Pluto the Dog Can Be Seen On Pluto the Dwarf Planet

So I’m *EXTREMELY* excited about all these Pluto and Charon pictures and whatnot! I spent a fair bit of time ignoring the talks about things I don’t care about at the UF preview (instance Rec Sports) to check out all the new Pluto news. Oh and my nickname is Pluto for my preview adviser, who put up the new picture of Pluto while the small group walked in and stuff.

But I can’t even begin to talk about all my excitement over Pluto!
Also I’m adamant that Pluto should be reconsidered to be a planet after seeing how active and complex its surface is.

If we find a planet with huge Mickey Mouse ears, I want it to be called Mickey.
Cue the “Disney is from Pluto” conspiracy theories.
Pluto the Dog Can Be Seen On Pluto the Dwarf Planet


While others were rushing about to get the best deals they can possibly find, I was busy looking at the stars. We had guests over until really late at night–as in, until literally 3AM–which didn’t bug me since because of Thanksgiving break, I stay up until when I would wake up to go to school.

Oh, it really was a “black” Friday. I do not remember seeing the Orlando sky as dark as it was. While 95% of me wants to go to MIT, there’s a 5% of me that wants to go to Berkeley simply because it has the best cosmology/astronomy program of anywhere in the United States. That and the light pollution in the Boston area would make all but the brightest (possibly only the magnitude ≤1 stars) stars almost impossible to see. Berkeley is my second choice of prestigious college, but MIT’s been my dream since I was 2…

Anyways, I went off-topic. The stars… they were… I’ve never seen the sky so clear in Florida. Of course this never beats the sky in Fiji  (Plantation Islands) when I was 9, where the Milky Way sprawled across the sky like bluish-green watercolors mottled with white and blue, shining as bright as the full moon, if not even brighter. Oh, had I known that the Andromeda galaxy was visible to the naked eye, I’d have looked for it. There was an occasional meteor that streaked across the sky. Oh I wish I knew photography back then. I’d have took, pardon the pun, the most stellar photograph I’ve ever taken! Oh, just thinking about it, I can hear Space Core screaming his famous line, zipping across the sky.

Black Friday didn’t cross my mind even once until much later. I’d gone outside to wish a different set of guests goodbye with the other set of guests around 1AM, and saw just how beautiful the sky was. I spent some time with her outside, powerful green laser pointer in hand, with my astronomy app pulled up (since I’d finally be able to use it to find the stuff that’s not usually visible).

She knew what Orion was, but I named the stars. Orion was my first constellation. I never cared for the Big Dipper, but I’ve known about Orion for longer than I can remember. Both math and astronomy are two subjects that I think that I’ve always loved. I think my mom was the one that pointed out Orion (she only knows Orion and the Big Dipper) to me when I was really young. I used to call the Orion Nebula the “Spider Bite Nebula.” Little did I know that it also goes by the name Tarantula Nebula!

Some random Orion facts:

Not the reason why it has always been my favorite constellation. Betelgeuse (the reddish star) and Bellatrix (right across from Betelgeuse) are supposed to be the hunter’s shoulders, and the two other stars, Rigel (under Bellatrix) and Saiph (across from Rigel and under Betelgeuse) represent his feet. The three stars in the middle (Mintaka being on the side with Betelgeuse, Alnilam being the center star, and Alnitak being on the side with Rigel, the side stars really being their own star systems rather than individual stars). He has his sword and shield, but most people regard these stars as the main body of Orion (as it is). Orion also has a clearly visible penis*… I mean, sword, (that hangs right under his belt, which is the Orion Nebula (the closest stellar nursery to us at about 1.5k light years away).

* I actually didn’t notice it until I saw this. What has been seen cannot be unseen. At least he is his own Rule 34. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

I hope Betelgeuse goes nova within my lifetime. While this might cause severe shoulder ache to Orion, the remnants will be visible even during the day!

I even saw a fireball meteor, which was highly surprising because at the time, I was casually observing the sky with my guest. It must have been around 2:30ish. I reported it to the AMS (which I just found out I should do about half an hour back–it is now about 7:30AM), although with accidentally wrong timing since I forgot the guests left at 3 and not 2, with the following parameters:

Continue reading “Stargazing”


Rosetta/Philae Landing

I’d just like to post a friendly reminder about how AWESOME it is that we landed a fricken’ space probe the size of a Smart car on a moving comet that’s 3 miles wide and 317 million miles away, having traveled 4 billion miles over ten years due to a very precise calculation of gravitational slingshotting, without the assistance of humans, holding onto the thing via harpoons and giant screws.

Why? Because SCIENCE, that’s why.

Just sayin’.

Anthropomorphizing anything with this personality automatically makes me want to hug the hell out of the thing, especially if it's a space probe, and that personality is a lot like Wall-E's.
I don’t know how Randall does it, but he’s able to make just about anything adorable by anthropomorphizing it. There’s something about xkcd that I really resonate with, haha!
Rosetta/Philae Landing

The Story Of My Life From The VERY Beginning (As In, The Big Bang)

Someone asked a question on EP wondering if they’d understood the universe from the Big Bang to the present day. There were a few flaws in his thought process, but instead of trying to… hang on, it’s 11:11PM on 11/11 heh heh… correct individual parts, I thought I’d just start from the very beginning and elaborate as much as I felt like concentrating. One could go very, very, very in depth with this, but then it gets too long and uninteresting as part education, part philosophy, and part humor.

This is basically the story of my life from the VERY beginning… only I don’t really elaborate on my conscious life as much.

I could go into the Multiverse and Parallel Universe and Many Worlds hypothesis and state what might have happened before the Big Bang, and other possible nuances in what could have happened afterwards, but hey, I was just having a little bit of fun with this, How-The-Universe-Works style!

Wooo #spaceweek!

The Big Bang was more of a huge expansion than an explosion. It created pure energy–equal amounts matter and antimatter that for the most part annihilated each other. Why matter reigns is a big problem in cosmology. We think that there’s an antimatter universe twin somewhere across the universe. Once the universe was cool enough to start making bonds, energy converts into mass (because E=mc² allows this to occur), and starts making primitive subatomic particles, which in turn start making electrons, protons, and neutrons, forming primarily hydrogen atoms and such. With all this hot gas swirling around, many enormous stars formed, living fast and dying young with the true bangs of the universe, far more explosive even than a hypernova (which is itself more explosive than a supernova). This creates many black holes, which then eat each other up to form supermassive black holes, which become the seeds to start forming galaxies. Hot gas starts swirling around these seeds and form the protogalaxies in which solar systems start to form. Each star starts off as a swirling mass of hot gas. This begins to have some gravity, which pulls the gas closer together and pulls in even more gas. This creates an even more massive cloud with even more gravity, and even more gas is pulled in. This keeps going on until the gravity causes enough pressure at the core of the protostar to ignite fusion. Fusion starts colliding hydrogen atoms together to form helium atoms, in the process releasing radiation, and this star burns for millions to billions of years–a battle between the intense gravity pulling the star together, and the intense fusion pushing it outwards–before finally running out of fuel. After the star uses up all its hydrogen, it starts fusing together helium atoms. Once all the helium atoms are fused together to form carbon, it starts burning the Carbon. It eventually gets to a point where it creates iron. Iron is the most lethal thing to a star, since it requires an *intense* amount of energy to fuse it. The star keeps pouring in energy into the iron atoms, but it doesn’t give. Once it produces iron, it has only seconds to live. With no more fusion to fuel the star’s fusion reactor, the battle between gravity and fusion ends. Gravity always wins. The star’s dead before it even hits the ground. In the final moments of the dying star, the star’s core shrinks to a size that’s less than a thousandth of its original size. This creates an incredible amount of energy in which the stars eject two powerful beams of gamma ray energy–its death cry (sometimes the birth cry of a black hole)–out of its sides. In this few second release of energy, iron fuses together and forms heavier elements, and so on. The energy released in this moment is more than the star will have ever outputted in its entire lifetime. This is known as the gamma ray burst, and while this death ray hurtles through the universe, blasting gas and stardust all around, leaving a nebula behind. This stardust contains the heavier elements needed to create life. Sometimes the star leaves behind a neutron star, others, a white dwarf, and others yet a black hole. From this cloud of dust and gas, a new star can be born from the unused hydrogen. The process repeats. This time, when the clouds of gas and dust circle around the protostar in order to create the new star, the heavier elements are flung outwards in an accretion disk. These tiny particles eventually collide-but don’t necessarily fuse–with each other, which, over time, builds up to form mini asteroids, which continue to build up. Eventually a proto-solar-system is born, in which there’s but chaos throwing planets around left right and center. Over billions of years, this system stabilizes. One of these planets was the right distance from its star–its Goldilocks zone, and collected the right elements from its surroundings. It was in perfect conditions to avoid asteroid collisions and collected the most amazing chemical in existence–dihydrogen monoxide, more affectionately termed as water. This, along with carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorous, and a little zap of energy, created the first amino acids–the first organic molecules. Eventually, these amino acids arranged themselves into a particular pattern–RNA, surrounded by a protective phospholipid bubble–the first cell. Gradually, over time, these cells became more complex, eventually forming the first prokaryotic cells–bacteria. These became ever more complex, creating eukaryotic cells. From this stemmed the process of evolution, the ever fractally branching process of a genetic algorithm that either survives or doesn’t, allowing only the best of the generation to go on. Replication isn’t a perfect process, causing small mutations per generation, that can either help or debilitate the species as a whole. Eventually there’ll come a time when the species branches into a completely different species… with enough time, due to Chaos Theory, the tips of the tree will be vastly different. One of these paths involved one branch of the bacteria evolving into strange aquatic creatures, which one branch evolved into fish, which one branch evolved into amphibians, which one branch evolved into a rodent-like mammal, which one branch evolved into the first primate, which one branch evolved into ape-like primates, which one branch evolved into the hominids, which one branch evolved into the homo-sapiens, which has since evolved into a better developed version of the homo-sapiens (homo sapiens sapiens), which became us today. These humans originated in Africa, from which they migrated to different locations as the earth’s plates shifted and such. One such group migrated to India, and generations later, developed civilization. Further civilization by other humans (the British) developed certain areas in a certain way. Two of these humans in a developed area arranged a marriage between two individuals that after having one son later migrated to the United States in Minnesota, and had a daughter. After a few years, they moved to Orlando, and the daughter grew up there, facing severe bullying but learned to develop apathy, as she fell in love with math and science, and learned not to care about what other people think. Over time, she fell in love with cosmology and mathematics in particular, and loved teaching such. Having joined a site called ExperienceProject, she then vowed to educate people as much as possible. One day, she stumbled across a question that involved the origin of the universe, and she started typing a self-referential wall of text, of which she can’t say anything more since it hasn’t happened yet. All this to remind you that she and everything around her is literally stardust, since everything around her and herself at an atomic level was forged in the belly of a star.

More or less.

The Story Of My Life From The VERY Beginning (As In, The Big Bang)