Showing posts with the label Universe

Brian Greene's Talk on TED

Here is a great video  from Brian Greene, renowned theoretical physicist and author of The Elegant Universe , among various books.  The video touches on a number of hot concepts of the day, from inflation, dark matter, string theories, to explaining why we are indeed living in a multi-verse. -PTS

Moons in the Solar System (1 of 2)

Moons are interesting celestial bodies.  Until recent years, they are often overlooked in favour of other astronomical objects like stars and planets.  So what really is a moon?  By definition,  a moon is a natural satellite that orbits a planet.   It is important to note that gravity plays a role in shaping a planet's moons. Too much gravity and the moon is destroyed. Too little of it and the moon floats away until is no longer a moon. In this and the next articles, we will focus on the  moons in our Solar System. Let's start with the one we know best! Earth's Moon and the Giant Impact Hypothesis Several theories have been postulated on the formation of our moon. T he  Apollo mission was sent to the moon in 1969 during which rock samples were secured. These moon rocks were found to be almost identical to those of Earth's crust.  The catch however, is that the rocks were super heated. How could this be?   The story goes that Earth was actually hit by a Mars-sized pl

Life on Mars

The 9 to 5 has prevented me from hitting full throttle on my blogging endeavours the last few months.  I may finally have struck a balance between work and blogging.  Over the next few months, I am going to write a number of posts on my favourite topic: The Universe . To start, let's look at the possibility of life on Mars.  The red planet has long been suggested as the next best rock in our Solar System to host life.  By that, I am not suggesting human-like Martians that you see on TV or the big screen (as this famous Martian image alludes). Instead it is quite likely that simple organisms might have existed back when Mars was more Earth-like. Here are some engaging arguments:  Mars water-scarred terrain - the planet has vast systems of canyons.  In fact, the "Grand Canyon" of Mars is 5 times longer and 4 times deeper than the one in the U.S. These rugged terrains suggest the forces of water and glacial ice once at work. Needless to say, water is a key breeding ground

Stephen Hawking Visits Waterloo

Stephen Hawking is spending a few weeks in Waterloo, Canada.  He even gave a presentation of his research to invited guests near the University of Waterloo, where I attended school.  I am sure he wowed the audience with his lecture.  I would certainly be impressed by someone of his stature! -PTS

The Known Universe

Here is a short clip on the known universe from the American Museum of Natural History. Starting from Earth zooming out to the solar system, the Milky Way, all the way to the outer frontiers of space that human technology can possibly detect.... and finally back to Earth! -PTS

Ten Key SETI Moments

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, was founded fifty ago. Here are 10 notable moments that deserve honourable mention. Interesting enough, the invention of the Drake equation was noted as one of those key moments. Of all listed candidates, my vote goes to the Arecibo Message. With our technology today, it is difficult to conceive that we will discover extraterrestrial life forms in the near future. We may as well let a technologically superior alien civilization track us down from our interstellar broadcasts. What is your favourite moment? -PTS

The Drake Equation

Ever heard of the Drake equation? Devised by Dr. Francis Drake in 1960, the equation estimates the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy with which we might come into contact. The main purpose of the equation is to allow scientists to quantify the factors that determine the number of such extraterrestrial civilizations. The Drake equation states that: where: N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible; and R * is the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy f p is the fraction of those stars that have planets n e is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets f ℓ is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point f i is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life f c is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space L is the