How Black Holes Are Born

In this cool video, we learn how black holes are created from the death of massive stars, leaving behind a collapsed star so dense and with such skull-crushing gravity that not even LIGHT can escape it! Here’s a cool fact… if you were floating towards a black hole, the atoms in your feet would accelerate towards it faster than the atoms in your head and so effectively, you would be instantaneously ripped apart. Fun!

Video Source: “The Birth of a Black Hole” Uploaded by Alexander Guseff to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=8grTbzAo0PA.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Answers Angry Tweets on Pluto's Demotion

Many moons ago, Pluto – the outermost planet in our solar system – was demoted. For those of us who grew up with the nine-planet solar system model, this came as somewhat of an affront to everything we knew about anything, ever. I mean, what is the meaning of life if the planetary status of Pluto can so easily be revised and revoked? Why, Neil, why??

In this hilarious video, Neil DeGrasse Tyson answers to the angry rants and raves (and insults) of those really strange people who were truly and deeply wounded by Pluto’s demotion from planetary status to mere space-wandering rock. Why people give such a damn is beyond me. After all, Pluto is only a quarter the size of our moon and even then, most of its mass is ice.

Video Source: Uploaded by National Geographic on YouTube channel https://youtu.be/eBREBAnglr

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a megamind and, not coincidentally, also curator of the Hayden Planetarium, as well as the presenter of Carl Sagan’s revised TV-series, “Cosmos” He is awesome and anyone who has watched any of his videos, lectures or presentations will appreciate just how erudite and smart this man is.

But by far one of Neil’s greatest talents is the perfect balance between a sophisticated understanding of science and the ability to communicate with those who don’t. This makes him one of today’s most powerful and persuasive public figures in science and technology.

If The Planets Took The Place of Our Moon…

Ever wonder what the view of Mars would be if it were as close to us as our moon? Would it glow a belligerent red in our night sky and confuse moths the world over? How about Neptune: would it cast a seductive blue glow over the body of your lover as she lies recovering from a delicious round of rodgering? Now imagine Jupiter, our solar system’s largest planet with moons that are twice/thrice the size of ours… what would they all look like if they had to take the place of our moon, without cataclysmically affecting life on our planet? This video answers that question…

Video Source: Uploaded by yeti dynamics to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=usYC_Z36rHw

 

 

Astrology Owes You an Apology

Horoscope circle astrology

What’s your star sign? Sagittarius? LIAR!!

If your horoscope a little out of scope, it’s because you’re reading the wrong one.

This is not really your fault. How are you to know that things have changed in the heavens since the zodiac was assigned to each calendar month just over 2,500 years ago? This is the problem with astrology in the 21st Century. It is the single most ridiculous cluster of notions that have ever been conceived, second only to the idea that womankind was created from the rib of a man. How insulting! If anything, man was created from the rib of a woman. Why else would men have nipples?

On the upside, on issues of astrology and horoscopes, I’ve finally found something I can agree with Christians about.

If you’re keen on these subjects, I am really sorry to burst your bubble. I’m all for esoteric beliefs if it distracts people from judging thy neighbour and killing in the name of You-Know-Who. But the entire rational framework of astrology is completely and inexcusably flawed. This isn’t only from a logical standpoint, but for one very particular reason, which we shall discuss shortly.

First, let’s find out what on Earth our ancient counterparts were thinking…

The Gods are Grumpy Angry gods fist smash

A cluster of ridiculous notions is forgivable of an ancient civilization that has no understanding of the physical world around them and of all its beautiful and intricate macroscopic and microscopic complexity. Back in the day, a sickness was not the result of a virus running rampant in your body: it was a punishment for wrong-doing or an expression of some deity’s dissatisfaction with your most recent sacrifice. Even though said sacrifice was your sister…

Lightning wasn’t an electrical discharge between a negatively charged sky and a positively charged Earth; it was Zeus throwing his toys out the cot. The stars were not balls of intense and unending nuclear reactions held together by gravity, they were the souls of dead people (or fireflies, if you’re a Lion King fan).

Every civilization has sought to explain the physical observable universe using what little bits and pieces of knowledge they had. A few thousand years ago, in the absence of powerful telescopes, super computers, mathematical equations and the cumulative work of tens of thousands of scientists, that knowledge stemmed from tradition, superstition and beliefs that had been passed down from generation to generation.

Scientific these explanations were not.

Meet the Babylonians

The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way, Babylon,The Pergamon Museum

Humans are inherently creative and seek symbolism in just about everything around us, so naturally the patterns perceived in the arrangement of stars against the night sky became other people, animals and objects. These constellations were then bestowed with significance over and above their random scattering across the sky.

And who can blame our ancestors? Back in the day there was no TV, so our ancient counterparts looked to the sky for their daily and seasonal weather forecasts; the stars were their GPS. If a decent crop yield depended on you sowing seeds at precisely the right time of year, you too would regard the sky as something sacred and symbolic. Your life could depend on it.

Around 7th century BC, Babylonian astronomers (dudes who puzzled over the sky and made attempts to measure and record the migrations of the stars and planets) divided the constellations that coursed across the Milky Way into the zodiacal signs, which, in Latin, literally means “circle of animals.” Think “zoo.”

astrology and zodiac

Although some of the constellations that make up the zodiac have origins elsewhere and in other times, the Babylonians were the ones who landed the Oscar for incredible breakthrough work in scientific observation, measurement and recording. They were the ones who divided the sky into the co-ordinate system that has largely survived to this day (with subtle modifications and a greater accuracy, of course.)

Each calendar month was assigned a ‘star sign,’ beginning with the constellation that was positioned behind the sun at the time of the spring equinox. This was around March and April in the northern hemisphere. Remember, back in these days, the seasons very much governed the life and times of these people. Spring was an auspicious time of year because your farm animals would start bonking like mad, which was a good thing if you wanted your farm animals to make baby farm animals.

Funny Goat picture

At the time this was all cooked up (just over 2,500 years ago), the constellation that took position behind the sun at the spring equinox was Aries, the ram. Baaa. Every year at the same time, the same star sign would resume its rightful position in the sky.

But the Earth’s movement relative to the stars changes year after year. Every time we make our way around the sun, our aspect is very slightly different thanks to Earth’s wobbly axis of rotation. Just under three millennia later, the constellation positioned behind the sun at the time of the spring equinox is no longer Aries. It’s Taurus.

What does this mean?

The Zodiacal Identity Crisis

Cute lion pictures
“Screw this, I’m not a Leo anymore… I see myself as a Virgo anyway.”

What’s your star sign? Libra? Nope! Actually, you’re a Scorpio. When you were born, the constellation positioned behind the sun was Scorpio, not Libra. So all that crap about being sensitive, artistic, fickle and in love with the idea of love blah, blah, is just that: crap. Whatever star sign you thought you were, you are actually one ahead:

Aries’ are Gemini’s

Gemini’s are Cancer’s

Cancer’s are Leo’s

Leo’s are Virgo’s

And so on and so forth.

Everything you’ve ever read about yourself in a horoscope – what kind of person you are, your personality traits, your likes, loves, potential health problems and more – is all fundamentally flawed because you are reading the wrong star sign. Plain and simple. What’s the point in reading the horoscope for, example, Sagittarius when you’re actually a Capricorn? And why don’t astrologers or whoever writes this garbage picked up on this very simple, yet grave error?

Little Gypsy Fortune Teller

My birthday is on the 19th October. Every horoscope I have ever read in any magazine, newspaper or book has told me that my star sign is Libra. But every single one of them has been inaccurate. The constellation behind the sun on the date of my birth is Scorpio, which makes far more sense because I can be quite a bitch.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message 

Milky Way over the mountain
The Milky Way, the spiral arm of our galaxy, courses across a darkening sky.

The idea that the stars and planets play a part in forecasting our future is a very romantic one. It makes us feel very important. But those giant impartial elemental worlds composed of ice, rock, fire and air have about as much to do with your love life as scientology has to do with science.

Sure, those horoscopes you read in People while sitting on the porcelain throne can make sense sometimes. But horoscopes are self-fulfilled prophesies. If Madame Zola tells you that your love life is about to get hot and heavy, you’re immediately primed to see significance where there is none. You regard the world with fresh eager eyes; watching and waiting for your Prince Charming or Pussy Galore (guys) to come and sweep you off of your feet.

The bottom line is: stars are far too busy exploding and being catastrophically nuclear to worry about your office dynamics and how that bitch down the aisle keeps stealing your stapler. The planets couldn’t be less interested in how flaccid your sex life has been recently and the moon couldn’t give two hoots about what colour you should dye your hair next.

Perhaps it’s our innate fear of being ordinary that compels us to seek evidence of our extraordinary nature outside of ourselves – in the relative orientation of the stars and planets – when in fact we already ARE extraordinary.

We’re made of star dust, aren’t we?

Symphony of Science: We Are Star People!

If reading lengthy blog posts (albeit written for the lay person) about how the atoms within our bodies came from exploding stars isn’t on your agenda for today, then this video absolutely has to be…

For more on this theory, check out the blog We Are Star People!

The “Symphony of Science” series puts together beautiful graphics and music with the autotuned voices of some of the most eminent of modern scientists for us to learn from and enjoy. This video is a visual and audio feast and a beautiful ode to the work of the 20th and 21st century astrophysicists and astronomers.

Also, Niel DeGrasse Tyson is such a rock star. I have a total nerd crush on him.

Check out the Symphony of Science website – they actually sell CD’s!

Run For Cover! Awesome Meteorite Footage

Few things fascinate us quite like our worst nightmares and while we may not actively think about devastating meteorite impacts punching an inconvenient hole into our day, such an event would certainly serve to put things into perspective for us! For example, cold coffee, traffic jams and your imbecile boss are not the end of the world. A meteorite impact could be.

Let’s take a look at some spectacular footage of space objects having fender benders with our planet.

Meteorite Soars into Tyumen, Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia, Feb 13th 2013: A Compilation of the Internet’s Best Clips

Meteor Footage Video Source: Uploaded by LifeBeyondEarth on YouTubeChannel https://youtu.be/UqrA007yZWQ

Want to hear a joke? The Russian meteorite in this video was considered “small.” Gosh, NASA scientists and their size issues! First Pluto and now this?

Eight months after this meteorite collided into the Earth, it was finally extracted from its resting place in Lake Chebarkul. It weighed a staggering 570 kg, which explains the damage it did to more than 3,000 nearby buildings and 1,000 people. The blast of this meteorite was estimated to carry the equivalent punch of 300,000 tonnes of dynamite.

Beautiful Time Lapse Video of Geminid Meteor Shower, December 30th, 2012

Meteor Footage Video Source: Uploaded by Kenneth Brandon (Dark Sky Chaser) on YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/S_jdfyp8pL0

Every December, the heavens rain down Christmas upon avid sky-watchers and star enthusiasts in the form of the beautiful, glittering Geminid Meteor shower. In this video, photographer Kenneth Brandon filmed the entire event and then sped it up so that we can truly appreciate why this event is actually called a “meteor shower” in the first place. In the first sequence, we see the star trails in addition to the meteors, which in reality are probably no bigger than grains of sand. In the second sequence, the meteor trails have been rendered persistent by some nimble filming techniques. Gorgeous!

The End of the World Asteroid Impact: Animated Conjecture By JDC Creation

Meteor Footage Video Source: Uploaded by JDC Creation on YouTubeChannel https://youtu.be/pe3s2G8ulBc

Now THIS is something to start your day with! What happened if a gigantic asteroid smacked into Earth and Bruce Willis wasn’t available to stop it? This video. This animated short video provides us with front row seats to the end of the world.