Science Around Us

Thursdays at 7:42 a.m.

Dr. Todd Young shuttles us into the mysteries of the universe. 

Time Keeping: Part 2

Jan 18, 2018

This week, let's continue discussing how we keep track of time. To summarize last week's discussion, the year is based upon the annual motion of the Earth around the sun, and the month is based on the moon's orbit around the Earth. The week is actually based upon the seven objects you can see in the sky that are moving differently that the stars. Specifically, the moon, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. A few days of the week are obvious: Monday for the Moon, Sunday for the Sun, and Saturday for Saturn.

Time Keeping

Jan 11, 2018

Given that we all just entered a new year, I thought we could talk today about the calendar and time keeping. The calendar we use today is called the Gregorian calendar proposed by Pope Gregory in 1582 to replace the previous Julian calendar set by Julius Caesar about 1600 years earlier. Both calendars were fundamentally created to track the annual cycles of the skies, specifically focusing on the location of constellations in the night sky, and or when the sun will be at certain altitudes during the day.

Dr. Todd Young helps explain and describe what and what couldn't be the North Star, right here on KWIT.

From everyone at KWIT/KOJI, Merry Christmas!

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Follow your curiosity to the Fred G. Dale Planetarium at Wayne State College.

I would like to propose a thought experiment: Imagine a box that when closed, there is no interaction between the inside and the outside world. You can't hear, see or feel anything that may be put into the box. Now attach a vile of poisonous gas to the box, which in turn is attached to a triggering device that has a 50% chance of releasing the poison gas. Now let's place a cat into the box, and let's close the box and activate the experiment. After a certain amount of time, we know that the poisonous gas released and the cat is dead, or none of that happened and the cat is alive.

On January 28th, 1986, the space shuttle "Challenger" exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, and on February 1st, 2003 the space shuttle "Columbia" broke apart upon reentry. In both disasters, all hands were lost. For the "Challenger," it was determined that the O-ring seals in the right solid rocket booster failed in the cold temperatures on the day of the launch. This caused the booster to rupture and explode, taking the lives of seven astronauts, including the first teacher astronaut Christa McAuliffe.

At the airport this past summer, I overheard a young child ask his mother a wonderfully inquisitive question: "Why can't we just fly the plane into space? And then we can see the stars and the moon, right?" The Mother, to her credit, gave a correct although short answer: "Planes aren't built for that, honey."

Our Lucky Moon

Nov 2, 2017

At some point perhaps tonight, perhaps later. We will look up and glance at the moon with indifference. We've seen it a million times before, I mean it's just a hunk of rock very much like our own Earth rock that does happen to have footprints of humans on it. So what? But if there was no moon, ever. What would be different? To start, if we didn't have a moon none of us would probably be here right now. Is that dramatic enough for you?

The Sun

Oct 25, 2017

The Sun has been observed and worshipped throughout much of human history. One of the first known monuments to the Sun was built in Newgrange, Ireland more than 5,000 years ago. One of the first Sun gods was Shamash of Babylonia, who was the all-seeing, all-knowing eye of justice. Later, the Egyptians believed that the Sun was the god Ra, who would sail across the sky by day in a boat.

Does E.T. Exist?

Oct 12, 2017

During breaks while working on the construction of the first atomic bomb in 1943, Enrico Fermi and his colleagues talked of many things.  One of which was alien intelligence. 

The Milky Way galaxy that we live in is easily large enough to house millions of civilizations and is certainly old enough (about 13.5 billion years old) so that one of them should have colonized the galaxy by now, so Enrico asked, “Where are they?”  This questions is now known as the Fermi Paradox. 

Don Davis

Let’s talk about the possibilities of collisions with the Earth.

Actually, our Earth is being hit all the time by cosmic dust and meteors. More often than not, these will fall into the atmosphere and burn up, producing a streak of light in the sky we call a “shooting star.”  But sometimes the chunks are big enough so that part of the original chunk gets through the atmosphere.  Anywhere between 5 – 300 metric tons of dust and meteors strike the Earth per day!