Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nuanced Brushstrokes to the Portrait

In fact, if there is any lesson I have learned
in these years of following science,
it is that nothing is as it seems.

Instead, things are as they seem plus the
details you are just beginning to notice.

New truths rarely overturn old ones;
they simply add nuanced
brushstrokes to the portrait.

~ Natalie Angier
The Beauty of the Beastly

Of Note: The Hubble Space Telescope has done it again--found something in space that cannot be explained. This time it is a "mysterious giant green blob" in deep outer space that is "strangely alive." The formation is apparently female because it is giving birth to new stars outside of a galaxy, the usual stellar birthplace. What's more, it is in the "middle of nowhere" according to an astronomer, who examined pictures and data. The original discoverer was a lady--an elementary school teacher--who saw the object in 2007 during a worldwide Galaxy Zoo project and said it looked like a blue smudge. It took Hubble a few years to get a better look at this enormous Thing, which is the size of our own Milky Way and 650 million light years away. With a light year being approximately 6 trillion miles, that would make it 650 million times 6 trillion miles away. That means we will most likely never see it in person. Good thing we have Hubble out there scouting out new and unusual space objects. We will find that the universe is full of them--and that is just the visible ones. Some day scientific instruments will be sensitive enough to pick up the invisible ones, which will give the word mind-blowing new meaning.

Today's Weather Report: No one could escape the sun's rays today, but it was cold, cold at 1 degree Fahrenheit this morning. The temp only rose to 8 degrees as the day progressed. It was a delightful day for a drive, and that's just what I did. The back roads were fairly treacherous after all the ice we had at the beginning of the month, but that was fine at slower speeds. All the better to take in the gorgeous scenery. So often I forget to just "stop and smell the roses," or in our case, the spruce and pine trees, which grace our landscape. Around one curve was a herd of deer standing in the road with no intention to move. After a couple of honks, they moseyed out of the way not at all fearful of my vehicle. It's one of those deer that will become a car casualty at some future date. Knock on wood, it has been several years since I've experienced a deer-car bang-up and hope never to again.

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