1776 – Johann Ritter, discoverer of ultraviolet light, was born. Born in Silesia (now a part of Poland), Ritter was influenced by William Herschel’s 1800 discovery of infrared light, leading to his findings just a year later. He also went on to invent the dry cell battery and the first storage battery.
Ritter’s experiment involved a glass prism, which refracts (bends) white light – causing it to appear to fan out into more distinct component colours. This is because as the light enters the glass it slows down, speeding back up again when it reaches the air/glass boundary on the other side. If light enters the prism at an angle, one ‘side’ of the light hits the prism first (above: the violet side), slowing down before the other ‘side’ (above: red). This, paired with the differing wavelengths (see diagram below), means that…
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Arizona State University professor Lawrence Krauss has been named the 2015 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanists Association.
The Humanist of the Year award was established in 1953 to recognize a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition.
Previous honorees include astronomer Carl Sagan; Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg, Murray Gell-Mann, Andrei Sakharov and Linus Pauling; polio vaccine discoverer Jonas Salk; feminist Gloria Steinem; biologists Edward O. Wilson and Stephen Jay Gould; psychologist B.F. Skinner; designer Buckminster Fuller; birth control activist Margaret Sanger; and author Kurt Vonnegut.
“I was shocked when I received the news, and humbled when I read the list of previous awardees, many of whom are intellectual heroes of mine,” said Krauss. “To be listed along with that group in any context is an honor of the highest order.
“As it is, I feel privileged that my activities, which ASU has helped foster and which I am motivated to do both because I enjoy them and because I hope that they might have a positive impact, have now also been so generously recognized by this award,” he added.
Krauss is internationally known for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology, and is a well-known author, science communicator, activist and public intellectual. His research covers science from the beginning of the universe to the end of the universe, and includes the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics.
In addition to being an ASU Foundation Professor, Krauss is the director of the Origins Project at ASU, which explores key questions about our origins, who we are and where we came from, and then holds open forums to encourage public participation.
Krauss is the only physicist to receive major awards from all three U.S. physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
In 2012 he was given the Public Service Award from the National Science Board for his efforts in communicating science to general audiences. Last year he was awarded the “Roma Award Urbs Universalis 2013” by the Mayor of Rome.
Krauss has authored more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including his most recent best-seller, “A Universe from Nothing,” which offers provocative, revelatory answers to the most basic philosophical questions of existence. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction within a week of its release.
Krauss also wrote the international best-seller “The Physics of Star Trek,” an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe, and “Beyond Star Trek,” which addressed recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy, and takes a look at how the laws of physics relate to notions from popular culture. A book on physicist Richard Feynman, “Quantum Man,” was awarded the 2011 Book of the Year by Physics World magazine in the UK.
He has been a frequent commentator and columnist for newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American, and appears routinely on radio and television. He was featured with Richard Dawkins in a full-length film documentary, “The Unbelievers,” which has been billed as a “rock-n-roll tour film about science and reason.”
Krauss also serves as a co-chair of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on the board of directors of the Federation of American Scientists and is one of the founders of ScienceDebate2012.
Krauss will receive a bronze plate bearing an inscription during the American Humanists Association Annual Conference, May 7-10, 2015, in Denver.
NASA planning a Mars mission (with humans) for 2030. Not sure I’d be getting on that flight… I’d LOVE to see Mars with my own eyes, but would like to feel 100% confident I’d survive the 150-300 day journey in space. No one can send help if something goes wrong…
This Thursday, at 7:05 a.m. EST, the launch window for NASA’s Orion will open and – weather permitting – it will lift off aboard an enormous ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral for its maiden voyage into space. The event will be broadcast live on NASA TV starting at 4:30 a.m., and I’ll also be live on site watching from the causeway at Kennedy Space Center as part of a NASA Social event. As they’re saying on Twitter, #ImOnBoard!
Orion is NASA’s next-generation human spaceflight vehicle, built by Lockheed Martin to allow astronauts to one day travel farther than ever before… beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon, asteroids, and Mars. Designed to ultimately launch aboard the upcoming Space Launch System of rockets, Orion’s uncrewed EFT-1 launch this week will send it into orbit 3,600 miles above the Earth to test its flight, reentry, and splashdown capabilities.
Follow the launch…
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I am just wrapping up the book “Alan Turing – The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges. Great insight into the life and intellect of this formidable mathematician and father of computers and AI. I found this post relevant and interesting…. Can’t wait to see “The Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing…
From Letters of Note we get a poignant letter from Alan Turing (1912-1954) written to the mathematician Normal Routledge in 1952, shortly before Turing pleaded guilty to “gross indecency” for having sexual relations with men. (It’s hard to imagine that being a crime, but of course it was the situation for many years in England; it was, in fact, the crime for which Oscar Wilde was convicted.)
Turing was given a choice between prison and “chemical castration” (injection with stilbesterol, which renders one impotent, among other things). Turing chose the latter. As most of us know, Turing appeared to have committed suicide in 1954 by eating a cyanide-laced apple, though some biographers claim it might have an accident (Turing was doing experiments involving cyanide).
At any rate, here’s the letter:
My dear Norman,
I don’t think I really do know much about jobs, except the one I had during the war, and that certainly…
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