In the Know #12

15 01 2008

January 16, 2008’s Word of the Day

nonagenarian \non-uh-juh-NAIR-ee-uhn; no-nuh-\, noun:
A ninety year old person; someone whose age is in the nineties.

In the news yesterday:

– NASA’s Messenger probe (pictured) flies by Mercury, the first spacecraft to do so in thirty-three years.

– The murderer and rapist of Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean, is believed by authorities to have fled to Mexico.

– 2008 Presidential primary in Michigan results: GOP, Mitt Romney; Dem, Hillary Clinton (Note: neither John Edwards nor Barack Obama took place in the Michigan primary due to the violation of party rules in moving the Michigan primary to January 15)

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

27 B.C. – The title Augustus is bestowed upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian by the Roman State.

1547 – Ivan the Terrible becomes Tsar of Russia.

1556 – Phillip II becomes King of Spain.

1991 – The first sorties of Operation Desert Storm begin.

2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia (pictured) takes off for the last time. It would disintegrate upon reentry on February 1.

Today’s Famous Births:

1821 – John C. Breckinridge, 14th Vice President of the United States, Civil War Confederate General

1901 – Frank Zamboni, American inventor, you guessed it…the Zamboni ice resurfacer

1902 – Eric Liddell (pictured), Scottish runner and missionary to China, ever heard of Chariots of Fire…yeah, that’s him

1935 – A.J. Foyt, American race car driver and team owner

1948 – John Carpenter, American director, Halloween

1959 – Sade Adu, Nigerian-born singer

1969 – Roy Jones, Jr., American boxer, former Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight champion of the world.

1974 – Kate Moss, English model

1979 – Aaliyah Haughton, American R&B singer, Are You That Somebody?

1980 – Albert Pujols, American baseball player, six-time All Star

Today’s Category – Alaska!

~ In 1867, William H Seward – U.S. Secretary of State – engineered the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million.

~ Alaska (flag pictured) became an American territory on May 11, 1912.

~ On January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state.

~ In 2006, Alaska had an estimated population of 670,053, making it the state with the third lowest population (#1-Wyoming and #2-New Hampshire).

~ Alaska has no state sales tax (some local governments do levy sales taxes) nor does it have a personal income tax.

I always wondered…
…how black holes work…sort of…

A black hole (artist’s impression pictured) is what remains when a massive star dies. A star is a giant fusion reactor and because of this is always on the verge of exploding and it would explode were it not for its massive size which gives it an extraordinary gravitational field. However, when a stars fusion fuel runs out, it collapses and becomes very dense causing an explosion (supernova) of material and radiation leaving the supermassive core. The core is so massive that even light cannot escape it.

The core of the black hole is called the singularity and the edge of the hole from which nothing can escape is called the event horizon. A rotating black hole, the most common in nature, has a surround called the ergosphere. The ergosphere is basically space distorted by the spin of the black hole. Not all matter that enters the ergosphere will enter the black hole, but the event horizon is still the point of no return.

One simple way that we detect black holes is by noticing gravitational lenses. Gravitational lenses are points in space that by our observance bend light toward them by intense gravitational forces. Other ways of observing black holes is by detecting strong x-rays or by noting jets of ejected materials from a point in space which seem to be caused by black holes.

[“How black holes work” reference:]
[All references from unless otherwise noted]




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