What’s a science blog doing on Daily Prompt? Better question: why can’t a science blog be on the Daily Prompt? Today’s theme: darkness. If you happen to have the opening theme to Firefly handy, get it out now.
Space is huge. Sure, we can see stars, rocks, planets, extraterrestrial life (probably), but there’s a lot of it that we can’t. Bear in mind that human vision takes up only so little of the electromagnetic spectrum, and there’s a lot of energy out there that our eyes aren’t able to see. We can’t see radio waves with our eyes, but our phones can pick them up. Consider just the number of cell phones and Wi-Fi routers out there in the modern world – if you could see radio waves, you would be hard-pressed to be able to see anything else. You can’t see UV or X-rays either, and space has a lot of that. There’s also this ‘dark energy,’ and while astronomers can theorize that it’s there, it must be a thing, it’s hard to get a hold of what it really is.
As far the human eye is concerned, space is a whole lot of dark.
If our eyes can’t suffice, we’ll make some up. We’ve got radio telescopes on Earth and on satellites orbiting the Earth. We’ve sent probes out into the unknown to get a better idea of what’s out there. You remember the Juno probe, right? We need these because we can’t see some things, like gravitational waves. Have you seen these things? You’ve seen what gravity can do, like when the ground comes up to give you a kiss just when you’re about to royally faceplant. Even earlier this year, Japan sent up its own probe, Hitomi (Japanese for eye pupil) to get more insights on how gravity works, especially in and around black holes. It would do that by – you guessed it – looking at energy waves that the human eye can’t see, especially X-rays and cosmic rays.Sadly, it didn’t quite work out for her due to equipment failure.
Until then, we’ll keep staring into the black that is space. It’s dark, but not empty – all the things we can’t see will continue to be covered by telescopes and satellites. Somewhere out there is the finding that could be a total game changer, maybe like “what the heck is gravity, anyway?”
Considering the kind of blog this is coming from, we here at sci.casual will leave this with a fun fact: Jupiter’s moons are named mostly after women involved with Zeus/Jupiter or his lovers. The four major moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – were his lovers. Several tiny moons are named after nymphs or other female Greek deities. Noticeably absent? Hera (Roman equivalent: Juno), Zeus’s wife. He’s a philanderer and she knows it.
NASA launched Juno into space to spy on her husband.
Featured image: Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert, Chile (Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-30, author: Rivi)