Archive for space

Critical Issues in Debate: “Pigs in Space” a High School Topic Ride-A-Long with Kevin Kuswa

Posted in 2011-2012 High School Space Topic, Critical Issues in Debate with tags , on April 24, 2011 by Scott Odekirk

Kevin Kuswa was an incredibly successful college debater. He reached the octos at the NDT in four straight appearances and in 1992 he won the NDT while debating at Georgetown. He has been a very successful coach at the University of Richmond and will be the director at Fresno State University. He is also an author on this site and we are very lucky to have Kevin on the deb(k)ate team! This podcast is dedicated to the High School Space Topic for the 2011-2012 season.

Download for media devices here kuswa on the highschool topic

Here is a link to all the stuff Kevin has produced on Putting the K in!


Space Explorations by Bear: Part 3

Posted in 2011-2012 High School Space Topic with tags , on April 24, 2011 by Scott Odekirk

If you missed the first two parts of these “Space Posts” see them here: Part 1  Part 2

Why is this galaxy so discombobulated? Usually, galaxies this topsy-turvy result from a recent collision with a neighboring galaxy. Spiral galaxy NGC 1313, however, appears to be alone. Brightly lit with new and blue massive stars, star formation appears so rampant in NGC 1313 that it has been labeled a starburst galaxy. Strange featu…res of NGC 1313 include that its spiral arms are lopsided and its rotational axis is not at the center of the nuclear bar. Pictured above, NGC 1313 spans about 50,000 light years and lies only about 15 million light years away toward the constellation of the Reticle (Reticulum).
Over 400,000 light years across NGC 6872 is an enormous spiral galaxy, at least 4 times the size of our own, very large, Milky Way. About 200 million light-years distant, toward the southern constellation Pavo, the Peacock, the remarkable galaxy’s stretched out shape is due to its ongoing gravitational interaction, likely leading to an eventual merger, with the nearby smaller galaxy IC 4970. IC 4970 is seen just below and right of the giant galaxy’s core in this cosmic color portrait from the 8 meter Gemini South telescope in Chile.
Coming soon: Extraterrestial Life!



The Red Square Nebula: What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The above image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Ha…waii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova.


A possible door to parallel universe?
How could part of the early universe be so cold? As the early universe expanded and cooled, it suddenly and predictably became transparent. The photons that come to us from that epoch are seen all around us as the CMB. Now this radiation field is quite uniform but does have slight warm and cool s…pots that tell us a great deal about the early universe that could have imprinted them. Except, possibly, one spot. This CMB Cold Spot, circled above on the WMAP 7-year all-sky map, has attracted attention as possibly being too large and too cold to be easily explained. Published speculation has included spectacular progenitor hypotheses that involve a supervoid, a cosmic texture, or even quantum entanglement with a parallel universe.
More Great Space Posts to come!
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.

Bear’s Space Explorations: Part 2

Posted in 2011-2012 High School Space Topic with tags , on April 23, 2011 by Scott Odekirk

This is another addition of Michael “Bear” Bryant’s facebook posts about space exploration. If you missed the first installment click here.

The gov’t continues to slowly release info detailing their investigations of UFOs…

                                                                                    FBI opens online vault, revealing UFO, Roswell files


Well over a thousand galaxies are known members of the Virgo Cluster, the closest large cluster of galaxies to our own local group. In fact, the galaxy cluster is difficult to appreciate all at once because it covers such a large area on the sky. Spanning about 5×3 degrees, this careful mosaic of telescopic images clearly records the …central region of the Virgo Cluster through faint foreground dust clouds lingering above the plane of our own Milky Way galaxy. The cluster’s dominant giant elliptical galaxy M87, is just below center in the frame. Above M87 is the famous interacting galaxy pair NGC 4438, also known as The Eyes. A closer examination of the image will reveal many Virgo cluster member galaxies as small fuzzy patches. Sliding your cursor over the image will label the larger galaxies using NGC catalog designations. Galaxies are also shown with Messier catalog numbers, including M84, M86, and prominent colorful spirals M88, M90, and M91. On average, Virgo Cluster galaxies are measured to be about 48 million light-years away. The Virgo Cluster distance has been used to give an important determination of the Hubble Constant and the scale of the Universe.
 A detonation from 4.5 billion years ago! A symphony of planet-wide observations began abruptly on March 28 when the Earth-orbiting Swift satellite detected a burst of high-frequency gamma-rays from GRB 110328A. When the same source flared again after a 45 minute pause it was clear this event was not a typical gamma-ray burst. Twelve h…ours after the initial fanfare astronomers using the 2.5-meter Nordic Optical Telescope chimed in with a mid-range observation of the optical counterpart. Early the next day the explosion was picked up in baritone low-frequencies of radio waves by the ELVA radio dishes in the USA. Later many optical telescopes, including the 8-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, began playing along by tracking the optical counterpart. The unusual source was spotted at a higher register in X-rays by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and was intermittently followed in the even more soprano-like gamma-ray range for a week. Joining the chorus, Hubble Space Telescope recorded this image in optical and infrared light, confirming that the flash was located along the path of a galaxy at redshift 0.351. If associated with the galaxy, this explosion occurred when the universe was about two thirds of its present age. There is much speculation that the unusual gamma-ray burst was a star being ripped apart by a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy and the puzzling features of the distant detonation are still being explored.
The black hole at the heart of M87 is large enough to swallow our entire solar system and has the same mass as 6.8 billion suns. Even its event horizon – the edge from within nothing can escape, not even light – is four times as large as the orbit of Neptune. This black hole M87 is almost twice as big as scientists had previously thought. But scientific breakthroughs mean even bigger ones are likely to be found in the next few years.
Read more:

More Great “Space Posts” from Bear coming soon!

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.

Space Explorations by Legendary Former Coach Michael “Bear” Bryant: Part 1

Posted in 2011-2012 High School Space Topic with tags , on April 22, 2011 by Scott Odekirk

Michael “Bear” Bryant is the current chair of the General Education Department at Sullivan University System. Bear once earned 4 first round at large bids to the NDT and was known as a prolific and powerful debater. He was also a highly successful at the college level where he coached multiple first rounds. I was once coached by Bear when I was a sophomore in college during which I spent a lot of time with him. I can honestly say that Bear is one of the most interesting people I have ever known. One of his many interests is the universe. This is a reposting of a bunch of Bear’s “Space Posts” from facebook. Thanks a lot Bear.

The spiky stars in the foreground of this sharp cosmic portrait are well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. The two eye-catching galaxies lie far beyond the Milky Way, at a distance of over 300 million light-years. Their distorted appearance is due to gravitational tides as the pair engage in close encounters. Cataloged as Arp 273 (also… as UGC 1810), the galaxies do look peculiar, but interacting galaxies are now understood to be common in the universe. In fact, the nearby large spiral Andromeda Galaxy is known to be some 2 million light-years away and approaching the Milky Way. Arp 273 may offer an analog of their far future encounter. Repeated galaxy encounters on a cosmic timescale can ultimately result in a merger into a single galaxy of stars. From our perspective, the bright cores of the Arp 273 galaxies are separated by only a little over 100,000 light-years. The release of this stunning vista celebrates the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit.In Memory of Yuri Gagarin: On April 12th, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human in space. His remotely controlled Vostok 1 spacecraft lofted him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him once around planet Earth. Commenting on the first view from space he reported, “The sky is very dark; the Earth i…s bluish. Everything is seen very clearly”. His view could have resembled this image taken in 2003 from the International Space Station. Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut, would not be launched until almost a month later and then on a comparatively short suborbital flight. Born on March 9, 1934, Gagarin was a military pilot before being chosen for the first group of cosmonauts in 1960. As a result of his historic flight he became an international hero and legend. Killed when his MIG jet crashed during a training flight in 1968, Gagarin was given a hero’s funeral, his ashes interred in the Kremlin Wall. Twenty years later, on yet another April 12th, in 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle.

 Using the prolific planet hunting Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered 1,235 candidate planets orbiting other suns since the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-like worlds began in 2009. To find them, Kepler monitors a rich star field to identify planetary transits by the slight dimming of starlight caused by a planet crossin…g the face of its parent star. In this remarkable illustration, all of Kepler’s planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right. Simulated stellar disks and the silhouettes of transiting planets are all shown at the same relative scale, with saturated star colors. Of course, some stars show more than one planet in transit, but you may have to examine the picture at high resolution to spot them all. For reference, the Sun is shown at the same scale, by itself below the top row on the right. In silhouette against the Sun’s disk, both Jupiter and Earth are in transit.

 I’ve spent this vacation week delving into several books from Alastair Reynolds” “Revelation Space” universe. Imagine my shock when I read the article below and realized that fiction is quickly becoming fact.
More Great “Space Posts” from Bear to come!
 Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.