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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : The Heavens declare...

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crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 The Heavens declare...

Spacecraft off to explore an explosive force

INSTRUMENTS TO PROBE SHORT-LIVED BUT POWERFUL GAMMA-RAY BURSTS

By John Johnson

Los Angeles Times


The Swift spacecraft was launched into orbit Saturday, carrying a payload of scientific instruments designed to probe some of the most powerful -- and fleeting -- explosive forces in the universe.

After delays caused by weather and an equipment malfunction on the venerable Delta 2 launch vehicle, the rocket lifted off shortly after noon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 20-foot-tall spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket booster a little over an hour later, NASA announced.

Orbiting 325 miles above Earth, the nimble Swift spacecraft will try to unravel one of the strangest phenomena in the cosmos, an awesome fireworks display known as a gamma-ray burst. These bursts of energy, which occur almost daily in some corner of the universe, are the most intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation ever measured.

The gamma-ray bursts it will try to catch ``burn as brightly as a billion, billion suns,'' said Anne Kinney, director of the universe division at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Although not visible to the naked eye, in the few seconds before they flicker out, they release more energy than the sun will in its entire life.

During its two-year mission, Swift is expected to pinpoint as many as 150 bursts. It is to take four months or more to activate and calibrate the instruments on board, at which point the spacecraft will begin serious work.

Gamma-ray bursts ``are the most amazing phenomena in astrophysics,'' said Neil Gehrels, the principal investigator for Swift at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The problem is, they are also among the shortest cosmological events. Some last only milliseconds, while the longest recorded burst went on for only 100 seconds. That's what has made them so difficult to study. By the time astronomers could focus in on them, they were gone.

This is why space scientists are uncertain what causes them. Speculation ranges from collisions between neutron stars, or even black holes. More adventurous theoreticians think the evaporation of a black hole might also cause a burst of gamma energy. The current favorite explanation is that they represent the death throes of the first generation of giant stars that formed shortly, in cosmological terms, after the big bang.

The $239 million Swift mission -- a collaboration between NASA, the United Kingdom and Italy -- may solve the riddle once and for all.

Using sophisticated capture-and-focus equipment consisting of six reaction wheels as well as specially designed software, it should home in on a gamma-ray burst in as little as 20 seconds.

``For the first time we will be observing'' bursts when they are really bright, said Gehrels. ``Swift is fine-tuned to quickly locate these bursts and study them in several different wavelengths before they disappear forever.''

While the night sky appears to be a place of pastoral symmetry, it's a false front, scientists say. If humans could see the sky with gamma-ray vision, the heavens would be transformed into a place of unimaginable tumult.

Compared with other forms of electromagnetic radiation -- radio waves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet and X-rays -- gamma rays are the most energetic, with the highest frequencies and shortest wavelengths. They would present a serious hazard to life on Earth if the atmosphere did not prevent them from reaching the surface.

The discovery of gamma bursts in the heavens was a fluke. The U.S. Air Force launched its Vela satellite in the mid-1960s to keep an eye on the Soviets' adherence to the recently signed nuclear test ban treaty. In July 1967, the satellite captured a gamma-ray burst, a telltale sign of nuclear testing. Only it didn't come from Earth, but out in the interstellar wastes.

Defense officials were so dumbstruck that they quickly classified the discovery and didn't release it to the public for years. ``It took quite a while to understand what we were seeing,'' said Gehrels. Past efforts to study the phenomenon have yielded some hints about what's going on. From NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which detected 2,700 bursts over nine years, scientists learned that the bursts were originating far outside the Milky Way galaxy.

Several years ago, a Dutch-Italian satellite detected an X-ray ``afterglow'' after the gamma burst. This enabled scientists for the first time to accurately calculate the size of an energy burst. They found it was an astonishing 1,000 times as luminous as a quasar, a class of very distant stars that are themselves more luminous than entire galaxies.




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Mike Balog

 2004/11/21 12:30Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
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 Re: The Heavens declare...



The application as to prayer??


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/21 12:37Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

Good question,

Guess I was thinking more in terms of 'current events' and of course my tendency lies in "what's back of all this?" But not without prayer in mind, in fact I didn't even stop to think about it that way, purposefully, it was just a reflex reaction along the lines of the following;

From the title of the post...

[i]Psa 97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory.[/i]

May those involved, those who read stop long enough to realize the impossibility of what they are observing as just random acts of the religion of evolution. That their eyes would be truly opened.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;
Rom 1:19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:
Rom 1:21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

For the rest of us, that we would once again recall to mind the incredible otherness of our God, that out of it our senses would be awakened to worship and also to humble ourselves before Him in reverence and awe.

Those would be my prayers.


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Mike Balog

 2004/11/21 13:20Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Re:

A mind pondering the greatness, the awesomeness of God displayed in His creation and who also beholds Him in the marvellous revelation of Christ without being humiliated would not fit as an intercessor.
The ones who ponder the mystery and yet dare to approach Him will be greatly rewarded.
We need many of your kind, dear Mike, who dare. . .
Lars


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/21 13:46Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

Dear Lars,

Yourself who have dared to share that which springs forth out of the depths. Your uniqueness in expression is like no other I have ever encountered.

I thank you for your kind words even as uncomfortable as they make me feel not knowing how to respond... The Lord has been kind to this strange man, I often feel so removed from what is considered ...regular? Christianity, hesitate to use 'normal' as it seems in this day and age to have come to mean less than and more than what it is supposed to be...

Reading the article caused the thought of "We don't know the half of it" yet for those of us with a new constitution how could we not but stagger at even this that our scientist's are just toying with, poking around the edges...I know there are some who upon examining the heavens are being affected, have been to site's of scientists that are Christan's and know there are rumblings in other circles the intellectual 'creationists' notwithstanding that have come to a conclusion from just observing these things and being humbled have begun to search for the God that is back of all this.

Wish I could come up with that quote about being so overwhelmed by the awesomeness or as the saints of old used to say [i]awful-ness[/i] of God that you want to go running away from His Presence, yet the only safety is to draw near to Him...something to that effect.


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Mike Balog

 2004/11/21 14:51Profile
lwpray
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Joined: 2003/6/22
Posts: 3318
Sweden

 Re:



The mystery of God, the awesomeness, the awfulness, the otherness causes frustration and pain. Yet, the heart is drawn and attracted far, very far beyond the boundaries createdness into that which cannot be expressed. It is the pilgrims walk on roads which cannot be mapped and marked.
What canisters and frameworks can limit the limitlessness. What words will provide dress suitable to give form to the encounter with Him who alone can be called Father.
. . . An all this put in relation to common man’s mundane, prosaic, even trivial exploits.
Prayer, extraordinary prayer might be extracted from the clash between nothingness and the Otherness, between the humility and the Holiness.

What a walk.

Lars


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/11/21 15:29Profile





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