Science fact is verifiable science fiction. In the matter of black holes, at what point does—or did—the transition from fiction to the fact occur? Consider the evidence presented by Chandra concerning NGC 3115.
Matter in space ranges in size from subatomic particles to galaxy superclusters. In fact, there are larger objects than those—complexes of superclusters called walls or sheets. These structures, as much as one billion light-years across, resemble fine gauze. They are the filaments of space.
Like some huge python in the sky, Earth’s jet stream—a living river of wind—strongly influences and can even determine weather and flight patterns. Consider some specifics of both the jet stream’s structure and function.
The Sun is over 15 million degrees hot, with most of its upper layers much cooler. Why then is the very outermost layer—the corona—suddenly a lot hotter? More than that, why does this hot outer layer have cool, dark, “coronal holes” in it? The answer involves magnetism.
Sometimes scientists are afforded opportunities beyond those initially envisioned. The Mars rover “Opportunity” was thus well-named, since it has functioned much longer than envisioned. Additional science revelation is anticipated as the vehicle approaches the enormous Endeavour crater.
Science fiction movies once indicated astronauts were in grave danger from the Van Allen belt. That was disproved by the discovery of earth’s magnetosphere. Not everyone knows that earth is not the only planet with a true magnetosphere. In fact, five other planets in our solar system have one
Although the sun, moon, and planets slowly move across the sky, they give an appearance of stability. Light from them is steady, unflickering. Why are the stars different? Why do they produce a twinkling effect?
More accurate than any ordinary timepiece, the Sun rises and sets exactly on schedule. So why does the Sun redden as it lowers in the sky, approaching sunset? It can’t be because the Sun actually changes in some way. So it must be something else. What phenomena are involved?
It is easy to “miss the forest for the trees.” Let’s consider the forest in which Earth is located—our own galaxy—the Milky Way. What is the structure of the Milky Way? What kind of galaxy is it? Is it remarkable? Finally, what is the location in the galaxy of our Earth and of our Sun?
A supernova event is the explosion of a star. What remains afterwards? One possibility is a neutron star—what is a neutron star? What causes a neutron star to form, and what amazing properties characterize it?
Distinguishing between a meteoroid, a meteor and a meteorite can be confusing. At times, a comet may bears resemblance to this trio of objects. What are the subtle differences between each of these heavenly objects? How do they interconnect with our solar system?
The Moon has orbited Earth untold times. Why is it the Moon doesn’t neither crashes into the Earth nor flies off into deep space? What keeps the Moon in orbit? What are the forces that enable it to do so?
What is the center of our solar system? Is it the earth, or the sun? At one time the geocentric or earth-centered model of the universe as espoused by Ptolemy reigned supreme. Then came Copernicus and his heliocentric or sun-centered model. What are the differences?
Even though deduced in the 17th century, Newton’s first, second, and third laws of motion, plus his law of gravitation are extremely important to astronomers today in the research they conduct to understand the Universe.
Einstein’s theory of relativity will be put to the test in a micro-gravitational environment by CNES’ PHARAO¹ project, scheduled to launch in 2013 as part of the European ACES² project. Theoretical physics, metrology, and atomic clock design all stand to benefit from this joint venture.
Is it merely science fiction, or could it become science fact that one day manufacturing resources could come from space, from within our own Solar System, by the process of asteroid mining? How plausible might it be? Can asteroid mining actually be accomplished?
Cosmic particles, once a topic of mystery and science fiction, are found in abundance in Earth’s vicinity. In the late 1950’s, James Arthur Van Allen launched a probe to learn more about them. What exactly are the Van Allen Belts, and what are their secrets?