We all know that when we gaze up at the stars in the night sky, we’re looking at passed history.
Of a star, all we see is a point of light that has been radiating outwards, and into our line of sight, at the speed of light, for, in some cases, thousands of years. The star itself may have long since met its demise, but it could be decades, centuries even, before we learn that.
But have you ever wondered what was happening here on Earth, the day, or thereabouts, that the light from a given star started on its epic journey towards us? StarDate attempts to tell some of that story, with representations of the one hundred stars closest to us, that link to a New York Times article published that day.
The stars in question don’t look to be named, at the moment anyway, but I’m sure the astronomers among us will have no trouble identifying them, based on their distance from us.
I suspect that the giant birdsnest for creating new ideas, complete with egg shaped cushions, an item of furniture that – as the name would suggest – is intended to trigger creative thoughts, will not just appeal to adults.
The energy demands may be low, but travelling from one point on the network to another may take a while, like drifting along on ocean currents possibly:
The Interplanetary Transport Network (ITN) is a collection of gravitationally determined pathways through the Solar System that require very little energy for an object to follow. The ITN makes particular use of Lagrange points as locations where trajectories through space are redirected using little or no energy. These points have the peculiar property of allowing objects to orbit around them, despite lacking an object to orbit. While they use little energy, the transport can take a very long time.
The world in which Interstellar, US director Christopher Nolan’s latest feature, is set, is not one many of us would wish to live in, on account of an abundance of pestilence and dust storms. In fact, humanity is looking into finding another planet to move to, so bad are conditions on Earth.
But can we avoid such a bleak future in reality? Quite possibly, yes. Would we, however, want to give up on the search for another planet to migrate to, should, for whatever reason, the need arise? No, quite possibly not (warning, “Interstellar” spoilers):
Even with our efforts to keep Earth pumping out enough food to feed the billions of people who live here, there is some chance that the planet will not forever be a safe home for humanity. In that light, we should be looking for other places to live, a backup plan in case of global failure.
Since I’m buzzing about the place at the moment… when it comes to avoiding delays while flying, especially domestically, taking flights that are scheduled for earlier in the day, rather than later, might be the way to go.
The later you leave, the greater the average delay you will face until around 6PM when things flatten out and 10PM when we see benefits in leaving later. It makes sense that delays increase as the day goes on because, we understand, the primary cause of delays is waiting for the plane to arrive from another city. The first flights out in the morning don’t have this problem.
Based on US research, but I imagine same principle applies elsewhere.
It’s no secret, it would seem, that sleeping for a straight eight hours each night, is not what we’re wired to do. Indeed in ages passed, it was the norm to slumber for a few hours, get up, do something, anything, in the middle of the night, and then snooze again another couple of hours.
And, even though I am a happy person, if I lie in the dark my thoughts veer towards worry. I have found it better to get up than to lie in bed teetering on the edge of nocturnal lunacy. If I write in these small hours, black thoughts become clear and colourful. They form themselves into words and sentences, hook one to the next – like elephants walking trunk to tail. My brain works differently at this time of night; I can only write, I cannot edit. I can only add, I cannot take away. I need my day-brain for finesse. I will work for several hours and then go back to bed.
And what threw out this once innate sleep pattern? The advent of artificial lighting of course. Followed later by the internet and smartphones of course.