December 30 – Happy Hubble Day 2009!

December 30, 2009

Ultraviolet image of the Andromeda Galaxy, first known to be a galaxy by Edwin Hubble on December 30, 1924 - Galaxy Evolution Explorer image courtesy NASA

Ultraviolet image of the Andromeda Galaxy, first known to be a galaxy by Edwin Hubble on December 30, 1924 - Galaxy Evolution Explorer image courtesy NASA

Today is a good day to celebrate the universe in all it’s glory – December 30. This year, the International Year of Astronomy, makes it a double celebration.

On December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced he’d discovered other galaxies in distant space.  Though it may not have been so clear at the time, it meant that, as a galaxy, we are not alone in the universe (whether we are alone as intelligent life is a separate question).  It also meant that the universe is much, much bigger than most people had dared to imagine.

Logo for International Year of Astronomy 2009 - Astronomy2009.org

Go to Astronomy2009.org

Below, mostly an encore post.

Last year for Hubble Day, Wired picked up on the story (with a gracious link to 2007’s post here at the Bathtub). Wired includes several links to even more information, a good source of information.  See Wired’s 2009 post here.

Hubble was the guy who showed us the universe is not only bigger than we imagined, it’s probably much bigger and much more fantastic than we can imagine. Hubble is the guy who opened our imaginations to the vastness of all creation.

How does one celebrate Hubble Day? Here are some suggestions:

  • Easier than Christmas cards: Send a thank-you note to your junior high school science teacher, or whoever it was who inspired your interest in science. Mrs. Hedburg, Mrs. Andrews, Elizabeth K. Driggs, Herbert Gilbert, Mr. Willis, and Stephen McNeal, thank you.
  • Rearrange your Christmas/Hanukkah/Eid/KWANZAA lights in the shape of the Andromeda Galaxy — or in the shape of any of the great photos from the Hubble Telescope (Andromeda Galaxy pictured above; Hubble images here)

    A few of the images from the Hubble Telescope

    A few of the images from the Hubble Telescope

  • Go visit your local science museum; take your kids along – borrow somebody else’s kids if you have to (take them along, too)
  • Spend two hours in your local library, just looking through the books on astronomy and the universe
  • Anybody got a good recipe for a cocktail called “The Hubble?” “The Andromeda?” Put it in the comments, please

The encore post, from 2007:

December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced the results of his observations of distant objects in space.

PBS

Edwin Hubble - source: PBS

In 1924, he announced the discovery of a Cepheid, or variable star, in the Andromeda Nebulae. Since the work of Henrietta Leavitt had made it possible to calculate the distance to Cepheids, he calculated that this Cepheid was much further away than anyone had thought and that therefore the nebulae was not a gaseous cloud inside our galaxy, like so many nebulae, but in fact, a galaxy of stars just like the Milky Way. Only much further away. Until now, people believed that the only thing existing outside the Milky Way were the Magellanic Clouds. The Universe was much bigger than had been previously presumed.

Later Hubble noted that the universe demonstrates a “red-shift phenomenon.” The universe is expanding. This led to the idea of an initial expansion event, and the theory eventually known as Big Bang.

Hubble’s life offered several surprises, and firsts:

Hubble was a tall, elegant, athletic, man who at age 30 had an undergraduate degree in astronomy and mathematics, a legal degree as a Rhodes scholar, followed by a PhD in astronomy. He was an attorney in Kentucky (joined its bar in 1913), and had served in WWI, rising to the rank of major. He was bored with law and decided to go back to his studies in astronomy.

In 1919 he began to work at Mt. Wilson Observatory in California, where he would work for the rest of his life. . . .
Hubble wanted to classify the galaxies according to their content, distance, shape, and brightness patterns, and in his observations he made another momentous discovery: By observing redshifts in the light wavelengths emitted by the galaxies, he saw that galaxies were moving away from each other at a rate constant to the distance between them (Hubble’s Law). The further away they were, the faster they receded. This led to the calculation of the point where the expansion began, and confirmation of the big bang theory. Hubble calculated it to be about 2 billion years ago, but more recent estimates have revised that to 20 billion years ago.

An active anti-fascist, Hubble wanted to joined the armed forces again during World War II, but was convinced he could contribute more as a scientist on the homefront. When the 200-inch telescope was completed on Mt. Palomar, Hubble was given the honor of first use. He died in 1953.

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”

That news on December 30, 1924, didn’t make the first page of the New York Times. The Times carried a small note on February 25, 1925, that Hubble won a $1,000 prize from the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

(Does anyone have a suitable citation for that video? Where did it come from? Who produced it? Is there more somewhere?)

Happy Hubble Day! Look up!

Resources:

Alert others to look up and toast Hubble:

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Encore post: Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955

December 1, 2009

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted, Library of Congress

Rosa Parks: “Why do you push us around?”

Officer: “I don’t know but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.”

From Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed, Quiet Strength
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1994), page 23.

Photo: Mrs. Parks being fingerprinted in Montgomery, Alabama; photo from New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, Library of Congress

Today in History at the Library of Congress states the simple facts:

On the evening of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American, was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black passengers to relinquish seats to white passengers when the bus was full. Blacks were also required to sit at the back of the bus. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system and led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

Rosa Parks made a nearly perfect subject for a protest on racism. College-educated, trained in peaceful protest at the famous Highlander Folk School, Parks was known as a peaceful and respected person. The sight of such a proper woman being arrested and jailed would provide a schocking image to most Americans. Americans jolted awake.

Often lost in the retelling of the story are the threads that tie together the events of the civil rights movement through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. As noted, Parks was a trained civil rights activist. Such training in peaceful and nonviolent protest provided a moral power to the movement probably unattainable any other way. Parks’ arrest was not planned, however. Parks wrote that as she sat on the bus, she was thinking of the tragedy of Emmet Till, the young African American man from Chicago, brutally murdered in Mississippi early in 1955. She was thinking that someone had to take a stand for civil rights, at about the time the bus driver told her to move to allow a white man to take her seat. To take a stand, she remained seated. [More below the fold]

Read the rest of this entry »


2 millionth reader, coming in November

November 2, 2009

Unless things really drop off the table, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub will have its 2 millionth reader sometime this month, probably between the 14th and the 20th.

Update: No, that won’t happen.  Such goofs come from posting when tired.  We’ll click over 1.8 million readers, but not 2 million.  What was I thinking?

Oh, I know what I was really thinking:  The rest of the post is still good:

Gee.  Thanks.

Leave a message when you drop by, would you?


June 28 coincidence?

July 1, 2009

I noticed two events that share a day, though five years apart, and I wonder whether it was coincidence.

Pure coincidence, or macabre planning by diplomats?  Anyone know?


50 years since the music died: Buddy Holly

February 4, 2009

Buddy Holly died 50 years ago, February 3.  NPR gives the basics:

Morning Edition, February 3, 2009 – Fifty years after his death at 22, rock ‘n’ roll founding father Buddy Holly is still cool. On Feb. 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, along with J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens, died in a plane crash while touring the Midwest. Holly would have been 72 by now — and probably still rocking and rolling. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Elvis Costello have all paid tribute to Holly as a major influence.

But the music itself wasn’t his only contribution. Holly was among the first artists to use the studio as an instrument: He spent days crafting songs and experimenting with techniques that were still new in the recording business.

History is an odd business.  Holly’s old hometown is Lubbock, Texas.  Lubbock, itself in an odd, welcomed Prairie Renaissance, features a Rock and Roll Museum and a set of Buddy Holly glasses that would dwarf the Colossus at Rhodes.  But his family is at odds with the city on the use of his name on local streets and promotional materials.

Sculpture of Buddy Hollys glasses, at the Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock - Roundamerica.com

Sculpture of Buddy Holly's glasses, at the Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock - Roundamerica.com

Waylon Jennings, probably the most famous survivor in Holly’s old band, died in 2002 (on February 13).  Who is left to study Holly and his work, to keep the flame of historic remembrance alive?


We live in truly historic times

September 17, 2008

My children lived to see a Boston Red Sox win in the World Series, already in their short lives.

100-year old Cubs fan Richard Savage, who saw the Cubs lose the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 1918, hopes to see the Cubs win a World Series - AARP Bulletin Today

100-year old Cubs fan Richard Savage, who saw the Cubs lose the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 1918, hopes to see the Cubs win a World Series - AARP Bulletin Today

More history is being writtenCould this be the Chicago Cubs’ year?  Their magic number is 4, after the Cubbies defeated the Brewers, 5-4, behind Kerry Woods’ ninth-inning heroics.

With the triumph, the Cubs pushed Milwaukee nine games back in the National League Central race and a half-game behind the New York Mets in the wild-card playoff race while reducing their own magic number to four.

“We just figure if we keep winning ballgames, good things will come for us,” Dempster said. “Don’t get caught up in the standings or numbers or anything like that. Just come to the ballpark and try to win every day. This is big.”

The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.

More good news: Changes in the balloting procedures for the Baseball Hall of Fame improve the chances of previously-overlooked heroes like Ron Santo.

Now, about that Triple Crown . . . or even that one.


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