distant galaxies to asteroids. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year, but in the meantime we can see some of the images and animations that NASA has released to date: Galleries (containing just a small selection of images): 1, 2, 3, 4. Videos and Animations: 1, 2 [more inside]
"I was willing to bet that there was going to be a universe, and I hit the nail on the head." The other day we had Avram Davidson, which got me thinking of Calvino's Invisible Cities, but all the recent talk about black holes made me remember that Italo Calvino is at his most charming when he's playing with physics, math, and cosmology in Cosmicomics.
Black Holes Merge. Massive layoffs expected throughout galaxy. Analysts predict big payoffs for the economy, however. "A burst of gravitational waves that could warp the very fabric of space will go a long way towards increasing shareholding value," said one economist. Both black holes had recently suffered a dramatic drop in stock price, and were under the threat of hostile takeover from industry leader Black Hole 86184-B before the merger was announced, which took Wall Street pundits off guard. "Much to our surprise, we found that both were active black holes," Stefanie Komossa of the Max Planck Astro-Economics Institute in Germany, said in a statement. Proponents of big business greeted the announcement with pleasure: "This supports the idea that black holes can grow to enormous masses in the centres of galaxies by merging with other black holes."
Another massive celestial object, with a companion star in tow, has been discovered hurtling through the Milky Way. Unlike similar discoveries confirming the bow shock theory of stellar dynamics, this week's phenomenon is considerably older, as it's an aftereffect of the galactic core's formation. The French and Argentine astromoners making the discovery believe what they've witnessed may be a black hole, though theoretically, the collasped matter may be a gravistar.
Wot, no black holes? Those wacky boffins in science land have already had a pop at the Higg's boson, but now they're moving on to everybody's favourite theoretical singularity, with a new theory about what happens when a star kicks the astral bucket.
Black holes blow as well as suck. It's amazing what we find out about the universe. Imagine what we don't know?