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Blue Sunset

We ended last year with one of our favorite photos of the decade: an extraterrestrial sunset photographed in 2005 by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. We thought we'd end this year with another Martian sunset. This one was captured last month by Spirit's twin, Opportunity, in a series of photographs, which the rover science team combined and enhanced to create a seamless simulated descent. A bonus footage included in the embedded video above shows the moon Phobos passing in front of the sun.

Watch it with music here.
Concrete Beach
Mary Cooper
A Machine the Size of the Universe
Encyclopedia Londinensis

A quick quote from a PBS two-part documentary first broadcast in 2008 and based on the “definitive” book on cold, Tom Shachtman's Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold. The scientist quoted is Seth Lloyd, of MIT:

Getting to absolute zero is tough. Nobody's actually been there at absolute 0.000000, with an infinite number of zeros. That last little tiny bit of heat becomes harder and harder to get out. And, in particular, the timescales for getting it out get longer and longer and longer, the smaller and smaller the amounts of energy involved. So eventually, if you're talking about extracting an amount of energy that's sufficiently small, it would indeed take the age of the universe to do it. Also you, actually you'd need an apparatus the size of the universe to do it, but that's another story.

Full program transcript here.
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