President and Mrs. Johnson and Vice President Agnew watch Apollo 11 lift off at Cape Canaveral, July 1969.
Photograph by Otis Imboden, National Geographic
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shares some of the big questions astronomers are working to answer:
We can measure the influence of this thing we call dark energy which is forcing an acceleration of the expanding universe. We don’t know what that is, we don’t know anything about it, other than what it’s doing to the universe.
Then 85 percent of the gravity of the universe has a point of origin about which we know nothing. We account for all the matter and energy that we’re familiar with, measure up how much gravity it should have, it’s about one-sixth of the gravity that’s actually operating on the universe. We call that dark matter, but what we should call it is “dark gravity.” We don’t know what that is either.
We don’t know how [Earth] went from inanimate organic molecules to self-replicating life. We got top people working on that as well.
We don’t know what was around before the universe. We don’t know what is at the center of a black hole. We don’t know whether or not the universe is actually one of many in a multiverse. We want to know if there’s life thriving in under ice oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
… But my favorite question is one that we don’t even know to ask yet because it’s a question that would arise upon answering these questions I just delivered to you. … If you’re a scientist and you have to have an answer, even in the absence of data, you’re not going to be a good scientist.
photo via NASA
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will host a 13-part series on Fox called Cosmos : A Spacetime Odyssey, recalling Carl Sagan’s 1980 series about the wonders of the universe. Tomorrow we’ll talk about space exploration, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the unsolved mysteries of the universe, and Tyson’s remarkable career.
photo of Tyson from The Cosmos trailer via geeksofdoom
One of the most popular interviews of 2013 was our talk with astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield. His poetic descriptions of life in space caused a lot of “driveway moments” for our listeners. Here he talks about claustrophobia in space:
"They don’t want claustrophobic astronauts, so NASA is careful through selection to try to see if you have a natural tendency to be afraid of small spaces or not. Really, it’s good if you’ve managed to find a way to deal with all of your fears, especially the irrational ones. So during selection in fact, they zip you inside a ball, and they don’t tell you how long they’re going to leave you in there. I think if you had tendencies toward claustrophobia then that would probably panic you and they would use that as a discriminator to decide whether they were going to hire you or not. For me, being zipped inside a small, dark place for an indeterminate amount of time was just a great opportunity and nice time to think and maybe have a little nap and relax, so it doesn’t bother me. But you can get claustrophobia and agoraphobia — a fear of wide open spaces — simultaneously on a spacewalk."
image via Forbes
*A “driveway moment” is when you’re listening to a radio program in your car and you can’t get out because you’re so engrossed.
The contrast of your body and your mind inside … essentially a one-person spaceship, which is your spacesuit, where you’re holding on for dear life to the shuttle or the station with one hand, and you are inexplicably in between what is just a pouring glory of the world roaring by, silently next to you — just the kaleidoscope of it, it takes up your whole mind. It’s like the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen just screaming at you on the right side, and when you look left, it’s the whole bottomless black of the universe and it goes in all directions. It’s like a huge yawning endlessness on your left side and you’re in between those two things and trying to rationalize it to yourself and trying to get some work done.
Commander Chris Hadfield speaks to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about how he and his fellow astronauts meticulously prepare for every disaster scenario as a way of coping with fear:
Half of the risk of a 6 month flight is in the first 9 minutes, so as a crew, how do you stay focused? How do you not get paralyzed by the fear of it? The way we do it is to break down what [the risks are]. And a nice way to keep reminding yourself is, “What’s the next thing that’s going to kill me?”
And it might be 5 seconds away, it might be an inadvertent engine shutdown, or it might be staging of the solid rockets coming off, or it might be some transition or some key next thing, [for example] “We’ve already had one computer fail, and we’ve had one hydraulic system fail, so if these three things fail now we need to react right away or we’re done.”
So we don’t just live with that, though. The thing that is really useful, I think out of all of this, is we dig into it so deeply and we look at, “Okay, so this might kill us, this is something that would normally panic us, let’s get ready, let’s think about it.” And we go into every excruciating detail of why that might affect what we’re doing and what we can do to resolve it and have a plan, and be comfortable with it.
Read more highlights from Commander Hadfield's interview or listen to the full show HERE
There are no wishy-washy astronauts. You don’t get up there by being uncaring and blasé and whatever gave you the sense of tenacity and purpose to get that far in life is absolutely reaffirmed and deepened by the experience itself.
— Commander Chris Hadfield explains TODAY on Fresh Air how being in space reaffirms his faith and perspective on life
Commander Chris Hadfield has a series of informational videos about life in space. Here he explains how tears don’t fall when everything is weightless. Watch him brush his teeth or explain how you sleep in space.
Hadfield speaks to Fresh Air tomorrow about some of his remarkable experiences as an astronaut.
Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield joins Fresh Air tomorrow to tell us about his space walks and share stories of some of his most incredible and terrifying moments in space.
"It’s just an amazing perspective-building place to be…”
An image of the Earth and moon, taken from the Galileo spacecraft at a distance of about 3.9 million miles. Marcelo Gleiser of NPR’s 13.7 blog writes:
“Far into the future, with the continuous slowing-down of Earth’s spin, a day will last about 47 hours and the distance to the Moon will be 43 percent longer than today.”
But we certainly won’t be around to see it. That is, unless you can survive the explosion of the sun. — rachel
Happy Weekend! Catch you Monday, Internet!
2012 04 17 - 3005 - Washington DC - Space Shuttle Discovery (by thisisbossi)
Earth from Mars (by NASA on The Commons)