So, I recently got selected to do undergraduate physics research this summer. Great! Awesome! Yay me! However, my research advisor has asked me to use something called IDL to analyze tomographic images of compounds and turn them into 3D images. This is good news, because IDL is used a lot by astronomers to analyze astronomical data, and I want to continue my education in astronomy. But, I've never used IDL ever before. I'm not even sure exactly what it is (a programming language?). My question is this: how do I get up to speed so that I can hit the ground running with my research? Difficulty: Research begins in two weeks. Details: [more inside]
I'm looking for a short book or series of books for my 7.5 year old son describing the history of the search to explain planetary motion. [more inside]
If I've gotten the right impression, much of our currently visible universe will eventually be expanded away from us, never to be seen again. Do we already know how much and what parts of our present neighborhood we'll be left huddling with?
What will the fate of Jupiter and its moons be during and after our sun becomes a red giant? (or, please forward me to reliable sources with information beyond a first-order Google search) [more inside]
Can anyone tell me, well, ANYTHING about a person (hypothetically) standing on the sun? [more inside]
What is the most important scientific question of our time? [more inside]
Was the entire universe created by the Big Bang, or is the space/time generated by the Big Bang part of a larger universe?
Was the entire universe created by the Big Bang, or is the space/time generated by the Big Bang part of a larger universe? [more inside]
Do radio waves attenuate and become noise or do they go on forever? [more inside]
Wanting to leave academia after astrophysics PhD (oscillations in atmospheres of rotating starts, planets and discs). Need some feedback, tags, hints, keywords, that I should search in google and some suggestions of where my skills (look in the extended explanation) would be appreciated. [more inside]
Help me choose a physics/astronomy-related design for a tattoo. [more inside]
What are some topics in astronomy or cosmology that you find fascinating and mind blowing? [more inside]
How has our understanding of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, etc. changed in the last five years? [more inside]
Why is the Big Bang possible? [more inside]
Are there any great lecturers/public speakers in the realms of cosmology, astronomy and physics? [more inside]
There's this rather unspecific Feynman story that I keep encountering. Its formulation as found on the Internets goes "One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of the stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girl friend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. She said "Look at how pretty the stars shine!" He said, "Yes, and right now I am the only man in the world who knows why they shine." She merely laughed at him. She was not impressed with being out with the only man who, at that moment, knew why stars shine. Well, it is sad to be alone, but that is the way it is in this world." Does anyone know who he is talking about (Eddington? Perrin? Bethe?) and if there's any truth to the story?
I've heard astronomy has given us great insights about basic physics (and could be seen as a form of basic physics research). What technologies do we have today that can trace their gensis to astronomical findings?
AskMeFi Physics folk: How do astronomers account for the temporal distinctiveness of their galactic subjects in their calculations? I understand that observations of the red shift of quasars delinates a speed increase in the expansion of the universe - yet my brain explodes when I try to understand how the enormous expanse of time is factored into these models. [more inside]