LIGO took a lot of heat for twenty years. Too speculative, too expensive, real soon now, when already? Once it got over the hump… Damn! Two LIGOs and VIRGO pointed the way. Perhaps they should be rechristened Bonnie, Anita, and Ruth.
The documentaries below were made in the 1970s by Lester Novros, then a professor at the USC film school where his students included George Lucas. The understated elegance of these films is nicely framed by Paul Novros‘s music. The younger Novros is a professor of jazz at CalArts. I asked him whether he had any soundtracks available. He was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of the work but has no separate recordings or scores.
A young filmmaker dives deeply in five parts into the technical and artistic innards of his (and one of my) favorite movies. One wishes that he spoke a little slower and left some breathing room in his edits but it is an earnest, meticulous, and illuminating effort. The engineering alone that went into 2001 is awe-inspiring. Did Kubrick sleep during the two years it took to make?
To this day, the questionable Wernher von Braun gets credit for most American space accomplishments of the 1950s and 1960s. He tirelessly aimed at the stars (with the occasional drops on London) but engineering realities were at odds with his grandiose plans and even grandioser rockets. John Houbolt’s Lunar Orbit Rendezvous approach eventually won out and his role in Apollo’s success is insufficiently known. Here’s a comparison.
A large, cold, dilute gas of hydrogen and space dust collapses slowly under its own gravity, compression, heating, and fusion take place aided and abetted by shock waves, and then a star glows for millions to trillions of years.
That’s how it is usually explained but the numbers are hard to grasp. The clouds can be dozens of light years across, the gas pressures are lower than the best vacuums on earth, the shock waves aren’t the kind we associate with sonic booms, and it can take tens of millions of years to get the party started.
Yet it happens and we are here because of it. The details are very toughsledding but equally interesting.
Introductory Astronomy: Star Formation and the Lifetimes of Stars
39 years ago today, Voyager 1 took flight on its Grand Tour. It has gone farther than any other man-made object in history and won’t stop until it reaches the stars long after we and all that’s important to us are dust. Idealism wasn’t for chumps back then. Or maybe it was. JPL and NASApost the mission data from all these interplanetary missions and it is all free.
Update: 17 March 2016
The seminar series including music performances will be webcast live this year. Details will be provided in the next few days
Image courtesy of the Carnegie Observatories
The Carnegie Observatories of Pasadena have announced their 2016 Lecture series, beginning in early April 2016 at the Huntington Library in San Marino. There will be four talks by learn’d astronomers on the Las Campanas observatories, Planet formation, Exoplanets, and the lifecycle of Galaxies. Each will be preceded by music performances by students from the Colburn School. The talks are free but reservations are required. Doors open at 6:45pm, talks begin at 7:30pm.
Visit the Observatories’s Youtube Channel for rigorous yet accessible talks from previous years. The only downside is that the events are on Monday nights, a hell of a schlep for those of us in the South Bay.
Carnegie Spring Lectures at the Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino
All Lectures are in Rothenberg Auditorium.
Monday, April 4th 2016 Las Campanas Observatory: A Southern Window on the Universe
Dr. Mark Phillips Director, Las Campanas Observatory, Associate Director for Magellan
Carnegie Institution for Science
Monday, April 18th 2016 A Short History of Planet Formation
Dr. Anat Shahar Staff Scientist, Geophysical Laboratory
Carnegie Institution for Science
Monday, May 2nd 2016 Exoplanets
Dr. Kevin Schlaufman Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
Carnegie-Princeton Fellow Carnegie Observatories & Princeton University
Monday, May 16th 2016 The Secret Lives of Galaxies
Dr. Katherine Alatalo Hubble Fellow,