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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Picture a Day Picnic: Down the NASA Rabbit Hole with the Pelican Nebula and Opals


     Today I discovered this "A Picture a Day" site from NASA. Today's post on the Powers of Ten includes an intriguing video moving away and inward from a picnic by the powers of ten. Each post includes extraordinary images and descriptions by astronomers.




          The past posts from the NASA site lead you down many a fascinating rabbit hole. Click on the "Discover the Cosmos" link at the NASA site to enjoy exploring!



           The March 4, 2015, image from the NASA site of pillars and jets in the Pelican Nebula is particularly striking:




          And this particular Rabbit Hole led me to the Rabbit Hole Mine in Black Desert, Nevada, (red pin below) near the Burning Man Festival site. Based on what I know about the Burning Man Festival, their proximity cannot be an accident!




          The Rabbit Hole Mine is rich in sulphur, alunite, cinnabar, gypsum and opal.





           The powers of ten may also provide a colorful journey from opals to nebulae . . .and back, via the rabbit hole.

            Let me know your favorite past image on the NASA site. . .and do enjoy your trip down the rabbit hole. Please--come back!



Enjoy the ride,
Steph

40 comments:

  1. I remember seeing what must have been an early version of Powers of Ten in college. The narrator on the version here is Philip Morrison, who was a terrific, dynamic speaker (and a valuable opponent of SDI in the 80s).

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    1. I have seen pieces of the video but not all of it. Reading up on SDI and Philip Morrison. It's a mystery topic to me. Any suggestions as to a good, brief primer?

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    2. Scientific American ran several brief reviews of missile defense topics since the 1980's. Look for articles by Richard Garwin, Hans Bethe, Ted Postol, Herb Lin, and others.

      The late, lamented Congressional Office of Technology Assessment published several more detailed reviews. E.g., Ballistic Missile Defense Technologies (September 1985), Directed Energy Missile Defense in Space (April 1984), SDI: Technology, Survivability, and Software (May 1988), etc.

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    3. Thanks. It's a snowy day here for reading.

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    4. Ha! I thought you were talking about Serial Digital Interface. But, good to review Strategic Defense Initiative. Now onto Steel Deck Institute ;-). So Daring, Inc.?

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    5. Well, I just posted that Star Wars / ISS Expedition 45 poster last month, so I couldn't call it that.

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    6. I suppose not.

      Regular /. italicized /. Just curious.

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    7. I started a Science and Social Responsibility reading group at Bell Labs in the early 80s. SDI was a major focus.

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    8. So you've likely read all those 5,000 plus page documents. What was it like being part of that group? Sounds so interesting.

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    9. Mildly interesting, I'd say. Mostly just mutual consciousness-raising. But, many of the papers we read were fascinating. And when our current Defense Secretary was nominated, his was a familiar name.

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    10. Bet there were some interesting conversations in the Ash Carter-Clayton Spencer household.

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  2. Now, if you want a real 600+ page read that illuminates the insanity of Cold War strategic thinking, get it right from the horse's mouth and read Herman Kahn's "On Thermonuclear War". One of the fathers of game theory, Kahn was also one of the models for the character of Dr. Strangelove in Kubrick's movie. He posited a 44-rung "escalation ladder", in which the rival superpowers would signal intent and resolve, in part by the way they lobbed nukes at each other. (No chance of having a signal misinterpreted there!) (He also coined the term "megadeath", to the delight of thrash metal fans everywhere.) Here's Louis Menand's take on a biography of Kahn.

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    1. "We have yet to learn how not to do this." was the most chilling part of The New Yorker article for me. Also having older people eat the radioactive food and carrying hand-held dosimeters was fairly disturbing. Not sure I have the perseverance to read all of Kahn's 600+ page work, especially if it wanders a lot. Presenting things via humour, a la Kubrick, is an interesting way to tackle really hard things.

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  3. jan, It is an honor just to contribute to a blog to which you contribute. Seriously.

    Great NASA site and P.O.T. video, Steph. I had not seen it, even partially. It should be required watching for every hidh school student... and human being. The infinite and infinitesimal encapsulated in 7 minutes!

    It reminded me of Rabbit (Hole) Angstrom. It accomplished smashingly what I was trying to get at in my Pi Day Puzzleria! when I tried to describe infinity by insisting that all of War and Peace (talk about you SDI!) would eventually appear in the base-26 digits of pi.

    Great work, both of you.

    LegoInBellsOfSt.Mary'sIngridBergmanHadAHabitRole

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  4. Lego, did you find a good post down the rabbit hole or, er, in a habit role? Or perhaps habit roll? ;-). Thanks for the IB link, too

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  5. I posted the Powers of Ten video to my blog as well. My husband, who works at IBM, always views the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, so he is doubly connected, because the video originated there. And my birthstone is opal. Connections abound!

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    1. Was your hubby involved in the original video production? Happy to see so many connections. . .

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  6. I found The Potsdam Gravity Potato amusing. Somehow, between that and the picnic in Chicago, I wound up here.
    And the opal picture reminded me of CMBR images (rotated 90 degrees).

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    1. I might have been partially responsible for this one. I previewed before publishing.

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    2. So you are spuds, er, buds with the authors, Paul? Thinking perhaps the posts are not officially peer reviewed?

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    3. Lost in the terminology, here. I'll emerge eventually, I promise!

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    4. I meant I might be partially responsible for the double posting of my comment because I clicked on Preview and looked it over before clicking on Publish. I made no contribution to any of the works mentioned in my comment, nor am I acquainted with the authors of those works.

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    5. Ah, I see! We were having completely different conversations. Now it makes sense. . .

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  7. I found The Potsdam Gravity Potato amusing. Somehow, between that and the picnic in Chicago, I wound up here.
    And the opal picture reminded me of CMBR images (rotated 90 degrees).

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    1. The Potsdam Gravity Potato is a cool pointer toward the eggplant song. The opal and CMBR image connection is striking. And it was fun to learn about CMBR. Thanks, Paul!

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  8. Just spent some interesting and non-productive time surfing Wikipedia for cosmic microwave background radiation, Penzias and Wilson and the Bell Labs Holmdel, NJ, microwave horn, COBE (not the beef, not the basketballer), George Smoot, his cousin, Oliver, and the Harvard Bridge (364.4 smoots + 1 ear).

    Last year at this time, you were discussing dyeing eggs, so I guess another egg picture would be OK now.

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    1. Whoa, some connections there. . .but my search engine has no idea what the common thread is. Easily for you to say ;-).

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    2. Whoa, some connections there. . .but my search engine has no idea what the common thread is. Easily for you to say ;-).

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    3. Penzias and Wilson got the Nobel Prize for correctly interpreting the apparently isotropic noise afflicting the microwave horn antenna as the 3 degree K remains of the Big Bang. George Smoot, chief investigator on the COsmic Background Explorer, got the Nobel Prize for showing that the background was actually anisotropic, i.e., that the universe was lumpy shortly after the Big Bang. And his cousin, fellow MIT alum Oliver, was laid end-to-end, repeatedly, across the bridge (alcohol may have been involved), establish a new measurement standard (no Nobel Prize).

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  10. That's gotta be a new record for repostings, jan. Any connection to Smoot, Wyoming?

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    1. Yeah, the blogspot server was acting particularly up.

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  11. New blog post is up. (No fooling!)

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