See that woman? That is not Marie Curie.
I mean, it is Marie Curie, but only in a sense.
If you type “Marie Curie” into Google image search, you’ll likely see this colorized photo pop up several times in the results. You might even find the original black and white. Go ahead. Try it. You’ll see this picture on postage stamps, in meme photos, and even in the form of a Marie Curie bobblehead doll (one of which I own), all purported to be the one, true Marie Curie.
But it’s not her. I know this because I met this Marie Curie, just last week.
Her name is Susan Marie Frontczak. She performs as Maria Sklodowska in a living history stage show called Manyathat tours around the world, bringing Madame Curie’s science and soul to life.
The photo shows Susan striking a thoughtful, Curiesque stance, dressed in her period-appropriate Curie garb (It was Marie who famously said “I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.”) The photo was posted to the web a few years ago, and thanks to that game of internet telephone known as “attribution-free viral image sharing” she has, in a very real way, become Marie Curie. At least in the eyes of Togo.
And Mali, and Zambia, and Guinea-Bissau, and the Republic of Guinea. All have released stamps using Susan’s photo as “Marie Curie”, often alongside real photos of Marie Curie, who Susan looks remarkably like, but not so close that one would be confused when looking at their pictures literally side by side.
Susan has also been immortalized in science’s Last Supper (below), sandwiched between Galileo and J. Robert Oppenheimer, playing the part of the apostle James (son of Alphaeus, not the Zebedee one). It occurs to me that I have no idea which Redditor or other meme-oriented individual originally made this Last Supper image. The irony does not escape me.
Susan’s trademark pose, with extended right arm holding aloft a mysterious blue liquid we can assume represents that mere tenth of a gram of radium chloride Curie painstakingly extracted from one ton of pitchblende, complete with the thousand-yard stare of Nobelian gravitas, is carved daily by Chinese factory workers into top-heavy, spring-necked plastic figurines. Ah, to be immortalized in bobblehead form, on someone else’s bobblehead!
Did I mention no one has paid Susan for any of this?
This is an entertaining, but all-too-typical tale of the Modern Internet™. Susan doesn’t make a ton of money from her show, and I wonder how much she’s missed out on with people using her likeness without permission? I wonder how many other artists we could put in Marie’s … I mean Susan’s place, who lose out daily as their work is posted online without links or permission, spreading out of control like a radium-induced cancer?
Susan would like to adapt Manya into a film some day, to help spread Marie Curie’s legacy worldwide to new audeinces. Maybe Togo, Mali, Zambia, and the various Guineas could see it in their pilfering philatelist hearts to send her a small donation? And maybe we can all be a bit more careful in the future, and treat these wonderfully creative science artists a bit nicer, and show them off, instead of showing off ourselves?
I mean, what would Marie Curie do? I asked her, last week. She said she’d like to be recognized.
Stamp and portrait images courtesy of Susan Marie Frontczak
A 340-million pixel starscape from Paranal
The second of three images of ESO’s GigaGalaxy Zoom project is a new and wonderful 340-million-pixel vista of the central parts of our galactic home, a 34 by 20-degree wide image that provides us with a view as experienced by amateur astronomers around the world. Taken by Stéphane Guisard, an ESO engineer and world-renowned astrophotographer, from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, this second image directly benefits from the quality of Paranal’s sky, one of the best on the planet. The image shows the region spanning the sky from the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer) to Scorpius (the Scorpion). The very colourful Rho Ophiuchi and Antares region features prominently to the right, as well as much darker areas, such as the Pipe and Snake Nebulae. The dusty lane of our Milky Way runs obliquely through the image, dotted with remarkable bright, reddish nebulae, such as the Lagoon and the Trifid Nebulae, as well as NGC 6357 and NGC 6334. This dark lane also hosts the very centre of our Galaxy, where a supermassive black hole is lurking. The image was obtained by observing with a 10-cm Takahashi FSQ106Ed f/3.6 telescope and a SBIG STL CCD camera, using a NJP160 mount. Images were collected through three different filters (B, V and R) and then stitched together. This mosaic was assembled from 52 different sky fields made from about 1200 individual images totalling 200 hours exposure time, with the final image having a size of 24 403 x 13 973 pixels. Note that the final, full resolution image is only available through Stéphane Guisard.
Credit: ESO/S. Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard)
Eye to the Galaxy by Paul Pichugin Captured in one of the many gorges in Karijini National Park, Western Australia.
thanks @neilkoova for showing me this.
#space #science #stars #stargazer #stargazing #galaxy #milkyway #nature #nightsky #darksky #astronomy #astrophotography #astrophysics #universe #cosmos(viaTumbleOn)
Stars in a Dusty Sky
Bright star Markab anchors this dusty skyscape. At the top right corner of the frame, Markab itself marks a corner of an asterism known as the Great Square, found within the boundaries of the constellation Pegasus, the flying horse. The wide and deep telescopic view rides along for some 5 degrees or about 10 times the angular diameter of the Full Moon, with blue reflection nebulae scattered around the scene. And even though this line-of-sight looks away from the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, it covers a region known to be filled with nearby molecular clouds. The associated dust clouds, high latitude galactic cirrus, are less than 1,000 light-years distant. Still apparent, but far beyond the Milky Way, are background galaxies, like the prominent edge-on spiral NGC 7497 near picture center.
Image Credit & Copyright: John Davis
NASA plans a robotic mission to search for life on Europa | io9
It looks like it’s finally going to happen, an actual mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa — one of the the solar system’s best candidates for hosting alien life.
Yesterday, NASA announced an injection of $17.5 billion from the federal government (down by $1.2 billion from its 2010 peak). Of this, $15 million will be allocated for “pre-formulation” work on a mission to Europa, with plans to make detailed observations from orbit and possibly sample its interior oceans with a robotic probe. Mission details are sparse, but if all goes well, it could be launched by 2025 and arriving in the early 2030s.
This is incredibly exciting. Recent evidence points to a reasonable chance of habitability. Its massive subsurface ocean contains almost twice as much water as found on Earth. The water is kept in liquid state owing to the gravitational forces exerted by Jupiter and the moon’s turbulent global ocean currents. The good news is that a probe may not have to dig very deep to conduct its search for life; the moon’s massive plumes are ejecting water directly onto the surface.
HUBBLE WITNESSES AN ASTEROID MYSTERIOUSLY DISINTEGRATING
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid, which has fragmented into as many as ten smaller pieces. Although fragile comet nuclei have been seen to fall apart as they approach the Sun, nothing like the breakup of this asteroid, P/2013 R3, has ever been observed before in the asteroid belt.
“This is a rock. Seeing it fall apart before our eyes is pretty amazing,” said David Jewitt of UCLA, USA, who led the astronomical forensics investigation.
The crumbling asteroid, designated P/2013 R3, was first noticed as an unusual, fuzzy-looking object on 15 September 2013 by the Catalina (http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/css) and Pan-STARRS (http://pan-starrs.ifa.hawaii.edu/public) sky surveys. Follow-up observations on 1 October with the Keck Telescope (http://www.keckobservatory.org) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, revealed three co-moving bodies embedded in a dusty envelope that is nearly the diameter of Earth.
“Keck showed us that this thing was worth looking at with Hubble,” Jewitt said. With its superior resolution, the space-based Hubble observations soon showed that there were really ten distinct objects, each with comet-like dust tails. The four largest rocky fragments are up to 200 meters in radius, about twice the length of a football pitch.
The Hubble data showed that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely 1.5 kilometers per hour — slower than the speed of a strolling human. The asteroid began coming apart early last year, but the latest images show that pieces continue to emerge.
“This is a really bizarre thing to observe — we’ve never seen anything like it before,” says co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. “The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.”
The ongoing discovery of more fragments makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating due to a collision with another asteroid, which would be instantaneous and violent in comparison to what has been observed. Some of the debris from such a high-velocity smash-up would also be expected to travel much faster than has been observed.
It is also unlikely that the asteroid is breaking apart due to the pressure of interior ices warming and vaporizing. The object is too cold for ices to significantly sublimate, and it has presumably maintained its nearly 480-million-kilometer distance from the Sun for much of the age of the solar system.
This leaves a scenario in which the asteroid is disintegrating due to a subtle effect of sunlight that causes the rotation rate to slowly increase over time. Eventually, its component pieces gently pull apart due to centrifugal force. The possibility of disruption by this phenomenon — known as the YORP effect  — has been discussed by scientists for several years but, so far, never reliably observed (http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1405).
For break-up to occur, P/2013 R3 must have a weak, fractured interior, probably the result of numerous ancient and non-destructive collisions with other asteroids. Most small asteroids are thought to have been severely damaged in this way, giving them a “rubble pile” internal structure. P/2013 R3 itself is probably the product of collisional shattering of a bigger body some time in the last billion years.
“This is the latest in a line of weird asteroid discoveries, including the active asteroid P/2013 P5, which we found to be spouting six tails,” says Agarwal. “This indicates that the Sun may play a large role in disintegrating these small solar system bodies, by putting pressure on them via sunlight.”
P/2013 R3’s remnant debris, weighing in at 200,000 tons, will provide a rich source of meteoroids in the future. Most will eventually plunge into the Sun, but a small fraction of the debris may one day blaze across our sky as meteors.
 In full, this effect is known as the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarkovsky%E2%80%93O%27Keefe%E2%80%93Radzievskii%E2%80%93Paddack_effect). This effect occurs when light from the Sun is absorbed by a body and then re-emitted as heat. When the shape of the emitting body is not perfectly regular, more heat is emitted from some regions than others. This creates a small imbalance that causes a small but constant torque on the body, which changes its spin rate.
Scott and Mark Kelly discuss year-long NASA space mission
TODAY: Identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly spoke on The Today Show about their upcoming year-long trip to the International Space Station, the longest time any American has ever spent aboard the orbiting outpost, to study the effects long-term space missions have on the human body.
"For me, having flown a long-duration flight before, on a personal level what makes it special is the duration, and the challenge that provides," Scott said.
Photo: Scott Kelly aboard the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft on docking day with the International Space Station on Oct. 9, 2010. (NBC News)
Preparing for long-duration missions, one year at a time!
Exoplanets in the Alpha Centauri System
There are three stars in the Alpha Centauri system: Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri. This is the closest star system to Earth at only 4.3 light years away. Alpha Centauri A and B are similar to our Sun, while Proxima Centauri is smaller and redder.
An Earth-sized exoplanet was discovered in 2012 orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It was found by examining the tiny changes in the star’s motion caused by the slight gravitational pull of the planet. The planet orbits about 6 million kilometers from the star, closer than Mercury and our Sun. This is the first planet of a mass similar to the Earth found orbiting a Sun-like star. Most exoplanets are large, closer to Jupiter’s size. While this exoplanet is much to close and hot for life, there may be other planets in the system not yet detected.
Image and information from ESO.
Date: 5 Mar 1979
This close-up of swirling clouds around Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was taken by Voyager 1. It was assembled from three black and white negatives.
Voyager 1 and 2 each provided unprecedented information about the Jovian atmosphere, system of rings and moons.
During the Jupiter leg of their journeys, Voyager 1 and 2 each explored the giant planet, its magnetosphere and moons in far greater detail than had the Pioneer spacecraft that preceded it. Both spacecraft also used Jupiter’s gravity as a springboard to Saturn and beyond.
The spacecraft returned spectacular photos of the entire Jovian system, and time-lapse movies made from its images of Jupiter showed how the planet had changed between the Voyager visits.
If the moon were only 1 pixel on your screen, how big would the rest of the solar system be?
Just click this link, I beg you, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Absolutely amazing. Fantastic work by designer Josh Worth.
For a a different look at the problem of cosmic distance, check out my video “How Big is the Solar System?”:
And for lots more fun ways to look at the scale of the universe maybe watch this one called (naturally) "The Scale of the Universe":
Most of the time pretty spiral galaxies get all the fame with the public, but irregular galaxies are pretty cool too. 12 million light years away, this galaxy is often compared to the Milky Way’s companion, the Large Magellanic cloud. All of the pinkish read you see in the picture above represents hydrogen gas, which means active star forming regions! The relatively large amount of hydrogen found here is thought to have come from collisions with other members of this galaxy’s group.
Anything you want to see or know about? Message me!
Source Region for Possible Europa Plumes
This reprojection of the official USGS basemap of Jupiter’s moon Europa is centered at the estimated source region for potential water vapor plumes that might have been detected using the Hubble Space Telescope. The view is centered at -65 degrees latitude, 183 degrees longitude. In addition to the plume source region, the image also shows the hemisphere of Europa that might be affected by plume deposits. This map is composed of images from NASA’s Galileo and Voyager missions. The black region near the south pole results from gaps in imaging coverage. > Read more Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Millions of Stars in Omega Centauri
Featured in the sharp telescopic image, globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) is some 15,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter. Packed with about 10 million stars much older than the Sun, Omega Cen is the largest of 200 or so known globular clusters that roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though most star clusters consist of stars with the same age and composition, the enigmatic Omega Cen exhibits the presence of different stellar populations with a spread of ages and chemical abundances. In fact, Omega Cen may be the remnant core of a small galaxy merging with the Milky Way.