The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike. Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013. [more inside]
Q: How many miles is it to the crab nebula? How does one even figure this out? A: The cosmic distance ladder! Here's a talk by Fields medalist Terrence Tao on methods for indirect calculation of distances to astronomical objects. Here's Tao's blog post on the subject, including the slides for the talk. And here's a Wikipedia page. [more inside]
Escape The Red Giant is a Flash game that is both incredibly relaxing and incredibly addictive. [more inside]
Cosmic Evolution -- Particulate, Galactic, Stellar, Planetary, Chemical, Biological, Cultural (Via the Exploratorium)
"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.
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.
So you think the expansion of the universe is accelerating? Think again! (Contains links to full paper in .pdf etc.)
When NASA scientists watch Michael Bay films, comedy ensues. 'The technology is not at all far-fetched,' said Dr Greg Laughlin, of the Nasa Ames Research Center in California. 'It involves the same techniques that people now suggest could be used to deflect asteroids or comets heading towards Earth. We don't need raw power to move Earth, we just require delicacy of planning and manoeuvring.' Oh yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan. I'm not being a Luddite here...I realize the scientists involved aren't going to be doing this any time soon, if ever. It still spooks me, though.