Tag Archives: space

A cosmic “face” in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849

Here’s an interesting image:

A cosmic "face" in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. Image: NASA

A cosmic “face” in the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. Image: NASA

It’s a smiley face in space! This image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, but spotted by a contestant in Nasa’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition, and shows an example of an Einstein Ring caused by gravitational lensing. This is a phenomenon that was theorised by Einstein, when he suggested that light can be affected by gravity. In this case, the light from the smaller, distant galaxy is bent by the gravity of the closer stars in front, and appears distorted in a ring around the stars, magnified to produce a ‘lensing’ effect and allowing us to see a galaxy that usually would not be visible to us. Fun science!

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Happy birthday Cassini!

I only came across this today, so it is a few days late, but it turns out that the Cassini probe went into orbit ten years ago on 1st July. This infographic presents some key facts about the mission to Saturn:

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

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New, reclaimed, libraries etc.

More books!

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  • Solomon Northup –  12 Years a Slave     £1.25
  • The Britannica Book of Genetics     50p
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels –  The Communist Manifesto     1 of 3 for £1
  • Michel Foucault –  Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison     2 of 3 for £1
  • Henrik Ibsen –  Four Major Plays     3 of 3 for £1
  • Patrick Moore –  On the Moon     £1.99

I also picked these books up from my parents’ house:

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  • Philip Pullman –  The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess
  • Philip Reeve –  Mortal Engines
  • Eleanor Updale –  Montmorency

Yes, they are all childrens/teen fiction, but as with many of Pullman’s works, this quadrilogy of ‘Sally Lockhart’ books are as good as any adult novels in both style, plot, langauge and themes, and the Reeve book I haven’t actually read, but want to as it is a dystopian work in a similar vein to many sci-fi classics. Hell, why am I defending myself here for wanting to read or re-read children’s fiction? I feel as though this is an argument I am having with myself, and am sure that I am the only person who needs convincing that it is okay. When it comes to classic and decent fiction, the boundary between children’s and adults is decidedly and rightly blurred, and is one that is getting more and more irrelevant for me as time goes on. Blame Ted Hughes and his children’s poetry, which is also adult poetry; blame Lewis Carroll; blame Tolkein and J.K. Rowling.

…and on the theme of children’s works (and Ted Hughes) I also got this:

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I already own the tie-in version of this that was produced at the time of the film ‘The Iron Giant’, but that has certainly seen better days, and so when I saw this ‘Faber Classics’ edition with the 1980s cover restored, I thought that it was worth the £2.99 that I paid for it. You can’t tell here, but the title and the rivets around the border are all in shiny gold foil and are imbossed, which really adds to this edition and makes it a nice collectors piece. The book also looks far more substantial in this format, as the text is rather large and so the book has been padded out to over 100 pages. Also, this is the first brand new Faber & Faber book that I have bought since Seamus Heaney’s ‘Human Chain’ in paperback in 2011 (as opposed to second-hand), and so it is the first time I have seen the new Faber typeface in print:

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It looks a bit odd initially alongside the double-f logo, but I don’t think that it looks at all bad. it certainly has a nice 1920s/30s feel to it, harking back to the Faber of Eliot, and that is never a bad thing. Here is the font in greater detail, taken from their website:

 

Faber

Image: faber.co.uk

Hopefully, I may see that grace my poetry in the near future… Yeah, right. I can but dream…

Lastly, two of our local libraries have been having booksales, and so I got these few:

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  • Jon McGregor –  even the dogs     10p
  • Frank Herbert –  Hellstrom’s Hive     10p
  • Mohsin Hamid –  The Reluctant Fundamentalist     10p

…and these…

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  • Ian Fleming –  Goldfinger     25p
  • Irvine Welsh –  Trainspotting     25p
  • Thomas Hardy –  Jude the Obscure     25p
  • Philip Reeve –  Predator’s Gold     25p
  • Jenny Turner –  The Brainstorm     25p
  • Archie Brown –  The Rise & Fall of Communism     10p

 


 

I’m wondering with these new book posts whether I should start doing them monthly instead of as-and-when I buy. I just think that that would be a bit easier and make this blog a bit more tidy. Also, I hope to sort out all my arch & anth, poetry and other books soon so as we can buy some bookcases, and then I can actually start using them again and have easy access to them, rather than them being piled up and very impractical. I’ll let you know how I get on, and promise to post some pictures once the shelves are assembled and the books arranged. Watch this space!

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The Scale of the Universe — 100th post!

I’ve been wondering what I should do for my 100th post (I feel like this is a milestone I’ve reached, and an achievement that I’ve stuck with this blog for this long), and then remembered an animation that a physics teacher showed at work the other week to a class of Y10 students. I don’t know if they really appreciated it, but my mind boggled when I saw it. It really puts into perspective the position of the Earth within the wider universe, and genuinely surprised me just how incredibly small things are, as well as illustrating very well that size is only really relative. I’ve got very little else to say about it, as it speaks for itself really, but I urge you to click on this link and have a look:

The Scale of the Universe

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2013- Electric Puppet’s first 5 months in review

2014

Well- it’s New Year’s Eve, and time to reflect on what has gone on over the past year. For my family, this has been a big year, as we left the comfort and splendour of Oxford to return to our home city of Stoke-on-Trent; I graduated from university; I got my first job; we decided where we want to go with our life in the near and more distant future, thanks to an American man and his family on YouTube; I completed my first book of poetry, which had been languishing prior to this summer; I took the plunge and begun this blog, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while; and have got back in contact with several family members that I haven’t seen for the best part of a decade thanks to Facebook. It has been eventful, and had also been emotional and tiring for all of us. Also, with any luck, next year should be just as eventful- beginning work; trying to get my book published; endeavouring to write the novel and short story collection that I’ve been planning for a month or so; and getting married. Yes: my partner and I are getting married next year!

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In terms of this blog, I will be getting up several ‘Thoughts on…’ posts for the books I have read recently- the first two Adrian Mole books, Penelope Lively’s ‘Heat Wave’, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, and Tove Jansson’s ‘Finn Family Moomintroll’- in the new year, and hopefully will get the first few up on New Year’s Day. For now, though, I thought that I would highlight a selection of posts from this blog that have proved popular, may have been overlooked, or are of relative interest for me.

I think that’s enough links to my other posts to be getting on with for now. Anyway- check some of these out if you haven’t already, or have a browse of the blog and see what you come across. Also, you can follow Electric Puppet on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/electricpuppetblog

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Lastly, here are a few fellow bloggers that I’ve come across in the past few months that you may find of interest:

Don’t Bend, Ascend

These Bones of Mine

Bones Don’t Lie

A Corner Of Tenth-Century Europe (written by one of my Anglo-Saxon lecturers from Oxford; he has since moved on to work at Birmingham University)

Museum Postcard

Prehistories

Interesting Literature

I hope you have a very happy New Year, and that 2014 will be good for you.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

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The best selfie out-of-this-world!

space selfie

 

I saw this photo yesterday, and thought that it was too good not to share on here. Following on from my posts on the Papal selfie and the Darth Vader selfie comes this new addition to a very occasional series, which was taken by (I think) a Japanese astronaut on a space-walk from the International Space Station. You can see the sun sitting on the left, but the best bit for me is seeing the reflection of the Earth in the astronaut’s helmet. Just wonderful. Nothing else to say really!

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z8_GND_5296: the Oldest Galaxy in the Universe

Furthest galaxy

 

That little fuzzy red splodge enlarged above is the memorably named z8_GND_5296, a galaxy that has recently been observed by the Hubble Telescope, and then been confirmed by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. As the title of this post says, it is believed to be the most distant galaxy ever observed, at a staggering 30 billion lightyears from Earth. The galaxy as we see it is as it was 13.1 billion years ago (the discrepancy between the distance and the age is due to the expansion of the universe), and shows the galaxy 700 million years after the Big Bang. In cosmological time, that is ridiculously close to the beginning of the universe, and so scientists hope that this can shed light n the earliest phases of the universe and the creation of galaxies. Indeed, so far we know that z8_GND_5296 is quite surprising and somewhat exceptional, as it is only about 1-2% the mass of the Milky Way, is rich in heavier elements, and yet it is turning gas and dust into new stars at a remarkable rate- hundreds of times faster than our own galaxy is. It is only the second distant galaxy discovered that has a high star production rate, showing that there were some very evolved galaxies in the early universe.

This galaxy has a redshift of 7.51, beating the 7.21 of the next furthest, and it is hoped that with better telescopes, even further galaxies still will be able to be observed. Perhaps it may even be possible to image the earliest stars in the universe from only a few million years after the Big Bang. Exciting stuff!

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Voyager-1

voyager1

You may have seen that a few days ago, scientists announced that they had confirmed the Voyager-1 probe finally left our Solar System on 25th August 2012, after having been launched on 5th September 1977. In this time, the probe photographed in spectacular detail the planets beyond the Asteroid Belt, and has simply kept on travelling away from the Sun towards deep space. It is thought now to be around 19 billion km (19000000000km) from Earth, and any radio signals sent by the craft take 17 hours to reach us due to this insane distance. The power source onboard is believed to still have enough energy to keep Voyager going until 2025, after which it will stop transmitting and simply drift further and further out, carrying its cargo of one gold LP until it is picked up by aliens, absorbed by a star or smacked by a rock. However, for now it can still provide us with information, despite its cameras having been disabled and several of its instruments turned off. It detected a change in the flow and temperature of particles in order to signal its passage through the heliopause at the edge of our Solar System, and with any luck will continue to send us back information about the composition of an area of the universe that we can never otherwise reach and which until now we knew nothing (or next to nothing) about. It’s just a shame that the cameras weren’t still working, as it would be amazing to see our sun from such a distance and to get a glimpse of our galaxy from such a different vantage point.

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A new theory on why civilisation dawned

That’s an interesting image to be at the top of a post about the dawn of civilisation. It would be assumed that it would be more apt for a post about the end of civilisation, but no. The idea that all life on Earth came from outer space via an asteroid has recently gained credence, with scientists expressive the belief that said asteroid could have come from Mars and brought primitive life from there, and I for one find the arguments in favour highly compelling. However, I came across an article earlier today on ‘The Times’ website that suggests a meteor may also have had something to do with man’s (and woman’s) move to sedentary living and life within urban centres (I won’t call them ‘cities’, as I don’t want to get onto that debate…).

The idea is that a meteor struck in Quebec, Canada, around 12,900 years ago, and caused the onset of the colder, drier period known as the Younger Dryas. Previously, it was thought that this change in climate came about due to the rupturing of an ice dam that let a vast quantity of fresh water into the Atlantic and subsequently stopped currents carrying warm tropical waters towards Europe. Small droplets of molten rock known as spherules have been discovered in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that match chemical fingerprints of rocks in Quebec, and which suggest that they were formed under the high pressures and heat of a meteor impact in Canada. No crater has been found yet, but it suggests that the shift to agriculture as a more reliable source of food and thus eventually sedentary living that came about due to the change in climate may have been a fluke brought about by events that begun many millions of miles away from Earth. Also, this is one of the more rare occasions where two of my loves- namely archaeology and space- can come together in the same article! I am very intrigued to see whether this is definitively proved (or at least proved as much as is possible).

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