GLAST Blasts Off

GLAST Blast – click for larger image

Today, NASA launched into space a new telescope to explore high-energy cosmic events in distant galaxies. 

The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, known as GLAST, will detect intense energy emitted from some of the universe’s most powerful phenomena. See the official GLAST website here:

Scientists say GLAST will aid research into massive black holes as well as neutron stars, which have cores so dense that a spoonful of their matter would weigh over one billion tons.

One of the most interesting things to me is the Cosmic Ray study the spacecraft will do, specifically looking at gamma ray bursts:

“Cosmic rays, the highest-energy particles in nature, are thought to be formed when stars collapse and produce tremendous shock waves. GLAST will test this theory by measuring the spectra of gamma rays from the remnants of supernovae, where cosmic rays should be abundant,” says GLAST Interdisciplinary Scientist Charles Dermer of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

The mission was developed by NASA in collaboration with institutions in five other countries.

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Pamela Gray
June 11, 2008 5:41 pm

YES! This is me dancing!!!! Cosmic rays remind me of Packman!!!

Joe S
June 11, 2008 6:58 pm

That larger image of the rocket is nice.
Those shows on the History Channel about the formation of the Universe and how all the elements precipitated out of that gurgling cauldron, capture me for their duration.

Carl Smith
June 11, 2008 7:38 pm

The bit I cannot get past in modern cosmology creation myths is the part that stripped to it’s most basic form goes something like this:
Once upon a time there was nothing.
The smallest imaginable thing appeared out of nothing,
And exploded, expanding faster than light speed.
And everything that was, and is, and ever will be,
Came from the debris of nothing exploding!
I also find many of their mathematical abstractions such as black holes, dark energy, dark matter etc, to be quite implausible – none of these can ever actually be observed, leaving only about 4 percent of the material universe to be made of observable matter.
A story about invisible fairies at the bottom of a garden comes to mind…

Steve Stip
June 11, 2008 7:40 pm

Great! Maybe this will continue to show how EXTREMELY dangerous the Universe can be. We been very “lucky” so far.

Steve Stip
June 11, 2008 8:01 pm

It is called creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing). Science has begun to give politically incorrect answers. Yeah science!

June 11, 2008 8:34 pm

A story about invisible fairies at the bottom of a garden comes to mind…
A story about invisible fairies sounds far more entertaining. But for what it’s worth, the best I have heard goes about like this:
If there is not something there is nothing.
If there is nothing there are no rules (limits).
Without limits it is possible that something can emerge from nothing.
And it did. (in fact it would be inevitable)
The trouble begins with the first words. Why must there be nothing if there is not something? Whose rule is that?
Then in the third sentence. If there was nothing how would Possibility exist? Or if it did, wouldn’t Impossibilty also exist?
Head buzzing. I wish Star Trek had just settled all this.

Steve Stip
June 11, 2008 9:28 pm

How about this? A static zero is unique and is thus statistically unlikely. A dynamic zero (the quantum foam) is the most statistically likely scenario since it allows all negative and positive values while averaging out to zero.
Forgive me, who ever I unconsciously palgerized.

anna v
June 11, 2008 9:36 pm

Well, it is not really fair to current cosmology theories to state that they start from “nothing”.
They start from the energy of the universe we are in. They just track it backwards in time according to solutions of the general theory of relativity, and posit that the “known something” started with all that energy in one point which expanded out. ( classically, quantum mechanics adds a lot of elephants, like string theories)
I do not know whether it is a correct model of the universe. I do not even know whether the general theory of relativity is the theory for the universe. But the theory is consistent.
Between you, me and the keyboard I tend to turn metaphysical in my old age and see many dimensions, string theories etc as manifestation of these metaphysics, but what the heck, one should have some fun while alive :).

Denis Hopkins
June 11, 2008 11:32 pm

How do you do this blog Anthony!!!!
I find it almost impossible just to read half of it each day!
I am amazed that you manage it so well…
So informative.
So interesting!
Just wish I had time to read it all.
Perhaps I should get my students to read a section each and summarise for me..:-)

Andrew Upson
June 11, 2008 11:49 pm

I knew several guys that worked on that satallite’s bus. I actually tried for a position as a launch vehile integration engineer for that program (it would have been a big change from structural analysis), but lost out to another guy that was admittedly more qualified. Glad to see it launched successfully.

June 12, 2008 12:50 am

Apparently, there might have been something before the big bang.
See this story on the BBC.

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