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Author Archives: farhannshabab
I had taken Astronomy 201 because I was curious about humanity’s place in the universe. As a second semester senior, I didn’t need this class at all; I just wanted broaden my understanding of the world around me. Deep down, I also wanted form an educated opinion on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. It was hence […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Extremophiles are organisms that thrive under “extreme” conditions. The term frequently refers to microbes such as prokaryotes, which are single-celled organisms that lack a membrane-bound nucleus. Extremophiles do come in all shapes and sizes, and are grouped according to the environment they thrive in. One such group is the acidophiles: organisms that grow best at acidic […] Continue reading → Continue reading
When Cristopher Nolan’s Interstellar hit the theaters in November 2014, I decided to wait for reviews from my friends. My friends, most of whom were pursuing Electrical Engineering and Physics majors, had this to say about the movie after they watched it: “Meh, too many logic holes”. So I skipped the movie; but over the […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, lie outside our solar system. We have so far discovered nearly 2000 exoplanets, most of which are Jovian planets like Jupiter. However in 2009, a possibly Earth like planet was discovered: Gliese 581d had the potential to support liquid water on its possibly rocky surface. It has a mass of around […] Continue reading → Continue reading
NASA’s Cassini mission scientists announced recently that Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus, has a warm ocean at its southern pole. The ocean is 9.7 km deep and resides under the moon’s icy crust of about 40 km. Tiny grains of rock were detected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft near Saturn. This indicates that there may be hydrothermal […] Continue reading → Continue reading
The Voyager 1, launched on 5th September in 1977, is the farthest spacecraft and hence the farthest man made object from Earth. At a distance of 12 billion miles from Earth, the spacecraft is escaping the Solar system at a speed of 1 million miles a day. At that distance, it takes mission control’s communications, travelling […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist, was once having a casual conversation on UFO reports with his colleagues during a lunch break at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1950. He had exclaimed “Where are they?”, alluding to extraterrestrial life. Fermi was perplexed that despite the large probability of alien life not only existing but also […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Most of us know about redshifting, a phenomenon of the Doppler effect. This is the change in frequency of a wave, both mechanical and electromagnetic, for an observer when there is relative motion between the source and the observer. For example, when an observer is moving closer to a wave source, each successive wave front […] Continue reading → Continue reading
The astronomer I chose is Johannes Kepler who lived from December 27, 1571 to November 15, 1630. Two historical events of the 16th century that I want to highlight are the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar. In 1572, Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre took place in Paris. On 23-24 August, Catholics assassinated an […] Continue reading → Continue reading
It is a great experience to learn about the changing map of the sky; it is a more amazing experience to actually gaze at the stars and be able to relate to the knowledge of the cosmos. Unfortunately, not all of us reside in a location untainted by light pollution or by smog; a clear starry night sky […] Continue reading → Continue reading