To put things in perspective / Universe discussion & photo thread

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by Dashing_Chap, Dec 15, 2010.

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  1. Hi all,

    This has been doing the rounds for a while but I find it so jaw-droppingly spectacular I couldn't really resist posting it on here for the benefit of those who have not seen it.


    IMHO it really does put things in perspective, we are utterly insignificant in size, it's only our discoveries that are very big. Perhaps this can be a thread for discussion on cosmology/astronomy? Maybe there's some amateur astronomers on arrse who would like to share in this subject or provide some tips for home viewing/telescope technology?

    What photos and things in space inspire you?

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Oooh oooh I love cosmology.

    This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

    This is a link to the full resolution picture.

    This was created via a composite of hundreds of pictures using the Hubble Space Telescope at the same piece of sky, chosen for its lack of foreground clutter, with a total exposure time of over 1 million seconds. How large a piece of sky are we looking at?

    Imagine holding a 1x1mm square of paper up at arm's length, 1 metre away. That's the field of view that image encompasses - one 13 millionth of the total sky we can see.

    It very much recalls William Blake:

    To see a world in a grain of sand,
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And eternity in an hour.

    Several things are amazing about the picture:

    1. The enormous variegated detail in each little bit of sky. Now remember that the entire sky is pretty much like that.
    2. The fact that we are looking back in time towards the early formation of galaxies - those red-looking ones are red because their light has been redshifted due to their receding velocity.
    3. The sheer randomness of galaxy placement. Every time I hear someone talking about the 'complexity' and 'order' of the universe, I instinctively think of this picture.

    Nevertheless, I must add a word of caution in providing these pictures as proof of our insignificance and smallness. Yes, we are insignificant compared to the wider universe when we take a particularly inhuman, universal view. However, that doesn't render human life insignificant - after all, the limited speed of light and the vast distances and time-spans involved mean that our lives are not practically affected by it. Indeed, I think it's the height of anthropomorphic arrogance and vanity to be dissatisfied with the enormous depth and breadth of pleasure and challenge available in the world today, and to search through the universe - or religion - for scraps of meaning. The very definition of having your head in the clouds.

    Some more nice pictures.

    The Antennae Galaxies, merging galaxies full of bright stellar nurseries. [​IMG]
    Link to bigger pictures.

    The cosmic afterglow of creation. This is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, redshifted from its youthful days of hot X-rays, emitted at the point 380,000 years after the Big Bang when protons and electrons combined to form hydrogen and the universe became transparent.


    EDIT: I mistyped astronomy as 'astrology'. Now that's a typo!
  3. the top picture is impressive however when you considder the distances in between stars the human brain cannot process the distance!

    stars are so far apart that when the milky way colides with andromedia (the two galaxies will colied and swallow each other up) no two stars will collide!

    mind boggling stuff
  4. The original post (thanks, D_C) was sent out when D_C was in his 'wondering' phase of Colombia Gold entrancement. I hope you know that most of those snaps are illustrative, mate.

    Now, the Hubble UDF really is for the third phase of cookie heaven...
  5. Not intuitively, no. We can do the sums, but because we are 6 foot tall beings and have most of our things in our life to such a scale, the extraordinary (yet utterly true) numbers of cosmology and relativity, and, at the other end of the bigness scale, quantum mechanics, don't obviously 'make sense'.
  6. I've always found this graphic absolutely enlightening, if you want perspective compare the Earth with it's atmosphere (the pink sphere) and all of it's water (the...... uh......watery looking sphere), scary.

    • Like Like x 1
  7. I remain slightly sceptical about some of the Hubble imagery that supposedly shows the edges of the universe in Hi-Def. The images have been tinkered with to the nth degree by computer nerds, with colour enhancements and de-fuzzing and a million variations of how to enhance the blurred swirls into something interesting that you begin to wonder how much is just the imagination of some astro-physicist with PaintShop and some time on his hands........
  8. Perhaps it could even be moved to become the first thread in a Science sub-forum!

    Linky thing for those who might want to vote for such a thing but haven't.
  9. You don't even have to go very far to start feeling insignificant. All you have to do is land a rover on the next planet out, point a camera back at Earth and take a photo. All of humanity is somewhere in that faint, blurry pixel.

  10. excellent photo ( i know you didnt take it!!!!)

    its one ive never seen before
  11. There is this, too:


    Enlarge it. Look at the dot just inside the second outer (obvious) ring at about 10 o'clock. That's us.

    And, yes, I know the photo looks faked. But it ain't't.
  12. My daily humility moment: Astronomy Picture of the Day . Many fabulous images over the years. Some crap and some a bit hippyish, but the great majority worth a look after Dilbert and Alex.