Monday, April 29, 2013

The Collapse of Everything

Went to a planetarium show on black holes recently in which we learned that super-large and massive stars collapse and become stellar black holes. At the end of the show, there was a light-show representing the possibility of going through a stellar black hole at just the correct angle and  emerging from it in another universe, another place and another when.

At the center of our galaxy is a super massive black hole. It was never stated at the show what might have collapsed to form this super massive black hole, only that it is there. It appears there is such a black hole at the center of our galaxy, of every galaxy.

I am left with a few questions:

What has collapsed to produce these super massive black holes? What is it about galaxy formation and on going galactic processes that requires them?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Day In Venice

    One day during our trip to Venice, Italy, we visited the Frari, a grand church indeed. Among its treasures are two paintings by Titian, “The Assumption of the Virgin”, and the “Pesaro Altar Piece”. Rick Steves, in his guide book, points out that the Earthly portion of the “Pesaro Altar Piece” prominently features the contemporary family of Titian’s patrons. Including their patrons in religious works was the common practice of painters at the time. One of Rick Steve’s tongue in cheek observations is that the men in the family all sport 5 o’clock shadows, easily seen in the painting.

    Speaking of 5 o’clock shadows, when I was a kid my Italian band director always had a 5 o’clock shadow, even at 10 am Saturday morning when the rehearsal started at a prestigious high school. During one rehearsal he became so incensed at our playing that he jumped off his stool and crashed down onto the floor with a thud that shook the entire building. This was the result of the floor being struck by the foot-to-hip cast that kept his broken leg immobilized at the time. With all of the band director’s weight on it, that cast hit like the hammer of Thor! But not only did our conductor survive this maneuver with his broken leg, he then proceeded to throw his baton into the  clarinet section, an act of amazing balance and precision, given his severely broken leg and foot. All this at 10 in the morning.