This is what Earth looks like from Mars


This view of the twilight sky and Martian horizon taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes Earth as the brightest point of light in the night sky. Earth is a little left of center in the image, and our moon is just below Earth.

Can you see it? Not yet? Well lean in a little bit closer and look at the white dot. No, that’s not a dead pixel. That Infinitesimal point in the Martian sky is the planet we call home.

The humbling photo comes courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories and was snapped by our envoy the Mars Curiosity rover.

NASA says:

Researchers used the left eye camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) to capture this scene about 80 minutes after sunset on the 529th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Jan. 31, 2014). The image has been processed to remove effects of cosmic rays.

The distance between the two cosmic neighbors was a mere 99 million miles (160 million km). I have to admit that it’s an incredibly beautiful photo. Here is a larger image.

Someone, anthropomorphically speaking, is sitting on another planet looking back at us and communicating with us. That’s a mindblowing thought. Before too long, I expect that it will actually be humans transcending stellar and physiological boundaries to send messages back to Earth from another planet.

The final frontier, indeed.

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Who Owns The Moon?


Eddie Izzard might have you believe that it all comes down to a cunning use of flags. In  truth, the USA only owns the junk they left up there. The Moon falls under the protection of international law as the common heritage of mankind”. In other words:

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means’.

It is an equitable agreement. The good news is that if you have the money, power and connections, then are pretty much free to start homesteading the Moon for your own benefit.  Private organizations can also lay claim to the Moon, more likely if they have revenues that can dwarf GDPs. What if in their hubris they end up mining the Moon and awaken an army of space Nazis!?!?!?! It’s not a far fetched thought. Check this out.

In any case, the complexity and logistics involved will drive you slightly bonkers. For now, take Vsauce’s word and don’t start buying orbits and lunar parking spaces. Watch the video to learn all about international space treaties, defending the Moon and getting away with extra-terrestrial murder. Don’t be discouraged if all of this seems like an impossible fantasy. There is nothing keeping you from picking your nose clean for that precious Moon dust 😉

Don’t forget to check out & subscribe to the Vsauce channel for more cool & informative videos here.

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This Is How The World Will End


It’s not news to anyone that unchecked human activity has significantly affected the climate and weather on the blue marble we call home. Scientists and experts are constantly making strong and factual predictions.  Many of these are accurate. However, none of them know how bad it could possibly get. Well, numbers don’t lie, and they paint a pretty grim picture for the next few decades.

The video above was commissioned by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and made Felix Pharand Deschenes. The findings in the video are based on the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. It uses the IPCC findings to explain the effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era that refers to the effect of humans on Earth ecosystems, and how humanity’s actions impact life in all parts of the biosphere.

Owen Gaffney, co-producer of the video, states:

“I am sure many people assume the world is just too big for us to have a global impact. But in fact we have unequivocal evidence that we are changing the global carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and the water cycle.”

This is the reality we currently live in. The future isn’t much brighter. Still, there is hope that we can learn from our ignorance and start the process to mitigate some of the damage we have caused. If we don’t , then we can expect to witness the rise of sea levels, the extinction of species, and more inclement weather patterns.

Remember: You only get one chance. There is no other Earth and there is no one coming to help us.

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OFFICIAL: Voyager 1 Has Left The Solar System!


Stop the presses!

Back in March, I posted a blog entry announcing that Voyager 1 was on the precipice of exiting our beloved solar system. Well, this past week scientists at NASA (gotta love those eggheads) made it official.

Voyager 1 has officially become the first man made object to escape the clutches of the solar system.

It only took the little spacecraft that could 36 years to cover the 12 billion mile- long journey. It’s sibling, Voyager 2, is 2 billion miles behind it. Moreover, the entire mission in 1977 cost $250 million. If we account for inflation, that is approximately $965 million today. If you ask me, that’s some seriously good value for money. It’s certainly better than the millions we spend on bombs that don’t provide any discernible value to humanity. These are the kinds of milestones which are truly inspirational and worth celebrating.

Here is how scientists, after much back and forth, figured out that Voyager 1 had boldly gone where no man-made object had gone before:

Here’s an image depicting the general path of Voyager 1:

Artist's concept of Voyager's distances

Here is something even more exciting. This is what interstellar space sounds like:

I don’t know about you, but I was expecting a lot more “pew pew pew!”. Still, it is fascinating. Just know that after you are long dead, Voyager 1 will continue to explore the cosmos as our emissary. It is currently headed for another star, which will take it 40,000 years. Of course, by then Voyager 1 will have perished and will be a floating beacon for other galactic civilizations.

I imagine that it’s message will be simple: We are here, and you are not alone.

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A Map of the Bible’s Contradictions


 

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This is an interesting one. If you know anything about religion and the various texts, then you know how many contradictions there are. Well, Daniel G Taylor has created an impressive visualization that covers 463 of the Bible’s major contradictions.  This is how you read it:

“Each vertical blue line represents a different chapter, ordered chronologically. The red arcs trace each represent a question about a specific person or concept. These range from incredibly mundane (“Is it OK to use perfume?”) to the monumental (“Is God the creator of evil?”). Clicking on one of the red lines takes you to a list of every relevant quote from both Old and New Testaments.

This Comprehensive Map Traces 463 of the Bible's Contradictions

Taylor points out that  “this website aspires to be a beautiful and interactive resource for skeptics and believers alike to explore some of the more negative aspects of holy books.” It’s quite a piece of work to behold and it is easy to get lost in the depth. At the same time, it is expected to grow as others contribute.

Of course, this is isn’t localized to the Bible. All the major religions are man-made and contain all sorts of these contradictions and things rationally minded people would consider illogical. Of course, this doesn’t stop some people from surging ahead to take the top honors of stupidity. Consider the following results from a recent Gallup poll:

bibel 2

I still find it impossible to fathom how an educated person can believe the creationist viewpoint (25% of Americans with graduate degrees). The fact that 46 percent of Americans believe this nonsense is even more scary. This means religious bastardizations of scientific fact are gaining ground. My only wish for these people would be that they visit a natural history museum and realize just how wrong they are. The facts don’t exist to diminish your faith in God and you should not be scared to embrace them.

You can learn more about the project, see a full list of the contradictions, and gain some perspective through inspired reading materials on the website.

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The Adorable Solar System


 

Here is a brilliant little video about the basics of or solar system. It is quite entertaining and conceptually well animated. It has some really cool facts that I didn’t know.

All in all, it shows just how tiny and insignificant we are on a cosmic scale. Heck, Earth isn’t even a big deal in its own solar system. Just look a this still showing the mass of the planets:

The coolest, or hottest I should say, part of the video is towards the end. The incandescent glory of our Sun will eventually engulf us. Just look at its mass compared to the rest of the solar system!

Sure, it’s depressing stuff, but somehow this video still brings a smile to my face 🙂

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