When I was a kid, my class was given ‘word problems’ for an alternative math lesson. You probably know the kind: two different trains traveling at different speeds, which one gets there first, etc. While these were possibly a little out of the norm, they didn’t quite excite the inner astronomer in me. Now, the folks at "Space Math @ NASA" have put together a comprehensive set of math activities for astrophiles of any age (or at least grades 3 and up). You can find some examples of "Space Math" using Chandra discoveries, such as the Crab Nebula at http://chandra.harvard.edu/edu/formal/math/

Crab Nebula

-Megan Watzke, CXC


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Age + Size of universe

I'm new here, and came to ask a question that's been on my mind for some time. I heard that the latest estimate of the age of the universe is 13.5 billions years. After that, I was told that when we looked in one direction (with the Hubble) into one of the deepest areas of space we saw a galaxy 12.5 billion light years away. That is, we're looking at light that left it 12.5 billion years ago. Said differently, 12.5 billions years ago it was that far away form the point we now inhabit. My proposal is this. Let's aim the Hubble telescope in the exactly opposite (spherically) direction from that very distant galaxy. If we see other galaxies about 12.5 billion light years away there also, we should be able to conclude that these oppositely placed galaxies were 25 billion light years apart at least 12.5 billion years ago. If we assume that the point from which we made the observations was the precise source of origin of those diametrically distant galaxies (a rather presumptuous claim), then, even if they moved apart at the speed of light, they cannot have separated one from the other less than 25 billion years ago. Thus, the age of the universe would have to be AT LEAST 25 billion years old. All this, of course, assumes we would find a similarly distant galaxy in our second and opposite observation. Does this make sense? Shouldn't we attempt this Diametrically Opposite Viewing?


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