Tuesday, February 7, 2012

youtube for the day/ ESO ALMA

The ability for humans to see the universe in other light started with Maxwell's electromagnetic theory for sure.  Everybody's heard of radar and radio.  Maybe they still think it's neat; maybe they don't(Arthur C Clark, in his 2001, makes a character remark how radio is one of those technologies that people don't think is science fictional anymore).  The ability to study the universe in infrared, radio, x-ray has been one of the biggest exciting astronomical developments since certainly the 1960s after the Apollo program.  Still, the millimeter wavelength has been a little bit neglected . . . till now.

ALMA is just one exciting ESO astronomical telescope project going on down there in South America.  They have a four optical wavelength telescope, linked by interferometry(kind of like what they did with radio telescopes back in the 1980s dark ages with the large radio array in New Mexico; at one time, science thought doing that kind of interferometry with wavelengths other than radio was impossible; just like engineers thought going beyond the speed of sound for aircraft was impossible; but, then, somebody found an arch that could accomplish it; this is what I mean and why I stress the analogy between mathematical concepts and arches; just like the arch allows architects to build with stone what they could not with a crossbeam, mathematical concepts and the technologies allowed by those concepts allow us to do what was not possible before).  Recent astronomy news is that ESO has just recently accomplished linking those four, each 8 meter in diameter telescopes, telescopes interferometrically.  So, we should see some exciting astronomy from ESO's VLT(very large telescope; four large 8 meter telescopes linked interferometrically) and  . . . ALMA!

I just found this ESO youtube channel and subscribed to it!  The astronomy of the next year might be as exciting as the official CERN Large Hadron Collider official finding of the Higgs!

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