Archive for the ‘drplim’ Tag
Welcome to my astronomy blog. A short introduction to start this off.
My name is Bruno Ferreira, also known as Dr. Plim, and among many other things I’m an Astrophysicist. I obtained my PhD from the University of Florida in Gainesville in April of 2010.
I’m currently teaching online at the Rasmussen University and will be using this blog to post some of the astronomy/astrophysics-related news and insights that I find interesting for my students and for anyone else who stumbles upon it.
Some useful information: It is March 2012 and I am still updating this website. You may notice that the blogs entries are from 2010 or so, this is simply so that I can keep the blog entries in some kind of order. Blog entry number 1 is at the very bottom of the page and it is for Week 1 of the astronomy course.
If you find some really awesome information that you would like added here then please email me or send me a comment.
If you find some error/correction then please email me or send me a comment.
Live long and prosper.
Hello Students of the Universe,
Photo by Dick Hutchinson (http://www.ptialaska.net/~hutch/aurora.html)
Some of you have chosen to do your research projects on the Aurora Borealis. Great, that is definitely one of my favorite topics.
(Video by Terje Sorgjerd)
Just recently there was a very good interview on NPR about this magnificent phenomenon. Tom Ashbrook interviewed I strongly recommend that you listen to this podcast. LINK
Guests on the show were:
“Justin Kasper, astrophysicist in the Solar and Stellar X-Ray Group in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. His latest project is leading the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas And Protons (SWEAP) investigation on the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft.
Howard Singer, chief scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather and Prediction Center.
Frank Koza, executive director of operations support at PJM Interconnection, which is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of electricity in 13 states.
Chad Blakley, aurora borealis photographer, who runs the website Lights Over Lapland.”
Welcome to Week 8 of your Astronomy Course.
This week the topic is extraterrestrial (ET) life.
There is loads of information on the internet about this topic. On the internet, in books, in the media… ET life has been a hot topic since humans found out that the Earth was one of many small planets floating in space.
Here are some of the links I find most interesting at the moment:
first link is to a very recent article that appeared in the BBC news. It talks about how it may be wise for the famous SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project to change its focus and look for other signatures of intelligent life.
“Alien hunters should look for artificial intelligence” by Jason Palmer of the BBC
Then, of course, are two videos from TED:
The discussion this week is about silicon-based life forms. The Course Materials make a pun comparing silicon-based life to the new silicon valley… this, unfortunately, has led to a misunderstanding in that silicon-based life would not be computers talking.
I recommend reading the following Wikipedia pages on Carbon-based Life and Hypothetical Types of Biochemistry.
Update (Feb 2012): Here is an interesting article about Russians coming close to drilling into a subglacial fresh-water lake: (LINK). It is interesting and correlated to astronomy in that: “Montana State’s Priscu, for instance, has found evidence that microbes could live in the subglacial lake, deriving energy from minerals—”eating rocks,” as he told National Geographic News in 2007.” Examples of where life may exist. Life on other planets is seeming less and less improbable.
Was There Life On Mars?
This news has been going around lately – Proof that there was life on Mars?
“If there was enough life to make layers, to make corals or some sort of microbial homes, and if it was buried on Mars, the same physics that took place on Earth could have happened there,” – Dr. Adrian J. Brown
Dr. Adrian J. Brown is just now getting his evidence though David Bowie suspected it for a long time now.
I recommend reading particularly what Steven Hawking has found.
In this TED talk Andrea Ghez talks about black holes and about looking for the giants – the supermassive black holes.
Update: Feb 9 2012
Illustration courtesy M. Weiss, CXC/NASA
In the following news from National Geographic, our very own black hole may be snacking on asteroids, and we may be observing that.
As always, let me know if you have questions!
Welcome to the Second Week
This week we are looking at: what is gravity and how it depends on both mass and distance, the movement of the Earth and planets in the Solar System, and finally we are looking at Topic Selection for your Research Projects.
One of the concepts I find most important when learning about the Solar System is the movement of the Earth. It is well established that it is the Earth that is moving around the Sun, not the other way round (you all know this of course, ahum!). It is well established that the stars are not moving around the Earth either… but every night we see the same illusion which keeps telling our brains that it is the Sun and the stars that are moving, NOT US!
Here are two videos that should be watched one after the other. The first is simply a beautiful timelapse video of the night sky, the second video has changed the first so that the stars stay still and the Earth itself moves!
Research Project – Topic Selection
You will be doing a major written assignment in the form of a research project.
What I want you to show me is that you have gone to many (about 10) different sources of information, that you have read the information, understood it, and rewritten it in your own words in a way that makes it apply to your topic.
The main guidelines for this project are that it must be astronomy related and it must be a fact-vs-fiction piece.
Some examples of topics:
1 – The Zodiac – Can the position of the stars and planets influence us emotionally and physically? – Not Allowed, I consider this an extremely difficult topic for the time and level of this course. It has been attempted several times and not once has the student managed to do a thorough evaluation of the facts and fictions involved.
2 – Was the Moon Landing a Hoax? – Not Allowed. There are many ideas of how this could have been a hoax but it is not possible for a student to do a thorough investigative piece on this work.
3 – The Aurora Borealis – What are the facts about this phenomena and what are the myths? – Excellent Topic. This topic is very interesting, it is straightforward, and it has rich literature in terms of fact and in terms of fiction.
4 – Does Life Exist on Another Planet? – Good Topic. There is a lot of science fiction literature about life on other planets; you can look at some of that literature and compare it to some of the facts that we know about what conditions may be required for life to exist on another planet. Note that I am not talking about human life on another planet, I am referring to life forms being able to exist on another planet.
5 – Is there water on the Moon? – Good Topic. The possibility that water exists on the Moon has been looked at in terms of science fiction as well as with present-day science missions. Plenty of information to compare here.
6 – Your own Topic – EXCELLENT TOPIC. Find a topic that interests you, contact me about it and work on it with interest!
Welcome to Week 1
This week we are looking at some astronomy basics. We are all familiar with the use of the word “astronomical” for indicating that something is very big; so the first concept to grasp is scale. Scale is definitely THE concept to become familiar with when starting to look at astronomy; the phenomena we will be looking at occur on a much larger scale than that which we are used to interacting with. The video below is by Charles and Ray Eames, was made in 1968/77, and is still relevant.
Regarding Retrograde Motion
The second concept we are looking at is called Retrograde Motion. Retrograde motion is a complex concept, it was not understood for many centuries and caused quite a lot of trouble when astronomers were trying to come up for a model of the movement of the Earth, Sun, stars and planets.
It is important to note that the assignment is about Apparent Retrograde Motion being observed in the motion of planets. Apparent retrograde motion is different to real retrograde motion.
The following video explains this phenomena very nicely, use it in addition to the Rasmussen text.
The final concept for the week is understanding the phases of the Moon. We have all seen the Moon many times in our lives and will see it many more times; but what are we really seeing? This is the moment when we get it straight!
Rasmussen College has a very good introductory tutorial located HERE to help you understand the phases of the Moon.