Just Because I Can (Open Thread)

I’m doing what I shouldn’t here:  troll baiting.

I love astronomy.  I’ve made a couple of films about telescopes, observatories, and the exploration of deep space made possible by the extraordinary instrumentation created over the last couple of decades.  Observational astronomy has undergone a true revolution in my lifetime, and we know more about our universe by direct examination now than we did before, say 1950 by an almost incomprehensibly wide margin because of the two great changes rung in by that revolution.

One of those is astronomy’s gain from the tide that lifts all boats — the incredible rise in precision engineering and the science behind it that underpins  so much of modern life, from the digitization of experience to the transformation of medical diagnostics to the tying up of the globe into an unprecedentedly swift, safe and reliable transportation network and so on.

The other truly transformative move in 20th century astronomy was (at least largely) specific to the domain of sensing, remote and direct alike:  the realization that it is possible — and important — to look up with detectors that can capture signals from anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves — and not just in the realm of the visible that has defined astronomy from Og the caveman to Hubble (and a little beyond).

Nothing new in any of this potted history, but there’s a bit of method to my madness.  The exploration of wavelengths longer than what humans can see (infrared-radio) and shorter (ultraviolet-gamma) has led to utterly new views of the universe, and insight into a whole range of physical phenomena that observations within the range of human sight could never yield.  For a quick gestalt on that point, take a look at this:

mwmw_8x10

I’m not sure how easy it is to pick up the identifiers to the left of each image — but the image shows us what our galaxy looks like when examined at different points along the electromagnetic spectrum.  When we go out on a clear night (preferably at altitude, away from a city), we see something that looks like the third strip from the bottom.  Looking at that, we have essentially no idea of what’s going in the sky — all the signal to be seen everywhere else up and down the picture.

Crucially, there’s a ton of science in (or enabled by) these various views.  Emissions of light from some object are signals of some physical process happening to produce that electromagnetic emission.  If a star or a galactic center or whatever is pumping out a ton of gamma-rays, that tells us a lot about what’s happening to produce so much light at such high energies — and the same applies up and down the spectrum.

But there’s a problem, or rather a feature of the observations that lead us to the insights available only when we have a multi-spectral grasp of our surroundings.  We don’t see X-rays.  Nor radio waves, nor any light that doesn’t fall within what’s called, for obvious reasons, the optical or visual band of spectrum.  To render those images interpretable, to make them available for communication to each other, we need to perform an act of translation.  That’s what’s going on above, when you see images labelled “gamma ray” or “radio continuum” with your own eyes, dressed up in lively shades of red and yellow, purple and blue.

To some (and now I’m getting to it) such coloring is a lie, propaganda with which NASA and space scientists in general trick us into paying for the observatories in space and on earth that generate the data behind the fibs.  To sane people, it’s what you do to help you think about and understand what it is you’re looking at/for.  And if as a field there is a value placed on aesthetically rich translations of the invisible into the seen?  Well, it might be because so many astronomers were first moved to make the night sky their home by images like this:

saturn-voyager

Which is what Saturn looks like in the optical range, as observed by the Voyager II spacecraft.  (Personal note: I was hooked on stuff in the night sky from the time I saw Saturn through a large telescope at Oakland, California’s Chabot Observatory.  I was about 10.  The sight of the rings swinging into view as I sat at the eyepiece has never left me.  Public cultural goods are good.)  There’s not much science in that picture, except for the deep pleasure it offers, sufficient to move many more than one into a life’s work.

All of which is prelude to one last image.  A commenter troll in this thread spent inordinate amounts of time and blather complaining about the terrible trickery and deceit involved in Hubble Space Telescope imagery, because, after all, the only thing that comes back off that instrument are strings of 1s and 0s that reflect measurements in various bits of the optical and near infrared chunks of the spectra.  The colors are “false” — which is to say not what a naked eye would see, if it had the light gathering capacity of a 2.4 meter-mirror and the ability to stare, unblinking for the requisite amounts of time.  The naive American public must, it seems, be protected from twin illusions of knowledge and beauty, lest it thus be gulled into funding more such instruments.  Or something.

To which, at long last, I say simply, get a life.  Or perhaps more in keeping with the tone of this establishment: copulate yourself with vigor — and an oxidized agricultural implement.

To put that into visual terms, let me offer up for your viewing pleasure an utterly falsely rendered picture that is both sublime and filled with the raw material of insight:

A star between 100 and 150 more massive than the Sun, about 7,500 light years from Earth.

This is a picture of the giant star Eta Carinae, and it’s a photoshop:  the blue image is from the Hubble Space Telescope, and shows the relatively cool remnants of an eruption in 1840 that blew off about 10 solar masses, leaving between 100 and 150 times the mass of our sun behind.  The orange imagery is a false coloration (a lie!) of x-ray data gathered by another NASA orbiting observatory, the Chandra X-Ray telecsope.  That shows what happens when fast gouts of material from the explosion smash into surrounding gas and dust, collisions that heat that shroud to upwards of a million degrees, which is what produces the energetic x-ray emissions.  The shape of those observations marks the limit of the region in which this desperately unstable star is interacting with its environment.

Eta Carinae attracts a lot of attention because it is a prime candidate to go supernova — and if/when it does, we’ll have almost scarily front row seats for the show.  The composite image above isn’t “necessary” for the investigations of its properties.  But it does provide a synoptic view of what’s going on right now, and it sure is pretty.

Which is what we know on earth, and, if not all we need to know, than at least a fine goad to get after the rest.

And with that, over to y’all for any kind of open threading that may suit your fancy.

230 replies
  1. 1
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    A commenter troll in this thread spent inordinate amounts of time and blather complaining about the terrible trickery and deceit involved in Hubble Space Telescope imagery, because, after all, the only thing that comes back off that instrument are strings of 1s and 0s that reflect measurements in various bits of the optical and near infrared chunks of the spectra.

    As I stated last night: just because you are too stupid to understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    Space Truther, indeed.

    I’ve done some of the same Photoshop work – my parents actually own some very serious observing gear – and I know that NASA et al aren’t pulling the imagery out of their asses, but like I said…

  2. 2
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Look! More fake pictures! “As much art as science,” in NASA’s own words.

    Thank you, Tom, for proving out so succinctly what I was saying last night.

    It is so awesome to be BJ’s official troll! Thank you, thank you…no really…thank you.

  3. 3
    Culture of Truth says:

    Eta Carinae attracts a lot of attention because it is a prime candidate to go supernova

    Eta Carinae 2016!

  4. 4
    Emma says:

    Aren’t those just beautiful pictures? And agree with your prescription for those who would see nothing in them but attempts at funding.

    When I was very young, I had terrible ear infections that left me awake all night. We lived in a small town in Cuba; night-time lighting was non-existent. My father would take me out to the yard and we would sit under the lemon tree and look at the stars. He would tell be both the ancient myths, the modern stories and the scientific reality as it was known then. Triggered a life-long obsession with both science-fiction and cosmology.

  5. 5
    J says:

    Thanks for this illuminating post, Tom!

  6. 6
    Culture of Truth says:

    It seems like every star we observe is much bigger than ours. Do we have a small star? Not that I’m worried. I mean size isn’t everything, right?

  7. 7
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Yeah, I can see why the cynic wants to stop being hustled by the FUNDseekers, but real science is going on here. every time I see these indescribable images, I have the same overarching question….Is the Universe malevolent, or benign? I think I’ll just stay out of it’s way.

  8. 8
    clone12 says:

    The Mona Lisa is a “lie”- it’s just a collection of oil splotches that gives the illusion of a renaissance woman in Italy.

  9. 9
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Although it’s odd you didn’t provide this ass covering commentary to accompany the picture you put up last night, rather than choosing to present it as though it is what it appears to be.

    Can’t imagine why you would do that.

  10. 10
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Although it’s odd you didn’t provide this ass covering commentary to accompany the picture you put up last night, rather than choosing to present it as though it is what it appears to be.

    Can’t imagine why you would do that.

  11. 11
    dmsilev says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You’re a moron, and I’m somewhat sad that I missed yesterday’s thread and an opportunity to tell you that then.

    I know and work with professional astronomers, and they don’t regard composite images of this sort to be fakes or purely art works or anything like that. They’re a tool for understanding structure and composition, just as a set of spectral graphs showing redshift distributions across the arms of some spiral galaxy are a tool for understanding the structure and dynamics of said galaxy. One happens to be prettier than the other, but that doesn’t mean that the one is a lie or a propaganda tool or any of the other nonsense you were blathering about.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Ted & Hellen:
    “Official troll”? I thought you were Balloon Juice’s official self-appointed teacher’s pet.

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    BTW, if you want to play with the raw data and make your own picture, just download fits liberator. It’s fun!

  14. 14
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Ted & Hellen: My one and only direct reply to you:

    Ask yourself how many of these apply to you.

    Certainly number 12…but there are so many more possibilities.

  15. 15
    The Dangerman says:

    …copulate yourself with vigor — and an oxidized agricultural implement.

    I spy with my little eye a new rotating tag line.

  16. 16
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Wow. You’re jealous. How old are you?

  17. 17
    Cassidy says:

    @Amir Khalid: Pretty soon, Tom will be getting an email explaining how much loyalty and altering some “deeply held beliefs” cost. It only cost Cole $450, so I imagine it’ll be much less than that.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    100110101010111010010101101

  19. 19
    Walker says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Look! More fake pictures! “As much art as science,” in NASA’s own words.

    The academic field is known as scientific visualization. And there is nothing fake about it.

  20. 20
    LGRooney says:

    copulate yourself with vigor — and an oxidized agricultural implement.

    Obviously, you are a liar because you are only alluding to what you really want to say!

    To the troll – allusion is not illusion.

  21. 21
    MattF says:

    And it’s not ‘just’ art either– putting the ones and zeros into visualizable form engages the pattern-recognition circuits in our brains, which still do a better job than any computer. Richard Hamming (of Hamming Code fame) put it best, long ago: ‘The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.’

  22. 22
    scav says:

    poor ted. so many words, concepts and nuances, so little understanding. It seems to be happy though, loin-girded in bucklers of Missing the Point. Happy in a Nutshell that boy and dreamless.

  23. 23
    dmsilev says:

    Also, too, combining multiple single-wavelength-band images into a color composite is exactly how virtually every digital camera works. Goggle on ‘Bayer color filter array’ if you don’t believe me. Are we to regard every picture from every digital camera to be a fake?

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    I spy with my little eye a new rotating tag line

    “fast gouts of material”

  25. 25
    canuckistani says:

    Spectrometry is a lie! Individual spectral lines are being taken out of context!
    Great post. Astronomy is the most fascinating science by far in my world.

  26. 26

    I’m doing what I shouldn’t here: troll baiting.

    When you can get them to roll over or ‘shake’, I’ll be impressed.

    Otherwise, meh. “I demand you see the world as I do!” (stamps li’l cute troll feet)

    Awesome pics. Discussion on NGC 1097 started with how it would look from just outside the event horizon (debris-strewn, we concluded) and ended with comparisons of Ursa Minor to the real deal, which we can’t see because its bloody winter.

    Ah, the majesty of it all.

  27. 27
    Alex S. says:

    Well, false colors are just another reason why the fiscal cliff deal is far worse than it appears. /Rush Limbaugh as seen through the radio continuum (2.5 Gt)

  28. 28
    sparrow says:

    As a professional Astrophysicist who works with Hubble data, let me just say thank you very much Tom for this brilliant post. Seriously. It’s something that people like me SHOULD be writing, but honestly aren’t so great at. I’m so happy that you understand and appreciate so much of what we are trying to do.

    And for the record, yes, the pretty pictures ARE a tool for us. We are humans. Sometimes we just want to see what the thing LOOKS like because pattern-recognition is what our brains DO. One of my thesis projects involved categorizing hundreds of object by naked eye because there simply isn’t a way to get a computer to do it accurately (yet). Of course, when it comes time to write the paper, the pretty picture (usually) isn’t the “main result”, but there’s nothing false in it, if you understand what it is. It’s simply a representation of data that happens to be strikingly beautiful.

  29. 29
    Tone in DC says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Hopefully, this hasn’t been answered five times already… The sun is a yellow dwarf. Technically, it’s a G2 dwarf star. Only K and M stars are less massive. The O, B, A and F stars out there are more massive (and usually much hotter, IIRC).

    Freshman undergrad science class, a LOOOOONG time ago.

  30. 30

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Look! More fake pictures!

    You can’t possibly be this profoundly stupid?

  31. 31
    Morzer says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Because only an imbecile like you would require such commentary.

    The rest of us are up to speed intellectually with such things as abstract thought, representation of reality not being reality etc etc.

    You may now return to sitting on your dung-heap with your thumb up your ass.

  32. 32

    @clone12:

    The Mona Lisa is a “lie”- it’s just a collection of oil splotches that gives the illusion of a renaissance woman in Italy.

    Having never seen the Mona Lisa in person, I’ve only seen it presented to me as a string of ones and zeros.

    Clearly, the Mona Lisa Does Not Exist.

  33. 33
    Schlemizel says:

    Thanks Tom, you have made Douche & Bags year and it is only the second day.

    I’ll keep saying this in hopes that people will take the suggestion seriously and act on it.

    Douche & Bad do not want to engage in any intellectual search. They are not interested in debate or facts or any of the things normal people are interested in here. Douche & Bag are only interested in eliciting a response. Once they have one their goal is to maintain the attention to their own bad behavior as long as they can.

    If we all just ignore them Douche & Bag will throw a tantrum like any attention starved 2 year old. There will be escalated fits and additional attempts to disrupt adult conversations for some period of time. But if everyone would just ignore them while they try to hold their breath until they turn blue Douche & Bag would not get the attention they so desperately need and move on to some other blog.

    Front paging a response to Douche & Bag will have the opposite affect, encouraging them to continue to piss all over the carpet here.

  34. 34
    Violet says:

    Or perhaps more in keeping with the tone of this establishment: copulate yourself with vigor — and an oxidized agricultural implement.

    Heh. Made me laugh.

  35. 35
    MobiusKlein says:

    Flash Photography is a LIE!
    Those extra photons distort the true meaning of x-mas!

    Death to the RGB composite tyranny – free the full optical spectrum. I demand an end to the three dimensional projection, and a fully realized Hilbert space display on my computer.

    Don’t get me started on records. Those bastards represent audio as tho mere one dimensional amplitudes over time. Gaahh!!!!

  36. 36
    canuckistani says:

    @sparrow:

    Are you one of the end users of the Galaxy Zoo project?
    (Galaxy Zoo (galaxyzoo.org) is a crowdsourcing project where many thousands of galaxies are classified by the most efficient and accurate method possible – getting thousands of volunteers to examine the images and do the classification by eye. No computer can match us).

  37. 37
    LGRooney says:

    @Morzer: Are you calling them slow?

    You may now return to sitting on your dung-heap with your thumb up your ass

  38. 38
    Don says:

    I dunno what tednhellen’s problem with science really is, but I recall a similar experience with Saturn’s rings, back in the day. I was doing my dissertation stuff in Physics, and borrowed the department’s little Questar 3.5″ scope for the weekend. After the obligatory moon views, I pointed it to where Saturn was supposed to be, and there it was! Rings, moons, all that stuff. And I was hooked. And glad of it.

    Science and the emotions are not incompatible, and most of us who do, or have done, “science” have the experience of “Oh, Wow!” upon seeing some results either observed, calculated, or read. And putting different observations of the same “thing” is what many of us have done all the time. One never reports a single data point and expects it to be published.

    Rusty nail, indeed!

  39. 39
    The Dangerman says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    You can’t possibly be this profoundly stupid?

    It’s possible; Bob and Carol ran away from this person long ago and Alice changed her name for anonymity.

    I assume this troll doesn’t own a radio as any form of modulation/demodulation can’t be trusted.

  40. 40

    Look! More fake pictures! “As much art as science,” in NASA’s own words.

    A while back, I dabbled in photography….REAL development, using a darkroom and all the chemicals and equipment within, but using ACTUAL film as PhotoPurist wants us to think is the only way to be true in a visual medium.

    There were so many ways to manipulate images – dodging, burning, cropping, etc etc…. it certainly should come as no surprise to anyone that the advent of digital manipulation was not the beginning of altering visual media.

    I do respect, however, this dude’s ability to triple down on this idiocy. Fine bit of counter-trolling, Tom.

  41. 41
    dmsilev says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    You can’t possibly be this profoundly stupid?

    Available evidence suggests that yes he can.

  42. 42
    Morzer says:

    @LGRooney:

    That would be unfair to slow people.

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches: You will be amazed. It makes you wonder how it remembers to keep breathing. This appears to be it’s best medium, though. It can type and mouth breathe at the same time.

  44. 44
    ruemara says:

    I was gonna say I had no idea how this post is troll bait, nor how one could troll such a thing. Then Ted & Hellen cleared up my naive ignorance. Well. Learn something new everyday.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OK, the top and bottom slices there are obviously Romulan war birds firing plasma torpedoes at Klingon battle cruisers…

  46. 46
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Cassidy:

    Hey, Assidy, I mostly ignore you because you are a sad little person with a boring, futureless job and I know ragging on me because I made fun of you is your one joy in life, but…it’s time I disabused you of one very big, false assumption you are making: There is no way in hell I would do a 48×24 inch painting of five different subjects for the paltry sum of $450. My commissioned work sells for a great deal more than that, on a regular basis. A great deal more.

    Also too: Unlike Tom Levenson, I present my pictures as what they are, paintings/illustrations/interpretations.

    Also too 2: Thanks again to the BJ commenters who commissioned and purchased from me as Christmas gifts. Your patronage is greatly appreciated.

  47. 47
    dmsilev says:

    @sparrow: You’re just saying that because that’s what you want us to think. You can’t fool us, we’re on to you…

  48. 48
    Cermet says:

    Wow, the troll is worried that a picture with color representing an x-ray image is gonna confuse a layman into thinking that is how the object really looks? And that scientist do this to get funding?

    Typical troll – might as well be a thug.

    Hate to tell the troll but scientists add colors to images so they and other scientist can interpret the data. So I guess MRI’s that use color images are attempts to trick doctors into selling medicines?

    Boy, are you dumb. There is no attempt to deceive anyone by using false colors – what a joke you are. The fact that it appears as art is a nice feature – not the purpose of the colors. Using these images to show the public what they are paying for is a reward to us taxpayers.

  49. 49
    Cassidy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: When does the Aluminum Falcon come in?

  50. 50
    Cassidy says:

    @Ted & Hellen: I’m sorry, are you talking to me? I don’t entertain conversations from people who want to make excuses for child rapists.

  51. 51
    Poopyman says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    It seems like every star we observe is much bigger than ours. Do we have a small star? Not that I’m worried. I mean size isn’t everything, right?

    Actually, our star is pretty much the 6″ of stars, to use your analogy. It’s a G star, and sits pretty much in the center of the Main Sequence.

    But size does matter, in a live-fast-die-young sort of way. In fact our sun came along well after the Big Bang and after massive stars had already gone supernova, leaving behind the heavier elements that allow us to exist.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Having never seen the Mona Lisa in person, I’ve only seen it presented to me as a string of ones and zeros.
    Clearly, the Mona Lisa Does Not Exist.

    Something resembling the string of ones and zeros Mona Lisa hangs on a wall behind a crush of humanity in the Louvre. I’ve glimpsed it personally, through that knot of humanity. Meanwhile, David’s many portraits of Napoleon are sadly bereft of any knot of humanity about them.

  53. 53
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Culture of Truth: It seems like most of the stars are bigger because bigger equals brighter, and brighter means you can see them farther.

  54. 54
    chopper says:

    @Walker:

    charts and graphs are all just part of the conspiracy.

  55. 55
    TooManyJens says:

    For that matter, everything you see is really just your brain’s interpretation of electrical impulses traveling over your optic nerve.

    Vision is a lie!

  56. 56
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Our star is relatively small (as noted by @Tone in DC: above). But in terms of stellar populations, smaller stars outnumber the big guys, for two reasons. The first is that larger stars burn out more quickly, and thus over the life of the universe (or a given galaxy) smaller, slower burning stars will come to predominate. The second is that (as of the last paper I read on this) smaller stars outnumber larger ones in star-formation processes.

    The big honkers (like Eta Carinae, among the most massive stars observed) live fast, die young, and leave pretty corpses.

    Our kind of star hangs around, not doing all that much exciting until much later in the game. We die pretty too, btw, just much less spectacularly.*

    *That’s not a typical planetary nebula, but it sure looks good.

  57. 57
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @sparrow:

    Sometimes we just want to see what the thing LOOKS like because pattern-recognition is what our brains DO.

    Well, yes, most of us. Some of us, like Timmeh the lame, are still too busy playing with our own poo to move on to advanced pattern recognition (“oh, look! a square!”).

  58. 58
    Cassidy says:

    And somehow this all the nig(clang)’s Obama’s fault.

  59. 59
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Ted & Hellen: There have been better. You’re just not worth the effort to remove.

  60. 60
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    You can’t possibly be this profoundly stupid?

    Oh yes he can. What we have here is someone working hard at not understanding the fairly obvious. Notice how many actual scientists on this thread he’s ignoring.

    @Cassidy:
    I expect our Mr. Levenson has better taste in art than to take T&H up on any such offer.

  61. 61
    MattR says:

    @Cermet: Didn’t you know that if you cut open your brain you would see all sorts of cool blue and red areas lighting up as different thoughts went though your head?

    @Cassidy: What do you mean they blew up the Death Star?

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @TooManyJens:

    OK, you’ve been cribbing from Mr. Reagan’s observations while munching on steak with Mr. Smith in The Matrix.

  63. 63
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Hmmm…here you are, writing this same pathetic cry for help once again. Pie me, you fool.

    I have been commenting here at least six years or so, and won’t be going away.

    Deal.

  64. 64
    Morzer says:

    @TooManyJens:

    And, in fact, words are not the things they represent. So this entire blog is an exercise in fakery and bad faith! I demand the immediate refunding and refudiation of Ted and Hellen’s membership fee!

    Oh.. wait…

  65. 65
    Joel says:

    A commenter troll in this thread spent inordinate amounts of time and blather complaining about the terrible trickery and deceit involved in Hubble Space Telescope imagery, because, after all, the only thing that comes back off that instrument are strings of 1s and 0s that reflect measurements in various bits of the optical and near infrared chunks of the spectra.

    There are people — scientists, even — who believe dumb shit like “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” and “ion channels are just holes in cell membranes”. But enough about Peter Duesberg.

  66. 66
    TooManyJens says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Meanwhile, David’s many portraits of Napoleon are sadly bereft of any knot of humanity about them.

    You’d like my husband. When we were at the Louvre this summer, we did the obligatory stop at (well, sort of near) the Mona Lisa, then we hurried on because he wanted to go see the Davids again.

  67. 67
    Cassidy says:

    @Amir Khalid: That’s obvious, but it won’t stop the little bear from trying.

    @MattR: One of my all time favorite bits. I love the Star Wars episodes.

  68. 68
    Yutsano says:

    @Tom Levenson: You just couldn’t help but pick that scab could ya? I wonder if it occurs to Special Timmeh that the images on his computer screen are not the actual images but interpretations through processors.

  69. 69
    Alex S. says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Ah yes, our senses betray us. What is the real thing in itself? Do they only exist as ideas in our heads?

  70. 70
    Paul in KY says:

    @Culture of Truth: No supernovas in our galaxy since 1150 or thereabouts.

  71. 71
    Maude says:

    More Chuck Berry and pretty pictures.
    Please keep posting on NASA stuff. I don’t understand any of it, but I like it.

  72. 72
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Sometimes we just want to see what the thing LOOKS like because pattern-recognition is what our brains DO.

    Once again, misleading. Scientists don’t know what the thing LOOKS like because it cannot be “seen” with the information they are provided. These pictures are inventions/best guesses/creative interpretations, tarted up with pretty colors and released to the public without explanation of their origins…kind of like Tom did in his post last night, and which he spent this entire post covering his ass about.

  73. 73
    Joel says:

    @Cermet:

    Hate to tell the troll but scientists add colors to images so they and other scientist can interpret the data. So I guess MRI’s that use color images are attempts to trick doctors into selling medicines?

    Damn right! The public should see the raw data, damnit!

  74. 74
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Walker: The unit circle is a lie. Don’t graph x^2 + y^2 = 1, it may lead you to believe that curves have a thickness to them.

  75. 75
    srv says:

    Sheesh, Tom. Even CMYK is not enough for you liberals, you have to have X-Ray coloring too. This is the difference between moonbats and Real Conservatives. Moonbats can’t accept the universe as it is and have to color it with all your prejudices to make you feel good. Conservatives see the world for what it is and understand that God wanted it that way.

    Next up the women-folk getting into all this 50 Shades of Gray stuff will want X-Ray sex.

  76. 76
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: At least we’re performing a service for which it should be grateful. We mock it publicly. Wait until it realizes that the real people in its life mock it behind its back. Can’t wait to see that headline.

  77. 77
    sparrow says:

    @canuckistani: No, sadly! But it is an amazing project, I know some of the people involved. They have branched out of Astronomy, in fact. Check out “Serengeti Live” … THAT’s some awesome citizen science.

  78. 78
    Culture of Truth says:

    So apparently Saturn is an astro gateway drug.

  79. 79
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Paul in KY: Errr. No.

    And…No.

    Both of these (Kepler’s and Brahe’s, in reverse chronological order) had profound impact on natural philosophers at the point when the idea of the perfection of the heavens was at the breaking point.

    There have also been others — not many, but some — in the last thousand years.

  80. 80
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Culture of Truth: The vast majority of stars are red dwarfs, which are tiny compared to our Sun. They’re also too dim to see without a powerful telescope. Most famous stars are bigger and brighter than the Sun because those are the ones that are readily visible.

  81. 81
    Mandalay says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Ask yourself how many of these apply to you.

    That’s a helluva link you gave there. I’m shamelessly stealing “delusions of adequacy”.

  82. 82
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Yutsano:
    Once in a while, the temptation to pull T&H’s pigtails does become irresistible. I have myself succumbed to it, well, a time or two.

  83. 83
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Culture of Truth: Absolutely. Quite possibly the most powerful. Shocking they give it to kids, right?

  84. 84
    sparrow says:

    @Ted & Hellen: If you are this dumb, I really can’t help you. Jesus wept.

  85. 85
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    But but but… you can’t know things about the universe around you, and then use those things you know to make decisions! That’s blasphemy!

  86. 86
    scav says:

    @TooManyJens: Nice thing about the Mona Lisa (and armless allies) is it instantly hoovers up everyone that only calls art what they can recognise from innumerable fridge magnets and clears space before other stuff. I usually headed for the old Finance wing of the Louvre or the old castle walls in the basement but I’m a little mad about bâtiments and furnishings. D’Orsay has some great Deco interiors tucked well away from the Haystacks crowd as well.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    The stupid of special Timmeh. IT BURNS LIKE LOUIE GOHMERT.

    Also, too, you attributed it incorrectly. Typical.

  88. 88
    Cassidy says:

    Once again, misleading. Scientists don’t know what the thing LOOKS like because it cannot be “seen” with the information they are provided. These pictures are inventions/best guesses/creative interpretations, tarted up with pretty colors and released to the public without explanation of their origins…kind of like Tom did in his post last night, and which he spent this entire post covering his ass about.

    “I’m the president of jellybeans. Have some mustard cuz it’s Easter!”

  89. 89
    Morzer says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    But it does provide entertainment as the dancing T&H monkey hops up and down in its pretty little costume. I think it’s hilarious to watch the critter flail and rage as its inner compulsions force it to respond with incoherent squawkings.

  90. 90
    Paul in KY says:

    @Tom Levenson: Thanks for the correction. 1606 then was the last one.

    Last one readily visible with naked eye, etc.

  91. 91
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s the squeals of absolute indignity coupled with the massive personal insults that make it for me. He’s hurting us! No really, he IS!!

  92. 92
    japa21 says:

    I wonder if T&H has sent emails to The Weather Channel telling them to stop lying to their viewers.

  93. 93
    Tone in DC says:

    Per the link…

    When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.

    That and the previously mentioned “Delusions of adequacy” are worth cribbing/borrowing/unauthorized expropriation.

  94. 94
    Alex S. says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Some stars can be really small (relatively speaking). Just check out the nearest star after Alpha Centauri, which is Barnard’s Star.

  95. 95
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Walker: There’s far too much “scientific visualization” that is really lame (though maybe the best we can have), e.g., many essentially ad hoc applications of dimensional reduction to intrinsically high-dimensional data, which usually wreaks havoc on (equally intrinsic, and certainly important) geometric features of the ensemble of data, not only making them harder to see, but creating visual artifacts that actively misinform the viewers about that geometry and, worse, often about its underlying topology. (Not everyone agrees with me on this. But they’re wrong if they don’t….)

    However, the kind of scientific visualization discussed in this post—spectrum shifting that leaves the geometry intact—isn’t at all like that. So pfbbbt to the troll, and viva NASA.

  96. 96
    Morzer says:

    @japa21:

    Not to mention writing regular letters to the NYT in which he denounces Jane Austen as a liar and a fraud, ‘cos Mr Darcy wasn’t really like that at all, no sir!

  97. 97
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Someone help me out here. I followed the link to the page about Eta Carinae and it seems that it’s some 7500 light years away. Doesn’t that mean that whatever we’re observing about it today actually took place 7500 years ago?

  98. 98
    PurpleGirl says:

    @The Dangerman: Yes, it could be a rotating tag line, if they were showing. Or, am I the only reader who isn’t seeing them… (using FireFox).

  99. 99
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Poopyman:

    Actually, our star is pretty much the 6″ of stars, to use your analogy. It’s a G star,

    So it just hits the G-spot?

    and sits pretty much in the center of the Main Sequence.

    Never heard it called that before.

    Obviously I need to fire up Google Images and do some Scientific Visualization. With Safe View off.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    To some (and now I’m getting to it) such coloring is a lie, propaganda with which NASA and space scientists in general trick us into paying for the observatories in space and on earth that generate the data behind the fibs.

    just when i thought anti-science morons couldn’t get any dumber.

  101. 101
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You previously claimed to have been here eight years. Now it’s “six years or so.” Make up your mind, and if you can’t manage the truth, then at least try to lie consistently.

    It must be galling to have been dropping your…whatever it is–“wisdom” doesn’t really describe it–for however long you’ve been here and to have been eclipsed by the likes of, well, me. I find that fucking hilarious, btw.
    And as far as trolling, you’ll never match matoko-chan in sheer brilliance or output.

  102. 102
    cmorenc says:

    I’m an avid amateur astronomer, purely visual, i.e. being out on clear nights, eyeball-to-telescope, observing the original photons arriving from enormously distant objects. I do, however immensely enjoy the work of astro-imagers.

    One of my favorite things to observe are other galaxies, most of which from visual observation appear as mere faint splats or slashes of light, devoid of color or features beyond their general footprint. It takes longer-exposure photographic images and postprocessing to bring out the rich galactic detail and color seen in many astrophotographs. Much of the fascination of visually observing galaxies is the conceptual appreciation of the unfathomably immense size of these objects, each an island universe unto itself. For example, the “nearby” twin of our own Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy (2.2 million light years is “close” in galactic terms), has a span of at least 150,0000 light years, but has a bright core 10K to 15K light years across visible in telescopes even with a bright moon in the sky that washes out most other galaxies. The profound thought the sight of Andromeda’s core always provokes is that it takes light (moving at 186k miles or 300k kilometers per second) longer to travel from one side of the bright core to the other side than the entire history of human civilization from the time of the very earliest cities. By contrast, it only takes light 1.25 seconds to reach earth from the moon, sunlight eight minutes to reach earth, and 4 to 20 minutes for signals from Curiosity to travel from Mars to Earth, depending on where Mars and Earth are momentarily relative to each other in their respective orbits, yet Mars is several months travel time from Earth via unmanned space ship.

  103. 103
    Soonergrunt says:

    @srv: How about MRI sex? Yup, we’ve already (NSFW) done that.

  104. 104
    Yutsano says:

    @Soonergrunt: Timmeh doesn’t do truth. He knows DA TROOF!! which is not at all the same thing.

    @Soonergrunt: Link no work. U fix plz.

  105. 105
    cmorenc says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Someone help me out here. I followed the link to the page about Eta Carinae and it seems that it’s some 7500 light years away. Doesn’t that mean that whatever we’re observing about it today actually took place 7500 years ago?

    Yes, it means exactly that. In looking at the night sky, it’s like a museum of ancient light of varying ages, depending on the particular object, anywhere from four years old in the case of the nearest star (proxima Centauri) to several million years for “nearby” galaxies, or in the case of quasars, a couple of billion years.

  106. 106
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I followed the link to the page about Eta Carinae and it seems that it’s some 7500 light years away. Doesn’t that mean that whatever we’re observing about it today actually took place 7500 years ago?

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Exactly so.

  107. 107
    Cassidy says:

    THESE WORDS ARE JUST DIGITAL INTERPRETATIONS! HOW DO WE KNOW WE’RE NOT HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT MONKEY SEX AGAINST OUR WILL!

  108. 108
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: That’s exactly what’s happening. The farther out into the universe one looks, the farther back in time one is seeing, because of the length of time that light/radiation (information) takes to reach your telescope.

  109. 109
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    THESE WORDS ARE JUST DIGITAL INTERPRETATIONS! HOW DO WE KNOW WE’RE NOT HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT MONKEY SEX AGAINST OUR WILL!

    @Cassidy: Given the response of our resident Space Truther to some of the comments, I’m pretty sure that what you describe is actually what is happening.

  110. 110
    Maude says:

    @PurpleGirl:
    The rotaters went away when they used Coverlive on election night.

  111. 111
    Paul in KY says:

    @cmorenc: The Andromeda galaxy is the largest object (or assemblage of objects) visible to the naked eye.

    But, I bet you knew that ;-)

  112. 112
    Mister Harvest says:

    You know, I flew over Texas the other day, and the state was not in fact varying shades of red, even though that is how it is presented on the news!

    And when a storm blew through here, no large blue line with triangles sailed overhead, despite that being present in every single TV weather chart!

    How deep does this go?

  113. 113
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: Against our will?

  114. 114

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    As others have pointed out, “yes, exactly”.

    The implication, of course, is that there is only one “now” that you can experience directly, and it happens to be where you are sitting. You really are at the center of your very own Observable Universe. We all are.

    Of course my “now” is right here, with me at the center of it, and is the only Correct and True one. Yours must be false.

    (I kid, but the idea does make it easier to understand why authoritarians of all stripes have tended to take offense at the idea of Relativity).

  115. 115
    trollhattan says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    Do you have some connection to the Bennington? My dad served on it from launch through the rest of the war, and when a kid I was able to tour it with him during Seafair in Seattle (it was part of the Seafair fleet).

    Said troll is also a 9/11 troofer, so I don’t think anybody should be surprised here. Also, too, feel free to ask it about the Apollo “landings.”

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Of course my “now” is right here, with me at the center of it, and is the only Correct and True one. Yours must be false.

    “Objectivism” in a nutshell.

  117. 117
    trollhattan says:

    @japa21:
    “Helpfully,” TWC was co-founded by a climate change denialist, so perhaps not.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/po.....e-20121205

  118. 118
    Tom Levenson says:

    @trollhattan: No — not the Bennington. My uncle was a career guy in the Royal Artillery, and he (a) told me about that list and (b) says that it was common knowledge that the “I would not breed from this officer” referred to a specific member of the mess in a Guards regiment contemporary with my uncle’s own service.

    The Bennington site is just the quickest route I know to that particular treasure.

  119. 119
    Cassidy says:

    I”m waiting for another spettle flecked rant from Cole telling us to leave it alone.

  120. 120
    Libby's Person says:

    @Tom Levenson: What a great and insightful list! I plan to borrow some of these great descriptions of the willfully stupid for my future correspondence…

  121. 121
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @ruemara:

    ++

    I had to go back to last night’s thread to see it, but there it is in living black and white pixels.

    The only thing that’s “real” in any of these images is the wavelength and intensity of the EM radiation; how we choose to visualize that information doesn’t change the reality underneath. Mapping “optical” wavelengths to their expected colors is just as arbitrary a decision as mapping them to “false” colors. Sometimes false-color mapping results in real discoveries (that’s how we initially detected volcanoes on Io IINM).

    I assume T&H regard images produced by using infra-red film to be lies, too. After all, they’re not accurately representing reality as we see it.

  122. 122
    El Cid says:

    What is a “real” picture anyway?

  123. 123
    Chyron HR says:

    @El Cid:

    One of TimTed’s black velvet portraits, of course.

  124. 124
    Mart says:

    @Ted & Hellen: So if these space pictures are junk science, what is the MRI “picture”(really a bunch of 1’s and 0’s outside the visual spectrum) that let us know the growth on my wife’s leg was thankfully a cyst, and not cancer?

  125. 125
    Jewish Steel says:

    @El Cid: Precisely!

  126. 126
    El Cid says:

    @Jewish Steel: And where do I “see” anyway — in the eyes? In the brain? In the nerves? All 3 locations, but just not simultaneously? All together?

  127. 127
    J R in WV says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    Everything you see on TV or at the movies is fake, lies, using the failure of our vision of operate at speeds of less than 1/30 of a second to fool people into thinking they’re seeing real life.

    No! Not at all. It’s just a series of still photos, composed of ones and zeros at the bottom. You’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe being a slinky beauty, just dots and numbers, even in that Famous Playboy centerfold.

    And Medicine, based upon microscopes and genes, which everyone knows are invisible and false. Evolution and genetic theory is all a lie, used to trick people into taking poisonous vaccines into their precious bodies!#!$!%! Polluting their precious vital fluids with all kinds of poisonous claptrap based upon the sinful and heretical ramblings of the insane British madman, Charles Darwin.

  128. 128
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Yutsano: link repaired. And here it is again (NSFW):
    http://gizmodo.com/5340893/mri.....thing-nsfw

  129. 129
    Jewish Steel says:

    @El Cid: How do I visualize things that aren’t present? A musical score? My grandparents faces? Are they ghosts? Is it aether? Ectoplasm?

    This seeing thing is turning out to be tricky. Who knew?

  130. 130
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Scientists don’t know what the thing LOOKS like because it cannot be “seen” with the information they are provided. These pictures are inventions/best guesses/creative interpretations

    Don’t be ridiculous. Of course they know what it LOOKS like, because they’ve captured that data. They know what the wavelengths and intensities are. The can map out the structures based on that data.

    Just like your handy weather map paints regions in different colors to represent temperature, rainfall, wind speed, etc. Heavy rain isn’t red, things don’t magically turn purple when the temperature gets below freezing, etc. They’re simply aids to allow us to visualize the structure of the weather systems around us. Similarly, images like what Tom shows are simply ways of visualizing real objects and structures in the sky.

    Just because it doesn’t look like that to our naked eye (which is a damn poor instrument for examining the EM spectrum outside of a very narrow band)) doesn’t mean that the images are merely guesswork. The structures are real. The shapes are real. How we choose to visualize them is arbitrary, and has no bearing on the question of their reality.

  131. 131
    mr_gravity says:

    Pie charts – pecan or coconut cream?

  132. 132
    scav says:

    @Mister Harvest: My GSD, they’ve gotten to Football too! Those floaty lines indicating desired yardage and arrows showing direction of play are a dead giveaway. I even saw a spinning UFO surrounding the clearly unreal guy with the football during a game on the 30th! It’s all CGI Evil Evil Propaganda because some dim fan might get confused and expect to see a super SLO-MO replay on the astroturf when sitting in Soldier Field.

  133. 133
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    “What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.”

    – Francis Bacon

  134. 134
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Big thanks to everyone who responded to my question at #97.

  135. 135
    Cassidy says:

    @Chyron HR: Glad to know I’m not the only one who caught that vibe, “It’s only art if I made drawings and charged $450 for it.”

  136. 136
    eemom says:

    Late to the clusterfuck par-tay, and it is all a bit on the tl;dr side.

    Out of curiosity, however: am I to understand that the most dignified FPer on the blog is now devoting entire posts to trolling a single commenter?

  137. 137
    Mister Harvest says:

    @eemom: Well, I think he was more making a very interesting point about scientific visualization, and using as a jumping-off point for that the rantings of a weirdo who thinks that because the map and the territory are not the same thing, the territory must not exist.

  138. 138
    Amir Khalid says:

    @eemom:
    Well, it’s not just any commenter. It’s none other than Ted & Hellen, God’s own gift to art and the understanding of scientific truth.

  139. 139
    scav says:

    @Mister Harvest: pretty good multi-purpose open thread with non-standard information and in-flight entertainment provided. TL’s talented.

  140. 140
    Cassidy says:

    @eemom: It was more of the usual random, but really cool information about science stuff that Tom normally does, but he worked in a nice “fuck you” to the little dancing bear. Then followed some intersting science conversation and a good round of mocking. YMMV, but I had fun.

  141. 141
    Maude says:

    @El Cid:
    They call it raw data and it’s boring to look at.
    They enhance the pictures so you can tell one bit from another.
    They also put images together and then you can see the big picture. They do that with satellite images.
    I just like the pictures.

    Edit, forgot a word.

  142. 142
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Soonergrunt:
    I’m kind of disappointed. The video doesn’t tell us whether any myths about sex were busted by the MRI images, nor if anything of, ahem, interest was discovered.

    But I did like the narrator’s dry humor:
    “… It is of interest to specialists and also, perhaps, to lay persons who have an interest in reproductive anatomy.”

  143. 143
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    These pictures are inventions/best guesses/creative interpretations, tarted up with pretty colors and released to the public without explanation of their origins…

    This picture was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys using visual and infrared filters.

    So the fact that you personally don’t understand science or scientific visualization and are incapable of interpreting the sentence above that is included with all NASA press releases about these types of pictures is PROOF of conspiracy?

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eemom:

    I think Tom devoted the entire post to showing us cool pictures from outer space, with a side benefit of enraging a troll who doesn’t understand science. A twofer, if you will.

  145. 145
    pat says:

    Thank you, Tom, for the fascinating post. I’m impressed that t&h is still going on about it. Some people are simply unteachable.

    BTW, I believe Ted and Hellen are dogs. Maybe that explains it. My cat has a problem imagining a life outside the house.

  146. 146
    Schlemizel says:

    @eemom:

    I am suspecting Tom is actually Douche & Bag – why else would a person of above average intelligence waste all the bits & bytes plus over 31/2 hours of blog time fluffing the ego of a two year old?

    Not a single person was converted, nobody was dissuaded in large part because nobody had been persuaded by Douche & Bag in the first place.

    If you have not figured out how to pie the assclowns or choose not to go to the trouble just skip their comments, don’t read them.

    D & B got EXACTLY what they wanted here, in spades. They are probably masturbating furiously right now over their amazing victory over human decency and civil discourse.

  147. 147
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Cassidy:

    Again…get it right, Assidy: It was a LOT more than $450.

  148. 148
    eemom says:

    hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Some good giggles, at least.

  149. 149
    Chyron HR says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Just for the record, when you join the Tea Party in denouncing science as a bunch of blasphemous lies, you’re doing it “from the left”, correct?

  150. 150
    trollhattan says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Got it, thanks!

  151. 151
    doofus says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: As far as I can tell it’s lies all the way down for TnH. (or maybe turtles)

  152. 152
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mister Harvest:

    a weirdo who thinks that because the map and the territory are not the same thing, the territory must not exist.

    I most certainly, of course, never said the stars/whatever represented in Tom’s original misleading picture do “not exist.”

    But you already know that because you are a liar.

  153. 153
  154. 154
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Chyron HR:

    denouncing science as a bunch of blasphemous lies,

    Can you provide a quote to where I wrote that all “science” is “a bunch of blasphemous lies?”

    Of course you can’t. Because like most Obot Kool Kids, you are a liar. Which explains why the reaction to my stating of the obvious is so over the top.

    Levenson puts up a ten mile long post to explain what I said in a few of NASA’s own words: The colorized, photoshopped, creatively assembled images it puts out to the ignorant public as “photographs” unaccompanied by explanatory text are “as much ART as science.”

  155. 155
    Cassidy says:

    @Chyron HR: You should watch it getting it’s ego bristled…”harumph, it was more than $450, harumph”. It really believes that velvet shit it churns out is worth something. I guess it’s steady work; you can find shit like that in every trailer park in America.

    @Schlemizel:

    They are probably masturbating furiously right now over their amazing victory over human decency and civil discourse.

    I’m guessing it’s over something else entirely.

  156. 156
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    And you, Smemn, are now pretending that the lame disclaimer NASA provides is sufficient explanation to the layperson as to the many layerd, interpretive, and creative process thru which that image came to be? As if there’s an instamatic strapped to a satellite floating around up there

    You are of course one of the most dishonest commenters at BJ, so it is appropriate you would think so.

  157. 157
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Levenson puts up a ten mile long post to explain what I said in a few of NASA’s own words: The colorized, photoshopped, creatively assembled images it puts out to the ignorant public as “photographs” unaccompanied by explanatory text are “as much ART as science.”

    Yes, and?

    I have another mind-blowing revelation for you: when scientists did anatomical drawings, they didn’t actually have someone stand in front of them, strip the skin from their body, and then draw exactly what was in front of them. They took their observations of cadavers and translated them using — wait for it — art.

    Obviously, we can’t believe anything in those drawings because they used art in conjunction with their scientific knowledge to show the figures in the poses they needed rather than the poses they had actually seen the cadavers in. They lied!

  158. 158
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Cassidy:

    Assidy, I LOVE knowing you are eating your heart out that I am making a living doing what I love, painting with melted crayons on velvet, while you toil away at a job you loathe, always under the heel of your master, furtively seeking time to post on BJ when the boss is out of the office. Oh and being so overweight that you complain about it publicly.

    I love that America’s trailer park denizens keep me in Mercedes and furs, and that you’re jealous and stalking me.

    :D Hugs!

  159. 159
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    And you, Smemn, are now pretending that the lame disclaimer NASA provides is sufficient explanation to the layperson as to the many layerd, interpretive, and creative process thru which that image came to be? As if there’s an instamatic strapped to a satellite floating around up there

    The only one who seems to be confused by the concept of scientific art here is you. I’m assuming you have no formal art education at all since you seem not to have been exposed to the work of scientist/artists as well-known as, say, John James Audubon or Leonardo da Vinci.

  160. 160
    Cassidy says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Actually, I’ve got a decent job that pays the bills. And my supervisor is a really nice lady. I don’t seek out time for anything and I’ve never complained about being overweight.

    Now, while you’re busy trying to get under my skin, knowingly trying to say bullshit (in which you are nowhere near good enough to do), please remind us again what kind of person defends raping a child or rape in general? I mean, the only kind of person I can think of is a defense lawyer and you’re not one of those? Help us out here.

    And what else does $450 buy? Public goat fucking? A little meth cruising with the Mercedes? And really…furs? Are you trying to scream “drag queen”?

  161. 161
    Ted & Hellen says:

    I don’t seek out time for anything and I’ve never complained about being overweight.

    You’re lying. You talked about doing both in a thread here, the very one in which you became obsessed with me. That’s how I know you’re overweight, silly. You told us so.

    Again…MUCH, MUCH more than $450. Quit lying about that too.

  162. 162
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m assuming you have no formal art education at all since you seem not to have been exposed to the work of scientist/artists as well-known as, say, John James Audubon or Leonardo da Vinci.

    Well, it is your history to assume lots of counter factual things so that doesn’t surprise me.

    No, none at all, tool. Only four years of college level art history. I didn’t major in it, but took it right alongside my theatre and journalism studies because it fascinated me. Which is probably a big reason why Levenson’s dissembling offends me.

    Your comparison of anatomy art and the process by which NASA comes up with their fantasy “photographs” is hilarious.

  163. 163
    Maude says:

    @Maude:
    You can go to the NASA site and see raw images and also read the explanation of what they did to an enhanced image.

  164. 164
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Your comparison of anatomy art and the process by which NASA comes up with their fantasy “photographs” is hilarious.

    Why? Anatomy art was not showing the exact position in which the artist saw the cadaver. They didn’t pose the cadaver upright to politely hold muscles out of the way. They took what they had learned from observation and sketches and then used that knowledge to draw it from the view that was needed. That’s exactly what the NASA artists are doing — they’re interpreting the observations made by the telescope and turning them into images that humans can understand.

    Again, the only person here who’s stupid enough to think that they attached a film camera to a telescope and took direct photographs is you. Which is especially funny since you claim to be a trained artist and yet apparently have no clue at all how photography or scientific drawing works. Maybe you need to take a refresher course or two to get caught up on all of these newfangled things.

  165. 165
    Joey Giraud says:

    Feh. In music this is called Transposition

    Not a trick at all.

  166. 166
    Ted & Hellen says:

    OK< I'll speak slowly: The anatomy artists actually SEE or SAW with their own eyes in the same space the objects they were reinterpreting onto paper.

    They saw red blood, pink muscle, white bone with their own eyes.

    NASA has seen NONE of what they portray with their pretty "photographs." The Hubble "camera" isn't even a camera in the conventional sense. The artist/scientists ASSIGN colors to different aspects, they have no idea what color if any those aspects may be; NASA says this themselves.

    Then they put out their pretty pieces of art and imply to the general public that these are "photographs," which they are not. I KNOW erryone at BJ is an esteemed scientist and knew all of this already, but the general public hasn't a clue. They think these "photos" represent the actuality of what they claim to represent. It is a lie.

    But as always we are way far away from my original point, which is that NASA is mainly concerned with PR in releasing these paintings to the public as photographs. If they were upfront explicitly about the creative process that goes into it, I would not have nearly as much of a problem with it.

    But yes, you're right, the ACS is EXACTLY like drawing/painting from life.

  167. 167
    Cassidy says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Again you’re wrong. I’m not sure what you’re referring to but go ahead and quite me. I’m 224 with some excess body fat but nothing a month cut wouldn’t fix. I just hate cutting weight. I’m a natural cruiserweight and really have no need to be a LHW.

    Really? This is what you think is going to do it, talking about my weight? I knew you weren’t smart, but damn. You’re going full jackass today.

  168. 168
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Did you know that Thomas Kincaid, the Painter of Light, was one of NASA’s ARTIST/SCIENTISTS?

    He was about to go public, which is why NASA offed him.

    Don’t believe me? Here’s another of Levenson’s oh so scientifically accurate “photographs” from space, shoveled out by NASA’s PR department.

  169. 169
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    The anatomy artists actually SEE or SAW with their own eyes in the same space the objects they were reinterpreting onto paper.

    Look at the image I linked to in #157. Your contention is that the artist who drew that image took a cadaver, put it onto some kind of rig so it stood on its feet, stripped off its skin, and posed its arms, legs, and musculature into the pose you see in the drawing.

    If that’s not what you’re claiming the artist did, then what the artist actually did was take their anatomical knowledge and use it to imagine what the cadaver would look like if it was placed into that pose.

    That’s what the NASA artists are doing. They’re taking the data that comes back and interpreting it within specific, agreed-on parameters.

    If they were upfront explicitly about the creative process that goes into it, I would not have nearly as much of a problem with it.

    Again, they’ve been upfront about it for years. It’s printed on every press release and featured in a whole section on their website. There have been many, many articles in popular science magazines explaining the process. They talk about how it works at observatories when they show the images.

    The only person who thought that these were actual photographs taken directly from a telescope was you. Don’t blame NASA because you were too stupid or incurious to bother to read what the picture said it was portraying.

  170. 170
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Did you know that Thomas Kincaid, the Painter of Light, was one of NASA’s ARTIST/SCIENTISTS?

    Uh, no, he wasn’t. I’m guessing the problem is that you spelled Kinkade’s name wrong when you did your Google search. You really do have trouble with computers, don’t you?

  171. 171
    chopper says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    The Hubble “camera” isn’t even a camera in the conventional sense. The artist/scientists ASSIGN colors to different aspects, they have no idea what color if any those aspects may be; NASA says this themselves.

    you realize that the hubble takes pics in the visible spectrum as well as IR and UV, right?

    so yeah, it does have one of those ‘camera’ thingies. the wide-field camera uses CCDs to image in the visible spectrum just like your stupid digital camera.

    as to IR and UV, if you really need people to explain that humans can’t see that part of the spectrum and any visualization at all needs to be in colors that we actually can display and see, you’re a complete buffoon.

  172. 172
    chopper says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    theatre

    ah, that explains it.

  173. 173
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Thomas Kincaid

    Yeah, he got more than $450 for a picture, too. And, yet, he was a pathetic artist and a fraud. Funny old world, ain’t it?

    He was about to go public, which is why NASA offed him.

    That was Vince Foster. Common mistake.

  174. 174
    scav says:

    oo-ooh, so now unless anything has been seen with actual meatspace eyes, it is up for non-belief as potentially not true, especially if it confuses or upsets the preconceptions of the LCD intellects among us. Nothing measured or detected by other means may be represented in the visual format without collapsing into meaningless propaganda. The rejection deepens. “photographs” — now there’s a college educated line of rhetoric, the scare quote. This is one seriously twisted iconomaniac attention deficit disorder sufferer, but it sure does dance to command. so starved for human interaction it will say and do anything, (the kincaid assassination plot is a tell). The baby monkey clinging to the rug-covered wire surrogate mother and thread-fulls of mockery as the best its life has to offer.

    or, theatre yes, and possibly life as performance art, smearing digital fæces instead of slopping paint.

  175. 175
    mclaren says:

    The naive American public must, it seems, be protected from twin illusions of knowledge and beauty, lest it thus be gulled into funding more such instruments.

    Hah! Well said. You win this thread.

    You really should have linked to the WMAP results. We now have a much clearer picture of the universe when it was only 375,000 years old, and as a result we now have a more detailed idea of how much ordinary matter (4.6%) and dark matter (24%) and dark energy (71%) our universe is made of.

    Current physics theories have no explanations for this, AFAICT.

  176. 176
    Marc says:

    Digital data gets converted into viewable form. Data from wavelengths of light that we can’t see get mapped onto the visual spectrum – e.g. gas that is hotter emits more short wavelength Xrays than gas which is cooler. It’s therefore perfectly reasonable to visualize the hotter gas as blue and the cooler gas as red. What else would you do?

    Th Hubble camera is as real a camera as any digital camera that people use to take pictures. The troll may be too stupid to realize that it can take images at visual wavelengths, but the rest of us know otherwise. Now it can also take images at other wavelengths of light, but a typical Hubble image is in the visual band. Spitzer, Chandra, etc. operate in other wavelength regimes, so they do need “false color” mappings to visualize them. So what?

  177. 177
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Marc: You know what else uses CCD imaging equipment?

    DRONES.

    Sorry, I’m still back on Thomas Kinkade being offed.

  178. 178
    freemark says:

    Tell T&H do have a problem with algebra, after all representing saying a=5 isn’t any different than saying blue=1nm wavelength.

    As far the NASA picture not being what you really see is about as stupid as you can get. No picture, no painting, no representation is real by your definition. No picture, whether film or digital, fully or completely acuurately represents what the human eye sees. No painting, whatever the medium, can accurately represent what the human eye sees. Whether your using a rgb lcd pixel or a melted crayon it can only be a representation of what is seen.

    Do you tell your clients with every piece of ‘art’ the color temperature of the lamp you used? Do you reveal the position of the Sun in the sky? What items were near the object you were copying? What color were they? Did you where glasses/contacts? All of these things change how something ‘looks’.

    As far as NASA ‘hiding’ how they made a photograph I have to assume you can’t read since every photo freom NASA I have ever seen tells if images were artificially colored, what filters were used, and even the technology with which the images were captured.

  179. 179
    chopper says:

    @Marc:

    i just looked at a greyscale relief map of my area made out of ‘government satellite data’.

    hey, the hill by my house isn’t grey! and it certainly isn’t ‘lighter’ in color than my street!

    what the hell is going on here??

  180. 180
    Cassidy says:

    “YOU’RE A LIAR!” “YOU’RE A LIAR!” ARGLE BARGLE!

  181. 181
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    There’s a world of difference between an artist’s representation (such as pictures of exoplanets showing surface features) and a false-color image. The former is guesswork; the latter is not.

    Those structures in that Hubble image are real; the distribution of gas and dust is real; mapping certain wavelengths to different colors makes those structures easier to see. No, it’s not what you’d see through an optical scope, and that’s the bloody point.

    And it’s not like we don’t use film to do the same exact goddamned thing. Old-school X-ray film didn’t reproduce what we saw with our naked eyes. Infra-red film doesn’t reproduce what we see with our naked eyes. Fuck, BLACK AND WHITE film doesn’t reproduce what we see with our naked eyes.

    Your complaint about the Hubble’s camera not being a “real” camera is laughable; anything that can capture and store an image is a “real” camera. The choice of storage medium doesn’t matter.

  182. 182
    Epicurus says:

    I can’t resist, though I have made a vow to “not feed the trolls.” Here’s my interpretation (OK, it’s really the Python troupes’) of this discussion:

    TL: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
    (short pause)

    T&H: No it isn’t.

    Annnnd…scene!

  183. 183
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Mister Harvest:

    =snort=

    Good one.

  184. 184
    chopper says:

    @J R in WV:

    next you’re going to tell me that those pictures of bacteria in my old bio book are lies, because they were stained and thus not accurate depictions of the actual bacteria. hey, those things aren’t actually red!

  185. 185
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Uh, no, he wasn’t. I’m guessing the problem is that you spelled Kinkade’s name wrong when you did your Google search. You really do have trouble with computers, don’t you?

    OH. MY. GOD.

    Finally, incontrovertible evidence that you are a blathering, self serious embecile.

    OF COURSE Thomas Kinkade was not a NASA artist you gullible fool. My entire comment to that effect was…wait for it… a…JOKE.

    Christ, lighten up you dumbass.

  186. 186
    OmerosPeanut says:

    Resident troll, perhaps, but so obviously desperate for attention s/he isn’t even any good at it. Partial marks for managing to give rise to a thread directed at them but with slight penalty for resulting in some excellent NASA photographs being included.

    3/10

  187. 187
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    OF COURSE Thomas Kinkade was not a NASA artist you gullible fool. My entire comment to that effect was…wait for it… a…JOKE.

    Like every other comment you’ve made on this topic?

  188. 188
    Mnemosyne says:

    @freemark:

    Claude Monet’s eyesight and color perception were greatly affected by cataracts as he aged. Therefore, all of the paintings he did before and after cataract surgery are FAKES! because they don’t show the true color of what he was seeing.

  189. 189
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    OF COURSE Thomas Kinkade was not a NASA artist you gullible fool. My entire comment to that effect was…wait for it… a…JOKE.

    It was, however, the most plausible statement you’ve made on this topic.

  190. 190
    El Cid says:

    HOW DO I KNOW WHAT THESE WORDS REALLY LOOK LIKE?

    OMG! THEY’RE JUST DIGITAL SIMULATIONS OUT OF NUMBERS!

    WHAT IF THE REAL LETTERS LOOK COMPLETELY DIFFERENT? HOW DO I KNOW THIS IS EVEN THE REAL LANGUAGE IT’S WRITTEN IN? EEEEK!

  191. 191
    El Cid says:

    You do know that people had to choose the chemical agents and dyes to represent colors for “analog” color photography based upon what appeared to be accurate colors to them, right?

    In any case, I refuse to look at any so-called NASA “photo” until I’m taken to visit the object in question and observe it with my own eyes.

    After I’ve seen a few neutron stars and quasars close up, I’ll feel better about looking at those photos.

    Though apart from the whole ‘getting there’ thing, I’m not sure how best to gaze with the naked eye upon objects which are many, many times the brightness of the sun which itself I cannot gaze upon directly, even through our atmosphere, without acute visual system damage.

    At least I might find out how all that immense amount of radiation given off by those interstellar objects might “feel”.

  192. 192
    El Cid says:

    @chopper: What about paisley? Is paisley real?

  193. 193

    It looks like 2013 is the Year of the Pie according to teh Cleekian calendar.

  194. 194
    Mister Harvest says:

    @El Cid: If you’ve ever shot with Fuji Velvia… well, I’ve never seen colors like that in nature. :)

  195. 195
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Hmmm…mored retardation from Smegma.

    Tell me, did Monet present his paintings to the public as accurate representations of what was interpreted onto canvas?

    Tell me again why NASA allows laypeople to assume their “photographs” are accurate in the lay sense, which they absolutely do, which is what my objection has always been in this thread?

    I can go round and round forever with you, dope. Let’s talk again about how Kinkade worked for NASA.

  196. 196
    Cassidy says:

    Ted & Hellen Says: Who can argue with pie? Not me. Somebody give me Fo Fiddy

    Some things just make the evening.

  197. 197
    eemom says:

    Well, I hope ALL of you are satisfied, because now I’m hopelessly confused.

    Does Saturn really have rings, or NOT?

    I saw them once through a telescope. At least I thought I did.

  198. 198
    Cassidy says:

    @eemom: Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats.

  199. 199
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Tell me again why NASA allows laypeople to assume their “photographs” are accurate in the lay sense, which they absolutely do, which is what my objection has always been in this thread?

    They are accurate representations of how those outer space structures appear, but they are not what the naked human eye would see. This information is cleverly concealed on NASA’s website; inside popular science magazines like National Geographic, Smithsonian, and (wait for it) Popular Science; and in every science museum and observatory in the country.

    This has been explained to you over and over and over again and yet you still don’t get it, which makes me wonder if the “art school” you attended was one you found advertised inside a matchbook since you seem to think that art can only represent what was directly in front of the artist’s physical eye at the time the artwork was made.

  200. 200
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Tell me again why NASA allows laypeople to assume their “photographs” are accurate in the lay sense, which they absolutely do, which is what my objection has always been in this thread?

    Given that they don’t “allow” it in any sense of the term, your statement is meaningless.

    But, if you want to, blame it on Obama. I’m sure you’re itching to.

  201. 201
    Mnemosyne says:

    Shorter Timmy: Washington Crossing the Delaware was painted 75 years after the event it depicts. OMG, it’s a FAKE!

  202. 202
    chopper says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    why does god allow you to continue to breathe oxygen? the world will never know.

  203. 203
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Tell me, did Monet present his paintings to the public as accurate representations of what was interpreted onto canvas?

    Here’s a photo of Monet’s garden at Giverny. You tell me.

  204. 204
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Nasa DOES tell folks that images are converted / retouched / manipulated.

    specifically, see http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/m.....ageID=4937

    The image has been white-balanced to show what the rock would look like if it were on Earth. Figure 2 is a raw-color version, showing what the rock looks like on Mars to the camera.

    Suck on that!

  205. 205
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    Nasa DOES tell folks that images are converted / retouched / manipulated.

    Yes, but NASA didn’t send a scientist to Timmy’s door to personally walk him through how the process works so therefore THEY LIED!

  206. 206
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Mnemosyne: I also noticed T&H’s complaints about them as “photographs”.
    It strikes me that NASA does not call the photographs – but if one thinks of them as photos, one would be mislead.

    I could brook criticism of NASA that they do a shitty job of making the distinction between scientific imagery and PR imagery. But damn, if you go to the Curiosity web, raw images, you can see a ton of cool pics. I mean images.
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/

  207. 207
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: Umm, that particular painting actually is kind of a fake.
    They didn’t use boats like that. They didn’t stand in them. It was dark so there was nothing to actually see (which was kind of the point of a night crossing.) The colors (flag) are not correct for the time of the event.
    But as to the meaning of the picture and what it represents, i.e. a real event that really happened, yeah, it serves.

  208. 208
    eemom says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Now you’ve done it. We are NEVER getting out of this thread.

  209. 209
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    That’s kind of the point. It’s not something that the artist saw with his own eyes, which is why there are so many mistakes. But the fact that the painting was created 75 years after the event it depicts doesn’t mean that Washington never crossed the Delaware.

  210. 210
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    I could brook criticism of NASA that they do a shitty job of making the distinction between scientific imagery and PR imagery.

    Aaaaand there’s my original point, restated pretty close to what I originally wrote. In the meanwhile, we’ve had slobbering Kool Kid Obots attributing all kinds of statements to me that I never asserted and then arguing against them, which is the only way they know how to argue; be it politics or fake astronomy “photographs.”

    For them it’s all about swarming on T&H, the hated six year troll who will never go away. I’m ok with that. :D

    Must say my favorites are the ones who post and repost and obsess and respond and argue, and then shit themselves because people oh my god are giving me attention. :D

  211. 211
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Which of course has nothing to do with my original point.

    I never said the astronomical features NASA portrays don’t exist, you dishonest twit.

    I see you do this with other Nonbot commenters: Over and over making up statements, attributing them to the other party, then arguing about it.

    Fuck yourself.

  212. 212
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    You are correct — NASA always calls them “images,” not photographs:

    Hubble images are made, not born. Images must be woven together from the incoming data from the cameras, cleaned up and given colors that bring out features that eyes would otherwise miss.

    NASA only refers to actual photographs as “photographs.”

  213. 213
    ruemara says:

    I must admit, this thread is hilarious. As an artist, to see another artist take offense at the lack of reality in photos-reeks of performance art. Everything depicted is as it is, everything being perceived is as it is not. I expect this kind of pedantic criticism of imagery from those who can’t do, not those who can. Yet again, another splendid reproduction of Karen Finley. Nearly Beuysian in it’s simplicity, yet quite loud and repetitive. Although at some point, I predict Mssr Ted will come in with an Obama mask, coated in axel grease with a chiffon headdress. Then it will be pedestrian, yet again.

  214. 214
    sharl says:

    Just as an irritant lodged in an oyster’s mantle can result in a beautiful pearl, so has an irritating troll inspired this excellent post. A rare thing, that is.

    Thanks for this pearl of a post, Prof. Levenson.

  215. 215
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    I expect this kind of pedantic criticism of imagery from those who can’t do, not those who can.

    Have you seen his paintings?

    I rest my case.

  216. 216
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Mnemosyne: Forget it, Mnemosyne. It’s Chinatown La Canada-Flintridge.

  217. 217
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I did and I respect and admire being able to make a buck from one’s art, as I am simply a design whore for hire and no long do art except for myself.

  218. 218
    sharl says:

    @ruemara: Hahahaha, thanks for that Karen Finley link. I noticed an absence of asshole dudes in the comments there, which is quite unusual for YouTube comments. I’m guessing she scared them off.

  219. 219
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mister Harvest:

    I know a very small number of us will get that, but that made me laugh out loud.

  220. 220
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Yes, yes, Timmy, you only pretended to not understand the difference, just like you only pretend to think that Osama bin Laden is still alive. Good one.

  221. 221
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    I’m not making a living from my writing, but that doesn’t mean I have to admire James Frey for writing a best-seller.

  222. 222
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    My god, you are stupid.

  223. 223
    Mister Harvest says:

    @Mnemosyne: I used to work in the Image Processing Laboratory there. These are my people!

  224. 224
    Starlit says:

    @chopper: I used to have a button that said, “We have charts and graphs so STFU.” I wore it to marketing research conferences when I presented. Interestingly enough, all the top-billed presenters found it funny, and all my peers in the second tier were outraged. Apparently truth outs AND hurts, especially when truth is doing that identity property thing with beauty in front of people who hate them both.

  225. 225
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Dude & dudette, when you start ragging on ‘obot kool kids’ you can’t expect polite rebuttals.

    If you actually said it like I did, they wouldn’t jump on your sorry ass. But no, you have to go all martyr and such.

    Screw you, and you didn’t even note my counterexample where they make quite explicit they are modifying stuff.

    You first quote in this thread:

    Look! More fake pictures!

    You got nuthin’.

  226. 226
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    Dumbass. All this and you still can’t admit the truth. They ARE fake pictures.

  227. 227
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    Thanks for that Tom, my other half and I really enjoyed that. Bookmarked for future reference.
    Oh and I love the pretty pictures :))

  228. 228
    Soonergrunt says:

    @eemom: I’m here to serve.
    @Mnemosyne: precisely.

  229. 229
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Ted & Hellen: They are not pictures.
    They are images. They are not fake – they are based on real data.

    No comment about the Mars page from NASA that explicitly says they are manipulating the image’s white balance?

  230. 230
    El Cid says:

    I remain puzzled as to how I will observe distant objects in the universe with the “naked eye”.

    You know, great distances, vacuum, intense radiation and all.

    I guess I just don’t foresee a day when I will be able to be “sure” that I’m really seeing Eta Carinae the “true” way, with no glass or artificial atmosphere distorting its pure radiation.

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