Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Space Flight, Colliding Galaxies & A Super Planet

Space has a roller derby style, 4 galaxy pile up 5 billion light years away happening. Viewed through the Spitzer telescope, the universe's largest most recent galactic collision is expected to produce one single galaxy after the cosmic dust settles. Elsewhere, a mega planet that has the potential to float on water has scientists enthralled. Within the constellation Hercules, just under 1500 light years from Earth, is the mammoth TRes-4. The planet is so big that it would not have to ever worry about being D-listed like the solar system pebble, Pluto. This planet discovery dwarfs Jupiter by 70%.

Tomorrow, the space shuttle Endeavour is due for liftoff carrying another teacher into orbit around Earth. Pretty sure no astronaut is nutty enough to have slurped a shaken not stirred double apple martini before this trip. This trip has sentimental value after Challenger. The First Lady called Barbara Morgan to wish her well, hopefully she avoided saying "cheers".

NASA has a space store with an interesting array of books for children. Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the foremost experts on the universe. He is physically challenged and one of the great joys was to see his face light up when he flew in zero gravity for the first time without his wheelchair. His scientific mind is universal in scope and he has written many a book or white paper that are still being mined for insights.

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