Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beautiful science

Science seems to elicit a range of reactions from people: excitement, fear, distrust, puzzlement, and so on. There are those who hang on almost every word that scientists utter, and those who are dismissive of scientific endeavour, and see it as evil work, just serving to ruin the world. Some of these reactions are understandable, given the range of effects and products that scientific discovery and progress has produced, both good and bad.

For some, science can be just plain beautiful; such beauty can lie in an equation, the proof of a theorem, or a truly captivating image generated by any branch of science capable of so doing. One such example of the latter is this delightful confirmation of one of Einstein's predictions - gravitational lensing. Put simply, gravity can bend light. It takes a massive object, with a substantial gravitational field, to achieve this, but fortunately, the Universe is full of such things.

Our Sun is massive enough to show the effect, which can be demonstrated during total eclipses: stars 'behind' the Sun (but close enough to it, in the line of sight) can be seen in slightly different positions than expected, due to the Sun's pull on the distant starlight. When we look deep into the Universe though, we can observe not just stars, but entire galaxies that give rise to this effect. Often, the result is fragmented arcs of light, as very distant objects are not just 'moved ' slightly, but completely distorted. One very fine example of the effect is in this image from APOD. A very distant galaxy has been distorted into a nearly complete ring, by a nearer one. Click the image to read more.

SDSSJ1430: A Galaxy Einstein Ring
Credit: A. Bolton (UH/IfA) for SLACS and NASA/ESA

1 comment:

RosaCobos said...

That explains... why our archetypal intelligence have always thought that creation has a way in turns and spirals... that would demonstrate, somehow that which is difficult to beleive .. that the straight line does not exist... for enaything that ... moves.. evolves.. and all that is and moves it never acts by itself, but in profound relationship.. interaction with the surrounding.
It remembers me the Ckhakras, the Tao symbol, the fundament of the Svastics in many ancestral and profound beleivings.
Really intersting... thanks Duncan.
I love all this