The 49th Carnival of Space is up at Will Gater’s site, and this week I’ll point you in particular to Alan Boyle’s entry on black hole simulations. The mathematics of black hole collisions are not for the faint of heart, but the Rochester Institute of Technology’s supercomputer cluster seems up to the task, even if the work demanded a week to complete. Interesting stuff, as an actual triple black hole collision as simulated here should generate gravity waves of the sort being sought by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). But LIGO scientists need to know what to look for amidst the incoming tsunami of data, which is where supercomputer modeling comes into play. Boyle’s presentation of this work is thorough and, as always, admirably clear.
There are actually not one but two space carnivals at play this week, the other being Fraser Cain’s at Universe Today. But rather than drawing on already written weblog entries, Fraser solicited comments from bloggers on a key question: What is the value of space exploration? Numerous writers weighed in. Here’s Robert Pearlman from collectSPACE:
Many of the problems we have on Earth are rooted in a our need for new ideas. From medical advancements to political diplomacy, it often takes a new perspective to find the answer. Space exploration offers the rare opportunity to look inwards while pushing out. The photographs sent back of the Earth as a “fragile blue marble”, a whole sphere for the first time, gave birth to the environmental movement. Astronauts, regardless of their home nation, have returned to Earth with a new world view, without borders. But the perspective isn’t limited to those who leave the planet. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, “mankind” took on a new appreciation for all of humanity. It was “we” who went, even if “we” were not living in the United States. That sense of unity was recognized by the Apollo 11 crew upon their return to the planet: Buzz turned to Neil and commented, “We missed the whole thing…”
Nicely put. The whole collection is worth keeping for those times when you know you’re about to be challenged on why we don’t just keep ‘all that money’ here on Earth (this seems to be the theme of numerous dinner parties I’ve attended lately). The problem with rationales for the space program is that those of us who come up with them all tend to agree on them in the first place, while the general public is a much harder sell, as I am reminded every time I talk about preserving the species by building the infrastructure needed to divert incoming asteroids or comets. The lesson, I suppose, is keep trying, which is what these writers do day after day in their own weblogs, and more power to the attempt.