01 April, 2012

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Astrophysics

The Milky Way Galaxy. Public domain image. SOURCE.
Astrophysics, to put it rather briefly and broadly, is the study of how the universe works.
It differs from cosmology (which is Tuesday's subject for the A-Z Challenge) in that it usually focuses on physical and chemical properties of the universe, while cosmology deals more with the nature and laws of the universe. The line between the two is not that great, however, and they're both part of astronomy, which is an even larger field that includes the study of everything outside of Earth's atmosphere.

A few current research subjects in astrophysics are black holes (points where gravity is so powerful that light, traveling at its tremendous 299,792,458 meters per second, cannot escape), planet, galaxy, and star formation, the interstellar medium (gas, dust, charged particles, and anything else between stars), dark matter and energy (dark energy is thought to constitute 70% of the universe and dark matter 25%), and the possibility of life in the universe beyond Earth (in addition to how it may have arrived here on Earth, if it did so).

Notable Astrophysicist:

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Public domain image. SOURCE.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the current director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in NYC and is a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. He graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in Astrophysics. He was also appointed to two presidential commissions (one on the aerospace industry and another on space exploration), is the author of over ten books including The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (with Donald Goldsmith), and his most recent Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.

He is the host of StarTalk Radio, NOVA ScienceNOW, and the two NOVA programs The Pluto Files and Origins (both based on his books) and was given the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. In addition, he has written many scientific papers. He is also the host of an upcoming 13-part sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, due to air in 2013.
On a less scientific note, People declared Neil deGrasse Tyson the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive in 2000, and the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid after him--13123 Tyson.

Video narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson about the most astounding fact to the universe:





What do you think of astrophysics? And as today is the kickoff of the A-Z Challenge: how is the Challenge starting off for you?

-----The Golden Eagle


Li said...

I just woke up :-) I think dark matter is one of the most fascinating topics.

JennaQuentin said...

This "A" post is far out! Like out in the stars ;)
I did not know who was the sexiest astrophysicist - darn my lack of culture!

Anna Smith said...

Imagine being voted sexy and have an asteroid named after you! :)

Universal Gibberish

shelly said...

What a fabulous post, Eagle! I love stuff like this.

Anyway, I thought yesterday was April 1 and am doing the A to Z Challenge over at http://secondhandshoesnovel.blogspot.com/

Jamie Gibbs said...

Just starting to make the rounds of blogposts; that's one hell of a start!

Astrophysics fascinate me. I love the awe and wonder in people like Tyson and Sagan when they speak of the universe.

Jamie Gibbs
Mithril Wisdom

Deepali said...

oh that title sounds good! Pluto - Rise and Fall of america's fav planet :)

michelle said...

Fascinating stuff, Golden Eagle.
I wonder what goes through the minds of people like Tyson and Sagan on a "normal day" (if you can call it that)
Thanks for this informative post!

Deniz Bevan said...

Neat stuff! I'd like to read that Pluto book.

Susan Roebuck said...

Great choice! I know I'm going to learn so much from you this month...bring 'em on!

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, deep subject. I think it's fascinating but I really know nothing much about the universe. Can't wait to see what you have in store for us this month.

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Golden Eagle!! My one grey cell is smoking from all the thinking it's digesting from your fab post! Take care

Kimberlee Turley said...

Definitely more interested in it now since my husband started watching Big Bang Theory.

I'm sure someone who's really into this stuff will laugh at the terms they throw around (like when real doctors watch medical shows) but I find the theories fascinating.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Golden .. I think I can relate now .. Tyson hit the switch: my atoms came from up there .. and billions and billions of years away - my atoms will create new life somewhere somehow ..

Fascinating .. loved the post - looking forward to reading the rest - cheers Hilary

Jaye Robin Brown said...

So are you a scientist yourself? You have much to teach me, the right-brained girl.

M.J. Fifield said...

Everything I know about Astrophysics I learned from the Big Bang Theory. I'm pretty sure that show's the only reason I knew who Neil deGrasse Tyson was before this post. =)

S.P. Bowers said...

I used to want to be an astronomer. I love space and planets and stars. Physics...not so much.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Very informative post! Loved the video! I'm getting off to a quick start, trying to cram in a few blog hops before packing up the kitchen sink for a short vacation.

Mikazuki said...

Very interesting! I can't wait to see what the next subject is. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Li: I agree. It is!

Jenna: Thank you! :)

I didn't know, either, until I Googled him.

Anna: LOL. Not happening to me, that's for sure.

Shelly: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Jamie: Thanks. :)

It's inspiring.

Deepali: Yeah . . . the USA gets a little crazy over Pluto. Arizona even passed a law saying that Pluto is a planet, no matter what the scientific consensus is.

Michelle: You're very welcome! :)

Deniz: It's a great book.

Susan: Thank you!

Clarissa: You might just know more by the end of April. At least, if I can help it. ;)

Old Kitty: Er, smoking from the experience doesn't sound too good . . . I'm glad you liked the post, though. :) LOL.

Kimberlee: I've never watched Big Bang Theory. From what I've heard, though, it sounds like there's some real science in it.

Hilary: It's an amazing idea, isn't it?

Thank you!

Jaye: Nope, just a high school student who loves science. :)

M.J.: He really gets around as a science communicator!

S.P.: Yeah, physics can get fairly technical. But who doesn't like imagining what's out in space? :)

Tyrean: Thanks! Glad you liked the video; it's one of my favorites.

Mikazuki: Well, it will be up tomorrow. :)

Pearson Report said...

WOW - You have not disappointed! I knew you'd have something that would rock my solar system, literally!

I really enjoyed the video clip - it echoed my own feelings when looking into the night sky...I always long for home.

Great start to the Challenge, Ms. Eagle!

Jenny @ Pearson Report
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Sue H said...

I caught the end of a programme on Discovery about the universe yesterday and was fascinated - then I find this as your opening post for the challenge!

I marvel at how scientists can tell us so much about things that are impossibly far away - how they do that and with what amount of accuracy is beyond me, though!

My mind boggles about the infinity of space......!

SueH I refuse to go quietly!

Charles Gramlich said...

I love to see someone with a talent for sharing his or her love of science with the people who aren't scientists. Tyson is a good representative for that.

Emily Rose said...

Fascinating topic! I always learn something new from your posts, Golden.:)

Pat Hatt said...

So we were made from guts. Never heard it put that way before. haha Very informative post.

cherie said...

Fascinating! I'm more of a biology kind of gal, so anything with physics in them makes my eyes glaze over (just ask my HS Physics teacher. LOL!)

Leon Kennedy said...

If you like NDGT, I'd also recommend Michio Kaku

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Love your theme.

Rachel Morgan said...

Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries <--- What a cool title!

Wow, sounds like this guy has achieved quite a lot in his lifetime!

Sarah Pearson said...

I have a fearful fascination with black holes. I'm glad people are studying them :-)

Jeremy said...

Wow! What a way to start off the Challenge! I am fascinated by anything science so you can expect me for every day of the challenge!

Belle said...

Fantastic opening of the A to Z Challenge!

Sash Conte said...

Very cool post!! I love watching the National Geographic Channel documentaries on this kind of stuff, though I have to say I don't entirely understand the physics of it ; )

Nancy Thompson said...

As my son and I were traveling through the Arizona desert last week, he asked if I believed whether aliens had ever visited earth. That led to a discussion about space, time, and wormholes, and the fact that astrophysics is just too big of a subject for me to get my mind around.

The Golden Eagle said...

Jenny: Thank you so much!

I love the video, too.

Sue: It must be fate. :)

It always makes my head spin when I think about the fact the universe has no edge . . .

Charles: He definitely is.

Emily: Awesome. :)

Pat: Yeah, not many other people describe human existence in those terms.

Glad you found it informative!

Cherie: There will be plenty of biology in the coming month, so I hope you'll come back for those posts. :)

Leon: He's a Notable Scientist in one of my upcoming posts!

Susan: Thank you!

Rachel: I agree. It's one of the reasons I picked it up, other than it being written by Tyson.

He has.

Sarah: I'm not so worried about them, so long as they remain in the center of galaxies and far, far away from Earth . . . LOL.

Jeremy: I look forward to seeing you. :D

Belle: Thanks!

Sash: Thank you.

I LOVE science documentaries. We don't get National Geographic (sigh . . .) but PBS's NOVA and Nature are two of my top favorite shows. :)

Nancy: That must have been an interesting conversation!

RaShelle Workman said...

I like that: "...the Universe is in us." I believe we are more than our bodies. But, I also believe our bodies are part of the Universe. "...the Universe is in us." Beautiful!

Thanks for sharing, Golden Eagle. =D

Julie said...

Wow, what a fascinating post. I loved the video clip! Such an interesting topic, and a great start for the challenge.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Awesome. Now I'm really looking forward to "C".

A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

Lynda R Young said...

I love your theme for this challenge. I didn't know the difference between cosmology and astrophysics. Fascinating stuff.

Jack Edwards Poetry said...

A great post. Mindblowing.

Rusty Webb said...

It'll be a very good month here. I look quite forward to reading you posts.

I think I said my big about Tyson last week. He's surprisingly funny.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hope co-host Stephen finds this post - you will make his day!

Brian said...

We are big Neil fans here, although he looks a little different theses days, he is still one smart dude!

Shannon Cyr said...

I like this topic! :) I recently wrote a freelance article about National Astronomy week this month and have been intrigued with all things Universe related ever since. Looking forward to seeing what else you have in store for the challenge. :)

J.L. Campbell said...

All of that stuff 'out there' is so awesome that it's a challenge for me to wrap my head around it. :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Awesome post! Best of the day as far as I'm concerned. I've seen Neil deGrasse Tyson many times on NOVA. He's one of the few who can really make physics and astronomy, more specifically astrophysics, interesting for the common person, of which I am one.

And I'm going to do a link back to your blog.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow. Seriously makes me feel small and insignificant.

Robyn Campbell said...

Heyya Eagle! Great topic. Astrophysics was always hard for me to understand. You have explained it in a way even I can get. Thanks much! :-)

Theresa Milstein said...

You'll probably like this:


Christine Rains said...

Fantastic theme and great start! I didn't know that extra non-scientific fact about Neil. That's pretty funny!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Yay! Day One of A to Z is off to a great start.

I took one physics class in college that was a basic introduction to astronomy. I still have occasional nightmares about black holes. :D

Patricia Stoltey

T.D. McFrost said...

This was amazing! I left a little smarter after reading this! Thanks Aerial! :D

Damyanti said...

Astrophysics was my fave subject as a child--- and then I realized the whole thing needed a lot of work. Still fascinates me tho :)

Look forward to your challenge posts!

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

---Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Jeremy Bates said...

Black holes are very interesting. I know the contents of my wallet have been going somewhere and I suspect it is that black hole called expenses!

What about the Pluto argument? Is it or is it not officially a planet again?

Rob-bear said...

What an interesting story about what is literally going on all around us.

Great start to your A - Z series!

Youngman Brown said...

I have such a man-crush on NdGT (Yes, I'm sure that he is cool with me calling him that).

Super-stoked to have found your blog. I am currently in the middle of reading "The Universe in a Nutshell," and recently haven't been able to get enough of this stuff.

It is kinda funny that I actively avoided this kind of stuff in school, but now I can't get enough of it.

tfwalsh said...

That is an awesome post... I'm going to learn a lot from you A-Z Challenge... love it.

Sari Webb said...

Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive: now that is one helluva title. Love it!

Great post to kick of the A-Z. Mine's not quite so exciting as yours, I'm just kinda winging it. It's my first year doing the A-Z so looking forward to seeing how it goes!

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Well I'm fascinated with science and the universe and all of that stuff, way amazing! Thanks for this highly informative first post!

This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

Duncan In Kuantan

nutschell said...

Ooh i love anything space-related.great start to the A-Z!

Krista McLaughlin said...

Awesome choice to this letter; I've always loved the stars and studying the stars. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. :)

Kayla said...

Learned some very interesting facts - Thanks! Can't wait to learn more! :)

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hey Golden. Are you as freakily intelligent as you sound? In matters of science I am in awe of the universe and the way it works. Thanks for trying to enlighten me.

Thanks for your visit to read about childhood Ann. Isn't she a delight?


Dave said...

I am fascinated by astrophysics. As and when and if we ever move off this planet in a mass migration. Do you think astrophysics will be relegated to just physics?

Dave Wrote This

Jen Chandler said...

Beautiful video! Astrophysics has always been one of my favorite branches of science.

Black holes, worm holes, multiple dimensions. Now I'm going to have to go read up on my Brian Greene!

This reminded me of a quote (by Carl Sagan I believe): "We are all made of star-stuff".


The Golden Eagle said...

RaShelle: It's an inspiring idea, isn't it? :)

You're welcome!

Julie: Thank you so much!

Elizabeth: I hope you like it.

Lynda: Thanks!

It's not a big difference, as I mentioned in the post. And there's certainly plenty of overlap. :)

Jack: Thank you!

Rusty: Hopefully they'll live up to expectations!

He is. :)

Alex: Stephen's comment is below; and I have mention, reading his post on aliens about made my day.

Brian: Definitely!

Shannon: Thanks! Glad you liked the topic of my A post. :)

J.L.: Same here. The universe is awfully big. :P

Stephen: Thank you so much!

I originally saw him on NOVA. It's one of my favorite TV shows.

Thanks! :D

Donna: Science has a bit of a history of minimizing humanity, it's true . . . first Earth wasn't the center of the universe, then the Sun, then the Milky Way. And now there's a possibility of even more dimensions or universes.

Robyn: You're very welcome! I'm thrilled you found it easy to understand; that was my goal in writing these science posts. :)

Theresa: LOL. Yes, that's awesome! Thanks for leaving the link.

Christine: Thank you!

Yeah, it is.

Patricia: LOL. They are pretty scary, the more you think about them!

T.D: You're welcome. :)

Damyanti: Same with me. It's an engrossing subject.

Jeremy: Indeed! There's a good example of a black hole.

It's not. Well, except in Arizona--they passed a law basically mandating that in their state, Pluto is (no matter what anyone else says) a planet. :P

Rob-bear: Thank you!

Youngman Brown: It's a bit of an interesting name to abbreviate.

I hope you'll come back later in the month! I've got a lot of physics posts up and coming. :)

Tfwalsh: Thanks!

Sari: LOL. Me, too.

Thank you--and that sounds like a fun way to do the Challenge. It's what I did last year. :)

Duncan: You're very welcome!

Nutschell: Thanks!

Krista: I'd love to be an astronaut--imagine being one of the first to travel to Mars or an asteroid or even walk on the Moon again.

Kayla: You're welcome. :)

Denise: I'm an introvert, so I don't usually talk much about science in person . . . but if you get me started then I'll yammer away about it. :P

She is! And I can't wait to read your future posts about other bloggers.

Dave: Interesting question. I don't think so, though; the "astro" part of the name refers to space outside Earth, and I think even if we did colonize space, Earth would continue to hold a great deal of significance in references to where people live.

Jen: Glad you liked the video!

He's one of my favorite physicists. :) And he will be featured later on in the month!

Cherie Reich said...

I like your theme. Astrophysics is fascinating. One of my favorite sciences was astronomy, but we didn't get into too much detail in the basic courses I took.

Josh Hoyt said...

Nice video. And great theme!

The Golden Eagle said...

Cherie: Thanks!

That's too bad. It's a fascinating field of study. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Josh: Glad you liked the video!

Thank you.

Joshua said...

Hey! This guy was on THE DAILY SHOW two weeks ago. The Wife fell asleep, but I was just riveted!

The Golden Eagle said...

Joshua: I saw that! He's been on The Daily Show several times, and I always crack up watching the interviews.

ali cross said...

Oh MAN! I heard Dr. Tyson speak as a guest on Coast to Coast AM one time and I loved him! He made science sound so understandable--he has a real gift for making the complex relatable even to a person of little knowledge, like me. I'm so grateful you shared this because I'd forgotten I wanted to read/learn more about him. Thank you!

Craig Edwards said...

I have only encountered astrophysics in my (sorta) everyday life once - when I made the lead in my movie Island of the She-Devils an astrophysicist. The plot of the movie has the lead - Bob - heading out on a boat because all of the planets in the solar system are about to align - and a wild energy is being collected and focused through all the planets - so Bob and his pals head out to find the focal point to study it. But this is a B movie ala Roger Corman, so the energy whips up a storm and sinks the boat, shipwrecking the guys on an island. Luckily for them it's the exact spot where the energy is going to be focused. Unluckily for them the island is populated with a band of warrior women clad in designer swimsuits and cowboy boots called the She-Devils.

Bet you didn't know astrophysics could be utilized in such a fashion! Great post! Cheers!

The Golden Eagle said...

Ali: You're very welcome! :)

Craig: No, I didn't . . . but I can tell you, I want to watch that movie now.

Thank you!

Andrew Leon said...

Those are some great topics. No other overlaps... yet. You do have one topic that I will be getting to later, though.

The Golden Eagle said...

Andrew: You have your A-Z theme as science, too? Awesome.

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