Thursday, December 6, 2018

Evolution of Astronomy along the Silk Roads 

22 December 2018 14:15 238 PARIS. KAZINFORM The Silk Roads are behind major cultural and trade exchanges between different parts of the world. Throughout their long history, contacts between different civilizations and people resulted in the sharing of various knowledge. These knowledge included philosophy, mathematics, geography, cartography, astrology and astronomy. The emergence of astronomy along the Silk Roads is the result of a great interest of many scholars of these regions. In Central Asia and in the Muslim world, astronomy was deeply influenced by the Greeks and the Indians, the UNESCO official website reads. In ancient Iran, scholars translated astronomy writings from Greek; and from first these translations Muslim scholars translated them into Arabic. In fact, the earliest translation of the Ptolemy Almagest was written into Arabic in the 9th century. This work is a summary of the most advanced knowledge dating from the Antiquity in astronomy, written by Claudius Ptolemy an Alexandrian geographer and astronomer. Regarding Indian astronomy, its influence is perceptible in some of ancient Iran's astronomical treaties of the 5th century. Also, in the 8th century when Baghdad became the scientific centre of the region, scholars from the Indian Subcontinent came to this vibrant city, and translations into Arabic of various Indian astronomical manuals were produced. Eventually, many of these scientific productions reached Europe in the 15th century. Thereby, they were used as the main astronomy teaching materials in European Universities for centuries.Besides Baghdad, Samarkand became a major centre for sciences and astronomy in the 15th century, notably during the rule of Ulugh Beg who was himself an astronomer. Ulugh Beg and other astronomers compiled precise tables; due to this major innovation, European scholars started studying these charts from the 16th century. Also, Ulugh Beg began the construction of an observatory where he improved the Fakhri sextant - the first astronomic measuring tool. While developing it he constructed a meridional arc, therefore founding the latitude of Samarkand. Furthermore, remarkable advances in astronomy were produced in the 10th-11th century by the scholar Al-Biruni. In his works, he reviewed the development of astronomy in the Muslim world. By evaluating the previous works of the astronomers of this region, he identified two different groups of Muslim astronomers: followers of the Hellenistic tradition, and followers of the Indian tradition. Even though he acknowledged the Indian movement, he disagrees on some thesis, such as their theory of planetary motion, the distance separating the earth from the planets, and the dimension of earth. Al-Biruni considered himself like a follower of the Hellenistic tradition on astronomy. This shared knowledge that was developed thanks to the scientific interactions between different regions along the Silk Roads, led to the development of new innovative instruments and a better understanding of the universe as a basis for the modern astronomy.The Silk Roads have connected civilizations and brought peoples and cultures into contact with each other from across the world for thousands of years, permitting not only an exchange of goods but an interaction of ideas and cultures that has shaped our world today. In the light of this enduring legacy, the UNESCO Silk Roads Project revives and extends these historic networks in a digital space, bringing people together in an ongoing dialogue about the Silk Roads in order to foster a mutual understanding of the diverse and often inter-related cultures that have sprung up around them.

Riccardo Giacconi, Nobel laureate known as the father of X-ray astronomy, dies at 87 

Riccardo Giacconi, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who was known as the founder of X-ray astronomy, a discipline credited with opening a new window into the cosmos, died Dec. 9 in San Diego. He was 87. A daughter, Anna Giacconi, confirmed his death and said she did not yet know the cause. Dr. Giacconi was born in Italy but worked primarily in the United States, where he spent most of his life. At the time of his death, he was listed as a faculty member in the physics and astronomy department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 2002, the Nobel committee awarded Dr. Giacconi a share of the physics prize “for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources.” The other half of the prize recognized Raymond Davis Jr. and Masatoshi Koshiba for “the detection of cosmic neutrinos.” Dr. Giacconi was widely known as “the father of X-ray astronomy,” and the leader of the International Astronomical Union called him a determined, strong-minded visionary. “World astronomy bears a huge debt of gratitude to Riccardo Giacconi,” IAU General Secretary Teresa Lago said in a statement. For centuries, humans knew no more about the stars than their eyes could tell them. The starry universe seemed calm and immutable. But X-ray astronomy has helped create a new view, of turbulence, cataclysm, birth and death, creation and destruction. Much of the modern understanding of the nature and dynamics of stars and galaxies, and the charged particles streaming between them, has been provided or supported by X-ray astronomy. X-rays, although invisible to the eye, own just as firm a place on the electromagnetic spectrum as the light we can see. X-rays possess high energies and tell in turn of the high energy processes by which they are produced. While they have streamed across the void of space for eons, only recently have scientists succeeded in capturing them, analyzing them and reading the messages that they carry about cosmic events at unimaginable distances. The expansion of astronomy beyond visible light created a stir in science and beyond. Beyond the knowledge it provides of the cosmic environment , X-ray astronomy is credited with yielding spinoff applications in industry, medicine, security and environmental monitoring. Blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, the X-rays emitted by the stars and galaxies have been detectable only by reaching high elevations or by launching observing equipment into space. Dr. Giacconi and his colleagues developed telescopes suited to gathering the faintest X-ray signals from the far reaches of the universe. In addition to recognizing and analyzing their meaning, the scientists showed patient diligence in obtaining the support needed to place their equipment on the appropriate spacecraft. Among the challenges in creating an X-ray telescope was the high energies of the rays. Optical telescopes employ mirrors to reflect visible light. X-rays would tear through the mirrors, making them unusable. Ultimately, geometries were devised so that X-rays would arrive at angles small enough to allow them to bounce off reflectors, rather than penetrate them. Since the middle of the last century, what scientists have come to call the X-ray universe has been explored by the use of rockets and satellites, with the progress coming so rapidly that detector sensitivity has increased one billion times. Dr. Giacconi was principal investigator for NASA satellites that orbited the Earth and trained their eyes on X-ray sources. He was a key mind behind the Uhuru X-ray satellite, which found what the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics described as “the first evidence for a black hole,” as well was the Einstein Observatory, the first imaging X-ray telescope. He was credited with playing a major role in the launch and operation of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Launched in 1999, it received credit for a profusion of scientific discoveries. In one notable achievement, Chandra found a cloud of hot gas that extended throughout a galactic cluster several million light-years across, with temperatures as high as 40 million degrees. Riccardo Giacconi was born in Genoa on Oct. 6, 1931. After his parents separated, he lived for most of his youth in Milan with his mother, a high school teacher of math and physics. Although a sometimes difficult student — by his account, he cut school and reveled in correcting his teachers — he was attracted to physics, particularly the study of elementary particles and cosmic rays. He received a PhD in physics from the University of Milan in 1954 and began research in cosmic rays early on. A recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, he soon left for brief stays at Indiana University and then at Princeton. After Princeton, he was brought to American Science and Engineering, a private research company, to start a program in space science. In his 14 years at AS & E, from 1959 to 1973, he was credited with creating what became the new science of X-ray astronomy. He held leading roles in succeeding years at important scientific institutions and on major research projects. Among these were the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins. He served there from 1981 to 1992. At the institute he had responsibilities for operating the Hubble Space Telescope. His reasons for leaving the telescope institute were disclosed in the biography he submitted years later for the Nobel committee. It suggested the depths of human emotion that exist beneath what may seem the austere exterior of science. “In 1991 my son Marc died in an automobile accident,” he wrote, and the telescope institute, Hubble and the city of Baltimore, “were continued and painful reminders of devastating grief. “ He “jumped at” the chance to become head of the European Southern Observatory. It was based in Germany, and he headed it from 1993 to 1999. In 1999 he began five years as the president of Associated Universities Inc., a Washington-based manager of laboratories. He was a recipient of NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Award and of the National Medal of Science, which President George W. Bush awarded to him in 2003. Dr. Giacconi’s survivors include his wife, the former Mirella Manaira, of San Diego; two daughters, Anna Giacconi of San Diego and Guia Trutter of Lake Forest, Ill.; and two grandchildren. The biography that he prepared for the Nobel committee in 2002 was dedicated to his wife and daughters. He also wrote that it was in memory of his son, Marc Antonio.

Evolution of Astronomy along the Silk Roads
NANO1 4K astronomy camera 

TinyMOS has created a new pocket sized astronomy camera which is capable of capturing your favourite constellations, stars, nebula and more in stunning 4K Ultra HD resolutions. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the compact astronomy camera and its features. Launched via Kickstarter the NANO1 astronomy camera is now available to back with earlybird pledges available from £276 offering a 20% discount off the recommended retail price, which will take effect once the crowdfunding campaign comes to a close. If all goes well and the campaign is successful and manufacturing progresses smoothly worldwide shipping is expected to take place during March 2019. “NANO1 is the world’s smallest astronomy camera. The NANO1 brings the astronomy imaging experience to you by making it lightweight and simple to use. In 2014, I took a trip to see the night skies with the National University of Singapore. Growing up in an urban city like Singapore, it was my first experience of the rural night skies. The inky black sky was filled with stars and the Milky Way spanned across the horizon. It was an impressive sight for a city dweller like me and I wanted to capture and share it with my friends and family. “ For more details and full specifications jump over to the official Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign page by following the link below. Source: Kickstarter Filed Under: Camera News, Top NewsLatest Geeky Gadgets Deals

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