Tag Archives: Science

Transit of Venus

I didn't see the whole thing but yes – I did see the Transit this time around and I got photos!  I got the photos, without a heavy-duty sun filter, from a handy little device called a SunSpotter:

SunSpotter

The amusing thing about the SunSpotter is that they had probably half a dozen of them sitting on tables with NO lines at all, you could just walk up and look at them.  At the same time, hundreds of people were standing in two very long lines (which stopped dead whenever the clouds closed in, of course) to look through the two sun telescopes set up on the plaza.  If you've ever looked through a 'scope, you know that the image is very small and tiny details are not terribly clear, while the SunSpotter gives you a lovely clear view about the size of a saucer.

I'd really like to get one for myself but I don't think they're cheap!  They project an enlarged image of the sun onto a piece of white paper, like this:

First image, 15:48:15 PDT

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Posted in Nature, Photography

Solar Eclipse

I sang in a concert this afternoon, and we got home about 6:15 or 6:20 PM, which was very shortly before the eclipse peak. It was already darker than usual; the house was dark, which is very rare at that hour in May.  The eclipse maximum was visible in California at 6:33 PM.

Northern California wasn't in the small geographic path that saw the "ring of fire" in today's partial solar eclipse.  And unlike my friend Blake, I don't have a telescope with a solar filter, nor do I have welder's glasses.  I found an advertising postcard and poked a hole in it with a paper clip, to get a pinhole camera image on a flat surface that I could photograph with my telephoto lens.  When I went over to the neighbor's house, I borrowed some of the old film negatives they were using, 3 at a time, as a filter, but I thought my best pinhole images gave a clearer view than what I could see there, and of course I couldn't photograph through them.  Hm, note to self:  solar filter for camera??

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Posted in Nature, Photography

Something from Nothing

I was just listening to Ira Flatow’s interview with Laurence Krauss, author of A Universe from Nothing, on Science Friday. They were discussing the theme of Krauss’ book, which is, why does matter exist, instead of nothing.  I’ve heard and read several discussions recently about what seems to be a current cosmological theory, that “nothing” (as in, empty space) is actually in a constant state of “quantum boil” and can at any time produce – something.  Matter.  Energy.

I’ve read this before, folks.  Once again, science fiction anticipates science, this time by almost forty years.  I refer you to the novel Pan Sagittarius (short story collection with a central theme, really), by Ian Wallace, published in 1973.  I bought this book years ago and read it several times with pleasure.  The last story in it, entitled “Creation of a Metagalaxy,” is all about exactly this sort of quantum boil, and the hero’s attempts (you really must meet Pan, he’s quite a character) to encourage a new metagalaxy to form out of the boil by the power of his mind.

When we get into telepathy, of course, we’re not in today’s science; but the description of the volume of “raw space” where Pan decides to take his vacation (read the book) is so close to what I’m hearing from scientists today that I’m astonished.  I have to allow a little for Wallace’s prose style, of course, but it looks to me like a bull’s-eye.

Posted in Books