Still, I'm worried that the tools of the 80s are not going to be sufficient to provide the details we'd need to understand what happens at the edge of the solar system.
For my part, I hope that we find some of those hidden dimensions, and it turns up on the other side of the solar system in a couple weeks.
I think a lot of people don't understand the scale of space. It's really, really empty. The chance of being intercepted by any solid matter is incredibly low. I can't even make any reasonable analogies to distances on Earth, it's so extreme.
Answer: That's equivalent to a single grain of sand in a cube 1 mile on each side.
(You'll have to convert the final result to miles in a second step - it timed out when I tried to make it do it in one step.)
And this is including the mass of all the planets! (But not the sun.)
or if not, try the web: http://www.scalesolarsystem.66ghz.com/
That's the reason why Voyager still works and why one of the first two Mars rovers is still chugging along, way past expected mission life (and the second one also died recently, way past mission life)
Now that would turn the solar system into one huge game of asteroids...
That said, I look forward to future updates from the science team and the space craft doesn't run out of juice before it runs out of things to report on.
Huh. Makes sense, but I wouldn't have thought of that. That's non-obvious enough that it would have been worth a mention in the article.
(Non-exploding stars are plenty deadly, too.)
Magnetized plasmas are often modeled as magnetic flux trapped by the conductivity of the plasma.
Love that quote.
The solar wind has died down, the cosmic rays have increased (although they are unexpectedly coming from a single direction), and the magnetic field shift will be the third and final necessary event.
And they expect it soon (could be months or years).
A crude hypothesis would be that there's some sort of magnetic field that is directing them from a single location. Since we've never been this far before, its a pretty huge guess...
Granted, it's totally reasonable that we should either not know what to expect or simply expect the wrong thing, having never been out that far. I just can't help wondering how much we can do to confirm what's being reported is based on valid readings (and, of course, whether that confirmation is being done before the PR people send it out into the media microcosm).
I don't understand; How'd they leave the solar system to visit the one that broke its sphere if they couldn't penetrate the crystal wall?
On earth, that'd be 'supersonic', by a "slim margin". But what's that even mean in space?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliosphere#Termination_shock expands on this somewhat.
Also: "the spacecraft’s instruments indicated that particles around it were moving subsonically"
Actually, supersonic simply refers to anything moving faster than the speed of sound in a particular medium. The Earth's atmosphere has a particular speed of sound but so does the solar atmosphere and wind. Apparently, the speed of sound in the solar wind is roughly 220,000 mph. Supersonic and subsonic are the terms that scientists use to describe such things.
and then links to this...
Perhaps I'm biased by my own ignorance, but the speed of sound in the solar wind (or the fact that terms like "speed of sound" still make sense in an ostensible vacuum) seems like the sort of thing a reasonable person might not know. If science writing is to be accessible to the layperson, an explanatory parenthetical (even just clarifying the approximate speed at which the subsonic wind was traveling) would have been helpful.
Thanks for the downvote, though.
A bit off topic, but that's why you should never ever draw conclusions from models.
Use a model to guide research (i.e. tell you where to look), but never consider the model as an answer.
I see far too many papers published based on models. This should not be accepted, this is not science.
It doesn't matter if the model is the only available thing. If you have no other way of getting information then you must admit defeat (hopefully temporary), but never give in and start believing your models.
All hypothesis are basically models. Later they are confirmed by experiment and they become a scientific theory. You can definitely draw conclusions from a model and then verify them with an experiment. Which is just what the Voyager is doing
You mean model as "description". I meant it as "make a model (eg on a computer), then see what the model does".
The entirety physics is essentially a model. If you want to completely know everything before you start trying to do anything, you'll get anything done.
I guess you didn't read what I wrote. I will quote again for you: "Use a model to guide research".
> Would you wait until you have a way to measure what happens at the edge of the solar system before sending out your probe to measure it?
By all means - send out the probe. But until the probe returns data do not publish any papers purporting to know what the edge of the solar system looks like.
> The entirety physics is essentially a model.
No. It started as a model (or idea), but every single step was confirmed using the actual world, and not a model.
> If you want to completely know everything before you start trying to do anything, you'll get anything done.
Next time read what you are replying to so you can give a better response.
This I'll concede. I misinterpreted your point and tone as "don't rely on anything you haven't already measured". I would also agree that it's rather grating to read things that say "X totally happens (according to model Y)". But I don't think that it is inherently bad for one to say "Model Y predicts X".
> No. It started as a model (or idea), but every single step was confirmed using the actual world, and not a model.
This however, I do disagree with. It's still a model. It wasn't "confirmed"; it was "not disproven". Physics will always be a model. I don't see the problem with saying "this model turned out to be wrong so we need to come up with a better one" (exactly what's happening in the article). A large number of important breakthroughs in physics were from scientists demonstrating the failures of models or running into them accidentally (see caloric theory and the Michelson–Morley experiment).
I do. Not because the sentence in and off itself is bad, but rather because when the sentence is repeated it gets changed to "We know X because of Y."
> Physics will always be a model.
Maybe we have different meanings for the word model.
I suspect you are using the word model like a "model car". i.e. a description of what something is.
I mean it in the term of "model these variables", ie. use a computer to put in variables and hope you programmed everything correctly and get a result of what will happen.
I'm not using it in the descriptive sense, but rather the action sense.
> I don't see the problem with saying "this model turned out to be wrong so we need to come up with a better one" (exactly what's happening in the article).
Nothing wrong with saying that, but that's not what actually happened. Instead the model of the boundary was taught as fact (for example I expect that if you read the wikipedia article on it from 5 years ago it would talk as if we had a pretty good idea of what the boundary looked like).
If, it was simply used to decide which experiments to prioritize on the spacecraft that would be fine. But that's not all that the model was used for.
I'm sure in the original they were careful to call it a model, and an idea, etc. But in wider use (even scientific articles) it was understood as fact.
"But until the probe returns data do not publish any papers purporting to know what the edge of the solar system looks like."
I'm pretty sure that no decent scientist ever 'purports to know' what the edge of the solar system looks like - they are merely using what evidence they have available to make an educated guess and try to get a workable model of it.
This is how science works.
You make a model, test it and finds the evidence does not fit your model. You then modify your model.
Also, you seem to be suggesting that all of, say, theoretical physics is necessarily worthless. What about pure maths? String theory? All of these things are just models, and have no basis in reality. What of them?
Plus, this is supposed to be exciting and par for the course for sciene. Observe -> Hypothesis -> Observe -> Repeat.
So many people try to define it as:
Hypothesis -> Observe -> Hypothesis -> Repeat. You even learn it at school where they make you give a Hypothesis before running the experiment, instead of after.
But I would think that if you're being honest with yourself and your results in the "observe" state, regardless of whether or not you had an existing hypothesis, you would draw the same conclusions.
I suppose if you intentionally set out to ONLY observe before hypothesizing, you might eliminate some unintended bias or something.
But if you simply observe you will find out what there is.
It's an issue of imagination.
Also for students it makes them try to predict the results of the experiment - which is utterly pointless. Simply do the experiment and find out - that's the whole point, science is about experimenting, not just coming up with ideas.
tl;dr: Science, people!
Ever since I was young I used to think aliens existed, but that aliens used some type of biorobot to explore. Kind of like we do with rovers, and satellites...just not in the image of us.
Is there actually any mission at all with the intention to have a new spacecraft leave the solar system, or is it just a coincidence with the voyagers and now all missions are only for planets?
Opportunity remains active as of 2013, having already exceeded its planned 90 sol (Martian days) duration of activity by 9 years, 62 days (in Earth time). Opportunity has continued to move, gather scientific observations, and report back to Earth for over 37 times its designed lifespan.
It was launched in 2006, and passed by Jupiter in 2007 (to do some experiments, photos and gain speed). It will pass by Pluto in 2014 and will take the firsts detailed photos of Pluto.
It will reach 100 AU in 2038 (Voyager 1 is a little more far away) so to see what is happening there using current technology we will need to wait ...