Monday, October 29, 2012

Calendar of Open Houses and Other Events

I added a link to the calendar of open houses and other events.

Note the next event is on Thursday November 1st, Terence Dickinson at the Ann Arbor District Library. I added this as a comment to Veronica's earlier post, but I'll repeat it here (the internal links to the books are to the Ann Arbor District Library card catalog).
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room
Terence Dickinson was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995—that nation's highest civilian achievement award—for his commitment to popularizing the wonders of astronomy. The editor of Canada's SkyNews magazine; author of the internationally bestselling Nighwatch: A Practical Guide to the Universe and The Backyard Astronomer's Guide; and a commentator for Discovery Channel Canada, Dickinson is perhaps better known for the distinctively accessible narrative style found in his several stargazing guidebooks (14 of which are still in print with over 2 million sold). In short, Dickinson is one of that rare breed of astronomer’s astronomer who, like the late Carl Sagan, is also a gifted people’s astronomer.

Who better then to explain the science behind those mind-blowing Hubble telescope photos of the cosmos comprising his latest book, Hubble's Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images ? (The book cover is shown above). There is no one better—and Dickinson will be here in Ann Arbor to do just that at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 1, with his illustrated talk, “Voyage to the Edge of the Universe.” He’ll then sign copies of the book (which will be for sale) following the event.
For all events, see the Calendar.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A great astronomy photo

Well the today's weather is not the best for staring at the stars.  So, here's a great fall astronomy  In this photo you will see the Pleiades star cluster.  On a clear night here you can see this cluster without a telescope.  So, if it is clear try to see this beautiful night time sight!

Astronomy in Ann Arbor

If you live in Ann Arbor did you know that the Ann Arbor Library has Telescopes you can check out just like one can check out a book.  The Library also host astronomy related activities there website is   If you don't live in Ann Arbor the Library's are open to the public and you are welcome to join them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lowbrow Open House 10/20/12

Wow!  Here are a few pictures from our most recent open house.

Which Galaxy Is Earth In? Most Gen-Xers Don't Know It's The Milky Way, Report Shows

If you accept the thesis that an understanding of science and technology is important for a healthy and thriving economy, then stories like this are troubling. It is like a broken record, yet another survey shows that people in the United States do not understand science.

This time it was a survey of 4000 Americans between the ages of 37 and 40. Participants were shown a picture of a spiral galaxy and then asked a few questions.

Only 43% said that the picture showed a galaxy similar to our own galaxy. Men did slightly better than women, and people with a college education did better than those without a college education.

The author of the report, Jon D. Miller (the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research), has concluded that one of the factors that distinguish people with a good understanding of science is exposure to college level science classes.

For more details see Which Galaxy Is Earth In? Most Gen-Xers Don't Know It's The Milky Way, Report Shows.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where Did Water on the Moon Come From?

In 2009, the LCROSS satellite determined that there is a surprising amount of water ice located on earth's moon (or at least within one particular crater that LCROSS was designed to investigate).

So the question is: where did this water come from? First of all this crater is permanently shielded from the Sun's light, so any liquid water that might find its way to the the crater would freeze and remain in a frozen state. Liquid water finding its way to other locations would probably be lost as liquid water is not stable at those locations.

Of course that only explains why there is ice in the crater, we still need to know how water got to the moon in the first place. A well known theory is that this water came from comets. A less well known theory is that hydrogen ions from the solar wind combined with oxygen to form water as well as other related compounds. (There is oxygen bound up in compounds within the moon's regolith; Regolith is the material on and near the surface of the moon roughly equivalent to soil on the earth, though regolith has a very different composition than soil).

A recent article published in the online version of Nature Geoscience support the theory that water on the moon was formed from the solar wind plus oxygen in the regolith. The article also suggests that water ice could be located on mercury and other solar system objects.

For more details, see "Solar wind particles likely source of water locked inside lunar soils" Published on Oct 15, 2012.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Star trail video

Here is another cool video!
Polar Swirl on Vimeo

Two galaxies merging

Here is one a beautiful image of two galaxies merging.    Hope you enjoy it! Two Galaxies Merging (from Astronomy Picture of the Day).

(Note there are many other pictures to be found at Astronomy Picture of the Day, look at the current entry, and if you have time look through the archives.)

Astronomy long exposure video

Hey here's a cool video!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mars Science Lab Curiosity.

On Friday, September 28, Nilton Renno (from the University of Michigan Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences) gave a talk to the club entitled “Mars Science Lab Curiosity.”

Back in March, Nilton had given us a talk entitled “Deliquescence and Liquid Water on Mars.” In short, it is now known that liquid salty water is present on the surface of Mars, at least in some locations and during some parts of the Martian year (most of the time water is present in the form of ice).

There was another spacecraft on its way to Mars, the Mars Science Lab Curiosity, which was scheduled to land in August. After his first talk, Nilton agreed to come back for a second talk, after the lander made it to Mars. This was a somewhat risky proposition since many past attempts to land spacecraft on the red planet have ended in failure, and a talk about a failed Mars mission might be rather short.

As it happened, Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of Mars on August 6. There were only a few minor issues. Thus Nilton's second talk on September 28.

During the September talk, Nilton described the mission and its goals. Unfortunately it will take some time to sort out the science results. At the time of the talk, Nilton could only give us a few hints.

Photograph by John Causland.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AA OSA Special Tour on Tuesday, 23 October

The Optical Society of American (OSA) is having a Special Tour next week, on Tuesday, 23rd October.  We will be meeting at the Eastern Michigan University Physics & Astronomy Dept. to see and hear about their new Planetarium facility, the digital projection equipment and the Sherzer Observatory / telescope on the roof.  We will hear about the departmental facilities, faculty and areas of exploration.  I encourage everyone to attend, as this is really going to be an interesting tour.

Meeting Flyer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saturday Morning Physics (October 6)

On October 6, 2012 Bing Zhou, (Professor and Associate Chair of Physics at the University of Michigan) gave the talk "The New Particle Discovery at LHC with the ATLAS Experiment." This was the first Saturday Morning Physics talk for Fall 2012. Saturday Morning Physics is hosted by the University of Michigan Physics Department.

After decades of searching, evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson was finally found at CERN. This is a tremendous step forward in Physics made possible through the efforts of the LHC experiments (ATLAS and CMS). These experiments were a international collaboration involving many institutions including the University of Michigan. Professor Zhou presented a brief history on the Higgs hunting in the past decades. She reported the experimental evidence of the new particle discovery and ongoing research related to the studies of the new particle with the ATLAS experiment.

What is the Higgs boson? In the 60's a group of physicists independently proposed the following idea: add a new field permeating space that gives particles mass, and a new particle (or a group of related particles) that creates this field. These are usually called the Higgs field and the Higgs boson(s) respectively, after Peter Higgs. Peter Higgs is one of the physicists who originally proposed the mechanism and is currently professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Higgs is shown in the slide above.

Bing Zhou answering questions from the audience.

Watch the video of this talk.
Saturday Morning Physics Website.
Photo Album, Lowbrows at Saturday Morning Physics.

(Photos from John Causland).

Monday, October 8, 2012

AA OSA Presentation on How to Micro-Machine with Lasers

Hi everyone,

We have a very interesting presentation tomorrow night (Tuesday, 09 October) with Philippe Bado (Translume) and Larry Walker (Clark-MXR) talking with you about "How to Micro-Machine with Lasers".  Please see the attached meeting flyer and post it in a prominent location for others who might be interested.

The location: the University of Michigan North Campus, EECS Room 1005, Ann Arbor Michigan.

Meeting flyer

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Minute Physics

We ran across this site: Minute Physics .

There are a number of interesting short videos covering various physics topics. At the time I post this, the video at the top was "Why is it Dark at Night?", which caught my eye, but there are other interesting videos as well.

If your first language is English and you have no desire to translate videos into other languages, ignore the language stuff.