Posts Tagged ‘Herschel’

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The Science of ‘Angels and Demons’

20 May 2009

Despite being written first, Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons only really took off after The DaVinci Code became a smash. Following suit, the A&D film comes after TDVC film, although the former’s story has been rewritten to come after the events of the latter.

In A&D, there’s a plot involving the CERN Large Hadron Collider and blowing things up with antimatter. This week’s Science Weekly podcast in the Guardian looks at the physics behind the film: could you really use antimatter this way?

The 38-minute audio show also looks at another topic I’ve blogged on: theĀ  new Herschel and Planck satellites.

They also talk about the recent Catlin Arctic Survey, which makes me feel cold just by listening.

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Herschel and Planck: the ESA looks for the early years of the Universe

14 May 2009

Just over 3 hours from the time I write this, the European Space Agency will launch two satellites. Both will study the early stages of the universe. Watch it live at this link, or follow them on Twitter.

What will they do?

  • Herschel will carry an infrared telescope. That means it won’t capture visual-spectrum images like Hubble has. What it will catch, in frequencies and detail never before achieved, is information about early star and planet formation. Because its sensitivity is so high, and because radiated heat is infrared, the satellite has an elaborate cryogenic system to keep it super-cool.
  • Planck won’t take visual images either: it’ll measure, in great detail, the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (that is, the radiation left over from just after the Big Bang).

Each will do lots of other things, too. Read the links.

Ariane 5 enclosing Herschel and Planck

Ariane 5 enclosing Herschel and Planck

Image from ESA.

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