eagle nebula

eagle nebula

Ok – so I do have a few questions about some of the more recent developments in scientific research. After watching a PBS special on telescopes and tracking to the edge of the universe – a great series on PBS by the way – I was left wondering this:

If we are using a telescope to see galaxies at the edge of the Universe, and we see them accelerating, how can we assume this is currently the case? We are seeing light that took billions of years to reach our instruments.

Seeing galaxies and planetary systems to far away is pretty amazing. The images from the Herschel space observatory are incredible – of course unlike Hubble this system is designed to look at light we cannot see with the naked eye.

“The Herschel Space Observatory is the largest infrared space observatory launched to date. Equipped with a 3.5 metre diameter reflecting telescope and instruments cooled to close to absolute zero, Herschel observes at wavelengths that have never previously been explored. After a roughly 50-day journey from Earth, Herschel entered its operational orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system (L2), for a nominal mission lifetime of three years.”

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Did you know that last year is claimed as what will be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the century? Check out this NY Times article on “Chasing the Higgs Boson.” Readable, almost an adventure novel!

The Higgs Boson. It’s just another Boson, you say? And maybe that is the real issue – we keep discovering new particles but what do they mean? A VIMEO clip offers some of the data and some of the questions.

See also A Timeline: From Theory to Reality

Elsewhere, the future of SIRI (and btw, Arthur C Clarke envisioned an interface like this in the late 90s)

1 Comment on Quarks, Bosons, the Herschel Telescope and SIRI

  1. Steve says:

    “If we are using a telescope to see galaxies at the edge of the Universe, and we see them accelerating, how can we assume this is currently the case?”

    Good question. We assume that they continue to act as the galaxies that are closer and from whom the light we receive originates more recently. That is an assumption, of course. Seems logical. I don’t know that there are any reasons, at the moment, to assume otherwise.