Tag Archives: solar system


I love this guy’s video simulations of space stuff.

I also love the disclaimer “Saturns rotation is extra impossible, but I had to prevent the rings from colliding.”

Don’t we all, yeti dynamics? Don’t we all?


See the Light

I’d like to think that if I ever decided to start completely over with this schooling business*, I’d like to work to become a heliophysicist or a helioseismologist, because the sun is a freaking amazing thing. Want some evidence? Check it:

Our star is a badass.

*Something I wouldn’t ever rule out, knowing me.

TWSB: You Missed a (Big) Spot

Jupiter news!

So we all know the giant red spot on the giant, fast-rotating planet, right?

Of course we do! But do we know why it’s red?

For a long time, the main theory has been that the spot is red because the giant storm creating it is churning up reddish chemicals from beneath Jupiter’s clouds and bringing them to the surface for us to see.

But a new theory states that the redness of the massive swirling isn’t due to chemicals from beneath the clouds but rather due to chemical reactions with sunlight. Work by Kevin Bains, Bob Carlson, and Tom Momary, scientists based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, state that based on data collected from both laboratory experiments and Cassini’s flyby of the planet in 2000, they suspect that the red tint is due to the effects of ultraviolet light on ammonia and acetylene, the gases in the uppermost portion of the storm.

Baines states that if this is the case, then the spot is probably pretty dull in color beneath its uppermost clouds. According to the older theory, if the reddish chemicals are indeed coming from beneath the clouds, then the spot would be red all the way through. Baines and the others are currently doing more testing/simulations to try to gain evidence about what color lies beneath the red.

As for why the great red spot is, well, the only great red spot on the planet, Baines suggests it’s because it’s a very tall storm—much taller than any other—and thus is more likely to get “sunburnt.”


TWSB: Hydrogen: Putting the ‘H’ in “Holy Crap, the Universe is So Empty”


So I found this page the other day and bookmarked it for a TWSB post…the page was a demonstration of how ‘empty’ we all are at the atomic level. On the current replacement page, the author states, “The page had a picture of a proton that was one thousand pixels wide, and a little electron that was only one pixel wide, and they were separated by fifty million pixels of empty space – I worked it out that that was eleven miles if your monitor displayed 72 pixels per inch, not uncommon at the time. You could try to scroll between them and it would take a long time. It was kind of neat.”

It was neat. But because of browser issues and issues surrounding the model of the atom the author used (he used the model Bohr developed), he took down the page.

In its place, though, he offers a similar study of scale and emptiness: the solar system.

To me, his atomic demonstration is more powerful since its fascinating how “solid” beings such as ourselves are composed of so much space, but the solar system demo is pretty snazzy, too.

Related: I’m assuming some of you Moscow people who stumble across this have taken the Moscow-Pullman trail…have you seen the little solar system distance exercise set up by a bunch of elementary school kids? It’s pretty cool. Pay attention at the head of the Moscow end of the trail to see the pics.

TWSB: The Sound of a Solar Re (and a Do, a Mi, a Fa, a So, a La, a Ti, and More Do)

The authors of the Ask a Mathematician/Ask a Physicist blog received and answered this question not too long ago: If you could hear through space as though it were filled with air, what would you hear?

The answer is as follows: the sun.

Yes, our big showy center of the universe is also the loudest thing around, at least to us. The Physicist explains: both the loudness and brightness of an object is exactly proportional to how big it is. The sun’s brightness, therefore, is a function of its temperature and size. If a small ball of the same temperature as the sun were to be held up so that it appeared to be the same size as the sun, it would feel exactly as warm and seem exactly as bright as the sun.
Taking this comparison of a small bright ball = distant, huge sun with respect to the amount of heat omitted, The Physicist states that the sun, if we could hear it, “would be exactly as loud as any other large-marble-sized nuclear explosion held at arm’s length.”

So we’d pretty much be deaf. Or dead.
Insanity! Article here.

30-Day Meme – Day 19: A talent of yours.
Rewriting song lyrics. I swear this is my single talent in life. Like I said in my “100 Things” list, I credit my mom playing a lot of Weird Al when I was a kid. It comes very naturally to me. Here are a few examples:

  • Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back rewritten as Easy Mac.
  • Boston’s Peace of Mind rewritten as Piece of Pi.
  • MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This rewritten as U Can’t Prove This (it’s about logic class and how long it took  me to wrap my head around proofs).

TWSB: Neptune’s Birthday

So apparently tomorrow will mark the first time Neptune will have made a complete revolution around the sun since it was discovered back in 1846.

Click for Neptune pics and facts!

TWSB: To the Ends of the Earth…Er, Solar System

First off, if I were to ever become a supervillian, I’d want my name to be Heliopause. Just ‘cause.

Voyager 1, launched 33 years ago, is now approaching the edge of our solar system.
Scientists know the craft has reached such a point by observing a change in the particles that surround it. These particles, emanated by the sun, are, instead of travelling outwards, are flowing sideways. This means that the particles are shifting in order to go down the tail of the heliosphere, which is indicative of Voyager 1 making the jump into interstellar space.
Around the heliosphere is the heliosheath, in which temperatures rise and wind speeds slow to zero. Scientists are measuring particle speeds around Voyager 1 to be nearly zero, thus they believe this is where the craft is. It is suspected that it will make the cross-over in the next few years.
The initial goals for Voyager 1 (and its sister Voyager 2) was to survey the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune (and Pluto, too, back then I guess). This was accomplished back in 1989. Now it’s breeching the outermost reaches of our star.

How freaking cool is that?

Check it out here!



Today’s song: Guilty Pleasure by Cobra Starship

Waiter! There’s some Plato in my Play-Dough!

The size of us here on earth in relation to the size of the overall universe: this kind of stuff boggles the mind. I love trying to comprehend it. I’ve searched around in various places to try to find stuff that would create a more comprehensive visual demonstration of size and perspective. So here come the YouTube videos.

First this: powers of ten, zooming from wide perspective to narrow perspective.

Then this little factoid, which I’ve mentioned on here before but I think it’s very relevant to get a good idea of the sheer size of the sun: The sun loses 7 million tons of material every second, but all the material lost so far amounts to less than 0.01% of its total mass since it started shining.

Here is a model of just the solar system to scale. Now look at the sun, how big it is.

Now this: another video I’ve linked to on here before (and on Facebook) but only because it’s ridiculous to think about things that size.

With this one you can compare them all more side by side.

Finally this one. It helps with the distance and the freaking huge expanse of the universe. Despite the implication near the end that a supreme being was responsible for all this, I think it’s a good demonstration. Keep in mind, this is traveling at the speed of light, taking us to the edge of the universe and then back in for perspective.

I love this stuff. Hope it was informative to you all.