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Ch. 3: Let There Be Light 
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 Ch. 3: Let There Be Light
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ch. 3: Let There Be Light


Please use this thread to discuss this chapter.



Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:39 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3: Let There Be Light
In this chapter we move away from almost pure (informed) speculation :hmm: :yes: :no: :hmm: to information gleaned by observations and experimentation :yes: (although there is still some speculation). :hmm: We also have the last chapter with a biblical reference for a title, in fact the only one that is a direct quote. Genesis, Chap. 1, Verse 3 (KJV).

Admittedly, the first few pages deal with that period when we can make no direct observation, but must rely on the informed speculation I mentioned earlier. Then Tyson comes to a description of light gained from our O&E (observation and experimentatjion). Sometimes light behaves like a continuous wave, at other times like a discrete particle (photon). We also learn that light waves can be categorized from the very high energy, very short waves of cosmic and x-radiation to the (relatively) long and weak radio waves we use to broadcast radio and television. Visible light is some where in the middle, and thanks to (the very busy) Isaac Newton, we know it can be broken down into what we recognize as color.

I found it personally interesting that the breakthrough in background CMB radiation came not from academia, but from industry. In 1963, I was teaching science in the Dallas, Texas public school system. I was invited to take some of my brighter students on a field trip to the regional long-distance telephone facilities of AT&T. It is amazing to think what was considered ground-breaking in those days, but today is already past history and out of date. No, I did not meet Penzias and Wilson, but did see some of the early results of their work.

Tyson briefly mentions Dark Matter and Dark Energy (each of which is given its own chapter later in tis book), he mentions the use of spectoscopy and spectrometry (if you don't know the difference, look it up), and how they are used to analyze light waves. There, I have told you all I know about the subject (it was at about this point in my career when I switched from science to law). If you are interested in learning more about the subject, here is a link: http://loke.as.arizona.edu/~ckulesa/cam ... intro.html


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Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:10 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3: Let There Be Light
It's a good reminder about ATT discovering interesting things like CMB and transistors in the process of "applied science." We tend to model the influence going only one way, but there have been many times in history when the pure scientists have benefited enormously from discoveries made for purposes of solving problems in applications. I was reminded some time back that Shockley's (possibly plagiarized in part) information theory also came from trying to improve the fidelity of telecommunications.

I would have liked to hear once again about light behaving some times as a wave and sometimes as a particle. Let's see, if I remember right the wave nature is seen in interference patterns, like a two-slit experiment. The particle nature is seen in quantized emanations from, say, electrons moving from one shell to another. Someone with Tyson's skill with words could have had fun with it, but maybe he figures it is already too familiar.



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