Saturday, June 30, 2007

How small do you feel today?

I'm always in awe of the scale of the universe. I'm concerned that there are so many people out there that just don't get it. I always knew but never tried to put it in human perspective. I guess the first time I became really aware was when Sam and I went to an astronomy workshop sponsored by our local 4H. For one of the demonstrations we had to roll out toilet paper and mark off where the orbits of the planets would be assuming some scale I can't remember of X miles per sheet of TP. Back then Pluto was still a planet, we had used almost a half a roll of paper going down a large hall. Earth's orbit was on something like sheet 1 or 2 while Pluto was on sheet 100.

I hear another analogy recently: if our solar system was the size of a quarter, the milky way galaxy would be the size of North America.

Here a a web page put together by NASA called "school yard solar system" if the radius of the solar system was 100 feet ... where would all the planets be, and what would their relative sizes be? Earth would only be 2' 6" from the sun and it would be 3/1000 of an inch in diameter. The Sun is a whopping 1/4"

Last but not least is the Hubble Deep Field View This was a long exposure image taken by Hubble on what would apear to be an empty patch of sky. If viewed from earth this portion of the sky the same size as a dime view from 75 feet away. Most of the objects in the image are galaxys with bilions of stars in them. This image is estimated to have almost 1500 galaxys in it, each with billions of stars, and that's only a tiny patch of sky.

So again, how small do you feel today?

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 12:40 PM


I'm quite used to thinking about the the enormous scale of the universe. Things like our Milky Way galaxy being 100,000 light years across, and millions of billions of galaxies that we have visibility to.

The one thing that brought it all into scale for me, is when NASA reported on a potentially habitable planet in a system only 22 light years away! This is so close; they are practically our neighbors. Then I calculated how long it would to get there (one way trip).

If we could build a ship that could reach and maintain a speed of 1,000,000 miles per hour, it would take almost 14,000 years to reach that nearby system. Unless we can figure out how to violate the laws of physics as we know them today, we're kind of stuck in this system.

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 11:31 PM 


On a similar vain I thought ... maybe a "generational" space mission to Alpha-Centari .... it's only 4 light-years away ... if we went one-tenth the speed of light we could get there in 40 years and our descendants could look at all the pretty pictures ..... but 0.1 WARP is still 30,000 km/sec .... right now the fastest thing we have going is New Horizons .... and that's at a blazing 23 km/sec

# posted by Blogger Rob Roschewsk @ 11:18 AM 


I love these analogies -- thanks for the thought-provoking post. You're right that too many people don't appreciate the scale of the universe we live in.

# posted by Blogger Mike @ 11:32 AM 

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Comcast just might win me over yet ....

It seems to drive COMCAST crazy that I'm a cable modem subscriber but my video programming is from DIRECTV. They call me constantly offering too good to be true deals to switch to Comcast Digital. Now they've even started hawking phone service in this area.

But there is one thing that might win me over .... reports seem to indicate Comcast will be announcing a TIVO DVR this summer.

Are you listening DIRECTV ???? If you won't support TIVO Comcast will!

TiVo, DirecTV may get back together; Comcast to launch TiVo in August

Comcast Deploys TiVo in Boston, N.H.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 10:05 PM

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ice Cream

Everything you always wanted to know about ice cream but were afraid to ask .... or didn't think to ask .... or couldn't care asking ... but it's interesting never the less... at least I thought it was cute. One interesting fact .. Penn state actually has a ice cream curriculum ... yes you can get a degree in ice cream ... and they have their own creamery where their motto is "The ice cream you eat was grass two days ago ..."

From the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC public radio

LINK to MP3 (30 minutes)


#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 7:10 PM


That was a lot more interesting than I expected. Thanks!

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 11:51 PM 

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