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Even though Pluto has been downgraded from planet to dwarf planet, Pluto has nothing but love for the New Horizons space probe as it makes its flyby.
Looking back at just the previous year in space exploration and news, it is amazing how far we have come. In the past year we have landed a probe on a comet and now we are about to get the first look at Pluto, a planet that everybody knows exists but has thus far been nothing more than a distant planet with unknown features and geology (and I don’t care who disagrees with me, Pluto is still a planet in my mind). But having said that, it baffles me how far we could have been but aren’t. Forty-six year ago we landed a man on the Moon, and while I was still almost a decade away from being born at that point, I think many felt that it was only a matter of time before he had Moon bases, and/or permanent humans settles on either the Moon or in space, and, who knows, maybe even a man expedition to Mars. Looking back, almost half a century later, almost none of that has happened. So really, should we be amazed by how far we have come, or should we be amazed by far we could have been if we applied ourselves properly? Or maybe we should be amazed by how far we still have yet to go?
Are we alone? Is there life elsewhere in the universe? I don’t know, but it’s very possible that within our lifetime we could answer both those questions. Even more surprising still is the fact that we might not have to search very far away in order to find it.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and place were the late, great Carl Sagan was still alive and the show Cosmos was filling the next generate, such as myself, with ah and wonder. I remember being in middle school and even high school and coming to class only to find out that the teacher was sick. Most of us geered because many thought this meant we could leave. And sometimes that’s exactly what happened. But every once in awhile, instead a TV monitor would be roled in and an episode of Cosmos would be shown instead. Many complained, saying they would rather ditch class and hang-out with friends. I was exactly the opposite and looked forward to watching Carl explain the mysteries of the universe. That journey continued when I read Carl Sagan‘s Contact and I knew that while I may never be an Astronomer or space explorer, I would always wonder and have a keen interest in space and the universe, an interest whose seeds were planted by Carl Sagan and Cosmos.
Last night Neil deGrasse Tyson rebooted the show Cosmos and with it my interest to explore the wonders of the universe. The most touching part was Tyson’s tribute to Sagan where he retold of a story of about the first time he met the late, great scientist and how he treated him – a nobody high school kid from Brooklyn – like he was the center of the universe.
I never got the chance to thank Carl Sagan for the things he taught and showed me – all of us, really – and how he set me on a path to always want to learn and know more. I do, however, I have the chance to say thank you to Neil. Thank you. Thank you for carring the torch and inspiring a whole new generation.
A nice video and demonstration about how gravity works.
This movie I didn’t even know about until recently. The trailer doesn’t give a lot of detail, I don’t think, about what the movie is about – is Sandra Bullock’s character lost in space, possible to stay there forever? I simply don’t know, but the graphics look amazing, and if the character development and plot are as well, then this could be a very good movie indeed.
I was reading an interesting article on Time‘s website about how planet hunters and Astronomers are shifting gears in their hunt for extra-soar planets to include M-type stars. These stellar embers are so common that when you take the immediate neighborhood of our galactic community of stars, M-Type stars outnumber Sun-like stars by 248 to 20. This includes Red Dwarf stars which have long been a debating point over how likely are these stars to play host to e life-sustaining planet? Some think unlikely since these stars, while having a lifespan that outnumbers the lifespan of a Sun-like star by billions of years, radiate so little heat that their “Goldilocks zones” are so small that the odds of a planet being inside one may be astronomical. However, when you have an astronomically huge number of times to roll the dice, my gut feeling says that the odds of it happening at least once are pretty good. And with the ratio of 248 to 20 multiplied out to include the entire galaxy, again, my guts leads me to believe these planets are out there, and maybe in greater numbers than we ever dreamed possible.