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Mission Complete! WMAP In 'Graveyard Orbit'

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the perpetual-care dept.

NASA 114

astroengine writes "The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has, quite literally, changed our view of the Universe. And after nine years of mapping the slight temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, its job is done and NASA has commanded the probe to fire itself into a 'graveyard orbit' around the sun. WMAP measured the most precise age of the universe (13.75 billion years), discovered more evidence supporting dark energy and dark matter theories, and found one or two mysteries along the way."

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Why not send it plunging ... (0, Offtopic)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 years ago | (#33832788)

into the Sun?

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#33832854)

We put it in the Graveyard and wait for night to send it all the way.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (3, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 years ago | (#33833208)

Yes, we're waiting for it to become a zombie, and then start killing satellites that are still working, turning them into zombies as well...

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33835058)

No, no, no... graveyard = night... they have to wait for the daytime to send it to the sun. Everyone knows the sun goes out at night.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832860)

It would be very expensive to do so. The probe would have to lose a massive amount of momentum for its orbit to decay far enough for it to pass through the Sun.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 years ago | (#33833566)

It would be very expensive to do so. The probe would have to lose a massive amount of momentum for its orbit to decay far enough for it to pass through the Sun.

I see now that WMAP is at an L2 point, whereas I had naively/foolishly assumed it was at an L3 point.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33838360)

...which would make virtually no difference (and anyway, when was the last time we put anything at L3? Plus probably we won't live to see it)

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

gophish (65390) | about 4 years ago | (#33835524)

Speaking of very expensive, don't we spend lots of money to build these complicated telescopic and other satellites? Don't we use quantities of rare materials to create the sensitive instrumentation onboard? Why, then, are we sending them off into a graveyard orbit whose FINAL DESTINATION (hahemm, scuse me, didn't mean to shout, too much hollywood) is destruction? Shouldn't we try to find some way to stash all the defunct satellites somewhere in space for future (as in when we have facilities set up to do so) recycling of the rare component materials? This just seems like more of the arrogant human "Gimme all the resources, me use once then throw away forever" attitude that gets us into trouble ON the planet. (singing): 'In the year 2525, if man is still alive, he'll be wondering, why did I have to go and fire all those grams of neodymium [technewsdaily.com] into the sun? Now we can't build any more sentient teddy bears.' Call me a hippy, and flame away for my lack of concrete knowledge about the subject, but it just seems like a waste.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33836238)

Don't we use quantities of rare materials to create the sensitive instrumentation onboard?

Yes, we do use quantities. Very small quantities relative to the amount here on earth. Let's put it this way:

The energy cost to keep these satellites 'stored' and then reactivate/repair them from storage would be MUCH more than the energy cost to mine whatever rare mineral you might need that is currently available here on Earth.

Or look at it another way: If it was so valuable as to put these into a non-useful, but accessable orbit and then build another device to go out there, dock, collect, repair, and refuel them... You could just send that collection robot to an asteroid and mine all the rare materials you could want.

And with respect to minerals being rare: They are only rare based on the cost it takes to extract them from the Earth. If their 'value' increased due to demand and decreasing availability, then people would mine the harder to reach deposits.

Now, I haven't done the calculations, but I would be VERY surprised if we had the capability to deplete our planet of ANY resource that doesn't deplete itself on its own (like helium in the atmosphere or radioactive elements)

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33832866)

It would actually require a lot of delta-v; you need less to get to other stars (time of travel being what limits us in this case)

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

sootman (158191) | about 4 years ago | (#33835974)

I've heard that it's actually quite hard to just shoot something into the sun, even though it sounds simple--big target, lots of gravity. Can someone explain why, or point to a link that does?

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33836486)

I've heard that it's actually quite hard to just shoot something into the sun, even though it sounds simple--big target, lots of gravity. Can someone explain why, or point to a link that does?

It wouldn't be hard if that was your initial goal, but making something that isn't currently on that trajectory or very near to it would be tough.

Orbital velocity (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 4 years ago | (#33836656)

I'm absolutely not a physicist. At all.

But from what I basically understand :
- we're shooting from our Earth location.
- before shooting it, it's more or less following earth around the sun.
- so, relatively to the sun, both Earth and the satelite have the same orbital velocity around the sun (because both follow earth's orbit, instead of plunging into the sun).
- this velocity comes for free as we launched the satelite from Earth.
- to plunge the satelite into the sun, we have to decelerate it well under the orbital velocity of earth.
- that deceleration doesn't come free because we have to slow down something which currently travels at 30 kilometer pro second and has quite a mass: 840kg.
- (Quick napkin estimation tells that's 378 Terajoules (= 90 kilo tons of TNT) (= 5x Little Boy nuke) worth of kinetic energy)
- instead of slowing it almost completely down, so it gets into the sun, it's much cheaper and pragmatic - energy wise - to accelerate it a little bit up and move it to another orbit farther to the Sun, away from us so it doesn't pose collision risks where we are.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | about 4 years ago | (#33837024)

As an analogy, think about playing tetherball as a kid. If the ball is already in motion, you have to hit hard enough to cancel all the rotational velocity so it can hit the pole. In the case of a spacecraft, the initial motion is actually the motion of the Earth around the sun -- that's a lot of velocity to make up for.

That's not to say that going to the Sun is impossible. Actually, a recent press release [jhuapl.edu] says that NASA will be doing just that in an a mission launching in 2018.

The problem, however, is that the earth is moving quite fast. To get to the sun, a spacecraft has to slow down. A lot. Otherwise, it'll just keep orbiting a little bit closer.

In fact, the early concept for the Solar Probe Plus was to send it to Jupiter (!!!) first in order to slow it down enough. Think of it like using the slingshot effect, only backwards. It seems that's been scrapped in favor of multiple Venus flybys, much like MESSENGER (which is uses a pass by Earth, two by Venus, and three by Mercury before it finally orbits around Mercury).

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33837908)

And if you don’t hit the pole exactly, it whips around and comes back to hit you in the face.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (3, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | about 4 years ago | (#33832872)

They could just as well send it plunging to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. It actually takes more energy to send it on a safe Earth-bound trajectory, and a lot more to send it on a sun-bound trajectory, than it does to move to a graveyard orbit higher up. That way they can keep running the satellite until it's fuel tank is closer to empty.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 years ago | (#33832934)

Probably on the off-chance that it discovers something while in a graveyard orbit. You never know what sort of crazy stuff happens when you just leave a camera running. Sure, the odds are pretty low, but the satellite's already in space, so why not?

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

Suki I (1546431) | about 4 years ago | (#33832966)

Of course!

Probably on the off-chance that it discovers something while in a graveyard orbit. You never know what sort of crazy stuff happens when you just leave a camera running. Sure, the odds are pretty low, but the satellite's already in space, so why not?

Or some SciFi writer discovers it and the damsels appear, followed by the evil tentacled villains . . .

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33833198)

Or some SciFi writer discovers it and the damsels appear, followed by the evil tentacled villains . . .

Sounds like a day in the life of my Adamantine miners.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33832980)

Yeah, what would the Klingons do without deactivated shooting targets?

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (1)

Lucractius (649116) | about 4 years ago | (#33833146)

Economics at the most basic.
Sunk costs are sunk. May as well get the most of what you have.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33834272)

Unfortunately the ground crew and dish time needed are not sunk costs... so economics is not on the side of leaving it on.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#33833520)

Probably on the off-chance that it discovers something while in a graveyard orbit. You never know what sort of crazy stuff happens when you just leave a camera running. Sure, the odds are pretty low, but the satellite's already in space, so why not?

Because it costs money and consumes personnel, communications, etc., resources.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (2, Funny)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 4 years ago | (#33835116)

It'll come back as W'AP looking for the creator.

Re:Why not send it plunging ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833360)

That's why these guys are rocket scientists and you're sitting at home reading about their greatness while listening or dancing to Justin Beiber

Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (2, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 years ago | (#33832814)

That project was supposed to go on for a few more months I thought... The cooling system exhausted prematurely, didn't it?

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (2, Interesting)

Afforess (1310263) | about 4 years ago | (#33832926)

No, according to wikipedia the project was actually extended an extra year to 2010. So it went above and beyond it's original mission.

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33832972)

If there's some clumsy PR, it seems to be in other part of TFS. WMAP has not ,"quite literally, changed our view of the Universe" - it further refined it nicely [tufts.edu] , continuing in the footsteps (if mentioning only large space experiments) of COBE and RELIKT-1 (the latter might be one sad example of another type of clumsy PR - apparently already gave us large part of the results for which COBE is praised, but...)

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 4 years ago | (#33834642)

COBE and RELIKT-1 (the latter might be one sad example of another type of clumsy PR - apparently already gave us large part of the results for which COBE is praised, but...)

RELIKT-1 saw the quadrupole, but only at 90 percent confidence [wikipedia.org] . COBE rightly gets credit.

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33838192)

Which is of course some part of the results. RELIKT-1 gets virtually no credit at all...rightly?

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33835198)

Sometimes I can't figure out why TFS links one source when there are better sources. It seems NASA's report [nasa.gov] is a far better FA than Discover Magazine. And here's [nasa.gov] a link to the official WMAP website.

Re:Uuhhh... clumsy PR? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 years ago | (#33836332)

My bad. I was thinking of WISE project.

Did the slashdot mini icon thing just change? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832836)

It looks really cool. Good work whoever snazzified it up.

Re:Did the slashdot mini icon thing just change? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833224)

I miss html tables. CSS still acts odd, jumpy, and slow. Almost every smooth site uses tables.

Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (2, Interesting)

grangerg (309284) | about 4 years ago | (#33832848)

So Dark Matter was a theory invented to explain why stars orbit a galaxy's core like they were on spokes around the hub of a wheel ...instead of how we observe the motion of object orbiting our sun. So if Dark Matter exerts such a huge force to keep huge objects (stars) moving in such a manner, how come that same force doesn't affect the objects going around the star? Or, in other words, if it's powerful enough to keep the outer-most stars in a galaxy moving in the same period as inner stars, how come we can't detect it here? Or have we detected such tidal forces already?

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832912)

So Dark Matter was a theory invented to explain why stars orbit a galaxy's core like they were on spokes around the hub of a wheel ...instead of how we observe the motion of object orbiting our sun. So if Dark Matter exerts such a huge force to keep huge objects (stars) moving in such a manner, how come that same force doesn't affect the objects going around the star? Or, in other words, if it's powerful enough to keep the outer-most stars in a galaxy moving in the same period as inner stars, how come we can't detect it here? Or have we detected such tidal forces already?

While there's a lot of dark matter in a galaxy compared to "normal" matter, it's typically spread out over a much larger volume than the viewable parts of a galaxy. Thus, it is actually quite diffuse and has very little effect within something on the scale of a solar system (to the point of being unmeasurable with current technology).

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832942)

Our solar system is tiny compared to the galaxy. What you're asking is comparable to confirming the existence of the Moon by measuring its tides in a swimming pool.

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (4, Informative)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about 4 years ago | (#33833006)

The dark matter halo around our galaxy is theorized roughly as a large sphere, not just extra mass along the flattened wheel of the spiral. Look at the graphic here: http://startswithabang.com/?p=656 [startswithabang.com]

That's a lot of extra room. So much so that even when those researchers calculated that our solar system should have 300 times the dark matter density compared to the galactic dark matter halo, this only ends up being a very tiny fraction of the earth's mass in dark matter bound to our solar system. See: http://www.universetoday.com/15266/dark-matter-is-denser-in-the-solar-system/ [universetoday.com]

So basically, it's going to be rather difficult to detect dark matter nearby.

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 4 years ago | (#33833084)

The dark matter halo around our galaxy is theorized roughly as a large sphere, not just extra mass along the flattened wheel of the spiral.

I guess no one knows such things, but I wonder what would prevent it from clumping up like normal baryonic matter. Maybe it's too diffuse to form dark matter nebulae, but those are only held together by gravity too, right? Or would fast-moving particles just fly apart before gravity could act? Or maybe we just can't see the clumps. Or maybe it's a happy medium—loosely bound to the galaxy but nothing more...

Argghh! So many questions and so little knowledge of cosmology and particle physics!

I guess here's a good start [niu.edu] , if you're not afraid of a little math.

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (3, Interesting)

ETEQ (519425) | about 4 years ago | (#33833540)

I guess no one knows such things, but I wonder what would prevent it from clumping up like normal baryonic matter. Maybe it's too diffuse to form dark matter nebulae, but those are only held together by gravity too, right? Or would fast-moving particles just fly apart before gravity could act? Or maybe we just can't see the clumps. Or maybe it's a happy medium—loosely bound to the galaxy but nothing more...

Actually, the explanation for this one is pretty simple: it's because the dark matter is dark. The reason why baryonic matter collapses into a (relatively) tiny disk in the center of a much larger dark matter halo is that baryonic matter emits light... and light carries off energy. So baryonic matter quickly loses all the energy it can while still conserving angular momentum, and the result is a disk-like structure (spiral galaxies). Once it collapses into a disk, the density becomes high enough that it can further clump into nebulae and stars and such. Dark matter, on the other hand, is much lower density and hence isn't able to collapse efficiently (i.e. its Jean's Length [wikipedia.org] is much longer, if you want to think in terms of some simple math).

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833978)

It's not the light emissions of baryonic matter that causes the clouds to collapse, it's the collisions of the 'conventional' matter particles with each other that cause those emissions in the first place. Dark matter on the other hand is thought to interact so weekly with itself that it won't cause a collapse of the dark matter cloud.

Re:Dark Matter (Gravity); please explain (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 4 years ago | (#33834370)

Gosh, that really is painfully obvious. How embarrassing. Thanks!

Dark matter is dark (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33834406)

dark matter is dark

Obvious tautology is obvious [encycloped...matica.com] . But is dark matter darker than Longcat is long?

Cosmic background radiation (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#33832896)

What if the cosmic background "warmth" which hovers just above 2 Kelvin isn't the remnants of the Big Bang but rather a physical phenomenon produced by some more general aspect of our universe. Like goldfish in a bowl, the limits of our experience are defined by our universe, so the phenomena we experience define and are defined within that framework. But like a human outside the goldfish bowl, we can understand why certain phenomena (such as bending of light through the glass) occurs at a simpler, more general level than the goldfish within could grasp.

Our bowl tells us that there is a background radiation permeating the universe, that unknown and unobservable matter and energy are pulling the universe this way and that, and that time and space exist. We send our tools out to study and measure this bowl. We come away with a great deal of understanding of our bowl, but for some reason things don't all fit together.

Outside this bowl of ours there is probably a simple and elegant description of the phenomena we experience here. But for the time being, I'm glad to see us working so hard to learn about this little bowl we live in.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832910)

The fuck.

I live in SoCal, and I really gotta hook up with you.

What the fuck are you smoking? Who's your supplier?

Re:Cosmic background radiation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832956)

Daddy just paid your tuition and your airfare from Pennsylvania, you fuckin' transplant trust-fund kid. Get the fuck out, or the real Californians will throw you out.

Yet another transplant has been rejected. 1 aspiring Pennsylvanian ska-bandmember down, 3 million more braiwashed Bostonian Catholics and flat-witted Michiganers left to throw out.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832964)

Oh, "Real Californian". Nigga, please.

Pennsylvanian here. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833036)

My two years of witnessing 'real' Californians tells me that they're far too busy ruining food by adding useless avocado to it, to do any arse kicking.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33832954)

If only CMB was actually strictly about things "in the bowl" / providing data beautifully supportive of some ideas about the early state of "the bowl"... we can dream, huh?

Oh, wait.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33832958)

I see someone has read "The Grand Design" by S. Hawking. It was somewhat disappointing to me. No meat to it. I expected to learn more than I did.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 4 years ago | (#33833004)

Ah. After reading your analogy and then seeing your name, it was like stopping by the gas station and realizing you won't have enough quarters for laundry if you completely fill the tank. It really is incredible though. I read as many of those pop-sci books as I could get my hands on as a kid in the 90's, and it astounds me to see how our view of the universe has changed in just that short time. The fish bowl isn't a bad analogy overall—hopelessly inadequate, of course—but I've never felt so confined in a universe full of endless possibilities as I do right now.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 4 years ago | (#33833012)

What if the cosmic background "warmth" which hovers just above 2 Kelvin isn't the remnants of the Big Bang but rather a physical phenomenon produced by some more general

What you need to understand is that what you said, while sounding philosophical to the uneducated is gibberish. To a scientist what you said sounds something like "What if what I thought was my hand was actually an ardvaark in disguise". There are specific properties/features of the CMB that require it to be left over radiation from the Big Bang. Of course to understand this you also need to understand the Big Bang itself and why we'd collectively believe something so counter-intuitive as the universe beginning from a singularity. In other words you need to read your science historyf or the last couple of hundred years.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833050)

Reading is no substitute for knowledge is not substitute for understanding.

An explanation that fits, does not mean it's the only explanation that fits.

You're not much of a scientist it would seem.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

syousef (465911) | about 4 years ago | (#33833192)

A hypothesis that makes no sense and is pulled out of ignorance is just gibberish and has no scientific merit. Skepticism is also an important part of science. But to post what you said as A/C I'd guess you're trolling.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33833160)

Actually, remnants of the big bang is simply the best theory we have going. There may or may not be another interesting theory that would explain it (and the universe) as well, but given that we have a workable elegant theory now, that's all just pie in the sky. It isn't however quite so ludicrous as my hand being a disguised aardvark.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

syousef (465911) | about 4 years ago | (#33833514)

Actually, remnants of the big bang is simply the best theory we have going.

It's a pretty good theory, though. Well tested, lots of lines of evidence. Ignoring it is like ignoring evolution, or better yet gravity. You won't see me walking off any cliffs and speculating that hey gravity might be wrong.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (2, Informative)

MountainMan101 (714389) | about 4 years ago | (#33834378)

You've misunderstood the difference between doubting a theory and doubting an observable. Walking off a cliff would be stupid, it it clearly observed that things fall. On the other hand doubting that the reason is due to the attraction of masses, perhaps in favour of some alternative source of the force, does not lead to such stupid mistakes.

The original poster did not contradict the evidence for the big bang, rather the explanation.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

m50d (797211) | about 4 years ago | (#33834468)

Walking off a cliff would be stupid, it it clearly observed that things fall.

It's been observed that things fall in the past. But that gives no a priori proof that you will fall if you walk off a cliff. Of course, every time we observe something it does fall, which means the simplest consistent explanation is that things always fall, independent of time - but the exact same thing is true, on a higher level, of the real theory of gravity. And doubting that falling was due to gravity would in fact lead to equally stupid mistakes, perhaps not while walking off cliffs but while trying to predict orbits or similar. The distinction you're trying to draw doesn't exist.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (2, Informative)

syousef (465911) | about 4 years ago | (#33834936)

The original poster did not contradict the evidence for the big bang, rather the explanation.

The CMB *IS* part of the evidence for the Big Bang.

The CMB is the afterglow - of a very consistent temperature produced by the Big Bang. This explanation is greatly oversimplified: The Universe being very compact in the past resulting in a uniform distribution of energy at the point at which it went from being opaque to translucent is the only good explanation we have for a uniform glow in all directions.

WMAP mapped the very minor variations in the CMB that tell us about conditions at the point in time when the universe had cooled enough to allow light to travel freely. It tells us a little about what conditions were like at that time and you can calculate what must be the age of the Universe based on this variation. (Yes some assumptions do need to be made, but our modelling has gotten good enough for scientists to be very confident about the age of the Universe).

Why do people insist on talking garbage about things they clearly know nothing about?

Re:Cosmic background radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33835454)

Why do people insist on talking garbage about things they clearly know nothing about?

Because those people don't know enough to realize how little they know.

Which is the reason most humble scientists somewhere (typically quite far) along their careers tend to make the startling realization that they know so, so little, despite having learned so much. And they *have* learned much. So much, in fact, that they can appreciate how much else there is still to be learned.

People, in general, don't know much.

Thus, they tend to (vastly) overestimate their knowledge of things.

I don't know much, but at least I *know* I don't.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (2, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33835772)

More accurately, CMB is an observation we have made that is currently best explained by the Big Bang theory.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33836564)

The original poster did not contradict the evidence for the big bang, rather the explanation.

The CMB *IS* part of the evidence for the Big Bang.

....

Why do people insist on talking garbage about things they clearly know nothing about?

You are lucky to be in the area of research (or interest) you are in, instead of something like Climate Research or Evolutionary Biology (heck, most of biology and medicine!).

Re:Cosmic background radiation (4, Informative)

ColaMan (37550) | about 4 years ago | (#33834180)

I concur, and a favorite comic springs to mind:
Science: It works, bitches [xkcd.com]

From the wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] about the CMB:
Two of the greatest successes of the big bang theory are its prediction of its almost perfect black body spectrum and its detailed prediction of the anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background.

When basically the whole observable universe matches your theory, it's generally considered pretty strong evidence that you're going in the right direction.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 4 years ago | (#33834386)

Actually he's not so far off in his suggestion, but he's missing additional facts. The CMB could in fact be caused by some phenomena giving the universe a certain temperature. But the CMB is not the only evidence for the Big Bang.

I saw a (BBC) educational program once where a scientist was put in a fictional dock, before a court and accused of making the big bang up. It was a nice way of presenting the debate by lamp-shading the fact that, at a basic level, the Big Bang theory is an extraordinary proposition. The program made the point rather well that there were several independent evidences which pointed towards this origin of the universe. The CMB was one, inflation was another, and I think that the proportions of elements might have been the third.

I love to find a link to the program, but I've never been able to find it again. I think it was either a BBC or ITV production. It was definitely British anyway. Their experience with Fred Hoyle probably had a lot to do with it.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33833060)

After reading Janna Levine's How the Universe Got Its Spots, I have to say that the WMAP was all about trying to figure out what kind of space we live in (its topology), even though we can't step outside it and look at it.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 4 years ago | (#33833126)

Dude, you should make a website. About analogies. Just like ideas are experienced.

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

sincewhen (640526) | about 4 years ago | (#33833158)

But surely there is no "outside the bowl".
Or am I just thinking like a goldfish?

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

sempir (1916194) | about 4 years ago | (#33833726)

Methinks your Jeans are too tight!

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

m50d (797211) | about 4 years ago | (#33834494)

What could be more simple and general than the big bang? (Unless you mean the physical laws that caused the big bang, I guess, but even so, those laws won't invalidate the big bang as the mechanism for the CMB. Just like knowing how electricity works gives a deeper and more fundamental explanation for what happened when someone got struck by lightning, "they were struck by lightning" is still the reason why they died).

Re:Cosmic background radiation (1)

Atrox Canis (1266568) | about 4 years ago | (#33835350)

Oddly, I recently heard a similar analogy used as a "proof" of the existence of god.

So long..... (3, Interesting)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 4 years ago | (#33833028)

..... and thanks.

Re:So long..... (1)

Eevee (535658) | about 4 years ago | (#33835338)

For all the fish.

Paradox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33833054)

So we need the "dark" energy to explain the "apparent" repulsion of galaxies,
  and at the same time we need the "dark" matter to account for gathering of stars to form galaxies!!

    Dark energy can not dissociate starts of galaxies
    Dark matter is not able to join galaxies together.

    May I know why we put so much emphasis on normal matter? Why we are so fond of interactions of normal matter with dark energy and matter?
    What about interactions of dark energy and matter?

    I mean why nobody talks about "expansion" of those huge void bubbles among galaxies?
    Maybe they are also "something" with their own dynamics?
  Why the discrimination?
    Why you call the aggregation of normal matter (due to gravity) the obvious reason for creation of those huge void spaces?
    Maybe it is the expansion of those huge bulbs which causes normal matter to absorb each other and form stars and galaxies?

  > Abulolo , the sodomite killer

Maybe I am being espically thick right now (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 years ago | (#33833116)

Yea I know its failing, but instead of sending it on a death mission couldnt it just float around till it crapped out? maybe get every single last ounce out of it, and besides what is it going to hit?

of course my wife picks on me about how clean my plates are after eating so I am just that way

Re:Maybe I am being espically thick right now (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 4 years ago | (#33833184)

The prior orbit was at the L2 point http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point#L2 [wikipedia.org] one of the very few stable points in the solar system. Leaving WMAP there would be a bad idea because it makes a very nice spot become more hazardous. We're already having serious trouble with spacejunk in Earth orbit. There's no good reason to star trashing up the rest of the system also.

Re:Maybe I am being espically thick right now (3, Informative)

Framboise (521772) | about 4 years ago | (#33833948)

The orbit was *around* L2, not at L2. The orbit around L2 appears as loops with an apreciable extension wrt to the Earth-L2 distance.
The paradox is that L2 is actually unstable, but orbits can be found around L2 which are stable over a sufficiently long time.

   

Re:Maybe I am being espically thick right now (1)

m50d (797211) | about 4 years ago | (#33834510)

I thought it was using thrusters to stabilize its orbit. In which case, no paradox.

Re:Maybe I am being espically thick right now (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33834920)

And that's why it has to be moved to a retirement orbit. The fuel will run out soon and left where it was it would wander off into some unpredictable and perhaps inconvenient orbit, possibly cluttering up the L2 region and making it hard to use it for anything else. This way it's in a known, out-of-the-way orbit.

Re:Maybe I am being espically thick right now (1)

gophish (65390) | about 4 years ago | (#33835668)

I understand not junking up lagrange points with non-functional space junk, but if we leave it orbiting the sun or crashing into the sun or a dozen other possibilities aren't we a) just cluttering up the wider solar system, or b) eliminating our chance at recouping and reusing the materials onboard? I think a giant pile of junk satellites on the moon would be pretty anyway. Future tourist attraction/place for disenfranchised lunar youth to go scavving.

ol' buddy (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33833230)

Now it can go hang out with Veejer and taunt alien races.

Re:ol' buddy (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 4 years ago | (#33833368)

No, the aliens were first sold on the assertion CCTV from space was a good idea before they realised they were taunted.

----
Audience: Why did you quit doing drugs?
Bill Hicks: Because once you've been taken aboard a UFO it's kind of hard to top that.

"Mission Accomplified" (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33833236)

Ever since Bush, people say mission "complete" instead of "accomplished". Then again, the word "stimulus" is tainted also, replaced with "recovery program".

Re:"Mission Accomplified" (1)

damien_kane (519267) | about 4 years ago | (#33835632)

Ever since Bush, people say mission "complete" instead of "accomplished".

In this case I don't think it has anything to do with Bush.
"Complete" simply states that the mission is over, without the context of success or failure. An "accomplished" mission is a mission that is complete and confirmed successful.

The mission (forgive me if I'm way off-base) was to determine the nature of the universe. As we've no other data to compare to, we don't know if what the probe related to us is correct or not.
Because the probe isn't going to send us any more data, its mission is, indeed, complete. It's not necessarily accomplished until we can prove that it is correct/was successful.

As we cannot replicate the theorized causes of the probe's findings, we cannot confirm that our conclusions are correct. Basically, then, for us to determine the mission a success, we need to do one of two things:
1. Observe the same readings through some other form of detection (i.e. don't just send up another WMAP)
2. Create our own Big Bang, and measure its results 13.6 billion years after creation with a same WMAP.

Godtcha! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33833262)

Based on all the band-aides on the map, I'd say God is a clumsy shaver. I hope he doesn't try to create a sentient being.......oh

It's all crap (1, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 4 years ago | (#33833398)

This stupid thing would have accurately reported the age of the universe as 6,000 years (give or take a little) if only they hadn't launched it with a rocket (Satan's Gravity Sled).

Obviously shooting it off into space like that wrecked its sensors. They should have done it the way god said...by having Jesus throw it toward the dinosaur Adam and Eve were riding to church and letting it use its tail to blast it on its way like Babe Ruth done with them baseballs.

Who says us Creation Science people don't know what we're talking about!

Re:It's all crap (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 4 years ago | (#33833624)

Not all creationists believe the world was 6,000 years old. But ya, I think we're all pretty much in agreement that rockets can be used for nothing good.

Re:It's all crap (1)

radtea (464814) | about 4 years ago | (#33837102)

Not all creationists believe the world was 6,000 years old.

That's right: only the intellectually rigorous creationists believe that. Old Earth Creationists have to for some reason accept geology and parts of physics and chemistry, while denying the greater part of physics, chemistry and, most importantly, probability theory. Which I guess makes sense to them, because it's "only a theory".

They are subject to the same sort of insanity makes people think casino gambling is a game of chance.

Re:It's all crap (3, Funny)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 4 years ago | (#33833670)

Silly Christian propaganda! Islam provides a far more accurate view of the heavens than any man-made space doohickey . I bet Muhammed (Geese be upon him) got a pretty good look at space while he was traveling around on his flying mutant horsie, hobnobbing with all and sundry in heaven.

Hmm, come to think of it I think there may have been some man/horse love - at least if this excerpt is anything to go by:

"Hearing this he (the mutant horsie) was so ashamed that he sweated until he became soaked, and he stood still so that the Prophet mounted him."

Re:It's all crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33834322)

Silly Christian propaganda! Islam provides a far more accurate view of the heavens than any man-made space doohickey . I bet Muhammed (Geese be upon him) got a pretty good look at space while he was traveling around on his flying mutant horsie, hobnobbing with all and sundry in heaven.

Hmm, come to think of it I think there may have been some man/horse love - at least if this excerpt is anything to go by:

"Hearing this he (the mutant horsie) was so ashamed that he sweated until he became soaked, and he stood still so that the Prophet mounted him."

You will burn in hell ... Which one I am not sure ;^)

Re:It's all crap (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 4 years ago | (#33834950)

Either hell works. Better that than an eternity spent in the company of crazed virgins, all dedicated to stroking the ego of the most powerful chap in the universe.

Re:It's all crap (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33834958)

You know, despite being an atheist i'm finding these frequent and gratuitous anti-christian trolls tedious. They are not funny, they are not relevant, they are not informative, and they are not original. They are all crap.

You must have missed the memo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33835042)

They’re the new big fad on 4chan.

(Not that they’re new... just that they recently seem newly popular for some reason.)

Re:It's all crap (2, Insightful)

Atrox Canis (1266568) | about 4 years ago | (#33835404)

As a fellow athiest, I have to agree. I don't much care for the mythology believing folks calling me a devil worshipper (damned odd that you would think I believe in a fallen angel when I profess to not believe in a diety, but I digress). So, I try not to make fun of the believers. So, all you other non-believers, cut those folks some slack. There are in fact a number of very bright, well educated and yes, even articulate individuals that profess a belief in a god. They are not all slack-jawed, mouth breathing rednecks from the hinterlands.

Re:It's all crap (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33835554)

> They are not all slack-jawed, mouth breathing rednecks...

Unfortunately, some atheists are.

> ...from the hinterlands.

Most doofuses, whether christian fanatic or anti-christian troll, are from the city (as are most people). Most of us country dwellers are as rational and reasonable as any other human being (i.e., not very). Dismissing all country people as ignorant hicks is 19th century bigotry.

Re:It's all crap (1)

Atrox Canis (1266568) | about 4 years ago | (#33835640)

Not sure what point you may be trying to infer but for the record. I was raised on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma (just north of Edmond), joined the Army and have lived in 7 different countries. I've also lived in Chicago and Tampa. I currently provide network security services for a fortune 1000 company in Texas. So, if I'm insulting anyone, I would necessarily be insulting myself. Or rather, to be blunt. I was making a subtle point about how stupid it is to be a bigot. Sorry if your failure to get the point offended you.

Re:It's all crap (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33835990)

Sorry if your failure to get the point offended you.

Ease up there with the backhanded apologies.

It was just a slight misinterpretation.

You intended it to be a descriptive element to one insult. He interpreted it to be TWO separate potential insults. Likely due to the fact that they are often tied together. "You must be from West Virginia." is used as an insult, so him getting it confused is not unlikely.

That you both got bent out of shape over mundane issues is really what you two should be examining.

Re:It's all crap (1)

gophish (65390) | about 4 years ago | (#33835738)

Unfortunately it is the "slack-jawed, mouth breathing rednecks from the hinterlands" who tend to make the most noise and get the most attention. If smart people ran around yelling at (and/or threatening personal violence towards) people they disagreed with perhaps they would get more traction. On the other hand, you are correct, people should lay off the theist-bashing. Just because someone holds one or two unfalsifiable personal beliefs does not by proxy mean that their other, more scientifically rigorous claims should be dismissed.

Re:It's all crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33837244)

You are WRONG! The probe clearly outlined that the cosmic microwave background was NOT uniform!! This is 100% proof the the ether-like Giant Spaghetti Monster's tentacles as they guide the universe!!

Dark Flow (1)

zaax (637433) | about 4 years ago | (#33833762)

Does this mean we are going to another darker universe, were the weak forces are strong?

Re:Dark Flow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33834400)

Yes. And also goatees.

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