#Extant S3: See Things First, Hear Them Later

Me and Astronaut Doug Wheelock in front of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the day before liftoff

Me and Astronaut Doug Wheelock in front of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the day before liftoff

In last night's episode of Extant, Molly (played by Halle Berry) sees a rocket lifting off, heading into space and likely docking with the space station.  It reminded me of when I attended a shuttle launch. One of the most fascinating things was seeing the shuttle launch .... in silence.  Then, 15 seconds later ... WWWWOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHHH you get blasted by the full sound of the rocket launching from the Earth.  Why did it take so long?

In the above video, we start to hear sound about 15 seconds after we see it. Why is that? Well, the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) is much, much, much faster than the speed of sound (1130 ft per second). So if something is more than 1130 ft away from us, we should see it one second before we hear it.  If it's 2260 ft away, we'll see it two seconds before we hear it. For 15 seconds, the math works out to just over 3 miles, which is the actual distance from the shuttle launch pad to the Kennedy Space Center press site that I was at.

This is the exact same reason why you see lightning before you hear thunder - if the lightning is far enough away, the light reaches your eyes way before the sound reaches your ears! You can also calculate how far away the lightning is by using the same method I used to calculate how far I was from the shuttle launch pad.

If you want to check out the livetweet of the show (watch out, there are spoilers), check out the Storify below!

#Cosmos E13 - World B Free

Well ... that's it. Cosmos is done!  On one hand, it means that I can return to regular science blogging on this site.  I am sad though - it's truly been a great experience to share this show with you and others that realize the impact that science has in your life.  Congratulations to Fox, Seth McFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and everyone else that made this series possible.

Check out a video from the show discussing the Alexandria Library.  Below the video is the Storify live tweet that I hosted on Sunday.

#Cosmos E12 - Let's Get Free

Episode 12 of Fox's Cosmos focuses on the scientific rationale for climate change. The greenhouse effect, which was one of the main scientific endeavors of the original Cosmos host Carl Sagan, is when gas in the atmosphere traps sunlight bouncing off of the Earth's surface. Modern civilization burns fossil fuels which adds more carbon to the air, helping the atmosphere get even warmer.  Check out this video below for a visual explanation of the greenhouse effect.

 

Look below for more video blurbs from Cosmos, as well as the live Storify twitter chat that we held during the show's viewing.

#Cosmos E11: Eternalists

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

Episode 11 of Fox's Cosmos, "The Immortals", focuses things that stand the test of time - the first written word, stories, and organisms that can survive for millenia. All these things stand the test of time - and could possibly have extraterrestrial origins.

Early in the formation of our solar system, Earth and the other planet were slammed by asteroids and other rocks.  Rocks were flying all over the place, and organisms were along for the ride - possibly exchanging life between the planets.

Check out some video from the show below, as well as the Storify of the latest live tweet below!

#Cosmos E10: Electric Circus

Before this week's Cosmos, I was featured on the Black Girl Nerds podcast with Danielle Lee.  We talked Cosmos and other science issues - check it out the podcast below as well as the accompanying Storify!

 

Episode 10 of Fox's Cosmos is titled "The Electric Boy" - and luckily has no tie in Jamie Foxx's Electro from The Amazing Spiderman 2. We see how the first electric motor and generator were created based on the observations and experiments of scientists such as Michael Faraday and Humphry Davys. With the added math of James Maxwell, the world was ready to harness the part of electricity in useful ways. 

Check out some YouTube videos from Fox's channel and the live tweet Storify conversation below!

 

#Cosmos E9: Deepest Bluest

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

This week's episode of Cosmos covered scientists such as Marie Tharp, who successfully mapped the ocean floor and its ridges, showing that the continents have been shifting over eons,  Earth's land mass transformed from one super continent known as Pangaea to the familiar continent outlay that we know today.  

The shifting had a significant effect on dead trees that lay deep in the rock of the planet. Eruptions caused poisonous gas to cover the Earth, freezing and heating up the planet and killing 90% of life. .

For more, check out the Storify of the live tweet below!

#Cosmos E8: Sister Act

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

Episode 8 of Fox's Cosmos focuses on the stars in the night sky, and the immense effort behind categorizing them and figuring out their composition.  There were a significant amount of women that contributed heavily to astrophysics - Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Levin and Cecilia Payne - but what's most sad is that there are many more who have been erased from history. I'm glad that Cosmos focuses on these women, known as Pickering's harem (seriously, Harvard still uses this antiquated term - wtf), but let's hope that this wasn't the "all women" episode of the series. They should be interdispersed throughout.

Check out the Storify below!

#Cosmos E7: So Fresh & So Clean Clean

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

Episode 7 of Fox's Cosmos, entitled "The Clean Room", covered the search behind the age of the Universe. Meteorites found on the Earth surface contain a certain amount of lead, which is actually a decayed form of Uranium.  Thus, by measuring the amount of lead, one can determine the age of the rock, and this can be extended to the age of the Earth. Clair Patterson had to build a "Clean Room", a lab that was free of lead contamination so that he could accurately measure the amount of lead in a meteorite.

Lead was a popular ingredient in many products in the middle of the 20th century, from paint to gasoline. Patterson's work help to show that the amount of lead in the environment has been increasing over time, and this helped many industries (such as oil and petroleum) to stop using lead in their products, since it was known to be poisonous.  Of course, these industries did not go down without a fight, and hired their own scientists to push their agenda.

Check out Outkast's video for "So Fresh, Co Clean" below, as well as the Storify of the live tweet of the episode.

#Cosmos E6: How Deep? Put a Star To Sleep

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

The sixth episode of Cosmos aired on Fox , and I held my usual live tweet which is shown below. But first, let's check out some videos from the episode.

Check out the complexity of "life in the dew drop", which features two life forms, Paramecium and. Dileptus, in an epic battle. It's amazing how much goes on within the smallest things that humans can observe.  As Tyson puts it, the dew drops has its own little cosmos within it.

 

Check out the advanced, underground chamber that the Japanese built to detect the neutrino. It had to be far underground so that other molecules wouldn't make it through the layers of Earth. A array of light detectors surrounded 50k tons of distilled water is the trap.

Finally, see how the finite speed of light prevents us from seeing farther back in time than 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

 

Check out the live tweet below!

#Cosmos E5: Spectrum shaker

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday @ 8pm CST. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

The fifth episode of Cosmos aired on Fox, and it is was all about the light spectrum, and how scientists from different countries (Joseph von Fraunhofer from Germany, Mozi from China,  Ibn al-Haytham from Iraq, Isaac Newton from England)  and time periods help us arrive at our current understanding of light. Most of the light that we see is white, and appears to have no color. However, white light is actually composed of ALL colors.  When light is translated through a different medium at exactly the proper angle, the colors separate and make a rainbow.  This happens with a prism, as well as with raindrops.

Interestingly enough, there is more light than in the visible spectrum.  Radio waves are a form of light, as well as X-rays that you've likely seen in the hospital.  Those are a few examples of other forms of light in the section beyond visible light, called the infrared spectrum.

Check out the live tweets below!

#Cosmos E4: There Is a Light That Shines

(I live tweet Cosmos every Sunday. For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

Episode 4 of Fox's Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson focuses on the Herschel family of scientists, Einstein's theory of Relativity, and the speed of light as nature's fundamental constant.

Patrick Stewart voiced astronomer William Herschel, who was one of the main scientists in this episode. William, and his son John, contributed to our understanding of stars and the light that they give off. Light from distant objects takes a while to reach us on earth, so the light that we see is very old - we are effectively looking back in time. The light from stars that we see are probably already dead.

The only issue I had with this episode was that they didn't mention Caroline Herschel, who was an amazing astronomer in her own right. Otherwise, this was my favorite so far in the series.

To see the light in a different path, check out Common's hit single "The Light" from the Like Water for Chocolate album (2000).


For more, check out the Storify below!

#Cosmos E3: Know The Ledge

(For all of my Cosmos recaps, please click here)

For the next 12 or so Sundays, join me on Twitter (@ShareefJackson) as I livetweet the show Cosmos.  The most recent episode "When Knowledge Conquered Fear", deals mostly with comets. Ancient civilizations saw comets as messages from God of impending doom. It took scientists like Robert Hooke, Edmond Halley, and Isaac Newton to prove that comets were a part of the solar system whose travel patterns can be predicted with startling accuracy.

Knowledge is power, and also inspires great music. Check out Eric B and Rakim's "Know the Ledge" off of the soundtrack to the movie Juice. After that, check out the Storify of my tweets below!


Check out the tweets below!

Last Night a #Cosmos Saved My Life

Last night the series premiere of Cosmos, a miniseries exploring the universe, debuted on Fox. Its a reboot of the original 1980s series which was hosted by astronomer Carl Sagan, and is one of the most widely watched miniseries in history. I saw part of the original series in the mid and late 80s, but I was still young and didn't fully appreciate it.

Last night, a Cosmos saved my life.

After graduating college, my good friend Raymond told me about Sagan's book Cosmos, which was made after the TV series gained in popularity. I immediately recognized the name as the series that I watched so many years before, but I did not know that the book would become one of my favorites of all time. OF ALL TIME.

Sagan has a way of describing complicated topics such as the length of time since the big bang in terms that can be grasped by a variety of folks. His Cosmic Calendar - where the entire history of the universe is placed in a calendar year - remains one of my favorite ways to explain exactly how new humans are to the universe. All of recorded history takes place at the very, very end of the calendar. Puts things into perspective.

I had so much fun watching Cosmos and participating in the discussions that followed on and offline. Be sure to check me out on Twitter (@ShareefJackson) every Sunday at 9pm Eastern as I tweet about Cosmos during the show. A sample of my tweets from the premiere are shown below via Storify.