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Alys, Always: As Night Falls: Astro-Imaging Projects for Amateur Astronomers: Astronomy Hacks: Astronomy on the Personal Computer: Astronomy with a Budget Telescope: Astrophotography on the Go: Atlas of the Messier Objects: Aufstieg und Fall der Dinosaurier: Bad Astronomy: Bad Little Girl: Beautiful Lies: Bianca Extra: Blockchain Revolution: Budget Astrophotography: Computing with Quantum Cats: Concepts in Thermal Physics: Corporate Data Quality: Covariant Loop Quantum Gravity: Cristales Sanadores: Das Berghotel - Heimatroman: Das Echo der Zukunft: Das Heim: Das Mammut: Das Universum in dir: Deceiving Darkness: Deep Space Propulsion: Der Bergdoktor - Heimatroman: Der Fisch in uns: Der Notarzt - Arztroman: Der Notarzt Sammelband 1 - Arztroman: Der Winter der Wunder: Die Neandertaler und wir: Digital SLR Astrophotography: Discoverers of the Universe: Don't You Cry: Dorian Hunter 4 - Horror-Serie: Dorovar - In der Hand des Kriegers: Dry Store Room No.
Du bist in meiner Hand: Du bist mein Fels in der Brandung: Ein Adventskalender voll mit Liebe: Ein Sommernachtstraum: Einmal grillen macht noch keinen Camper: El domador de leones: Enneleyn und der Nordmann: Evidence-Based Medical Ethics:: Exterior Ballistics with Applications: Familie mit Herz 33 - Familienroman: Familie mit Herz 34 - Familienroman: Fight Club: Fossils And History: From Bacteria to Bach and Back: Unger - Western: Unger Western-Bestseller - Western: Gegen den Wind: Gespenster-Krimi 1 - Horror-Serie: Gespenster-Krimi 2 - Horror-Serie: Girl Last Seen: Gravity, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Gradiometry: Gut Greifenau - Abendglanz: Hauptsache Weihnachten: Heirat - nur aus Liebe!
Blind verliebt im Pulverschnee: Hidden Bodies: Historical Saison: Homo Deus: House Rules: David Woods. How Apollo Flew to the Moon: Human Vision and The Night Sky: I Know What You're Thinking: Im Fokus: Im Herzen der Nacht: Inflight Science: Since the shuttle is a major part of NASA operations, and NASA's industrial partners are spread far and wide across the American countryside, an unemployment ripple gets felt in many more places than the causeways of Florida's Space Coast.
President Obama's speech did include mention of funded retraining programs for workers whose jobs would be eliminated. He also noted that his plan would erase fewer jobs than his I wonder what the reaction in the room would have been if Obama's statement were mathematically equivalent but more blunt: So anybody who didn't like President Obama before the speech at the Kennedy Space Center now had extra reasons to brand him as the villain: In there were two spacefaring nations.
Fifty years later, in , there would still be two spacefaring nations. But America wouldn' t be one of them. It's now retrospectively obvious why nary a mention of jobs appeared in the anti-Obama protest mantras: On the subject of jobs: Where else are they going to work? They're too smart to do anything else. In an electoral democracy, a president who articulates any goal for which the completion lies far beyond his tenure cannot guarantee ever reaching that goal.
In fact, he can barely guarantee reaching any goal whatsoever during his time in office. As for goals that activate partisan sensitivities, a two-term president faces the Kennedy knew full well what he was doing in when he set forth the goal of sending a human to the Moon "before this decade is out. And had the Apollo 1 launchpad fire that killed three astronauts not delayed the program, we would certainly have reached the Moon during his presidency.
Now imagine, instead, if Kennedy had called for achieving the goal "before this century is out. When a president promises something beyond his presidency, he's fundamentally unaccountable. It's not his budget that must finish the job.
It becomes another president's inherited problem-a ball too easily dropped, a plan too easily abandoned, a dream too readily deferred. So while the rhetoric of Obama's space speech was brilliant and visionary, the politics of his speech were, empirically, a disaster. The only thing guaranteed to happen on his watch is the interruption of America's access to space. Every several years for the past several decades, NASA gets handed a "new direction. The only good part about these battles, enabling hope to spring eternal, is that hardly anybody is arguing about whether NASA should exist at all-a reminder that we are all stakeholders in our space agency's uncertain future.
C ollectively, the selections in this volume investigate what NASA means to America and what space exploration means to our species. Although the path to space is SCientifically straightforward, it is nonetheless technologically challenging and, on too many occasions, politically intractable.
Solutions do exist. But to arrive at them, we must abandon delusional thinking and employ tools of cultural navigation that link space exploration with science literacy, national security, and economic prosperity. Thus equipped, we can invigorate the nation's mandate to For millennia, people have looked up at the night sky and wondered about our place in the universe. But not until the seventeenth century was any serious thought given to the prospect of exploring it.
We see a great ship swim an eagle as well as a small cork; and flies in the air as well as a little gnat. So that notwithstanding all [the[ seemIng Impossibilities. That enterprise drove a half century of unprecedented wealth and prosperity that today we take for granted. Now, as our interest in In recent decades, the ma jority of students in America's science and engineering graduate schools have been foreign-born. Up through the s, most would come to the United States, earn their degrees, and gladly stay here, employed in our high-tech workforce.
Now, with emerging economic opportunities back in India, China, and Eastern Europe-the regions most highly represented in advanced academic science and engineering programs-many graduates choose to return home. It's not a brain drain-because American never laid claim to these students in the first place-but a kind of brain regression.
The slow descent from America's penthouse view, enabled by our twentieth-century investments in science and technology, has been masked all these years by self-imported talent. In the next phase of this regression we will begin to lose the talent that trains the talent. That's a disaster waiting to happen; science and technology are the greatest engines of economic growth the world has seen. Without regenerating homegrown interest in these fields, the comfortable lifestyle to which Americans have become accustomed will draw to a rapid close.
Before visiting China in , I had pictured a Beijing of wide boulevards, dense with bicycles as the primary means of transportation. What I saw was very different. Of course the boulevards were still there, but they were filled with top-end luxury cars; construction cranes were knitting a new skyline of high-rise buildings as far as the eye could see.
SL engineering pro jecL in the world-generating more than twenty times the energy of the Hoover Dam. It has also built the world's largest airport and, as of , had leapfrogged Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. It now leads the world in exports and CO2 emissions. In October , having launched its first taikonaut into orbit, China became the world's third spacefaring nation after the United States and Russia.
Next step: These ambitions require not only money but also people smart enough to figure out In China, with a population approaching 1. Meanwhile, Europe and India are redoubling their efforts to conduct robotic science on spaceborne platforms, and there's a growing interest in space exploration from more than a dozen other countries around the world, including Israel, Iran, Brazil, and Nigeria.
China is building a new space launch site whose location, just nineteen degrees north of the equator, makes it geographically better for space launches than Cape Canaveral is for the United States. This growing community of space-minded nations is hungry for its slice of the aerospace universe.
In America, contrary to our self-image, we are no longer leaders, but simply players. We've moved backward just by standing still. You can learn something deep about a nation when you look at what it accomplishes as a culture.
Do you know the most popular museum in the world over the past decade? It's not the Uffizi in Florence. It's not the Louvre in Paris. At a running average of some nine million visitors per year, it's the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, which contains everything from the Wright Brothers' original aeroplane to the Apollo 1 1 Moon capsule, and much, much more.
International visitors are anxious to see the air and space artifacts housed in this museum, because they're an American legacy to More important, NASM represents the urge to dream and the will to enable it. These traits are fundamental to being human, and have fortuitously coincided with what it has meant to be American. When you visit countries that don't nurture these kinds of ambitions, you can feel the absence of hope. Owing to all manner of politics, economics, and geography, people are reduced to worrying only about that day's shelter or the next day's meal.
It's a shame, even a tragedy, how many people do not get to think about the future. Technology coupled with wise leadership not only solves these problems but enables dreams of tomorrow. For generations, Americans have expected something new and better in their lives with every passing day-something that will make life a little more fun to live and a little more enlightening to behold.
Exploration accomplishes this naturally. All we need to do is wake up to this fact. The greatest explorer of recent decades is not even human. It's the Hubble Space Telescope, which has offered everybody on Earth a mind-expanding window to the cosmos.
But that hasn't always been the case. When it was launched in , a blunder in the design of the optics generated hopelessly blurred images, much to everyone's dismay. Three years would pass before corrective optics were installed, enabling the sharp images that we now take for granted. What to do during the three years of fuzzy images? It's a big, expensive telescope. Not wise to let it orbit idly.
So we kept taking data, hoping some useful science would nonetheless come of it. Eager astrophysicists at Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute, the research headquarters for the Hubble, didn't just sit around; they wrote suites of advanced image-processing software to help identify and isolate stars in the otherwise crowded, unfocused fields the telescope presented to them.
These novel techniques allowed some science to get done while the repair mission was being planned. Meanwhile, in collaboration with Hubble scientists, medical researchers at the Lombardi ComprehenSive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, recognized that the challenge faced by astrophysicists was similar to that faced by doctors in their visual search for tumors in mammograms.
With the help of funding from the National Science Foundation, the medical community adopted these new techniques to assist in the early detection of breast cancer.
That means countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope. You cannot script these kinds of outcomes, yet they occur daily. The cross-pollination of disciplines almost always creates landscapes of innovation and discovery. And nothing accomplishes this like space exploration, which draws from the ranks of astrophysicists, biologists, chemists, engineers, and planetary geologists, whose collective efforts have the capacity to improve and enhance all that we have come to value as a modern society.
How many times have we heard the mantra "Why are we spending billions of dollars up there in space when we have pressing problems down here on Earth? Let's re-ask the question in an illuminating way: Half a penny. I'd prefer it were more: Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar.
At that level, the Vision for Space Exploration would be sprinting ahead, funded at a level that could reclaim our preeminence on a frontier we pioneered. Instead the vision is just ambling along, with barely enough support to stay in the game and insufficient support ever to lead it. So with more than ninety-nine out of a hundred cents going to fund all the rest of our nation's priorities, the space program does not prevent nor has it ever prevented other things from happening.
Instead, America's former investments in aerospace have shaped our discovery-infused culture in ways that are But we are a sufficiently wealthy nation to embrace this investment in our own tomorrow-to drive our economy, our ambitions, and. You might see a vein of pink limestone on the wall of a canyon, a ladybug eating an aphid on the stem of a rose, a clamshell poking out of the sand. All you have to do is look. Board a jetliner crossing a continent, though, and those surface details soon disappear.
No aphid appetizers. No curious clams. Reach cruising altitude, around seven miles up, and identifying ma jor roadways becomes a challenge. Detail continues to vanish as you ascend to space. From the window of the International Space Station, which orbits at about miles up, you might find London, Los Angeles, New York, or Paris in the daytime, not because you can see them but because you learned where they are in geography class.
At night their brilliant city lights present only the faintest glow. By day, contrary to common wisdom, with the unaided eye you probably won't see the pyramids at Giza, and you certainly won't see the Great Wall of China.
Their obscurity is partly the result of having been made from the soil and stone of the surrounding landscape.
And although the Great Wall is thousands of miles long, it's only about Plenty of natural scenery is visible, though: From the Moon, a quarter-million miles away, New York, Paris, and the rest of Earth's urban glitter don't even show up as a twinkle. But from your lunar vantage you can still watch major weather fronts move across the planet. Travel out to Neptune, 2. And what of Earth itself? A speck no brighter than a dim star, all but lost in the glare of the Sun. A celebrated photograph taken in from the edge of the solar system by the Voyager 1 spacecraft shows how underwhelming Earth looks from deep space: And that's generous.
Without the help of a picture caption, you might not find it at alL What would happen if some big-brained aliens from the great beyond scanned the skies with their naturally superb visual organs, further aided by alien state-of-the-art optical accessories?
What visible features of planet Earth might they detect? Blueness would be first and foremost. Water covers more than two-thirds of Earth's surface; the Pacific Ocean alone makes up an entire side of the planet.
Space Chronicles : Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2014, Paperback)
Any beings with enough equipment and expertise to detect our planet's color would surely infer the presence of water, the third most abundant molecule in the universe. If the resolution of their equipment were high enough, the aliens would see more than just a pale blue dot.
They would see intricate coastlines, too, strongly suggesting that the water is liquid. And smart aliens would surely know that if a planet has liquid water, the planet's temperature and atmospheric pressure fall within a well-determined range. Earth's distinctive polar ice caps, which grow and shrink from the seasonal temperature variations, could also be seen optically.
So could our planet's twenty-four-hour rotation, because recognizable landmasses rotate into view at predictable intervals. The aliens would also see ma jor weather systems come and go; with careful study, they could readily distinguish features related to clouds in the atmosphere from features related to the surface of Earth itself. Time for a reality check: We live within ten light-years of the nearest known exoplanet-that is, a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
Most catalogued exoplanets lie more than a hundred light-years away. Earth's brightness is less than one-billionth that of the Sun, and our planet's proximity to the Sun would make it extremely hard for anybody to see Earth directly with an optical telescope. So if aliens have found us, they are likely searching in wavelengths other than visible light-or else their engineers are adapting some other strategy altogether. Maybe they do what our own planet hunters typically do: A star's periodic jiggle betrays the existence of an orbiting planet that may The planet and host star both revolve around their common center of mass.
The more massive the planet, the larger the star's orbit around the center of mass must be, and the more apparent the jiggle when you analyze the star's light. Unfortunately for planet-hunting aliens, Earth is puny, and so the Sun barely budges, posing a further challenge to alien engineers.
Radio waves might work, though. Maybe our eavesdropping aliens have something like the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, home of Earth's largest Single-dish radio telescope-which you might have seen in the early location shots of the movie Contact, based on a novel by Carl Sagan. Consider everything we've got that generates radio waves: S o if those alien eavesdroppers tum their own version of a radio telescope in our direction, they might infer that our planet hosts technology.
One complication, though: Maybe they wouldn't be able to distinguish Earth's signal from those of the larger planets in our solar system, all of which are sizable sources of radio waves.
Maybe they would think we're a new kind of odd, radio-intensive planet. Maybe they wouldn't be able to distinguish Earth's radio emissions from those of the Sun, forCing them to conclude that the Sun is a new kind of odd, radio-intensive star. Astrophysicists right here on Earth, at the University of Cambridge in England, were Similarly stumped back in While surveying the skies with a radio telescope for any source of strong radio waves, Anthony Hewish and his team discovered something extremely odd: Jocelyn Bell, a graduate student of Hewish's at the time, was the first to notice it.
Soon Bell's colleagues established that the pulses came from a great distance. Here was I trying to get a Ph. Turns out, intercepting radio waves isn't the only way to be snoopy. There's also cosmochemistry. The chemical analysis of planetary atmospheres has become a lively field of modem astrophysics. Cosmochemistry depends on spectroscopy-the analysis of light by means of a spectrometer, which breaks up light, rainbow style, into its component colors.
By exploiting the tools and tactics of spectroscopists, cosmochemists can infer the presence of life on an exoplanet, regardless of whether that life has sentience, intelligence, or technology. The method works because every element, every molecule-no matter where it exists in the universe-absorbs, emits, reflects, and scatters light in a unique way.
Pass that light through a spectrometer, and you'll find features that can rightly be called chemical fingerprints. The most visible fingerprints are made by the chemicals most excited by the pressure and temperature of their environment. Planetary atmospheres are crammed with such features. And if a planet is teeming with flora and fauna, its atmosphere will be crammed with biomarkers-spectral evidence of life.
Whether biogenic produced by any or all life-forms , anthropogenic produced by the widespread species Homo Sc'1piens. Unless they happen to be born with built-in spectroscopic sensors, space-snooping aliens would need to build a spectrometer to read our fingerprints.
But above all, Earth would have to eclipse its host star or some other light source , permitting light to pass through our atmosphere and continue on to the aliens. That way, the chemicals in Earth's atmosphere could interact with the light, leaving their marks for all to see.
Some molecules-ammonia, carbon dioxide, water-show up everywhere in the universe, whether life is present or not. But others pop up especially in the presence of life itself. Among the biomarkers in Earth's atmosphere are ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons from aerosol sprays, vapor from mineral solvents, escaped coolants from refrigerators and air conditioners, and smog from the burning of fossil fuels.
No other way to read that list: Another readily detected biomarker is Earth's substantial and sustained level of the molecule methane, more than half of which is produced by human-related activities such as fuel-oil production, rice cultivation, sewage, and the burps of domesticated livestock.
Most telling, however, would be all our free-floating oxygen, which constitutes a full fifth of our atmosphere. O xygen-the third most abundant element in the cosmos, after hydrogen and helium-is chemically active, bonding readily with atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, silicon, sulfur, iron, and so on.
Thus, for oxygen to exist in a steady state, something must be liberating it as fast as it's being consumed. Here on Earth, the liberation is traceable to life, Photosynthesis, carried out by plants and select bacteria, creates free oxygen in the oceans and in the atmosphere. Free oxygen, in turn, enables the existence of oxygen-metabolizing creatures, including us and practically every other creature in the animal kingdom.
We earthlings already know the Significance of Earth's distinctive chemical fingerprints. But distant aliens who come Must the periodic appearance of sodium be technogenic? Free oxygen is surely biogenic. How about methane? It, too, is chemically unstable, and yes, some of it is anthropogenic.
The rest comes from bacteria, cows, permafrost, soils, termites, wetlands, and other living and nonliving agents. In fact, at this very moment, astrobiologists are arguing about the exact origin of trace amounts of methane on Mars and the copious quantities of methane detected on Saturn's moon Titan, where we presume cows and termites surely do not dwell. If the aliens decide that Earth's chemical features are strong evidence for life, maybe they'll wonder if the life is intelligent.
Presumably the aliens communicate with one another, and perhaps they'll presume that other intelligent life-forms communicate too.
Maybe that's when they'll decide to eavesdrop on Earth with their radio telescopes to see what part of the electromagnetic spectrum its inhabitants have mastered. So, whether the aliens explore with chemistry or with radio waves, they might come to the same conclusion: O ur catalogue of exoplanets is growing apace. After all, the known universe harbors a hundred billion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars. The search for life drives the search for exoplanets, some of which prouably luuk like EarLh-nul in deLail, of course, bUl in overall properties.
Those are the planets our descendants might want to visit someday, by choice or by necessity. So far, though, nearly all the exoplanets detected by the planet hunters are much larger than Earth. Most are at least as massive as Jupiter, which is more than three hundred times Earth's mass.
Nevertheless, as astrophYSiCists design hardware that can detect smaller and smaller jiggles of a host star, the ability to find punier and punier planets will grow. In spite of our impressive tally, planet hunting by earthlings is still in its horse-and-buggy stage, and only the most basic questions can be answered: Is the thing a planet?
How massive is it? How long does it take to orbit its host star? No one knows for sure what all those exoplanets are made of, and only a few of them eclipse their host stars, permitting cosmochemists to peek at their atmospheres. But abstract measurements of chemical properties do not feed the imagination of either poets or scientists. We have to do better than the pale blue dot.
Only then will we be able to conjure what a faraway planet looks like when seen from the edge of its own star system-or perhaps from the planet's surface itself. For that, we will need spaceborne telescopes with stupendous light-gathering power. We're not there yet. But perhaps the aliens are. The first half-dozen or so confirmed discoveries of planets around stars other than the Sun-dating to the late 1 s and early s-triggered tremendous public interest.
Attention was generated not so much by the discovery of exoplanets but by the prospect of their hosting intelligent life. In any case, the media frenzy that followed was somewhat out of proportion to the events. Because planets cannot be all that rare in the universe if the Sun happens to have eight of them. Also, the first round of newly discovered planets were all oversize gas giants that resemble Jupiter, which means they have no convenient surface upon which life as we know it could exist.
At the moment, life on Earth is the only known life in the universe. The reasoning is easy: To declare that Earth must be the only planet in the universe with life would be inexcusably big-headed of us. Many generations of thinkers, both religious and scientific, have been led astray by anthropocentric assumptions and simple ignorance. In the absence of dogma and data, it is safer to be gUided by the notion that we are not special, which is generally known as the Copernican principle.
It was the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus who, in the mid-lS00s, put the Sun back in the middle of our solar system where it belongs. In spite of a third-century B. In the West, it was codified by the teachings of Aristotle and Ptolemy and later by the preachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Copernican principle comes with no guarantees that it will gUide us correctly for all scientific discoveries yet to come. But it has revealed itself in our humble realization that Earth is not in the center of the solar system, the solar system is not in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way galaxy is not in the center of the universe.
And in case you are one of those people who think that the edge may be a special place, we are not at the edge of anything either. A wise contemporary posture would be to assume that life on Earth is not immune to the Copernican principle. How, then, can the appearance or the chemistry of life on Earth provide clues to what life might be like elsewhere in the universe'! I do not know whether biologists walk around every day awestruck by the diversity of life.
I certainly do.
On our planet, there coexist among countless other life-forms algae, beetles, sponges, jellyfish, snakes, condors, and giant sequoias. If you didn't know better, you would be hard pressed to believe that they all came from the same universe, much less the same planet.
And by the way, try describing a snake to somebody There's this animal on Earth that 1 can stalk its prey with infrared detectors, 2 can swallow whole, live animals several times bigger than its head, 3 has no arms or legs or any other appendage, and yet 4 can travel along the ground at a speed of two feet per second!
Given the diversity of life on Earth, one might expect diversity among Hollywood aliens. But I am consistently amazed by the film industry's lack of creativity. A Space Odyssey -Hollywood's aliens look remarkably humanoid.
No matter how ugly or cute they are, nearly all of them have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears, a neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, a torso, two legs, two feet-and they can walk.
Anatomically, these creatures are practically indistinguishable from humans, yet they are supposed to have come from another planet. If anything is certain, it is that life elsewhere in the universe, intelligent or otherwise, will look at least as exotic to us as some of Earth's own life-forms do. Is LA an alien space port? Perhaps the most interesting thing is the way Tyson is so obviously pulled in two directions.
On the one hand he appreciates how superior unmanned satellites and explorers are from a bang-per-buck science viewpoint. On the other hand he believes manned missions are essential to raise interest levels. But the thing that made me give up was the sheer jingoism of the book.
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If you aren't an American, I can guarantee this book will irritate you. Here's one example, the words of an interviewer speaking to Tyson who Tyson doesn't argue with : 'If we land on Mars, how are we going to know if USA is number one if an American astronaut is standing next to a French guy?
Are we going to say, "Go Earth! No, we're going to say, "Go USA! An even better example, as it is purely Tyson's own remarks is when he is talking about the aerospace industry, bemoaning the loss of US control. He says 'In the fifties, sixties, seventies, part of the eighties, every plane that landed in your city was made in America. I worked for an airline in the s, and I can tell you this is total baloney which is apparently American for bilge.
Remind me, for example, who built the Comet, the first jet airliner. Which American company?Sisters of Lucifer: France, Germany. Girl Last Seen: And what did the US contribute to this amazing advance? For his second State of the Union Address, delivered January 26, 1 , President Obama once again cited the space race as a catalyst for scientific and technological innovation. Sagan provided the return address on a plaque on the Voyager spacecraft. It's okay to be entirely rationa1.
Although the path to space is SCientifically straightforward, it is nonetheless technologically challenging and, on too many occasions, politically intractable.
David Woods. The choice of Yang, together with other posturings within China's space program, such as the kinetic kill of a defunct but still-orbiting weather satellite by a medium-range ballistic missile.