[ ]   [ ]   [ ]                        [ ]      [ ]   [ ]

MQA Stream Coming to BLUOS - nickt1 - May 21, 2022 - 1:09am
 
Wordle - daily game - NoEnzLefttoSplit - May 20, 2022 - 10:15pm
 
Live Music - oldviolin - May 20, 2022 - 7:06pm
 
Favorite Quotes - Bill_J - May 20, 2022 - 7:05pm
 
What is the meaning of this? - oldviolin - May 20, 2022 - 7:04pm
 
Neil Young - oldviolin - May 20, 2022 - 6:50pm
 
Today, I learned... - haresfur - May 20, 2022 - 5:51pm
 
songs for drella - haresfur - May 20, 2022 - 5:47pm
 
Chicago 25 Or 6 To 4 - Steely_D - May 20, 2022 - 2:42pm
 
Trump - Red_Dragon - May 20, 2022 - 2:36pm
 
Things You Thought Today - Red_Dragon - May 20, 2022 - 10:51am
 
Reccomended System or Powered Speakers - KurtfromLaQuinta - May 20, 2022 - 7:04am
 
Dialing 1-800-Manbird - miamizsun - May 20, 2022 - 6:50am
 
Radio Paradise Comments - miamizsun - May 20, 2022 - 6:48am
 
Counting with Pictures - darkblue - May 20, 2022 - 6:21am
 
Today in History - Red_Dragon - May 20, 2022 - 6:05am
 
Derplahoma! - sunybuny - May 20, 2022 - 5:41am
 
Unquiet Minds - Mental Health Forum - miamizsun - May 20, 2022 - 5:16am
 
The Obituary Page - thisbody - May 19, 2022 - 10:01pm
 
Name My Band - haresfur - May 19, 2022 - 8:10pm
 
songs that ROCK! - Red_Dragon - May 19, 2022 - 5:10pm
 
Online Radio Platforms - Steely_D - May 19, 2022 - 4:03pm
 
Brag about your stereo - miamizsun - May 19, 2022 - 3:16pm
 
All Dogs Go To Heaven - Dog Pix - islander - May 19, 2022 - 3:00pm
 
COVID-19 - Red_Dragon - May 19, 2022 - 1:50pm
 
Testing your Metal? - oldviolin - May 19, 2022 - 12:11pm
 
Ukraine - NoEnzLefttoSplit - May 19, 2022 - 10:37am
 
Help Finding A Song - nightdrive - May 19, 2022 - 10:19am
 
Lyrics - oldviolin - May 19, 2022 - 8:17am
 
What Did You Do Today? - miamizsun - May 19, 2022 - 4:08am
 
New Song Submissions system - danielh - May 19, 2022 - 2:09am
 
What Makes You Sad? - Coaxial - May 18, 2022 - 6:42pm
 
NASA & other news from space - GeneP59 - May 18, 2022 - 4:37pm
 
Talk Behind Their Backs Forum - GeneP59 - May 18, 2022 - 4:12pm
 
Guided Meditation by Bill - thisbody - May 18, 2022 - 2:45pm
 
January 20th, 2005 ~ Boycott And Meditation Day - thisbody - May 18, 2022 - 2:34pm
 
Mixtape Culture Club - miamizsun - May 18, 2022 - 1:55pm
 
Economix - thisbody - May 18, 2022 - 1:48pm
 
Japan - Red_Dragon - May 18, 2022 - 10:58am
 
Race in America - Red_Dragon - May 18, 2022 - 7:36am
 
North Korea - Red_Dragon - May 17, 2022 - 9:07pm
 
Photography Forum - Your Own Photos - KurtfromLaQuinta - May 17, 2022 - 11:24am
 
"2000 Mules" movie purports to prove 2020 election was st... - rgio - May 17, 2022 - 7:02am
 
Vinyl Only Spin List - kurtster - May 16, 2022 - 8:44pm
 
Buddy's Haven - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 6:31pm
 
• • • The Once-a-Day • • •  - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 6:18pm
 
Environment - Red_Dragon - May 16, 2022 - 4:42pm
 
RightWingNutZ - Red_Dragon - May 16, 2022 - 4:24pm
 
260,000 Posts in one thread? - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 3:24pm
 
New Music - miamizsun - May 16, 2022 - 12:37pm
 
• • • Clownstock • • •  - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 10:17am
 
What the hell OV? - miamizsun - May 16, 2022 - 9:40am
 
Supreme Court Rulings - Red_Dragon - May 16, 2022 - 9:33am
 
Outstanding Covers - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 8:35am
 
Watching My Mind Slip Away... - oldviolin - May 16, 2022 - 6:05am
 
Great Old Songs You Rarely Hear Anymore - Alchemist - May 15, 2022 - 10:12pm
 
TuneIn difficulties - KurtfromLaQuinta - May 15, 2022 - 7:02pm
 
Terrorist Watch! - Steely_D - May 15, 2022 - 5:17pm
 
Climate Change - Red_Dragon - May 15, 2022 - 1:31pm
 
Spain - Red_Dragon - May 15, 2022 - 11:04am
 
Get Your Godcast! - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 4:52pm
 
TV shows you watch - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 4:03pm
 
Republican Party - rgio - May 14, 2022 - 3:15pm
 
The Abortion Wars - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 2:20pm
 
Guns - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 2:08pm
 
Finland - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 11:28am
 
CRAZY Flooding Video! - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 7:35am
 
Bluesound MQA stream not working for me - Juancastilo - May 14, 2022 - 6:48am
 
Australia has Disappeared - Red_Dragon - May 14, 2022 - 6:07am
 
Gotta Get Your Drink On - Antigone - May 13, 2022 - 5:25pm
 
The Dragons' Roost - GeneP59 - May 13, 2022 - 7:15am
 
Women in the World - miamizsun - May 13, 2022 - 6:21am
 
2020 Elections - Red_Dragon - May 12, 2022 - 12:34pm
 
George Carlin - GeneP59 - May 12, 2022 - 7:35am
 
Stuff I've Said Out Loud - GeneP59 - May 12, 2022 - 7:25am
 
Index » Regional/Local » Elsewhere » Science in the News Page: Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next
Post to this Topic
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 20, 2010 - 9:34am

 oldslabsides wrote:


those crafty germans.

 
Well, I am sure it is nothing that your DoD haven't already done. Just this will be put into the public domain.

Red_Dragon

Red_Dragon Avatar



Posted: Oct 20, 2010 - 9:31am

 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote: 

those crafty germans.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 20, 2010 - 9:23am

very cool
triskele

triskele Avatar

Location: The Dragons' Roost


Posted: Oct 19, 2010 - 9:43am

i mis-read the title of this thread as "silence in the news."  then i thought about how nice that would be....
jadewahoo

jadewahoo Avatar

Location: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 18, 2010 - 9:47pm

New studies show people can anticipate future events.
In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen tells Alice that in her land, "memory works both ways." Not only can the Queen remember things from the past, but she also remembers "things that happened the week after next." Alice attempts to argue with the Queen, stating "I'm sure mine only works one way...I can't remember things before they happen." The Queen replies, "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

How much better would our lives be if we could live in the White Queen's kingdom, where ours memory would work backwards and forewords? For instance, in such a world, you could take an exam and then study for it afterwards to make sure you performed well in the past. Well, the good news is that according to a recent series of scientific studies by Daryl Bem, you already live in that world!

Dr. Bem, a social psychologist at Cornell University, conducted a series of studies that will soon be published in one of the most prestigious psychology journals (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Across nine experiments, Bem examined the idea that our brain has the ability to not only reflect on past experiences, but also anticipate future experiences. This ability for the brain to "see into the future" is often referred to as psi phenomena.

Although prior research has been conducted on the psi phenomena - we have all seen those movie images of people staring at Zener cards with a star or wavy lines on them - such studies often fail to meet the threshold of "scientific investigation." However, Bem's studies are unique in that they represent standard scientific methods and rely on well-established principles in psychology. Essentially, he took effects that are considered valid and reliable in psychology - studying improves memory, priming facilitates response times - and simply reversed their chronological order.

For example, we all know that rehearsing a set of words makes them easier to recall in the future, but what if the rehearsal occurs after the recall? In one of the studies, college students were given a list of words and after reading the list, were given a surprise recall test to see how many words they remembered. Next, a computer randomly selected some of the words on the list as practice words and the participants were asked to retype them several times. The results of the study showed that the students were better at recalling the words on the surprise recall test that they were later given, at random, to practice. According to Bem, practicing the words after the test somehow allowed the participants to "reach back in time to facilitate recall."

In another study, Bem examined whether the well-known priming effect could also be reversed. In a typical priming study, people are shown a photo and they have to quickly indicate if the photo represents a negative or positive image. If the photo is of a cuddly kitten, you press the "positive" button and if the photo is of maggots on rotting meat, you press the "negative" button. A wealth of research has examined how subliminal priming can speed up your ability to categorize these photos. Subliminal priming occurs when a word is flashed on the computer screen so quickly that your conscious brain doesn't recognize what you saw, but your nonconscious brain does. So you just see a flash, and if I asked you to tell me what you saw, you wouldn't be able to. But deep down, your nonconscious brain saw the word and processed it. In priming studies, we consistently find that people who are primed with a word consistent with the valence of the photo will categorize it quicker. So if I quickly flash the word "happy" before the kitten picture, you will click the "positive" button even quicker, but if I instead flash the word "ugly" before it, you will take longer to respond. This is because priming you with the word "happy" gets your mind ready to see happy things.

In Bem's retroactive priming study, he simply reversed the time sequence on this effect by flashing the primed word after the person categorized the photo. So I show you the kitten picture, you pick whether it is positive or negative, and then I randomly choose to prime you with a good or bad word. The results showed that people were quicker at categorizing photos when it was followed by a consistent prime. So not only will you categorize the kitten quicker when it is preceded by a good word, you will also categorize it quicker when it is followed by a good word. It was as if, while participants were categorizing the photo, their brain knew what word was coming next and this facilitated their decision.

These are just two examples of the studies that Bem conducted, but his other studies showed similar "retroactive" effects. The results clearly suggest that average "non-psychic" people seem to be able to anticipate future events.

One question you may be asking is how big of a difference was there? Does studying for a test after it has occurred, or priming you with a word after categorizing the photo make a dramatic change, or is it just a slight bump in performance? Essentially, these are questions of "effect size." It is true that the effect sizes in Bem's studies are small (e.g., only slightly larger than chance). However, there are several reasons why we shouldn't just disregard these results based on small, but highly consistent, effect sizes.

First, across his studies, Bem did find that certain people demonstrate stronger effects than others. In particular, people high in stimulus seeking - an aspect of extraversion where people respond more favorably to novel stimuli - showed effect sizes nearly twice the size of the average person. This suggests that some people are more sensitive to psi effects than others.

Second, small effect sizes are not that uncommon in psychology (and other sciences). For example, on average, the Bem studies showed an effect size of .20 (out of a possible range of 0-1). Although that is fairly small, it is as large as or larger than some well-established effects, including the link between aspirin and heart attack prevention, calcium intake and bone mass, second hand smoke and lung cancer, and condom use and HIV prevention (Bushman & Anderson, 2001). And as Cohen has pointed out, such small effect sizes are most likely to occur in the early stages of exploring a topic, when scientists are just starting to discover why the effect occurs and when it is most likely to occur.

So if we accept that these psi phenomena are real, how then can we explain them without throwing out our entire understanding of time and physics? Well, the truth is that these effects are actually pretty consistent with modern physics' take on time and space. For example, Einstein believed that the mere act of observing something here could affect something there, a phenomenon he called "spooky action at a distance."

Similarly, modern quantum physics has demonstrated that light particles seem to know what lies ahead of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly, even though the future event hasn't occurred yet. For example, in the classic "double slit experiment," physicists discovered that light particles respond differently when they are observed video>. But in 1999, researchers pushed this experiment to the limits by asking "what if the observation occurred after the light particles were deployed." Surprisingly, they found the particles acted the same way, as if they knew they were going to be observed in the future even though it hadn't happened yet wiki entry>.

Such trippy time effects seem to contradict common sense and trying to make sense of them may give the average person a headache, but physicists have just had to accept it. As Dr. Chiao, a physicist from Berkeley once said about quantum mechanics, "It's completely counterintuitive and outside our everyday experience, but we (physicists) have kind of gotten used to it."

So although humans perceive time as linear, it doesn't necessarily mean it is so. And as good scientists, we shouldn't let out preconceived beliefs and biases influence what we study, even if these preconceived beliefs reflect our basic assumptions about how time and space work.

Dr. Bem's work is thought provoking, and like good cutting-edge science is supposed to do, it offers more questions than answers. If we suspend our beliefs about time and accept that the brain is capable of reaching into the future, the next question becomes "how does it do this?" Just because the effect seems "supernatural" doesn't necessarily mean the cause is. Many scientific discoveries were once considered outlandish and more suited to science fiction (e.g., the earth being round, microscopic organisms). Future research is greatly needed to explore the exact reasons for these studies' effects

Like many novel explorations in science, Bem's findings may have a profound effect on what we know and have come to accept as true. But for some of you, perhaps these effects are not such a big surprise, because somewhere deep down inside, you already knew you would be reading about them today!

Suggested Reading:

Bem, D. J. (in press) Feeling the Future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Dr. Bem's website



rachlan

rachlan Avatar

Location: nyc
Gender: Female


Posted: Oct 16, 2009 - 10:41am

 hippiechick wrote:
Solar system's edge surprises astronomers
New observations reveal a dense ribbon structure that current models don’t explain

access
MAP OF THE EDGEA map of neutral atoms, generated by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, shows a ribbonlike structure near the edge of the heliosphere, the boundary between the solar system and interstellar space. The ribbon is not predicted by any model. Blue denotes the lowest intensity of atoms, red the highest. Image from Southwest Research Institute

The edge of the solar system is tied up with a ribbon, astronomers have discovered. The first global map of the solar system reveals that its edge is nothing like what had been predicted. Neutral atoms, which are the only way to image the fringes of the solar system, are densely packed into a narrow ribbon rather than evenly distributed.

“Our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted,” says study coauthor Herbert Funsten of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, or IBEX, discovered the narrow ribbon, which completes nearly a full circle across the sky. The density of neutral atoms in the band is two to three times that in adjacent regions.

These and related findings, reported in six papers posted online October 15 in Science, will not only send theorists back to the drawing board, researchers say, but may ultimately provide new insight on the interaction between the heliosphere — the vast bubble in which the solar system resides — and surrounding space.

The bubble is inflated by solar wind, the high-speed stream of charged particles blowing out from the sun to the solar system’s very edge. For 48 years, researchers have assumed that the solar wind sculpted the structure at the heliosphere’s boundary with interstellar space, says Tom Krimigis of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.. But the newly found ribbon’s orientation suggests that the galaxy’s magnetic field, just outside the heliosphere, seems to be the chief organizer of structure in this region, says theorist Nathan Schwadron of Boston University, a lead author of one of the studies.

It’s not known whether the ribbon lasts for just a few years or is a permanent feature.

Equally puzzling are observations of the same boundary region with an instrument on the Cassini spacecraft, which recorded the density of atoms at higher energies, above 6,000 electron volts. From its vantage point at Saturn, Cassini sees a belt rather than a ribbonlike structure, a team led by Krimigis also reports in Science. The belt is substantially broader than the ribbon seen by IBEX but is in the same general area.

The heliosphere shields the solar system from 90 percent of energetic cosmic rays — high-speed charged particles that would otherwise bombard the planets and harm life. Understanding more about the heliosphere and its ability to filter out galactic cosmic rays could be critical for assessing the safety of human space travel, Schwadron notes. The new findings may also help predict how the heliosphere varies in shape and size as it moves through the galaxy and encounters regions of space having different densities and magnetic field strengths.

The ribbon found by IBEX, recorded at energies between 200 and 6,000 electron volts, is brightest at about 1,000 electron volts and lies between about 100 and 125 astronomical units from the sun, notes David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. One astronomical unit is the distance between the Earth and the sun. The atoms recorded by IBEX, which orbits Earth, took a year or two, depending on their energies, to reach the craft from the outer edge of the heliosphere.

The IBEX ribbon runs perpendicular to the direction of the galaxy’s magnetic field at the interstellar boundary, an indication that the field has a much stronger than expected influence on the sun’s environs, report Schwadron and his colleagues. One possibility is that pressure from this external magnetic field has forced particles just inside the heliosphere to bunch together into a ribbon.

“First and foremost, this is a big surprise because we thought we know a lot about this region, the edge of the heliosphere,” McComas says. The Voyager 1 craft in 2004 (SN: 1/3/04, p. 7) and the Voyager 2 craft in 2007 (SN: 8/2/08, p. 7) journeyed to opposite sides of this fringe region of the solar system and crossed the termination shock — where the solar wind encounters a shock that precedes the influx of particles drifting into the solar system from interstellar space. Both craft recorded the density of particles and the strength of the magnetic fields.

Both Voyager 1 and 2 missed seeing the newly found ribbon because it spans a region between their flight paths, says McComas. No existing model can explain the ribbon, he adds, which was found independently by two instruments on IBEX.

Researchers had assumed that the pressure from the solar wind would compress in the heliosphere in the direction that the solar system was moving through space and create a cometlike tail in the opposite direction, notes Krimigis. “Now we know that’s wrong,” he says.

IBEX has also generated the first maps of neutral hydrogen and oxygen atoms entering the solar system from interstellar space. Previous observations had traced only incoming helium atoms. The sensitivity of the IBEX instruments allowed researchers to record the relatively small number of oxygen atoms that travel from beyond the termination shock, about 16 billion kilometers from Earth, to the spacecraft, notes study coauthor Stephen Fuselier of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif..

Hydrogen atoms are more abundant than either helium or oxygen but their low mass means they are easily swept aside by the high-speed solar wind and can’t readily be detected. The sun’s unusually low activity during the current minimum in the solar cycle allowed more of the hydrogen atoms from the outer heliosphere to travel unimpeded to the inner solar system, enabling IBEX to record those atoms, Fuselier says.



 
i kinda tried reading this.   not sure what it is saying.

hippiechick

hippiechick Avatar

Location: topsy turvy land
Gender: Female


Posted: Oct 16, 2009 - 10:12am

Solar system's edge surprises astronomers
New observations reveal a dense ribbon structure that current models don’t explain

access
MAP OF THE EDGEA map of neutral atoms, generated by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, shows a ribbonlike structure near the edge of the heliosphere, the boundary between the solar system and interstellar space. The ribbon is not predicted by any model. Blue denotes the lowest intensity of atoms, red the highest. Image from Southwest Research Institute

The edge of the solar system is tied up with a ribbon, astronomers have discovered. The first global map of the solar system reveals that its edge is nothing like what had been predicted. Neutral atoms, which are the only way to image the fringes of the solar system, are densely packed into a narrow ribbon rather than evenly distributed.

“Our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted,” says study coauthor Herbert Funsten of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, or IBEX, discovered the narrow ribbon, which completes nearly a full circle across the sky. The density of neutral atoms in the band is two to three times that in adjacent regions.

These and related findings, reported in six papers posted online October 15 in Science, will not only send theorists back to the drawing board, researchers say, but may ultimately provide new insight on the interaction between the heliosphere — the vast bubble in which the solar system resides — and surrounding space.

The bubble is inflated by solar wind, the high-speed stream of charged particles blowing out from the sun to the solar system’s very edge. For 48 years, researchers have assumed that the solar wind sculpted the structure at the heliosphere’s boundary with interstellar space, says Tom Krimigis of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.. But the newly found ribbon’s orientation suggests that the galaxy’s magnetic field, just outside the heliosphere, seems to be the chief organizer of structure in this region, says theorist Nathan Schwadron of Boston University, a lead author of one of the studies.

It’s not known whether the ribbon lasts for just a few years or is a permanent feature.

Equally puzzling are observations of the same boundary region with an instrument on the Cassini spacecraft, which recorded the density of atoms at higher energies, above 6,000 electron volts. From its vantage point at Saturn, Cassini sees a belt rather than a ribbonlike structure, a team led by Krimigis also reports in Science. The belt is substantially broader than the ribbon seen by IBEX but is in the same general area.

The heliosphere shields the solar system from 90 percent of energetic cosmic rays — high-speed charged particles that would otherwise bombard the planets and harm life. Understanding more about the heliosphere and its ability to filter out galactic cosmic rays could be critical for assessing the safety of human space travel, Schwadron notes. The new findings may also help predict how the heliosphere varies in shape and size as it moves through the galaxy and encounters regions of space having different densities and magnetic field strengths.

The ribbon found by IBEX, recorded at energies between 200 and 6,000 electron volts, is brightest at about 1,000 electron volts and lies between about 100 and 125 astronomical units from the sun, notes David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. One astronomical unit is the distance between the Earth and the sun. The atoms recorded by IBEX, which orbits Earth, took a year or two, depending on their energies, to reach the craft from the outer edge of the heliosphere.

The IBEX ribbon runs perpendicular to the direction of the galaxy’s magnetic field at the interstellar boundary, an indication that the field has a much stronger than expected influence on the sun’s environs, report Schwadron and his colleagues. One possibility is that pressure from this external magnetic field has forced particles just inside the heliosphere to bunch together into a ribbon.

“First and foremost, this is a big surprise because we thought we know a lot about this region, the edge of the heliosphere,” McComas says. The Voyager 1 craft in 2004 (SN: 1/3/04, p. 7) and the Voyager 2 craft in 2007 (SN: 8/2/08, p. 7) journeyed to opposite sides of this fringe region of the solar system and crossed the termination shock — where the solar wind encounters a shock that precedes the influx of particles drifting into the solar system from interstellar space. Both craft recorded the density of particles and the strength of the magnetic fields.

Both Voyager 1 and 2 missed seeing the newly found ribbon because it spans a region between their flight paths, says McComas. No existing model can explain the ribbon, he adds, which was found independently by two instruments on IBEX.

Researchers had assumed that the pressure from the solar wind would compress in the heliosphere in the direction that the solar system was moving through space and create a cometlike tail in the opposite direction, notes Krimigis. “Now we know that’s wrong,” he says.

IBEX has also generated the first maps of neutral hydrogen and oxygen atoms entering the solar system from interstellar space. Previous observations had traced only incoming helium atoms. The sensitivity of the IBEX instruments allowed researchers to record the relatively small number of oxygen atoms that travel from beyond the termination shock, about 16 billion kilometers from Earth, to the spacecraft, notes study coauthor Stephen Fuselier of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif..

Hydrogen atoms are more abundant than either helium or oxygen but their low mass means they are easily swept aside by the high-speed solar wind and can’t readily be detected. The sun’s unusually low activity during the current minimum in the solar cycle allowed more of the hydrogen atoms from the outer heliosphere to travel unimpeded to the inner solar system, enabling IBEX to record those atoms, Fuselier says.




jagdriver

jagdriver Avatar

Location: Now with a New York state of mind
Gender: Male


Posted: Sep 14, 2009 - 7:00am

How Do Space Pictures Get So Pretty?Photoshop, of course.

By Daniel Engber, Slate
Posted Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, at 4:56 PM ET

NASA released a stunning set of photographs from its newly renovated Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday. In 2005, Daniel Engber explained the process by which the Hubble's gray-scale photographs become dramatic colorized images. The original article is reprinted below.

A picture taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope was released on Monday; the image, which depicts the birth of 100,000 stars in a far-away gas cloud, shows a splotchy shape in light red, set against a background of speckled blue-white stars and olive mist. How do these photographs get to be so pretty?

Teams of specialists on the ground gussy them up for public consumption. Here's how it works: Telescopes like the Spitzer and the Hubble take black-and-white pictures using different filters to capture particular wavelengths of light. (The image released this week is a composite created from four shots of the same thing.) Then these pictures are sent back to Earth via the Deep Space Network, a set of large antennae set up around the world.

For the Hubble telescope, the image files can be up to 70MB in size, with a resolution of 16.7 megapixels. Data is downloaded from the telescope at a speed comparable to that of a good Internet connection.

Once the images are on the ground, scientists can look at them in the FITS ("Flexible Image Transport System") file format, a standard protocol used among astronomers. For analysis, most scientists use the data in this form-as grey-scale images representing light at different wavelengths.



To create an image suitable for public viewing, the scientists send the FITS files over to a public outreach team. Specialists on the team-who tend to be astronomers with graduate degrees and a passion for graphics and photography-begin the process of converting the information into the images sent out in press releases.

First, they put the image into a file format appropriate for media. That means that the data from the FITS files, which show a range of about 65,000 shades of grey, must be squeezed into a standard JPEG or TIFF file, with only 256 shades. This process is counterintuitively called "stretching" the data and must be done carefully to preserve important features and enhance details in the finished product.

Then each grey-scale image is assigned a color. In reality, each shot already represents a color-the wavelength of light captured by the filter when that picture was taken. But in some cases the images represent colors that we wouldn't be able to see. (The Spitzer, for example, registers the infrared spectrum.) To create a composite image that has the full range of colors seen by the human eye, an astronomer picks one image and makes it red, picks another and makes it blue, and completes the set by coloring a third image green. When he overlays the three images, one on top of the other, they produce a full-color picture. (Televisions and computer monitors create color in the same way.)

Sometimes the team assigns new colors even when the original pictures were taken in the visible spectrum. An object that would in real life comprise several indistinguishable shades of red might be represented to the public as the composite of three pictures in red, green, and blue. As a general rule, professional "visualizers" try to assign red to the image showing the longest wavelengths of light and blue to the one showing the shortest. (This parallels the relationship among the colors in the visible spectrum.)

Finally, the colorized images are cropped, rotated to the most dramatic orientation, and cleaned of instrument errors and other unsightly blemishes. Most of this work is done in Photoshop, using a freely downloaded plug-in that allows users to convert from the FITS format. (The original telescope images are also available, so you can create your own color gas cloud picture at home.)

Space pictures weren't always so pretty. David Malin, a scientist at a telescope facility in Australia, did the pioneering work in color visualization more than 20 years ago. He figured out how to use black-and-white photographic film and color filters to create full-color visualizations. The modern master of the field is Zoltan Levay, who works on images sent down from the Hubble.




newwavegurly

newwavegurly Avatar



Posted: Aug 24, 2009 - 1:04pm

The Appendix: Useful and in Fact Promising
samiyam

samiyam Avatar

Location: Moving North


Posted: Feb 18, 2009 - 11:23pm

Honey Pie: "Who's Zed?"
Butch:  "Zed's dead, honey.  Zed's dead"

Who says that no good science comes from Hollywood...


Alexandra

Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW
Gender: Female


Posted: Jan 10, 2009 - 12:53pm

See the biggest full moon of the year (perigee moon) tonight, if it's not obscured by clouds.



maryte

maryte Avatar

Location: Blinding You With Library Science!
Gender: Female


Posted: Dec 15, 2008 - 12:15pm

Scientist says he has found oldest spider web

LONDON - The tiny tangled threads of the world's oldest spider web have been found encased in a prehistoric piece of amber, a British scientist said Monday.

Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier said the 140-million-year-old webbing provides evidence that arachnids had been ensnaring their prey in silky nets since the dinosaur age. He also said the strands were linked to each other in the roughly circular pattern familiar to gardeners the world over.

"You can match the details of the spider's web with the spider's web in my garden," Brasier said.

The web was found in a small piece of amber picked up by an amateur fossil-hunter scouring the beaches on England's south coast about two years ago, Brasier said. A microscope revealed the existence of tiny threads about 1 millimeter (1/20th of an inch) long amid bits of burnt sap and fossilized vegetable matter.

While not as dramatic as a fully preserved net of spider silk, the minuscule strands show that spiders had been spinning circle-shaped webs well into prehistory, according to Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleobiologist uninvolved with the find.

"It's not a striking, perfect web," Braddy said. "(But) this seems to confirm that spiders were building orb webs back in the early Cretaceous" - the geological term for the period of time between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago when dinosaurs and small mammals shared the earth.

Spider experts believe that webs were developed even earlier, but the delicate gossamer threads rarely leave any trace. Amber, or fossilized tree resin, can occasionally conserve bits of web - an earlier find in Lebanon was dated to 130 million years ago, according to Brasier.


dionysius

dionysius Avatar

Location: The People's Republic of Austin
Gender: Male


Posted: Jun 11, 2008 - 2:36pm

maryte

maryte Avatar

Location: Blinding You With Library Science!
Gender: Female


Posted: Jun 11, 2008 - 2:00pm

DD redgiff

DD redgiff Avatar

Location: Havre de Grace, Maryland
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 27, 2008 - 2:13pm

Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 26, 2008 - 11:29pm

R_P

R_P Avatar



Posted: Apr 26, 2008 - 9:02pm

dionysius

dionysius Avatar

Location: The People's Republic of Austin
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 26, 2008 - 8:27pm

DD redgiff

DD redgiff Avatar

Location: Havre de Grace, Maryland
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 26, 2008 - 6:59pm

MonkeyPod

MonkeyPod Avatar

Location: Florida
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 26, 2008 - 3:44pm

Page: Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next