Filed under: Science, Science Fiction, tech, YouTube | Tags: blogging, jim downey, KWMU, Lihong Wang, photography, science, Science Fiction, St. Louis Public Radio, technology, Véronique LaCapra, video, Washington University, www youtube
Watch a laser beam bounce:
From the YouTube description:
A video captured by Washington University’s Lihong Wang’s new imaging system, known as “compressed ultrafast photography,” shows a laser pulse propagating in air and being reflected from a mirror. The movie is slowed down 10 billion times to make it visible to the human eye. (Video courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis)
A good article explaining this new technology is here:
Very cool. Take-away quote:
Wang’s new technology improves on previous ultrafast cameras in two important ways.
Up until now, streak cameras could only take a one-dimensional snapshot ― think of it like trying to take a picture of something flying by really fast behind a vertical slit.
And the fastest cameras had to have an external light source to work.
Wang’s technique doesn’t need special lighting, and it produces two-dimensional images ― more like a regular photograph ― but at a rate of one every 10 trillionths of a second.
Damn, that’s FAST.
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, Connections, movies, NPR, Phil Plait, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Singularity, Slate, Space, tech, Wired, YouTube | Tags: ALMA, art, astronomy, Bad Astronomy, blogging, Blood Sweat & Tears, Interstellar, jim downey, Kip Thorne, movies, music, NPR, Phil Plait, photography, predictions, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, technology, video, www youtube
The reviews have been mixed, but one aspect of the new movie Interstellar is pretty cool: the rendering of the black hole depicted in the movie. Even moreso since it is as scientifically accurate as possible, based on close collaboration with noted astrophysicist Kip Thorne:
Still, no one knew exactly what a black hole would look like until they actually built one. Light, temporarily trapped around the black hole, produced an unexpectedly complex fingerprint pattern near the black hole’s shadow. And the glowing accretion disk appeared above the black hole, below the black hole, and in front of it. “I never expected that,” Thorne says. “Eugénie just did the simulations and said, ‘Hey, this is what I got.’ It was just amazing.”
In the end, Nolan got elegant images that advance the story. Thorne got a movie that teaches a mass audience some real, accurate science. But he also got something he didn’t expect: a scientific discovery. “This is our observational data,” he says of the movie’s visualizations. “That’s the way nature behaves. Period.” Thorne says he can get at least two published articles out of it.
And in a nice bit of serendipity, there’s another fantastic bit of astrophysics in the news just now: actual images of planetary genesis from ALMA. Check it out:
A new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. ALMA’s new high-resolution capabilities were achieved by spacing the antennas up to 15 kilometers apart . This new result represents an enormous step forward in the understanding of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.
ALMA has obtained its most detailed image yet showing the structure of the disc around HL Tau , a million-year-old Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus. The image exceeds all expectations and reveals a series of concentric and bright rings, separated by gaps.
That’s not computer-rendered theory. That’s an actual image, showing the formation of planets around this very young star.
Filed under: Architecture, Book Conservation, Connections, Humor, Weather | Tags: architecture, blogging, book conservation, historic building, home repair, horror, humor, jim downey, photography, roofing, technology, weather
Three weeks ago we started a “small” home repair project.
Well, we thought it was going to be small. And then we discovered the horror within. As I said in my first blog post about this:
When you start a project like this, you don’t really know what you’re getting into until you actually start getting into it.
Well, it became much more of a project than originally envisioned. If you want to know why I haven’t done a lot of blogging recently, this is almost entirely the reason: we wound up replacing everything about the original porch except the two upright posts, and those we altered. We even wound up having to clean up and put aright some of the work which had originally been done to tie in the porch roof to the house roof, which was a real horror.
And when I say that “we” did it, I mean that literally: my wife and I. We actually did every single aspect of the work. My wife is an architect, and we’re both very used to working on smallish practical repairs — the sort of thing you always have pending on a house which is 130+ years old. Had we known that this job was going to turn out being so big, we might have opted to put it off until a contractor we trust was able to work it into his schedule. But once we got started, we were committed to doing the work all the way through, not according to someone else’s schedule. So, we did it.
What follows below is a step by step photo documentation of the work, just for grins. We finished the work this weekend (well, except for the painting, but that’s pretty minor and will get done in a week or so when we have a chance), and I’m really pleased with how well it all turned out. So, if you’re interested, take a look.
And with a little luck this week I’ll get back to a more normal posting schedule.
Filed under: Art, Augmented Reality, Connections, General Musings, Science, Science Fiction | Tags: art, augmented reality, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Daniel Stoupin, Dragon's Egg, jim downey, photography, Robert L. Forward, science, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, video, Vimeo
One of the things which has always really interested me is how the perception/experience of time is so very … plastic. Partly that is because of curiosity about the nature of time itself, but partly it is also because the experience of time is so highly variable between species* and even individuals. Personally, I have been through experiences when subjective time dilation completely changed my perception of reality. There are some hints/references about this interest in Communion of Dreams, and there will be others in St Cybi’s Well, but I have yet to really get into dealing with the notion directly.
Anyway, that’s why things like this always fascinate me:
*I went to college with one of Dr. Forward’s kids, and had the pleasure to hear him give guest lectures/chat with him prior to his first novel being published.