Algorithmic, aka HAL, was born January 12, 1992 in Urbana, Illinois.
SPACE QUESTIONS THAT STARCHILD
Why do the Earth and other planets orbit around the Sun?
The motion of something in orbit
(like a planet around a star) is a combination of the effect of inertia and of gravity. 'Inertia' means that something moving
will continue going in a straight line at a constant velocity unless it is stopped (this is Newton's first law). If there
were no gravity, for example, something moving past the Sun would just keep going in the same direction. The force of gravity
from the Sun pulls the planet towards the Sun.
However, the material which formed the planets was originally moving
too and the inertia from the original motion does not go away; instead you get a sum of the two. That makes for a diagonal
motion at any one instant. However, the direction the force of gravity and therefore the planet's direction of motion changes
as the planets changes its position relative to the Sun. The result is an orbit around the Sun.
Does the Sun itself
spin? If so, how fast?
The rotation period of the Sun varies from about 25 days at the equator to over 30 days
at the poles, so it takes roughly two weeks for a feature to cross the solar disk.
How would we know if a distant
planet had an Earth-like atmosphere?
If a planet’s surface is similar to Earth, dominated by plants using
photosynthesis, atmospheric carbon dioxide will be steadily converted into oxygen. These oxygen atoms will produce an ozone
layer that emits particular, unique spectral lines in the light spectrum of that planet. We should be able to see the 'ozone
line' in the spectra of planets orbiting nearby stars. We can also detect carbon dioxide absorption features and even methane
Together, these lines will tell us the principal atmospheric constituents, and whether the planet
is Earth-like or not. If you detect ozone, there must be an Earth-like surface and atmosphere because free oxygen cannot exist
in an atmosphere without constant replenishment. The only chemical process we know to replenish oxygen on a planetary scale
Why can't we get pictures of planets outside the Solar System?
They are too far
away, too small, and not bright enough. Also, most of them are so close to their stars that the glare from the nearby star
overwhelms the image and hides the much fainter planet. A planet like Jupiter at the same distance from its star is about
one million times fainter, optically, than the star. This kind of contrast is very hard to detect so close to the main star.
What are the risks of nuclear power sources for space probes?
There has been extensive discussion on
this topic sparked by attempts to block the Galileo and Ulysses launches on grounds of the plutonium thermal sources being
dangerous. Numerous studies claim that even in worst-case scenarios (explosion during launch, or accidental re-entry at interplanetary
velocities), the risks are extremely small.
There's a vacuum in space, so how do we know if the Sun makes a noise?
The Sun is full of all sorts of sound waves travelling through the interior. Some of them resonate because they
are particular frequencies. However, you cannot hear the Sun using a microphone. Instead, we see the sound waves because of
the effect they have on the Sun.
These sound waves are reflected at the surface, although it is not solid. However,
there is an abrupt change in density, which allows the reflection to happen. As they reflect at the surface, the sound waves
cause a change in brightness and push up some material too. With the kind of instruments as carried on board SOHO, we can
measure the changes in brightness and the velocity changes at the surface. From those measurements, we can work out the sound
of the Sun.
How big are the largest sunspot groups?
In 1947, experts measured a sunspot group that
was 18 times the surface area of Earth (or 6132 millionths of the solar disc). Sunspot groups are numbered sequentially as
they are identified. If a group rotates around the far side of the Sun and then back into view, it is given a new number when
it is spotted again at the east limb of the Sun.
Do sunspots affect the climate here on Earth?
are slightly cooler areas on the surface of the Sun, due to the intense magnetic fields. There is a little bit more radiation
coming from the Sun when it has more sunspots, but the effect is so small that it has very little (direct) impact on the weather
and climate on Earth.
However, there are many important indirect effects. Sunspots are associated with so-called
'active regions', which are large magnetic structures containing very hot material. They cause more ultraviolet radiation
(the rays that give you a suntan or sunburn) and extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV). These types of radiation affect the
chemistry of the upper atmosphere (for example, producing ozone). Many active regions produce giant outflows of material,
called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These drag with them some of the more intense magnetic fields found in the active regions.
The magnetic fields act as a shield for high-energy particles coming from outside the Solar System. These 'cosmic rays' cause
ionisation of molecules in the atmosphere. The ionised molecules or dust particles can act as 'seeds' for drop formation,
thereby causing clouds to form. If clouds are formed very high in the atmosphere, the net result is a heating of Earth - it
acts as a 'blanket' that keeps warmth in. If clouds are formed lower down in the atmosphere, they reflect sunlight better
than they keep heat inside, so the net result is cooling.
What is a comet tail made of?
If you condensed
the entire 160-thousand-kilometre-long tail of a comet such as Hale-Bopp to the density of water, it would not even fill a
swimming pool! Comet tails are made up gas and dust. These evaporate off the comet itself, which is made of ice and rock.
The ice is both regular water-ice and other kinds, like carbon dioxide ice (also known as 'dry ice'). Comets often have two
tails: a 'plasma tail', which is made up of charged ions, and a 'dust tail', which is made up of dust. The lighter ions are
'blown' directly away from the Sun by the solar wind. The heavier dust particles form a tail that points at an angle closer
to the path of the comet's motion.
Do you have to wear safety goggles to observe the Sun?
look at the Sun with your naked eyes, not even for a quick glance. Obey this rule and your retinas will thank you. Astronomers
using telescopes on the ground observe with special filters that block out much of the Sun's light. There are kinds of 'safety
glasses' you can use to look at the Sun briefly. However, unless you are very sure you have the right kind, it is better to
project a light from the Sun on a wall or piece of paper and look at that.
Do rocket launches harm the ozone layer?
From time to time, people claim that chemicals released from some rockets, in particular NASA's Space Shuttle's Solid
Rocket Boosters (SRBs), are responsible for a significant amount of damage to the ozone layer. Studies indicate that they
have only a minute impact (less than seven-thousandths of one percent), both in absolute terms and relative to other chemical
sources. It is much less than total ozone variability associated with volcanic activity and solar flares.
is ‘space weather’?
‘Space weather’ is a concept that is growing in importance as mankind
pushes outwards from limits within which we live. The Sun is the source of the solar wind; a flow of gases from the Sun that
streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 kilometres per second. Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth's magnetic
field and pump energy into the radiation belts. Regions on the surface of the Sun often flare and give off ultraviolet light
and X-rays that heat up the Earth's upper atmosphere.
This is ‘space weather’ and it can change the
orbits of satellites and shorten mission lifetimes. The excess radiation can physically damage satellites and pose a threat
Shaking Earth's magnetic field can also cause current surges in power lines that destroy equipment
and knock out power over large areas. As we become more dependent upon satellites in space, we will increasingly feel the
effects of space weather and need to predict it.
Is there really a face on Mars?
There is a big formation
on Mars that looks remarkably like a humanoid face in some images. It appears in two different frames of Viking Orbiter imagery.
The feature, about 2.5 kilometres across, is located near the border between region Arabia Terra and region Acidalia Planitia.
Although most analyst agreed that the resemblance is most likely coincidental and caused by lighting effects,
science writer Richard Hoagland has championed the idea that the ‘face’ is artificial, intended to resemble a
human, and erected by an extraterrestrial civilisation.
In April 1998 NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft ended
all speculation by photographing the site of the allured 'face' in high resolution. The photos revealed it to be a natural
If you find a trace of life (present or past) on Mars or Titan, how can you be sure you didn’t
carry it with you from Earth?
The international scientific organisation COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) has
established strict requirements for an adequate ‘planetary protection’. Accordingly, Beagle 2 for example was
sterilised so that it contained less than 300 microorganisms per square metre at launch, and no more than 300 000 inside the
whole launcher. By comparison, the cleanest kitchen on Earth has several thousands of millions of microorganisms on it. With
such level of sterilisation, it has been demonstrated that instruments will not detect anything coming from Earth.
Do you think it will be feasible to send people to Mars in the short-term?
Perhaps in 20-25 years time. There
is still a lot for us to learn before we send a person there.
NEVER STOP QUESTIONING REALITY ;O)
SEND ME YOUR POEMS firstname.lastname@example.org
THE POE ZONE
Poems Emailed To StarChild
WALKING ALONG STILLED WATERS
THE LORD TODAY, I'M QUIT NERVOUS AND AFRAID! YOU ALONE ABOVE ALL KNOW THE PAIN AND SUFFERING I'VE ENDURED THRU LIFE AND WHAT
HAVE I GAINED? SMILING TENDERLY, HE REACHED FOR MY HAND, AND WE WALKED ALONG STILL WATERS IN THE SAND. HE WAS RATHER QUIET
FOR AWHILE, LETTING THE POWER OF PEACE AND GRACE ENTER THROUGH OUR WALK, WE ONLY STROLLED A BIT BEFORE WE TALKED. MY CHILD,
HE ANSWERED SO SWEETLY TO ME, YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU, AND YOUR PAIN IS A REFLECTION OF ME ! I TOO HAVE WALKED THAT WALK. YOU
NEED TO LEARN HUMILITY AND GRACE, YOU NEED TO LEARN COMPASSION FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE. IT'S REALLY A SIMPLE LESSON TO LEARN,
BUT PEOPLE MAY TURN IT AROUND AND MAKE MY WORDS ALL BLURRED. THEY TAKE MY MEANING OF LOVE, AND MAKE IT SOUND SO CONFUSING
AND NOT OBTAINABLE AND SO FAR ABOVE. I'M RIGHT HERE, MY CHILD, WITHIN YOU, AROUND YOU, AND EVERYWHERE TO BE FOUND. MY PATIENCE
IS BOUNDLESS AND I STROLL WITH YOU HERE, TO LET YOU KNOW MY SWEET CHILD NEVER EVER FEAR. YOU MAY HAVE PAIN AND STRUGGLES I
KNOW. BUT ALWAYS REMEMBER IT'S A GIFT YOU BESTOW. YOU DON'T SEE IT NOW, BUT ONE DAY YOU WILL. I'VE GIVEN YOU THE GIFT OF HUMILITY
AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF ME. SO WALK IN THESE WATERS AWHILE, AND REST YOUR SOUL, KNOWING ALL THE PAIN IS WORTHWHILE AND FOREVER
I WILL GUIDE YOU WITH MY LOVING SMILE. PASSION by Charisse I'VE GOT A PASSION FOR LIFE, AND A SPECIAL ONE AT THAT. IT'S THE
BEAUTY OF THE HORSE AND THE RIDE, THE SPEED, THE FREEDOM AND THE LOVE OF IT, IT'S WHERE IT'S AT. I'M REMEMBERING MY SPECIAL
ONE KING, HE WASL CALLED. HE WAS WILD AND TEMPERED BUT HE LET ME BE FREE, ON THE BACK OF HIS BEAUTY OF FREEDOM AND SPEED,
GIVING HIS ALL... WE WALKED FOR AWHILE ALONG THE TRAIL, HEADING TO THE BEACH TO GET READY FOR THE SAIL. I CARESSED HIM AND
PETTED HIM ANDLET HIM KNOW.... HE WAS TRUELY A KING OF THE HORSES, HIS REIGN SO HIGH AND THEY WERE SO FAR BELOW. I WAS PROUD
TO RIDE THIS FINE FURRY, AND I LET HIM KNOW, I LOVED HIM AND WAS GRATEFUL, HE LET ME TAKE CONTROL. WE REACHED THE BEACH AND
COULD SEE THE WONDER OF THE SEA. KING LOVED THIS AREA, HE KNEW HE COULD BE FREE. WE STROLLED FOR A BIT, TO ENJOY THE AIR,
GETTING READY FOR THE RACE OF THE LIFE WE NOW SHARED. WE STARTED TO RUN, AND THE SPEED PICKED UP, KING OF KINGS YOU LOVE THE
FREEDOM THAT IT BECOMES. WE RUN ALONG THE HARD SAND, JUST YOU AND ME, THE EXHILERATION IS OUR COMMAND. YOU ARE WILD AND FREE,
AND I'M A BIT LIKE YOU. I UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO RUN AND BE AT RISK WITH THE THUNDER OF THE CHASE. THE RUNNING IS A LOVE WE
SHARE KING, JUST AS IN LIFE OF ALL THINGS TO EMBRACE. THE RIDE OF SPEED IS SO SMOOTH. THE AIR RUNNING THREW, AND THE POWER
OF YOU! IT'S A GIFT FROM NATURE AND GOD'S HAND IS NOW IN FULL VIEW. I FEEL THE HEAT, AND HEAR YOU ROAR, YOUR GETTING TIRED
KING, AND WE SLOW DOWN FROM YOUR POWERFUL SOAR. WE STROLL AGAIN ALONG THE SURF, WE'VE HAD OUR RUN TODAY. BUT KING LET ME TELL
YOU, YOUR THE BEST OF THE BEST IN MY HEART ALWAYS......................
MY ANGEL CHRIS
day you came into my life will be cherished always. An angel sent from heaven above for my lonely heart to hold. My heart
is no longer lonely, but instead filled with the wonder of a love like I’ve never known. When you first held me, it
was magical! A touch no other but my soulmate could provide. Truly the passion needed no words. Your kiss on my lips is something
I long for each day. With a single kiss the intensity of your love so incredibly clear! Your eyes melt me with emotion so
intense it is beyond belief. A caring and unconditional love that shines from them that makes me shiver with excitement for
our life to come. Each day your smile fills my heart with a joy like no other. Oh but to have you in my life is truly a blessing!
On the day we wed... I promise to you yet again my unconditional love and devotion. For I will cherish each day that God gives
me with you, our own little piece of heaven on earth. I will love you always. POEM by How can i tell you of my love, Strong
as an eagle, Soft as a dove, Tall as a pine tree in the Georgia sun, That whispers to the wind, YOU are the one.!!!!!!!
MY GIFT TO YOU, MY LOVE
If I could fly through time and
space I'd be there with you in that place Of lovers sharing in the night, their magic secrets, and delights, the light i see
in your loving smile to love you more than just a while... The first time when we kiss for real will show how much I really
feel My dearest love, then you shall see, in sweetest perfect ecstacy, this kiss that i shall send today brings love that
never fades away...
To jump Or not to jump To feel Or not to feel To be born To laugh To love To cry To feel a warm summer breeze,
To let it's breath refresh your soul. To gaze lovingly at, a sun-drenched patch of wildflowers And let the sight of the sun-drenched
field; infuse your soul with the very essence of life! The fence, A mere figmant of the imagination To jump the fence means
To let life in. The stakes are high, oh so high, But the rewards are greater still, To be free and alive Or to be closed and
let life pass you by To jump the fence means, To experience life, To let life in, To open up to a whole new world! A world
full of endless possibilities, A world full of opportunities, A world without bars, A world where anything is possible! To
jump Or not to jump To feel Or not to feel To be born To laugh To love To cry To experience life, The simple things Are the
things that mean the most A sun-drenched field, a beautiful thing! Is it worth the effort? To jump This fence, A fence called;
humaness. On one side, A robot; On the other side, An exciting thing called; life!
THE WIZZARD'S SPELL
Wizzard enters in the night promising of new delights flying in from miles away
to bring some pleasures to the day he shall cast his magic spell in the way i've come to know so well Magic starts to light
the fire to warm the depth of my desire the feeling seems to transcend space as his lips whisper against my face and fingers
burn with gentle flame those secret places i dare not name Smooth naked skin so close to mine a kiss more powerful than wine
our bodies move as hands caress the naked skin beneath my dress I give to him more than a touch and do those things he wants
so much Although it's dark and I can't see it transports me to ecstacy this magic love that feels so right beside me in my
MY PRECIOUS SON
CAN A MOTHER SAY, UNTO A CHILD THAT HAS PASSED. THERE ARE NO WORDS TO QUITE EXPLAIN, THE DEBTH OF THE EVERLAST. DEAR CHILD
OF MINE, PLEASE HEAR ME, PLEASE LISTEN WHILE I SHARE- THE LENGTHS THAT I HAVE GONE THROUGH, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU THERE. HOW
CAN A MOTHER TRUELY SAY, HOW SHE FEELS INSIDE. NOT ONLY FOR HER CHILD, BUT HER CHILD THAT HAS DIED. THE PAIN IS UNRELENTING,
THE VOID ID WIDE AND DEEP. THE NEVER ANSWERED QUESTIONS, REFUSE TO LET ME SLEEP. THE YEARS PASS BY, BUT STILL I HAVE, THE
PART THAT I ONCE HAD. THE COLDNESS HAS A GRIP ON ME, IT'S CALLUS AND UNCLAD. I'D DO THE WHOLE THING OVER. I'D DIE AGAIN, FOR
YOU. IF ONLY YOU'D COME BACK TO ME SO I COULD MOTHER YOU. MY "LIFE," SINCE YOU WERE STOLE FROM ME, LEFT NOTHING
BUT DISGRACE. MY WORLD LOST ALL IT'S MEANING, WHEN YOU WENT TO "YOUR NEW PLACE". SO ON THIS "ANNIVERSARY"
I HOLD YOU IN MY HEART, I VISUALIZE YOUR PRECIOUS FACE AND I JUST FALL APART. I RELIVE EVERY MOMENT LOOK IN MY MINDS EYE,
AND THERE IT IS, THE SILLOUETTE, OF YOU, MY LITTLE GUY. I LOVE YOU JOSHUA-LOVE MOM-SEPTEMBER 9, 2004
Send Your Poems To: MellowStarGuys@aol.com
All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together
again. But they COULD place sites within their text LIKE THIS!
IS REAL, REAL IS LOVE, LOVE IS LOVING TO BE LOVED"