Solar System Symbols.

The symbols for the planets, dwarf planet Pluto, Moon and Sun (along with the symbols for the zodiac constellations) were developed for use in both astronomy and astrology.

The astronomical symbol for the Sun is a shield with a circle inside. Some believe this inner circle, or “boss” represents a central sun spot.

The symbol for Mercury represents the head and winged cap of Mercury, god of commerce and communication, surmounting his caduceus (staff).

The symbol for Venus is designated as the female symbol, thought to be the stylized representation of the hand mirror of this goddess of love.

The symbol for Earth shows a globe bisected by meridian lines into four quarters.

The symbol for the Moon is a crescent.

The symbol for Mars represents the shield and spear of the god of war, Mars; it is also the male or masculine symbol.

The symbol for Jupiter is said to represent a hieroglyph of the eagle, Jove’s bird, or to be the initial letter of Zeus with a line drawn through it to indicate its abbreviation.

The symbol for Saturn is thought to be an ancient scythe or sickel, as Saturn was the god of seed-sowing and also of time.

The symbol for Uranus is represented by combined devices indicating the Sun plus the spear of Mars, as Uranus was the personification of heaven in Greek mythology, dominated by the light of the Sun and the power of Mars.

The symbol for Neptune is the trident (long three-pronged fork or weapon) of Neptune, god of the sea.

The symbol for dwarf planet Pluto is a monogram made up of P and L in Pluto (and also the initials of Percival Lowell, who predicted its discovery).

So, what now (bear with me)?

Since the failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on June 28th, we’re all wondering what the next step is for this groundbreaking space travel company.

First off, it’s no secret that this is pretty disastrous. There’s a *LOT* of complicated politics at play with SpaceX, their competition, Congress and the President. The long story short is that a future of space exploration where the cost to get to space is accessible for people in the middle class depends almost entirely on SpaceX’s success (I’m talking in the near term –> our lifetimes).

So what’s going on behind the scenes right now?

SpaceX engineers and scientists are sifting through computer code, known as telemetry.

Telemetry is essentially just the wireless data sent by spacecraft that allow us to monitor things like location and status of the technical systems.

This data is coming back in the language of computers: binary.

The data the SpaceX engineers are sifting through must look like this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100111 01101111 00100000 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101101 01110011 01100101 01101100 01110110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 

Looks like a mess huh? It is. It’s the only language these systems speak though. The SpaceX engineers are decoding these last signals from the spacecraft using a program called a hex editor.

Basically, that huge mess you see above is being turned into something more readable to humans. Often binary gets separated every couple of digits so that it would turn this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000

into this:

S P A C E X

This is far more easy to read that having to sift through hundreds of millions of 0′s and 1′s. Embedded in each 0 and 1 though is crucial information, each representing a component within the spacecraft’s system.

There’s good news…

The silver lining in this event is that it’s been discovered that the explosion happened around 139 seconds into the flight.

They were still receiving telemetry from the Dragon capsule after the explosion.

The Dragon spacecraft survived the explosion.

Look at the gif above. You might notice the shadow of something flying away from the explosion after as the clock says 2:22 (the clock’s in the upper-right). This shadow is likely from the Dragon spacecraft.

If there had been astronauts aboard, they would’ve been safe. That’s right. The silver lining is that SpaceX’s engineering is so profoundly efficient that even amidst a launch explosion and a failure to eject from the rocket, the spacecraft (and therefore the astronauts) would be safe.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Multidimensional Universe.

Nearly a century ago, Edwin Hubble’s discovery of red-shifting of light from galaxies in all directions from our own suggested that space itself was getting bigger. Combined with insights from a handful of proposed non-Euclidean geometries, Hubble’s discovery implied that the cosmos exists in more than the three dimensions we’re familiar with in everyday life.That’s because parts of the cosmos were moving further apart, yet with no physical center, no origin point in three-dimensional space. Just think of an inflating balloon seen only from the perspective of its growing two-dimensional surface, and extrapolate to four-dimensional inflation perceived in the three-dimensional space that we can see. That perspective suggests that three-dimensional space could be curved, folded, or warped into a 4th dimension the way that the two dimensional surface of a balloon is warped into a 3rd dimension.We don’t see or feel more dimensions; nevertheless, theoretical physics predicts that they should exist.

There are three practical implications:

1. Warp Drive
The main theory here is called M theory, which is a theory in physics that unites various types of what’s called superstring theory. In M theory there 10 or 11 dimensions. In addition to the three we’re familiar with there are compact dimensions. It’s all related to phenomena called branes that vibrate like strings, but what’s most relevant to this discussion is that the extra or compact dimensions don’t necessarily have to remain compact and it might be possible to unpack the extra dimensions. If an advanced civilization learns how to manipulate higher dimensions, they might use them for technology, including warp drive. The idea being that some kind of controlled decompacting of extra dimensions could have the effect of squeezing or expanding one of the three big dimensions that we know. Engage the compacting effect in front of a starship and the expansion effect to the rear, and you’d have warp drive. So far, we don’t have a shred of evidence that the hypothesized extra dimensions even exist. Someday, soon, we might get some evidence from the Large Hadron Collider.

2. Time Travel
Time is usually considered a dimension, even if not a spatial dimension. We don’t possess technology to go backward and change history. If we could find a way to go through other dimensions, it should allow a kind of tunneling to locations that look distant from the perspective of the three dimensions that we perceive. Travelling to past would be hard, but time travel to the future – accelerating from the usual move into the future of one minute per minute, one year per year, is quite possible to do. It’s called time dilation, it’s predicted by Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and it will happen, if we accelerate a spacecraft to a significant fraction of the speed of light. Travel very close to the speed of light ©, and time slows down from your perspective and the slowing is quantified by a variable known as the gamma factor. Make a round-trip to the star Vega, located 25 light-years away, and two years will pass by for you (you’ll age two years and accumulate two years of memories), but arriving on Earth you’ll find that you’ve jumped ahead by a half-century. Scientists are certain it would happen, because time dilation has been proven with subatomic particles in accelerators. 

3. Traversable Wormholes
Another means of transport made possible by a multidimensional cosmos is wormholes. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne worked out the equations showing that there was a stable, traversable wormhole, or even a system of such tunnels linking different areas of space-time. An advanced civilization could build a system of wormhole-dependent tunnels connecting different points of the space-time fabric, essentially drawing the departure and arrival points in the fabric into close proximity to one another through a 4th dimension. If we could do it, we could have an entry portal nearby, somewhere in the inner Solar System, that leads to an exit point at our destination, for instance a nearby star system with an Earth-like planet.