Saturday, April 4, 2015

[Yasmin_discussions] Light is My Business


i reluctantly agree with Glenn that we should
do the discussion about creation of science visualisations
that use sound as creatively as the science that is presented
in a second time- so i propose to hold approving the emails
about this topic until we finish the Light is My Business topic

so glenn asked me this question:
"First, it's not been pointed out that Roger was
the principal investigator for NASA's Extreme
Ultraviolet Explorer satellite, and so I would love
to get from him not so much a factual intro to
the ultraviolet part of the spectrum but rather a
more impressionistic "then and now" view of
the status of ultraviolet science within the
scientific community -- this, I suppose, similar
to asking what it is like to be a practitioner of
one jazz style as opposed to another."

glenn= thats an interesting question- all professions
sub segment into 'trades" that specialise in specific
expertise- in my case it was extreme ultraviolet astronomy
under the leadership of my phd advisor Stu Bowyer=

in the case of astronomy, one of the contributions of
space exploration was to open up the sky to parts
of the spectrum that are blocked by the earth's atmosphere-
so there developed a number of trade specialists-
x ray astronomers, infra red astronomers, ultraviolet astronomers

its actually amazing to me that astronomers could figure out so
much about the universe by only observing 'visible' light that
is the kind of light that human evolution adapted humans to
- its as if you told humanities scholars that they could only
study authors texts that they produced when they were 25-26
years old and you were not allowed to look at all their other
writing written when they were at a different age- not sure what
kind of history of humanity we would have !

after astronomers completed mapping the sky at all wavelenths
( we still have to do initial maps in gravity wave astronomy and
neutrino astronomy)- then we saw the emergence of what was
called 'multi-wavelength astronomy ( is you could now read
the books of authors written at any age - except certain years
that are the equivalent of our blindness to gravity waves)

now of course the international virtual observatory system
( allows one to combine data from
all wavelengths that telescopes have mapped-

thats not to say that depending on the object most of the
light comes out in a narrow range of light energy ( in the
case of extreme ultraviole- its plasma from starts at 100,000K)
so certain objects are totally invisible in xrays but very very
bright in the infra red- depending on their temperature etc

so the then and now feeling is that these wavelength specific
astronomies were 'passing phases' although of course you
still need instruments that are dedicated to particular wavelengths-
but as that video on the sun shows- we are now able to study
the sun at most wavelengths

i dont know what the analogy would be in the arts and humanities
because art works stand the test of time in a different way than
does scientific data- eg a masterpiece of the 15th century
is still influential- but data taken by 15th century astronomers has
been largely superseded ( with rare exceptions)

i guess one comparison would be that for a while we had 'digital
astronomy' in the same way that we have 'digital humanities' right
now- the term 'digital astronomy' has disappeared from usage
as will the term 'digital humanities" !!

Roger F Malina
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