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Space Nuts Episode 245 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley
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Space Nuts 245 Air
[00:00:00] 15 seconds guidance within journal ten nine ignition sequence three, two nuts as the magic word. It feels good. Hello again, thank you for joining us. On the space nuts podcast episode 245. I'm your host, Andrew Dunkley. And with me again as always is professor Fred Watson astronomer at large. Hello, Fred.
Hi Andrew. How you doing? Good to see you, especially now it stopped raining. I'm well, so yes, at last we've we've had about a week's worth of it and we got triple our monthly average. For this part of the world, but we didn't get the flooding that has been happening in many other parts of new South Wales and Queensland.
And it's been, uh, it's been pretty hectic and people are still, uh, trying to deal with it. Thousands have been evacuated and we've seen houses [00:01:00] floating down, rivers and cars being washed off causeways. Why people insist on driving through floodwaters? I do not understand. Uh, you're better off being late then.
Light if you know what I mean? And, uh, I was saying on air, on the radio this morning that, um, th these last 12 months have been extraordinary. It's like the apocalypse we've had a severe drought. Fires then COVID-19 then we had rain. Then we had floods, we've got a mouse plague, a rat plague. We've got a slug plague.
I found out, uh, we've got, uh, locus. There's just so much going on. I can't wait to see the movie. It's just, um, it's crazy times, crazy, crazy times. I feel for all those people are going through the flood situation. There's nothing more dire than that. Um, but it just adds another insult to, what's been a pretty horrendous 12 months.
I think it's almost exactly a year [00:02:00] since we went into lockdown in Australia. And so many other countries are still in lockdown. What horrifies me for it is there's so many people still. Trapped overseas because they can't get home. And it's nearly a year. I mean, this is just unbelievable. Unbelievable. Uh, but uh, you, you, you're not in a flood area of Sydney, are you you've, uh, kind of in a more hilly part of the city, we live on a Ridge 200 meters above sea level.
So if we get flooded, Sydney's gone. Yeah. Very much. So, um, anyway, we, uh, we just, uh, keep our fingers crossed. It all is well now the, uh, the floodwaters will just do what they do rather slowly, but we will, um, start to see things get back to normal soon. I hope. That is what we, uh, that was what we, uh, we prayed for indeed.
So Fred, we've got an interesting show today because it is entirely created by the space nuts audience. Everything we do today is based on, uh, [00:03:00] audience feedback and questions. Uh, we've got a little bit of feedback to deal with and we'll do that. Uh, we've also got a whole bunch of questions, so we might as well just get straight into it.
Fred sounds good. And, uh, our first question is. Yeah, it's a text question from Peter in South Australia. My question is about dark matter and dark energy and the speed of light. We often hear about how old the universe is and how far away things are. The two are often measured and modeled in computer situations.
I'm curious to know how you factor in dark matter. We hear it comes in clumps, and I'm curious to know what you put into a community, a computer model. To allow for dark matter and dark energy. Do we know what affect dark matter has on the speed of light or how light reacts with dark matter? Uh, it boggles my mind to know astronomers and physicists get space, travel and distances.
So right, without really knowing what dark matter or dark energy is or does the effect of this dark matter and dark energy only [00:04:00] happen. When you get, get out of the local galaxy cluster. Thank you, Peter. Uh, it's a good question. And, uh, one, that's probably got a few people wondering I imagine for it. Yeah.
Great stuff, Peter. And, um, in a way I think you're a, uh, the last part of the question sums up what's going on? Does the effect of this dark matter and dark energy only happen when we get up. As of our local galaxy cluster, um, to some extent that's when we start seeing their effects. Um, the interaction of light with dark matter is zero effectively because, uh, photons and dark matter particles, whatever they are, they don't talk to each other.
Uh, and we know that because, um, there is no. Dark matter, doesn't reveal itself, uh, by anything that is to do with light. For example, you can't see that matter silhouetted against bright nebulae and things of that sort in the background. Um, it, it, it doesn't [00:05:00] block our view. Uh, so it doesn't actually interact with light at all.
The only way we know it. There is by its gravitational effect. Um, so there's a, there is perhaps one thing to add to this though, and that's the sort of big picture stuff. Um, the people who look at the unit as a whole, uh, both now and. 380,000 years after the big bang, which is when we can see back as far as in the cosmic microwave background, radiation, those both the universe today in the sense of the distribution of galaxies, where they're placed, how they, you know, how they string out along these, um, these filaments of the cosmic web, uh, that plus the.
What we call the power spectrum of the dark of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which basically means how clumpy it is. Um, in terms of these slight temperature variations that we see looking back to [00:06:00] the flash of the big bang. So those are two yardsticks the universe today, the universe back then, and they both tell us something about, uh, the gravitational influence of stuff.
And that includes both the stuff we can see and the stuff we can't see. Uh, so when you do the analysis of this, you actually get these values out for what the total amount of dark energy is, which is something like 70% of the mass energy budget of the universe. Total amount of dark matter, which is about 25% of the energy budget of the universe.
And, uh, you know, what the rest is, and that's about 5%. These are very. Broad numbers. So that, that breakdown comes out of just the distribution of matter in the universe. Um, and you know, that, that's why we can actually make these claims is the wrong word, but, but give estimates of what these total mass values are.
Um, as I said, [00:07:00] the dunk. Matter, doesn't interact with visible, with light, in fact with, well, it doesn't actually interact with anything except gravity. So all the other fundamental forces are not affected by dark matter. And dark energy is a property of the universe as a whole. And so, you know, that. The the, the dark matter, sorry, the, the, the, the photons of light and radiation pass through the universe without being affected by dark energy.
It's really the matter distribution that tells you about the, the, the, the way these two phenomena, uh, act on the larger scale. I haven't really made that. Very clear, I don't think, but, um, it is, uh, it's the way it is. And just coming, returning again to what I said at the beginning, uh Peter's last question.
Does the, the dark matter and dark energy, or do their effect only happen when we get out of our local galaxy cluster? To some extent that's true because it's only when you start looking on [00:08:00] very large scale, certainly in terms of dark energy that you see it's effect dark matter. You've we have to look at galaxies as, as a whole.
There is evidence that dark matter might come in clumps no smaller than about a thousand light years across. And so anything within that is not going to see its effect, uh, because it's, it's effectively throughout that throwing in a couple of added aspects. So that's, so I think the, uh, the answer to Peter's question, I hope it works.
Yeah, me too. But I think we've talked to before about the naming of these things, creating some confusion with people. So, um, you know, people hearing the words dark matter and dark energy, uh, may well get a misrepresentation in their minds as to what. This actually is, is that one of the issues? I think it is.
Yeah, I absolutely agree. It's a rubbish name. I think, um, [00:09:00] they're both, you know, invisible matter would be a much better name for dark matter, um, dark energy I can kind of get, because it's something you can't see, uh, maybe, but maybe that should be invisible as well. Of course, I couldn't say, but that they're revealed by a dark matter is reveal bites effect on galaxies.
They shouldn't behave the way they do if it wasn't there. And dark energy is what tells us that the universe or what we think is the reason for the universe expanding, um, ever more rapidly, the accelerated expansion of the universe. Yeah. Uh, one day maybe Fred will figure this out, but it's sort of starting to become one of those great mysteries or that already is a great mystery, but one that just keeps bringing up more and more questions and curiosity and.
Yeah, like black holes. We were starting to get more and more questions about these two [00:10:00] things as, as we do for black holes, because they're so very mysterious as well. So, um, it seems like anything dark or black in color, in the university's course, it's causing us a little, a few headaches. Um, anyway, I paid out, hopefully we, um, we filled in something of a blank for you.
We can't obviously give you absolute answers when it comes to these. Strange and mysterious things in the universe, but appreciate your question. Thank you so much. Let's move on to our next question. This one comes from Ralph. Uh, no it doesn't. Yes, it does. It comes from Ralph in Northern California.
Greetings chief nuts. I have a question for you regarding the theory of relativity. This is Ralph and Northern California since the speed of light is finite and constant. Um, can it be said that the theory of relativity is. Well illustrated by comparison of the relative distances you are from a light source.
In other words, the [00:11:00] position in space of a light source say three meters from my pupils will be far more real time than a duplicate light source, three light years away, which will be in a different position in space. By the time the light reaches my pupils than it was when the photons began their journey.
And that same light source, only 300 meters from my pupils would be the tiniest amount, less real time than three meters and so on. It's all relative to perceived locations based on travel time or time travel of photons. Relative real time of the receiver versus actual time of the emitter or something like that.
Anyway, thanks for the great shows. Keep it up and can't wait for perseverance to hit Mars. Um, thank you, Ralph. Uh, obviously this question came in before perseverance landed and, uh, we were glad to be able to report Ralph. It did land and it was, everything is okay. And it's even [00:12:00] moved. And I do believe Fred they're just about ready to test the helicopter.
So yeah, just getting super exciting on Mars next big step. That's right. Okay. Yes, indeed. Go ahead to Ralph's question. Okay. What else? Question? Yeah, actually, um, the point that Ralph makes is a, is a very good one and it's, excuse me. One of the reasons why, why, um, in the very early phases of Einstein putting together his special theory of relativity, relativity is one of the reasons why he did.
And it, it, what, what Ralph is talking about is the notion of symbol tenacity. Um, Why the things that happen simultaneously in the universe happened simultaneously everywhere. And that actually was certainly one of the things that went into the thinking on the special theory of relativity. Um, [00:13:00] the, the, the Newtonian universe, the old fashioned universe says that, um, you know, if something happens in the universe, everybody sees it.
Simultaneously, uh, but, um, for exactly the reason that that Ralph has mentioned, uh, the split finance speed of light, that's not the way it works. Um, simultaneity, simultaneity, uh, doesn't really have a definition in a, in a relativistic universe, um, because your perception of two events is going to depend.
On how far away each event is. So if something, you know, a supernova explodes at the same time in two widely separated parts of the universe, and you're near one and far away from the other, you're going to see the near one first and two and two, for all extent, for all purposes, for all practical purposes.
Um, the. The there's the timing of an event is actually the time climbing that you see it rather than the time when it really happened in some sort of absolute sense, [00:14:00] because that's the only way the information can come to us. Nothing can come to us faster than the speed of light. So you see one supernova going off and then 40 years later you see another one going off.
Cause it's taken 40 more years. For the light to travel. Um, they might've been simultaneous in the, uh, you know, in the sort of absolute, if you could look at the universe from the outside, they might've been simultaneous, but they're not in terms of our perception of them. And our perception is the only thing we've got.
Yep. Or what, or the first one could have been the second one to explode. I mean, in terms of proximity. Yeah. That's the order. And that brings into effect to consideration all kinds of things like causality and what causes something to happen and cause, and effect being in the right order. Um, which, uh, actually some modern theories of, of, uh, the.
Reality of the universe they dispense with the idea of causality. I think, um, Stephen Hawking was working on one of those anyway, uh, uh, [00:15:00] what, um, uh, what Ralph has said is a very nice summary of the fact that, uh, things are not quite the way we think in the world of relativity. Hm, indeed. Yeah. I saw a news story.
Today actually, uh, it was in the popular press, uh, which is my nice way of saying that the headline sells the story. And then the truth is very boring, but this one said star explodes. And I thought, ah, okay, that's either Hollywood or astronomy. And I, um, I, I thought, and they were talking about a, a Nova and I thought someone was in the studio with me at the time.
I said, Hey, check this out. They've they've said a star has just exploded. My bet is it's happened billions of years ago, and sure enough, the headline was designed to get you in because they made it out that this star exploded yesterday. What actually happened was yes, we've got remnant [00:16:00] light from a supernova going back billions of years, which is not sexy enough to sell a headline.
So yes, it's all relative. Fred it's relative, right? Yeah. As are we all right. Okay. Uh, thank you, uh, Ralph for your question. Appreciate hearing your voice too. It's great to get these, uh, these, these audio questions in, and now we've got a bunch more to come here on the space nuts podcast. Stick around.
Right here. Awesome space nuts. This is the space NATS podcast with Andrew Dunkley and professor Fred Watson. Uh, just want to shout out to our patrons, uh, growing in numbers steadily, thank you for your financial support of the space and that's podcast. We appreciate the, you enjoy it enough to put a couple of dollars a month into the, um, into the kitty to, uh, keep us going.
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Uh, not only with bonus material, but uh, you know, other, other options. Uh, so Fred, let's move on to our next question. This one is a repeat question, but, um, I love how he puts the full stop on his questions. It's Roger, the truck driver. Hi there, space nuts. My name is Roger. I'm a truck driver I've called in before tonight.
I'm traveling across New York state here and a little bit of a snow storm. I was listening to the show where you were talking about binary stars and that a couple of questions. Um, when I was young, I had someone point out the second star in on the handle of the big dipper was told that it was a binary system.
I was also told that was the astronomers eye tests, where if you could see that faint star with the naked eye, then you had pretty decent vision. And I made a note of the positions of those two stars and thinking over time I would watch the movement of them. And here [00:19:00] it's been some 45 years and they don't seem to have moved.
So at this point, I'm assuming that they're very far apart or is it really a binary system? And is it possible that you can have multiple stars instead of just two in a system where almost resemble a solar system, multiple smaller stars, orbiting a larger one. Or if anything like that's ever been seen anyway, still taking the show.
You guys keep up the good work. I love that safe, please. And, uh, thanks for the question, Roger. Uh, binary stars as we've discussed are not uncommon, but when you get beyond that into, um, systems of three or more, it starts to become a fair bit more rare. Um, but yeah, let's firstly, go back to the, the system he was talking about that he looked at 40 odd years ago.
You were [00:20:00] nodding your head. So you're obviously aware of what he's talking about. Absolutely. In fact, Roger has mentioned one of my favorite styles, uh, alcohol, um, which is so w we from the latitude of new South Wales, don't see. The plow or the big dipper is I think it's called in the U S um, it's part of the constellation of Ursa major, the great bear.
Uh, if you're up in Queensland, you see it. If I remember rightly in may nights, very low down on the Northern horizon, but it's a Northern hemisphere, uh, constellation, but, um, one of the stars, the middle star of the handle of the plow. Uh, has this companion, so the stars of the plow really quite bright, um, you know, that, that, that definitely naked eyes stars, but they're they're, um, you know, they they're, they're, they're a bit like the Southern cross down near there.
They're they're they're spectacularly bright stars, particularly when you looked at them through binoculars. Um, but [00:21:00] right next to this. Middle star in the handle of the plow, which is called Maza or Misa is this little component called Alcor. And, um, Roger is right. That Alcor is thought to be gravitationally bound.
To, to my visa because they're at the same distance away. And as they move through space and remember, we've got the Gaia spacecraft, which is exquisitely precise in telling us about the way stars move through space, as they move through space, they move together. And so even though that. The 40 years that Roger's talking about is not long enough to see Al cause position change with respect to miso.
It's probably going to take thousands of years to see any difference. But the thinking is that these two are actually bound together. Gravitational, which makes them a binary system. Uh, but in fact, it's more than a binary system. And this goes to the second part of, of Roger's question because [00:22:00] Alcor itself has a companion, um, which was discovered back in 2009.
It is, um, not that. Not that faint actually it's an eighth or ninth magnitude. Um, it probably wasn't detected earlier because it's quite close in and it's a red, a red dwarf star, uh, which are the communist stars in, in our neighborhood. So, um, and that is, is also, um, You know, it's also a co moving, uh, with, uh, with the miser system.
So it's, it is an in fact, I think there are more, um, cause miser itself, I think is a quadruple system. So you've basically got six stars, which are in a. In a sort of cosmic dance there, they are multiple stars and they're all orbiting a common, uh, sense of gravity. Uh, so yeah, it's um, what is sometimes known as a Stella sex to pilot?
Uh, that's [00:23:00] basically what it is. So, um, uh, you know, it's okay. Roger's um, observation is great. I, uh, as I said, every time I go. So the Northern hemisphere, which used to be quite regularly, but seems to have stopped. Um, uh, if it's, uh, if I, if I've got a clear night, uh, I always have a look for alcohol suddenly.
I can only see it through binoculars now, as Roger said it. So a good, I test. If you can see it with the naked eye, it's 12 minutes away from Rosa. I need binoculars these days to see it, but it's always nice to see. So thanks for that question, Roger. I really appreciated it. Yeah. So, so he's right. There are systems out there that, uh, uh, made up of stars that resemble.
Solar systems, but rather than planets, you've got stars, orbiting each other in clusters. Yeah, that's right. And, and in fact, you know, you can understand why that would be because we think stars form in much bigger groups. We think that we call them open clusters. These are newly born [00:24:00] stars. Sometimes there are thousands of stars in open clusters and eventually they dissipate.
They drift away. Um, the sun was almost certainly part of. Something like that the sun might have had a binary component or even two or three components, which are now long gone. Um, uh, so it's, um, it, it it's, yes. It's easy to understand why there should be these multiple systems. Okay, thank you very much for your question.
Roger. It's a time for a change of accent as we go from a binary stars to the star shot mission. Hello, my name's Duncan from Weymouth Dorset in England. Long-term listener to the podcast, really enjoy it and hope you both are well with regards to the star shop mission to alpha Centura. I was just considering that we don't know the star systems lay out that well, how many planets are in it in [00:25:00] entirety or where they actually are in their orbits and all the rest of it.
And if we got hundreds, thousands, even of microscopic. Spacecraft have just a few grams each hurtling towards the limit. 20% speed of light. What impact would they have? If all of a sudden there are. You know, 10, 20, a hundred of lease things flowing down through the atmosphere of a planet. Would they reach the surface?
Would they burn up? I mean, given that things hit the earth all the time, um, but they're not going 20%, the speed of light. So I just wondered, you know, Who were shooting these things off of planet that for all we know might be occupied, even if not buyer, an advanced civilization, would it have any impact?
Anyway, thanks very much. [00:26:00] Bye. Thank you, Duncan. Yeah, it brings up an interesting point about, uh, us kind of invading another solar system and perhaps, um, you know, dropping a bundle on, uh, on an occupied planet. Um, not something you want to do. And at that speed, I, I dare say, uh, an object that small would burn up, but I suppose it depends on the planet.
Depends on the atmospheric conditions. Uh, you know, it might not have an atmosphere at all and we'd just go plowing into it and knock someone's block-off I mean, yeah. Um, And, and you and I have talked before about, uh, us sort of infecting other worlds and, and some of the things that are being done to try and alleviate that problem.
But here we are sending stuff off into the never, never, and I'm hoping we miss certain things. Well, yeah, let's um, let me, let me backtrack a bit to say what, um, you know, what exactly it is we're talking about here. Um, don't [00:27:00] contrite, uh, the, uh, there is, uh, uh, a project. It's not a mission. It's a project called breakthrough star shot.
And it's a feasibility study rather than an intent to actually do anything. Although you never know it might happen one day, but the feasibility study is about the possibility of sending exactly as, um, uh, you know, as Duncan has said, a tiny. Spacecraft weighing just a few grams, just a few centimeters across equipped with pretty well, nothing but a camera and a transmitter, um, which are blown along by laser light.
So they've got, um, light sails and you accelerate them using high powered lasers, which don't exist yet. Uh, too. 20% of the speed of light. And that means it takes you 20 ish years or so to get. So the nearest star system, which is the alpha Centura system, approximate as the nearest star, we know that Proxima has at least one planet possibly a like, [00:28:00] um, it may even have more than that.
So it, it's a really interesting idea, uh, the project, um, And, uh, you know, the other thing that don't come mentioned was that, uh, the plan would be, be to launch these things in very large numbers, thousands of them, and you just blast them all along with these high powered lasers now exactly. As he says, we've no idea of the, of the layout of the Proxima Centauri system.
Um, the. Odds are that if you did this supposing it all happened. We blasted off 10,000 of these things towards that star system, um, that the odds are that most of them, um, probably all of them with numbers like that would miss hitting anything. Uh, because space is so big. Um, And it's, you know, at that speed, if they are traveling 20% of the speed of light, they're not going to be captured gravitationally by the star or its planets.
They're just [00:29:00] going to keep on going. So they'll head off into the wild blue yonder and probably go for a very long time. Um, Quite, uh, you know, there'd be a bit like, um, coming through our solar system, which came from somewhere else and flashed through and then keep on going. Uh, it will be very much like that.
However, um, to get to the nub of the matter, supposing one did. Uh, have a direct hit on the planet. Um, it, what saves you is it's mass. It's massive, so tiny, uh, that even at that speed and it, I suppose it's, there's a, there's an atmosphere there. It would flash into non-existence, uh, in, you know, in a split second.
Um, it, it might reach the ground, uh, but, uh, that speed, it would vaporize essentially, as soon as it hit anything solid, um, it could be. If that solid was somebody's head. Yeah. It might not be all that impressive. Um, but, uh, the, um, th th th [00:30:00] the likelihood is it would never hit anything, but it's a really, you know, it's a really interesting conjecture.
We, we talk, we were very familiar in the world of astroid impact with what the effect of asteroid impacts are, but they're going. That you know, they're only going at, um, a few tens of kilometers per second at most. Uh, when you get to thousands and tens of tens of thousands of kilometers per second, then you're in a different ball game.
And, uh, but the energy, the energy goes up because it's a kinetic energies, half MV squared, the velocity is squared. So as soon as you get up to these high velocities, it's carrying much more energy. Um, but as soon as it hits something solid, because it's so small, it's kind of vaporize. It would almost certainly vaporize as soon as it hits the atmosphere.
Um, great question though, and lovely thing to come know to conjecture about too. Um, I'm hopeful that this is a mission that gets the green light and the. They [00:31:00] do it. I, I th I think even though the, the results and the information will be a long way down the track and probably beyond their lifetimes in terms of, uh, any feedback or footage or whatever it is they're going to gather.
But I just love to be able to, um, say we are going to send a mission to another star system and, and send back data. I think that's the next giant leap. Well, it is that's right. Um, it is a long way away. Uh, I th you know, I think what's interesting is what we're talking about. The other, the other day, I'm getting free samples from other star systems coming in, like are more and more, uh, if we can Mount a space mission to go and collect something, the next time, something like that goes through, we've got a treasure trove of information.
We sure have. Yeah. Um, thank you for the question Duncan. Oh, and while we're talking about a more and more it's in the news again, because to my great disappointment, it is not a space [00:32:00] Doogie. It's a space cow pad, as it turns out, they, they think it's a sliver of a Pluto like planet that's been worn down by its travels and turned into just, I think they described it like a piece of soap.
And as you use the soap, it just becomes that. I think they described it as that annoying sliver. Yeah. And that's what a muah muah. Yeah. It's very nice. Just a sliver of a piece of a planet. Yeah. And slowly. So that's the latest news. So only something like, you know, um, few kilometers, sorry, a few meters across rather than being.
Tens of meters, which we thought before and that's because they think it's shiny. It's a really interesting piece of work. It's cast new light on O'Mara. It seems to explain all the properties that we saw. Um, and so, um, that might be drawing a line on New York space Doobie. Yeah. Yes. Oh dear. I think I'll still call it that just for fun.
I was deadly serious before, but now it's just going to be for fun. [00:33:00] Uh, now let's move on to a bonus question. This one's got nothing at all to do with astronomy, so what's it about hello? This is Andrea from Worcester, Massachusetts. I've enjoyed listening to your show. And I often feel like in the background, I hear a birds or a bird.
Is it a pet, I guess I was just wondering, could you introduce us to the third host of your podcast thinks, well, we do have Gregory Peck. Yeah, the rooster, but I suspect that's not what you're referring to. Uh, Fred and I both live in, uh, areas that have, um, uh, a vast number of birds. I don't have a pet bird.
I used to, uh, used to have, um, budgetary GARS when I was younger. And, um, we used to let them fly around the house and crap on everything, but they no longer, so there's no birds living in my house. What about yours? Fred? No, there is there aren't. I mean, there [00:34:00] are the trucks that the, the, you know, the hands and the, and the rooster exactly.
As you've said, Gregory pack, uh, There is a bird that, uh, I think where it's pet actually rather than the other way around, um, this is, uh, uh, a pure white peacock, uh, which took up residence some time ago and comes and goes. His name is Bianco. He just kind of wanders around, uh, and he has a very unattractive call, which is a kind of honk.
Um, so it's not that that Andrea's talking about. Um, and you, you just mentioned bird. Let me call it bird poo a minute or two ago. Um, um, most, most birds that nothing compared with a peacock. Um, you have to treat it as an obstruction in the road. It's monumental. Anyway, there's this descending into different territory.
I think what Andrea is hearing the birds. I often record as I am doing now [00:35:00] with. The door open. Um, we live in a fairly rural area, even though it's Sydney. Uh, and um, often Birdsong comes through the door and some, uh, some Australian birds have the most awful cause the cockatoos, I think we've just talked about screeching.
Yeah, they screech, but a lot of them have got the most exquisite bird cause, um, the, the most remarkable one is the Butcherbird, which sounds exactly like somebody was whistling. It's an extra last week we had. We had four butcher birds, um, at work last week and they were doing that beautiful call that they have one of the most extraordinary calls I've ever heard.
It is very human. Yeah. Yeah. Very, very, very beautiful. Yeah. If you can get online and have a listen to the butcher birds, uh, they. You'll be amazed at the sounds they make, uh, birds that I have in my backyard that makes them beautiful. Sounds that the little wrens, the blue wrens, uh, I've got a couple of [00:36:00] families of them because I've got my house surrounded by shrubbery and that's perfect for them because it gives them good cover from predators and they just jumped around the bed back yard and then make that kind of sound all the time.
They're talking to each other and fantastic. Yeah. I, you know, I I've become so good at doing the sound of a blue Ren. I can hear them and go up to the, um, the hedge and stigma facing and make the sound. And they come up to my face to see what this intruder is. They don't realize it's me a human being, but I confused the hell out of them.
They, they must be very, very miffed, but one day I was doing it in the blue Rin, the, the, the big, um, leader of the pack. Ruffled up his feathers as if to say I'm going to get you, whoever you are, wherever you are. You're in my territory. Uh, the beautiful birds, so little blue wrens. Um, we get magpies here.
They warble beautifully, um, peewees, uh, Corellas cockatoos pink and gray Galarza [00:37:00] screeches as well. Uh, yeah, we got some beautiful bird life around here as you do to Fred. Indeed. And the one I just heard actually a few minutes ago, uh, here is one that you don't have there because it's coastal and that's the wet bird.
I just did it. That's it that's exactly what it does. Yeah. Yeah. And the other bird that people, um, overseas might want to listen to and they, uh, go scrounging around the internet to listen to some of the bird life we've been talking about. The Bellbirds. Yeah, they generally live in, in the, in the tops of mountains, but, uh, they just make these beautiful chimes, I suppose you'd call them.
And there are tiny little thing they're so tiny and they make that amazing sound. So in answer to your question, no only chops at Fred's place, birds, but you said you recorded the door open when I'm on air at the radio station. I, I go live with the front door of the station [00:38:00] open and the studio door open because I like to hear.
The sounds from outside and I don't care if they go to air with the microphone open. Sometimes I'll ask people to honk the horn because, um, that, that, it just adds to the show. I don't understand this philosophy of sitting in a silent room. It just doesn't make any sense to me, but I think I'm in the minority when it comes to radio.
But, uh, yes, um, Thank you very much, Andrea, for your, uh, your question. Yes, you, you do hear rightly there are, there are birds in the background quite often. Uh, while we record the podcast, you are listening to space nuts, episode 245 with Andrew Dunkley and Fred Watson space nuts. Thanks for joining us on the space NATS podcast.
Uh, Andrew Dunkley here with Fred Watson and hello to all our Facebook followers, especially those on the podcast group, the space that's astronomy science podcast group on Facebook. Uh, it's a growing community. Uh, [00:39:00] lots of people get on there and talk to each other about what's happening in astronomy and space science.
They ask each other questions. Some people ask the questions there rather than bringing it to us. Sometimes they do both. Uh, it's a, it's a great place to go to just sort of, um, get to talk to each other as space, nuts followers. And, uh, yeah, I I'm sure some friendships have been struck, uh, during that process.
So check it out. It's called the space and that's podcast group on Facebook. It's the listener generated. Facebook page, if you like, there is an official space nuts page that you can also follow one. I follow both and it can stay in touch with us that way we post a lot of material as it happens. So you can always be up to date.
Uh, and you can also find a, up to our, um, uh, astronomy newsletter on the, uh, on the website space and that's podcast.com. Now, Fred, let's get back into the questions and this one. [00:40:00] Comes from Michael, I think. Hi there. This is Michael from Oregon in the United States. My mother is Australian. So what's up, yo, um, just wanted to ask a question.
Um, you probably already answered this question, but, um, well, um, the Mo the earth moves at a thousand miles per hour, and I S S travels at a much faster rate. And I'm just curious how that works, how. It just continually goes so fast and why that, and how that happens. Uh, love your love, your podcast. You guys are awesome.
Um, Have a good day. Thanks. Thank you, Michael. I picked the accent knew he was an Aussie straight up. No worries. We'll have good angel teacher for you teacher for your Australian isms, Michael, so that you feel more at home and our best tier mother, um, ISS. Yeah, the speed of, um, of orbit, uh, [00:41:00] w w we know about the speed of getting into orbit there.
That's required to get out of the gravitational pull of earth and. Oh, you don't really get out of it. You just stay fast enough not to fall back into it, but the speed of orbit that's that's an interesting question because you do have to be going lickety split, uh, out there too. Um, To, to move around the planet.
Yeah. So, um, Michael's got a, uh, he's, he, he postulated that the earth moves at a thousand miles per hour, but actually it, it doesn't, um, it's much higher than that. Um, so I, and I. We normally think of it in kilometers per second, that the earth moves around the sun at 30 kilometers per second. Uh, it translates to almost 70,000 miles per hour.
Um, I did the calculation that just to put it in those units. So that's the first thing. Uh, the earth is moving very fast. Uh, so the international space station is traveling much more slowly than that. [00:42:00] It's about nearly eight kilometers per second, which is, uh, roughly 18,000 miles per hour. Um, so, uh, it's all about exactly as Andrew has just said, it's all about gravity.
Uh, so the earth is gravitationally bound to the sun. Um, it's. Performing this fine balance between its motion, uh, and the gravitational pull of the sun. Uh, the it's motion around in Orbitz is what stops it falling into the sun. Um, likewise the international space station is doing the same thing, but around the earth, uh, but more slowly.
Uh, so if you had something traveling at 30,000. Sorry at 30 kilometers per second, the speed of the earth. If you had something traveling at that speed, um, it would not be an orbit around the earth. It'd be heading away from earth. It's higher than the escape velocity, which is 11 kilometers per second. So it does all work well.
Um, every time you've got some body in space. Uh, it has [00:43:00] gravity and it can hold things to it. Um, you know, either sitting on the surface as we do or in obits, uh, moving around it. Hmm. Temple. I thought you were about to say something. So that's why I stopped talking. No, I, I never say anything for it. You know, I'd never been in, I'd never do it like this strong, strong sign.
Anyway. I hope that helps and yeah. Say hi to your mom from us. Yes indeed. Thanks, Michael. Appreciate the question. Let's move on now. Um, this, this question, uh, comes into parts. Uh, there was a technical problem with the recording of this question from Misty West in Western Pennsylvania. I noticed Misty also.
Reacted to a post. We put on the space and that's podcast group on Facebook about the mouse plague here. There's a famous photo. That's doing the rounds on the internet of somebody who's scooped about 200 or 300 [00:44:00] mice out of the swimming pool and took a photo of the, of the catch. Uh, yes, that's quite commonplace.
Um, I, I can tell you some. Horrifying stories of what's been happening around our way Misty and everybody else. If you're interested, uh, one family that my wife served in her shop last week said they had to move out of their house on a property outside of Dubbo on a farm, uh, because there were being woken at night by the mice nibbling, their fingers and toes.
Horrifying. Uh, so they're, uh, they're going to wait it out in town in a flat, uh, we caught two mice in the radio station the other day, Fred, and, um, we caught them in a live trap, so they didn't get their necks snapped. Uh, the funny thing is I walked into the studio and I saw one mouse in this cage. Cause it's a, it's a one-way cage.
They can't get out. Once they get in, they enjoy Christmas cake, as it turns out. Uh, when I walked out of the studio and then went back in, there were two. So, um, what's transpired since then is we were a bit slow to deal with them. [00:45:00] And one decided I'm going to murder the other one and eat it. And so that's what happened.
So yeah, it's not fun. It's not fun. Uh, another friend of mine who, uh, is, um, uh, living on a property is catching 200 a day. He's got all sorts of traps around his house. He's trying different models to see what works best. The one that he finds works best is a bottle. Shoved into a tub with a bait at the tip of the neck of the bottle.
And what they do is they walk out over the bottle and when they get to the thin part, they fall off into the bucket. He's caught 200. A night doing that. It's just incredible. Um, but yes, um, yeah, Misty's reacted to that post on, uh, the space that's podcast group, because we talked about the, the mouse plague last week and, um, he decided that, uh, we should give you an example of what's going on.
Uh, but to Misty's question, uh, please sit back, relax. Go and make a cup of tea or coffee, because this is going [00:46:00] to take a while. Hi, Andrew and Fred. This is Misty West from rural Western Pennsylvania. Um, I love your show. And I wanted to say that I really enjoy the personal side of some of the episodes, like caring about the local town names in history, the cool birds we hear in the background.
Fred's cats, crazy plagues that you can keep in Australia. Um, I have two questions that they don't seem. Related, but they do have to do with the biotic evolution of the universe and all the discussion about the universe. Expanding has me thinking that we're very lucky to be alive while we are. So won't far future civilizations not see other galaxies the way we can.
And will they only see their own local galaxy or maybe just a few gravitationally bound galaxies to theirs, or will the universe. And where that happens and could far previous civilizations observe [00:47:00] more galaxies and maybe less black hole or neutron stars or planetary systems or other middle-aged universe wonders.
Um, so that's all one question. My second question is that that made me wonder a lot about how our civilization evolved to perceive the world around us. And it seems like we observe everything as a wave function or a collapsing wave function or something like that. And I know we've discovered a lot by greatly expanding detectors of the electromagnetic expection spectrum, but so it detects all kinds of things we can't even see, but are we looking for other things that aren't.
Know, anywhere on the spectrum, like not a wave. I tried reading about particle detectors and it doesn't, it does seem like all the ways that we have to measure things, involve looking for a wave. So is it possible, there are things in the universe such as dark matter, dark energy, you don't have a wave function.
I hope this isn't [00:48:00] just a fundamental question that I completely missed in high school, but I don't see any articles about it anywhere. At least once that I can understand. Um, thanks a lot. I love your podcast and learning about the universe. Never gets old. Thanks a lot. Bye bye. Very true. Thank you, Missy.
Um, I don't know what high school you went to, but they never asked me questions like that. Um, it was pretty dumb really, but yeah. Uh, I would have loved to have gone to a high school that asked those deep and dark and meaningful questions about life, the universe and everything. Uh, now where do you want to start Fred, uh, biotic evolution?
Uh, what future. Civilizations. We'll see, compared to what we can see now. Indeed. Uh, that's a good place to start. And, um, uh, the, um, Mr. Used a term that I. Like very much, uh, the middle aged do universe wonders. Um, because I guess we own in the middle middle-aged universe, uh, it's 30.8 billion years old. [00:49:00] That means there've been time that there has been time for, uh, stars to form galaxies, to form planets, to form and the elements.
To come into existence that, uh, come in in the interiors of stars. And sometimes there are explosions, those elements that make our world such a rich place. And in fact, which allow life to, to be created because there was certainly not, not the raw materials of life at the beginning of the universe. Um, however, it's, it's future is a little bit on the Lakeside because, um, but at the moment we.
It's our best understanding of the expansion of the university is that it's, uh, except accelerating, uh, due to this mysterious stuff called dark energy. Um, and so, uh, as the universe accelerates the. Time will come, uh, exactly as Misty postulates, that you will only be able to see down the track. And this is a [00:50:00] long, long way we're talking tens of billions of years, but down the track, um, you will only be able to see the galaxies in your immediate neighborhood.
And for us, that means our son Andromeda more or less, uh, probably the triangular galaxy as well. And a few dwarf galaxies. In other words, what we call the local group, because everything else, the universe has expanded and carried it so far away that the light will never reach us coming from those other galaxies.
Uh, so it gets to be a rather lonely place. Uh, it may well be that if, if there were civilizations. At that phase in the universe, they, they really might not be able to see it all that much in the S in the sky that they will see the stars of their own galaxy, but really, you know, nothing beyond when, when we think of what we can see, uh, by looking through the, into the depths of the universe, uh, we see this richness of galaxies and quasars and other things, uh, Uh, and, uh, it [00:51:00] makes for an extraordinary, uh, really an extraordinary, um, uh, phenomenon if I can put it that way.
Um, I do apologize. There's um, there's a helicopter taking off, not very far. From, uh, here. Uh, I think I know who it belongs to, uh, because, uh, and this might not mean anybody, anything to anybody outside Australia, but Dick Smith lives across the road from us, Andrew. Uh, does he have the helicopter? So he's a very well-known, uh, aviator.
Yeah. So he's just, I think that's him leaving. Yes. He made his fortune in. Yeah, Dick's a self-made, multi-millionaire made his fortune in electronics and, uh, it sold off his franchise. And now, um, it, he's trying to do, um, philanthropic work about buying Australian products and keeping the money in Australia, et cetera, et cetera.
Yeah. He's, he's quite a big voice. In, uh, in the media those days. Yeah. As he always has been really, [00:52:00] it was a noisy helicopter. I hope it didn't interfere too much with the audio there, but it's gone now anyway, that's, um, slightly off the track. Um, but yes, so it's remarkable, uh, that we are where we are and when we are, and you know, there are all kinds of things that you can draw from this, uh, I I'm not optimistic about finding intelligent life, anywhere else in the universe because of various realities in terms of the way we seem to have evolved.
And so in some ways, perhaps we are a product of a middle-aged wonder wonderful universe, um, really interesting thoughts, which I don't have time to talk about. Now, let's go on to the second bit about the about way functions. And I think, um, Yeah. You know, I'm just going to the point that, um, I think Misty talks about wave functions and thinks about is [00:53:00] in the context of dark matter and dark energy.
Uh, and it's true, um, that, well, let's take dark matter first. Uh, we believe it's some kind of subatomic particle. All the subatomic particles we know about exist in this quantum world where it's a combination of a particle or a wave. Uh, you know, or a wave, uh, very strange notion, uh, which means that everything has its own way function, um, which gives it this probability that it can be in different places at the same time.
It seems very likely that whatever it is, dark matter will behave the same way. Uh, so we might have. Uh, wave functions. Uh, it's still possible. I think that dark matter could need, uh, ex uh, other dimensions in which to exist. Um, and that opens a whole other can of worms. Uh, but, um, yeah, we might have wave functions that cross dimensions, that will be an extraordinary thing.
Um, dark energy, the same, if it turns [00:54:00] out that dark energy. Uh, is carried by some subatomic particle in the same way as we think gravity is, even though we haven't got a quantum theory of gravity, then that too would have a way function, but that's straying into territory that I really know nothing about at all.
Um, uh, we'd like to read up on it, but I'm not surprised. Misty that you've not been able to find anything written about this. Cause these are quite esoteric concepts, but good thinking. It's very interesting stuff. And the more time goes on, the more we'll learn, um, especially when we discover what dark matter is.
I think that will be a big turning point in our understanding of some of these really deep reality, what a place to end the podcast and these biggest questions that we'll possibly ask. Yes, I, then she brings up one very good point. There are probably lots of things out there yet to be discovered things we have no way of detecting.
Uh, absolutely definitely yes to that. Uh, and, and we're starting to see that like in [00:55:00] my lifetime, how much have they discovered, uh, that we didn't know existed back in the sixties? I mean, and there will be more, it will definitely be more, um, and, and. We will, we will certainly be keeping, uh, area to the ground.
And in regard to that, um, now, um, one, one more thing on, thank you, Misty for your questions. Uh, one more thing just before we finish Fred, uh, we have a correction that needs to be, uh, to be broadcast. Uh, this one comes from Mary Jo. Hi, um, my name's Mary Jo. I'm coming from Tucson, Arizona. I very much enjoy your program, but in the, uh, March 10th program, you were talking about, um, chemicals from asteroids and even given our accent differences, you murdered.
Oh, Cyrus Rick's [00:56:00] long. Oh, Which is a product of the astronomy department at the university of Arizona Tucson. So yay. S thanks for everything you do. Thank you, Mary Jo, thank you for the correction. You know, when we first started talking about it, I did say, uh, Cyrus, Rex, and I self-corrected, because Fred said it another way and I thought, well, the astute, Fred Watson would be getting this right.
And I've got it wrong. So I'm putting it on you for it. Look at what we were calling it at Cirrus. No, I can't either, but yes. Thank you very much, Mary Jo. Very well taken and I actually, I should, you know, we should put out a, um, uh, hello to everybody that if we are mispronouncing words, please let us know because we we'd very much like to know.
And especially when we've got such an international audience and, uh, may I just start a comment as well? We've had a fairly, um, United States emphasis [00:57:00] on our questions from the, on this episode, but that doesn't mean that we're not listening to other ones. And hopefully soon we'll be able to cover questions from Sweden, Orca centers, more questions, uh, from, uh, you know, other countries in Europe and, uh, everywhere else where people listen to this space and that's podcast.
We're not just focusing on the U S audience. We love everybody. So thank you for all your questions and keep them coming. Indeed. Yes. Thank you. And if you'd like to send us questions, do it on our website space and that's podcast.com. You can send it as a text question or you can record it if you've got a device with a microphone, uh, through the AMA tab on our, uh, on our page.
Uh, and yeah, it's as easy as. Pressing the button and saying, hi, I'm Fred from Sydney and I want to know everything. Um, so, um, it's as simple as that, but, uh, yes. Uh, thank you very much to everyone who contributed today. Even the half [00:58:00] Australian, Michael from Oregon. Nice to hear from you. Uh, and thank you, Fred is always great, though.
Great to catch up. We'll catch you again next week. That sounds good. Thanks, Andrew. I'll look forward to that and all the best take care of watch out for those mice. And watch out for those floodwaters. Yes, indeed. Uh, and for me, Andrew Dunkley, thank you for joining us yet again on another episode of the space and that's podcast.
We'll see you again real soon. Bye bye. To this space now to podcast available at Apple podcasts, Google podcasts. Spotify I have radio. Oh, your favorite podcast player. You can also stream on demand at Guidestone. This has been another quality podcast production from bitesz.com .