Tag Archive | Astronomy

Sing to me the music of the stars

The eighth book in the Legendary Women of World History series will be “Hypatia of Alexandria” about one of the greatest astronomers of the ancient world.  Her murder, along with associated burnings of ancient libraries, plunged the West into the theocratic dark ages where Church dogma silenced scientists and endangered the lives of anyone who dared read scientific discoveries made by non-Christians.

Here is my first poem dedicated to Hypatia:

 

Sing to me the music of the stars

How the wanderers dance around the Earth and moon!

Show me the geometry of the heavens and of the Earth,

Polygons and polyhedrons in all their glorious splendour!

Let the secrets of Nature reveal themselves to me

Let my mind never falter to perceive their Mysteries.

For herein lies the true genius of the Divine.

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Star Trek (2009), novae, and getting the science right

I am a Trekkie/trekker.  I love Star Trek.  Granted, it is taking me quite a while to get used to the whole alternate universe that the newer Star Trek films use (no Vulcan planet?  Does that mean NO TUVOK too?), but slowly I am coming around.

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock

As much as I love many of the stories in Star Trek (not to mention the music!), the natural-born scientist in me that drives my own work with the Peers of Beinan Series and the Legendary Women of World History Series balks at its claims.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the 2009 “Star Trek” movie starring Chris Pine, Zachery Quinto, and Leonard Nimoy.   In the movie, the alternate universe is created when the Romulan sun’s impending supernova threatens to destroy the (Milky Way) galaxy and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock tries to stop it with “red matter” which creates a sort of black hole.

 

Do to spacetime, an entire universe can fit inside of a black hole.  Source:  Cosmo:  A Spacetime Odyssey.  Episode:  A Sky Full of Ghosts

Sounds great, right?  Unless you happen to know the life cycle of a star and recognize that novae and supernovae happen pretty regularly; they are the stellar deaths that most efficiently fling out into the universe most of the elements we take for granted everyday — like carbon, oxygen, silicon, and every metal known to humankind.  Novae and supernovae are not killers; life on this planet would not exist without them.  Think about it:  for us to exist, for Earth to exist, stars had to die.  That is because dying stars run out of hydrogen to fuse into helium and create bigger and heavier elements as they die, a subject covered in Cosmos:  A Spacetime Odyssey.

 

Or put another way:  Star Trek got it WRONG — BIG TIME

 

Now some of you are no doubt asking “so what?  It’s fiction!”

 

Well yes, but Star Trek is SCIENCE FICTION.  More than that, it is major cultural institution.  More people will watch Star Trek in any given point of time than they will read a book on physics/astronomy, attend a planetarium show, look through a telescope, or attend any other sort of science-education event.

 

That means for the average person,  Star Trek and other programs become their science textbook, shaping the viewer’s inner reality whether we in the publishing and media industries intend for them or not.

 

So why do I like Star Trek?  Well it is NOT the science, for certain.

 

For me, the appeal of Star Trek lies in the characters and the stories themselves.  Correct the science to harmonize with real life data and these stories barely, if at all, change.  Stories about what it means to be a part of a culture.  Stories about social issues.  Stories about our strengths and those things each of us work at improving each day.  Star Trek allows us to talk openly about current events without stepping on each other’s toes.

 

It is a lesson well learned for my own writing:  tell great stories, explore the big questions, and, for heaven’s sake, get the science right!

 

What do you think?

 

 

Beinarian Astronomy: Names, Objects, and Locations Explained

M31 galaxy is known as D395 on planet Beinan

M31 galaxy is known as D395 on planet Beinan

Reposted from “The Great Succession Crisis Extended Edition”

Just as with modern Earth astronomy, stars, galaxies, and planets are named systematically.  For example, D425E25 Tertius, LK39, and B105K7.  This names are not random, but consist of specific elements used to specify an astronomical object’s exact location.  Here is exactly how a Beinarian object is named

Region of space:  the first letter in an object’s name indicates the region of space where it is located.  This name runs from single letters to double letters.  A single letter indicates the object is located 5 million light yen-ars away (15 million light Earth years) or closer, while a double letter is used for objects calculated as more distance than 5 million light yen-ars.  Objects in the A region are located in Beinan’s original lenticular galaxy.  Objects in B region are located in Beinan’s own galaxy.  C represents the remaining galaxies in Beinan’s local galactic group while D represents galaxies in the adjacent local group as observed through interstellar travel. 

Since Beinarian astronomers observe the universe as “cauliflower shaped,” it is understood that the number and location of objects in any given region of space will be highly variable.

 

Galaxy designation:  the numbers following the first letter(s) in the location name signify the specific galaxy within that region an object belongs. The galaxy designation number may consist of any number of digits, though seven is the greatest number observed for any specific region of space. Examples: LK39 is an elliptical galaxy 12 million light yen-ars on the edge of the known universe first observed during the Great Migration.  D425 is a medium sized spiral galaxy located only 846,000 light yen-ars from slightly larger D395 galaxy. 

On D425E25 Tertius, D395 is known as the “M31” galaxy.

 

Star system name:  star systems are assigned an alphanumeric name based on their exact location within their galaxy.  Depending on the galaxy and type of galaxy, star systems may have up to three letters and from two to six numbers in their names.  For example, E25, and DLG4821

Object name:  Objects (primarily planets and moons) are named by their position in their star system.  Planets are named numerically (Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octivus, Nonus, Decimus, etc.).  Moons are designated first by their planet location, then numbered, started with the closest moon to the planet.  For example, D425E25 Quintus has sixteen moons large enough to be classified as moons (dwarf objects such as asteroids are not named).  The nearest of these moons is therefore named D425E25 Quintus Primus whereas the most distant of these moons is named D425E25 Quintus Sextus-Decimus.

 

Dwarf objects, asteroid fields, rings, and other features are designated by the object they rotate around.  For example, the asteroid field between D425E25 Tertius and D425E25 Quartus is named simply D425E25 Luanxing (pebble of the star) whereas the ring system around D425E25 Sextus is called D425E25 Sextus daixing (ribbon of the stars).

 

Bibliography:

 

Latin Numerals:  Numerals with English Equivalents,” http://wordinfo.info/unit/2356/ip:2/il:L

 

“The Andromeda Galaxy,” http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0424.html