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Valentines Memes!

14 Feb Expansion of the Universe Valentine's Meme

So… Physics Today asked for some science-themed Valentines. I participated, but then of course… I came up with a bunch of astronomy-themed Valentines.

I felt like sharing! ūüôā

IMBH Valentine's Meme

Mars Valentines Meme

Expansion of the Universe Valentine's Meme Supernova Valentines Meme

Pluto and Charon Barycenter

Black Hole Valentines Meme

Halley's Comet Valentine Meme  Comet Hale Bopp Valentines Meme

Humans Conquer Space Mysteries and Other Alarming Events (No. 1)

3 Apr 2012 VP 113

Last week (4th week of March, 2014) on planet Earth…

The humans continue to push out into space.¬† At this rate they’ll be capable of interstellar travel by the year 2233.¬† Of course, we are all alarmed, and measures to inhibit this activity are currently being discussed.

The humans’ need to catalog every little thing grows at an alarming rate.¬† Last week they discovered yet another dwarf planet in their outer solar system.¬† They are calling it: 2012 VP113, although we’re not entirely sure why (they have weird names for things).¬† This new object is not unlike the already discovered and similarly far from Earth body, Sedna.

planetary body 2012 VP113

This new body has the farthest perihelion of any planetary body the humans have yet discovered.

They figured out that it’s a small body, 300-1000 kilometers in diameter, and that it is moderately red.¬† This tells us two important things: They are finding new and interesting ways to “see” things they cannot naturally see with their eyes, and they are not able to detect us yet.¬† So nobody panic.


Note: The Nerd Next Door is not affiliated with a hostile alien race bent on galactic domination.

Remember That One Time…

1 Jun Rosetta Space Probe

When the Minor Planet Center cataloged the Rosetta Space Probe as an asteroid?

Yeah.  Me too.  It was awesome.

What with all the attention surrounding asteroid 1998 QE2 and its newly discovered moon, I thought I’d take some time to talk about my favorite asteroid of all time, 2007 VN84.

Which turned out to be the Rosetta Space Probe.

The Rosetta Space Probe

‘It appears to be mostly metallic… oddly shaped…’

I love the fact that this happened partly because it strikes me as being funny, and partly because I love it when things don’t turn out the way they’re expected to.¬† For people that don’t remember, it happened in 2007, and there was some hubbub over it.¬† Richard Kowalski discovered the asteroid, which appeared extremely close and looked to be about 20 meters across and would come within 1.89 Earth radii of our geocenter (or within 5,700 km/3,500 miles).¬† Now that is close (you’ll notice everyone has been talking about how close 1998 QE2 is at 3.5 million miles).

It should be noted that Kowalski is actually a pretty badass astronomer.¬† He was the first to predict an asteroid hitting Earth (2008 TC3) which then did enter Earth’s atmosphere (it’s hard to actually find and predict asteroids that collide with us because they’re usually pretty darn small) and exploded over the Nubian Desert.¬† He’s got his own asteroid named after him (7392 Kowalski) but the reason he’s really cool is he’s for professional and amateur astronomers working together and building a community (and I love that stuff).¬† He founded the Minor Planet Mailing List, which is available to everyone, so really, my point is, yes, the Rosetta Space Probe is not an asteroid, but it doesn’t really diminish the discoverer’s awesomeness.

The astronomer who recognized that 2007 VN84 was not, in fact, an asteroid, was Denis Denisenko (of supernovae 2011IP and 2011HZ fame) and who, presumably, has X-men superpowers when it comes to remembering probe trajectories.

With the Minor Planet Center observations crossing the 100 million mark this last March, and identifying over 600,000 orbits, and with thousands of artificial satellites going around Earth, and a goodly number of space probes (like Rosetta) that have been sent out, I’m actually shocked that the 2007 incident doesn’t happen more often.

I know that none of the above is new info on spacey stuff (which is why it’s not taking up my usual Tuesday slot you’ll notice) but just in case you were wondering what my all time favorite minor planet (a.k.a ‘asteroid’) is, it’s the Rosetta Space Probe.

So… Let’s Say There’s an Alternate Universe…

28 May Two Samantha Carters

Ok, I have a hypothetical question this morning: Let’s say there are alternate universes (some people do, in fact, maintain that there are) meaning in this context¬†that basically anything that can happen, would happen.

If anything that can happen does happen in another universe, that means that somewhere out there is the perfect you.¬† The you you’ve always wanted to be.¬† The you that made all the right choices, had the right amount of willpower, hard work, support, and luck to turn out to basically be this universe’s fantasy version of you.

Ok now, here’s the question: Are you jealous of yourself, or are you happy that somewhere out there you’ve really made it?¬† Also, what¬†does you¬†fantasy self look like?

I don’t know how I’d feel knowing there’s a Loren Riley out there that has perfect skin, was never awkward, graduated top of her class in astrophysics, and is currently producing the next Star Trek franchise.¬† I really just don’t know.

To get an idea¬†on what a normal feeling would be, I asked some coworkers what they thought, and some interesting trends emerged: most people I asked didn’t care about themselves in an alternate universe, and most contended it doesn’t matter since we can never know anyway.¬† But when asked how they would feel about a highly successful clone (i.e. the prefect you in this universe) the response was overwhelmingly negative.¬† One of my coworkers even unhesitatingly declared he would find a way to kill himself if he found out someone had made a superhim in clone form.

So here’s the same question (how would you feel about a¬†superior you in an¬†alternate universe?) with some parameters:

  1. If we knew for certain that alternate universes exist, and therefore a highly successful version of you is likely to exist? (We can’t prove they exist and you have no contact with your alternate self, but you can assume a superior you exists.)
  2. If you knew without any doubt that this person absolutely existed in an alternate universe?
  3. If you could actually travel to the alternate universe and meet the highly successful version of yourself?

I’m curious to know what people think.¬† It’s a question that’s been bugging me lately.

*Note: If you happen to be the best possible version of yourself in this universe, please disregard this post.