By Oscar Wolfe
I love space. In fact, my dream interview is Stephen Hawking. I had no clue that there was a planetarium nearby me. However, it turns out that the Bell Museum has their own planetarium, and I recently visited and spent some time talking to Director Denise Young and Planetarium Manager Sally Brummel, who took my brother and me on a trip around the solar system. We went as far as we could possibly go—you couldn’t even see the Milky Way! It felt like we were really moving when you looked at the domed screen. It was spectacular. I would most certainly suggest this for astronomy lovers and also for people who have no clue about space whatsoever. If you’re in the Twin Cities, don’t delay—the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota campus is closing Dec. 31. I can’t wait to see the brand new, state-of-the-art Bell Museum and Planetarium when it opens in the Summer 2018.
Until then, because of our shared love of astrophysics, I’ll say the five things I think are the greatest in the cosmos.
1. Black Holes
Black holes are made out to be a lot crazier than they actually are. However, they are truly amazing. As most people know, black holes are the result of collapsing stars. The other commonly known fact is that the gravitational pull of a black hole is so strong that not even light can escape it. One thing that most people do not know is that not all stars can turn into black holes. They must be larger than the Chandrasekhar limit. Inside of a black hole is a singularity. A singularity is a single particle of infinite mass put into one speck. Basically, a singularity is an entire star pressed into the size of a particle.
Spacetime is a theory proposed by Albert Einstein. It states that the universe is four-dimensional. Let me lead up to that. Think of a single dot. Not too hard. Is it? That’s 0D. Now turn that dot into a line. Still not too hard. You’re now at 1D. Turn that line into a any 2D shape. It can be a square, triangle, or whatever else. It’s about to get a little bit harder. Turn your 2D shape into a 3D shape like a cube or a pyramid. Now for the impossibility. Make it 4D. If you just said that you did it, then you’re fantasizing. It’s impossible to picture. The fourth dimension is time. 4D is spacetime.
3. The Redshift
The Redshift states that something moving away will appear more red while something moving closer will appear more blue. This has to do with the wavelengths on each side of the visible spectrum. If something is moving closer to you, the waves will get pushed together, hence making it blue. It works the same way backwards with red. The wavelengths would spread apart. It works the same way with sound. As a car comes toward you, the sound will be more high pitched. When it starts to move away, the sound will go to a lower pitch. VROOOM!
4. Silence of Space
The saying “No one can hear you scream in space,” is actually true. But why, if light can travel through space, then why can’t sound? They’re both waves, aren’t they? Well, sound is a mechanical wave while light is an electromagnetic wave. Mechanical waves require matter in which to travel through. Electromagnetic waves can travel through matter and space. Therefore, light can travel through space and sound can’t.
Antimatter is one of the most mind boggling subjects in astrophysics. Every particle has an antiparticle. In some cases, the particle can be its own antiparticle. When a particle hits its antiparticle, they annihilate each other, releasing energy (which then leads into Einstein’s general theory of relativity E=mc2). All of the matter on Earth is simply matter. However, on the edges of the known universe, there are clouds of antimatter where tons of radiation is released.
These are just five of my favorite things about space. What’s yours?