Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Listening for the stars

A headline on MSNBC news: "Superstrings might sing in gravity waves."

The article goes on to say:
"String theory posits that hidden dimensions are tightly wound in strings of elementary particles. An offshoot of this theory suggests that some such strings can form into narrow tubes of energy stretched across vast distances by the expansion of the universe. These theoretical cosmic superstrings, which researchers described as ultra-thin tubes filled with ancient vacuum created in the early universe, can coil into galactic-sized, vibrating loops that emit gravitational waves as they decay into oblivion.

"Sensing these vibrations would add the soundtrack to the beautiful imagery of astronomy that we are used to seeing," cosmologist Craig Hogan said. "All this time, we have been watching a silent movie."

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When I was a kid, I loved sky-gazing on summer nights. Because there were few lights in the country, the view on a clear night was brilliant with stars and twinkling planets.

A few times my father joined me, pointing out constellations: Orion the hunter, the Seven Sisters (Pleiades), the M-shape of Queen Cassiopeia’s Chair, and the Big Dipper. "Follow the edge of the cup and it points to the North Star," he’d say. "It’s useful to know, in case you ever get lost."

On nights I couldn’t sleep, I tiptoed from window to window as the rest of them slept, searching for the familiar constellations, and listening for the North Star.

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For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
--Vincent Van Gogh

Check out the article at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16653829/from/ET/

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