Sunday, January 10, 2010

a video journey to the edge of space and beginning of time

Truly exceptional educational activity for kids. This good clean educational fun video is a new version of one I have enjoyed for a long time. Essentially it is a shot of the Earth that is zoomed out until we are at the edge of the “understood” or known universe.

The information from the caption is as follows:
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Univ More..erse Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.

Honestly though, I don't see this as a video touting how amazing it is that they have mapped all of these points in a 4-d ‘to-scale’ database (it is amazing) or a video which shows the complex motions and principles that science now understand (it does). I see it as a very good examples of the fun and educational thoughts about space that I am most intrigued by: the vastness and great distances of space and what lies beyond the known universe?

the Vastness of space: We always think about “our radio waves leaking into space” or the fact that we as humans have begun to conquer space. As you can see when the blue radio wave globe fades into the distance, even our radio waves have only traveled a small distance from home on the universal scale. Our furthest spacecraft launched more than 30 years ago hasn’t even reached the edge of the solar system yet.

the Known universe: My favorite point in the video is at 2:54 as the milky way fades into the distance. I never realized when looking at the night sky that I was looking at stars like our sun. Possibly with planets orbiting them too.

Not only that but some of the points of light in the sky are far away galaxies which hold multiple millions of stars.

Perhaps the image below can explain that better. It is an image taken by the hubble telescopes deep field camera. This image is the result of pointing the hubble at the “black space” between the stars as seen from Earth. As you can tell, even the dark spots in the sky have thousands of points of light and each one . . . Well, let me just let the original caption say it.

The Objects in the following image, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, can be completely covered by the period at the end of this sentence held at arms length against the night sky. Lets break things down a tad. Our planet, the Earth, circles the sun, the sun is a star. Our star, along with millions and millions of other stars, circle the center of the galaxy, known as the Milky Way. Every single speck in this picture is a galaxy, not a star, and each of these galaxies are composed of millions of other stars, all which have the potential to be orbited by planets, which in turn have the potential to be inhabited by life. These galaxies are estimated to be over 13 billion light years away.