Archive for category Astronomy
In March 2011 we saw the rare sight in our night sky of the “Super Moon”. It was a fantastic opportunity for amateur astronomers and stargazers alike to get some stunning images of the moon and its battered and bruised surface. On this occasion the “Super Moon” orbited the earth closer than it has for the last 19 years. This is very strange to see as we now know, since we landed on the moon, the moon is actually moving away from us at a rate of 3.7cm every year. We can measure this exactly by sending a laser up and bouncing it back off a mirror left on the moons surface by Neil Armstrong and his team. Although we have had super moons more recently than 19 years, the moons orbit on these occasions have not been quite as close.
This phenomenon is open for huge debate. Following the devastating earthquakes in New Zealand, Japan and the tsunami that followed, approximately 2 weeks after the events in Japan, we have seen the moon pull in closer to the earth. The last time we were able to detect the moon shortening its orbit was in 2005, coincidentally or not, two weeks after the tsunami in Indonesia that followed a 9.4 magnitude quake out at sea.
Now, we know the moon has it’s own gravitational effect on the earth by tidal activity therefore, The closer the moon gets to the earth, in theory, the greater the effect it’s gravity has on earth. This is where the theory becomes questionable because some scientists will say that when the gravitational effect the moon has on the earth increases, this will trigger a “Megaquake” across one or all of the earths fault lines within the next two weeks (cycle of the moon), or cause one of the earths mega volcanoes to erupt which would be catastrophic. This is believed because the gravity of the moon, as i mentioned pulls our seas in towards it and it also pulls the earths crust to a certain extent. One only has to imagine that a shifting fragile crust could easily crack and shake the earths crust on an unpredictable scale
There is no evidence to suggest that this is true as earthquake events and volcanic eruptions that have occurred within the two week time scale Have not been directly linked to lunar activity.
I believe we will only see lower tides than usual during the cycle as the moons gravity continues to swell our seas as it has always done and we may see more shoreline than usual. Watch this space.
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Recently, a well known physical scientist made the following comment in an article he wrote: “Everyone knows about the Big Bang. (Well, almost everyone. I receive several e-mails a month from people who simply cannot believe that all existence began as a tiny pinprick).” I took certain umbrage at that since it seemed to imply that if you didn’t accept the ‘tiny pinprick’ you were scientifically illiterate and that the Big Bang (as a tiny pinprick) event was somehow set in stone.
So I sent him one more email to add to his collection that disputes the ‘tiny pinprick’ version of the Big Bang.
But first, that standard model of the Big Bang suggests that the origin of our Universe was such that not only was all matter and related energy created at that point in time, but that time and space itself were created then. First there was nothing; then there was something; and the transition between the two was something akin to a pinprick of stuff in size popping out of the never-never that rapidly expanded until, 13.7 billion years later the Universe is the now massive size that it is with all the stuff that it contains.
However, I’ll first note that this standard model of cosmology’s origin of our Universe, the Big Bang event (as a tiny pinprick), isn’t universally accepted by all cosmologists. There are many variations on the Big Bang ‘tiny pinprick’ origin theme, from two branes colliding (technically called the Ekpyrotic Universe which is the string theory version – and it’s hardly a pinprick scenario); to an origin via quantum fluctuations arising out of the vacuum energy (which is an alternative pinprick scenario); variations of the Steady State theory of cosmology still kick around which postulates our Universe had no beginning and will have no end (obviously no pinprick there); to (and this is my favorite) the contraction of a previous universe that resulted in a Big Crunch which so warped space and time that the contraction inverted itself back into an expansion and thus kick-starting our Universe (which also wouldn’t be a pinprick event IMHO). So, I sort of object when the standard pinprick model Big Bang event is put forth by people (such as the above physical scientist) as something set in concrete.
As to that pinprick itself, take a tiny pinprick (equivalent to the physics term ‘quantum’) object of very high, but finite density (on the grounds that it is ridiculous to have a zero dimensional object with infinite density – say a Black Hole’s singularity as so often portrayed, but equally applicable to the standard Big Bang concept). If you keep adding stuff to a pinprick sized singularity, the volume might remain constant for a while, while the density keeps increasing, but because density can not ever equal infinity, that progression has to stop somewhere. When it does, the volume of the pinprick singularity has to increase and eventually increase beyond the realm of the pinprick sized the equates to all things quantum. The proof of that pudding as if any were needed is that, if you add stuff to a Black Hole (with its three dimensional ‘solid’ singularity centre and finite density) you get a bigger Black Hole. The singularity inside must have grown a bit. If it keeps on growing, it will eventually grow past the realm of the pinprick quantum. Anyway, it’s that ‘beyond the realm of the quantum’ that I see as the real Big Bang ‘singularity’ or whatever you wish to call it (to be honest I still like the term coined by Ralph Alpher and George Gamow in the late 40′s – ‘Ylem’ – their term for the sort of cosmic egg our Universe started out from). Read the rest of this entry »