On Oct. 16, astronomers announced that they had viewed a cosmic event, the collision of two neutron stars, through both light and gravitational waves. Over a thousand scientists working with LIGO, the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, and Virgo, an Italy based observatory, contributed to the ground-breaking discovery. Three of these researchers were Prof. Saul Teukolsky, physics and astrophysics, research associate Prayush Kumar and senior research associate Larry Kidder. Gravitational waves were first detected in late 2015.
For most, travelling to the outer reaches of the solar system is a distant dream. But through the Sagan Planet Walk, organized by the Cornell Society of Physics Students, a tour of all the planets is still possible. The event, attended by over a 100 Ithacans, took place on Saturday. The walk follows 11 monolithic pillars placed along a 0.73 mile path, beginning with one depicting the Sun in the center of the Ithaca Commons and ends with Pluto at Ithaca Sciencenter. Each obelisk contains a circular frame with a small hole, the size of which depicts the planet’s size relative to the Sun.
It has been said that there are no new ideas. I disagree, but I would admit that new ideas are exceedingly rare. Certainly they are rare enough that I will never think of one. As a writer, then, my job is all about metaphor. If I can put old ideas together in exciting new ways, then I am worth my salt as a composer of language.
Society teaches us that science has no limits; that you and I can be whatever we want to be, do whatever we want to do, and that scientists are nothing but an utter bouquet of bright minds moving from grass to grace, sharing their knowledge with all and sundry, passing on the ‘Universalistic’ torch inscribed with the message: all is possible in the name of science. True to its nature, the more we learn about the physical world the smaller it gets, the more justifications we come up with for branching out of our egg-shell shaped Earth, for exploring the Moon, the stars, the Milky Way, the Universe. But whence come our limit, if any?
I often feel clueless trying to identify the many stars, planets and orbital objects speckled across Ithaca’s anomalous, clear night sky. I admit to feeling a tug of glee when identifying Orion, the Big Dipper or the three stars of the Summer Triangle. No matter how knowledgeable or ignorant one is about the positions and names of the objects in the night sky, it’s never been possible to see more than small white pinpricks of light with the unaided eye.
The Cornell-managed Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has been under cost-cutting pressure due to budget cuts by the National Science Foundation. However, the observatory received a break with a new partnership agreement signed last week to bring in $2.3 million annually to Arecibo.
The National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center and the Puerto Rico Department of Education will run the program together, though the Department of Education will contribute the funds.
The money will go to fund a program called “Inspiration to Science,” which aims to educate kindergarten through 12th grade Puerto Rican school children.