Bob Berman’s Strange Universe

Bob Berman,Skyman Bob, astronomer and author.

Photo credit: Phil Kamrass, c. Albany Times-Union


Welcome to Bob Berman’s website. Here you’ll find comments and posts by Bob’s readers, an ability to quickly contact him, a few astro-photos, and a few of his articles. He does respond to all reader mail. This website only gets his occasional attention, but it is updated, albeit at a glacial pace. Keep checking back.

Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, The Old Farmers Almanac

Bob Berman is one of the best-known and most widely-read astronomers in the world. He is perhaps uniquely able to translate complex scientific concepts into language that is understandable to the casual observer yet meaningful to the most advanced. His dry, edgy wit engages readers of such diverse publications as Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, and The Old Farmers Almanac. He is the author of eight books, and is the astronomer for SLOOH, the community observatory. His newest book is Zoom, How Everything Moves.

28 Comments

  1. Tina Samra
    | Permalink

    I know for a fact that our crooked goverment flys pla tnes pretty close to the ground spraying a powder substance onto the ground in hopes of giving people cancer ‘!!

  2. Hello,

    I am reading “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe”. On page 16 I found the following quote:

    “Indeed, a bit of thought will make it obvious that without perception, there can be no reality.”

    Berman, Bob; Lanza, Robert (2010-02-02). Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe (p. 16). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

    I became fascinated with this thought back in 2003. I wrote a pc program that illustrated one possible answer to that question, or at least, posed the question more vividly. You can find a screen-shot summary of that program here:

    http://dctreybil.com/palettes.html

    If you’re brave, you can download the program itself using the link provided on that page. Windows 8 gave me a warning of some kind when I tried to do a test download, but I clicked the “proceed anyway” option and it worked fine. The files were clean when I uploaded them, but by all means, scan them before running if you download them.

    I’m enjoying the book and I hope you enjoy the program.

    Dennis

  3. Dave Bernahl
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    Bob, Thanks for letting me use you in my novel “China Monster” with appropriate credit. Two things: You made a statement in one of your articles about what we actually know as hard and proved fact and what is theory and guess work; can you give me that or a similar quote, it was something like: “what we really know and can prove, and what is theory and guess: is like a match book compared to the Vatican library.. could I use that and credit you, or something similar.
    Two: What particles that bombard us by the trillions daily have a “electrical charge” there are so many “particles” with more being found or discovered, this is a key point in my book as they are responsible for “charging” a small device. Thanks and I love your articles. Thanks and best regards, Dave

  4. steve thelen
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    I was reading the From Our Inbox in the January 2015 issue of Astronomy and was surprised to see that moving inside the boundary of a black hole’s Event Horizon was not necessarily a one-way trip. I have always read that once you go beyond the horizon it is pretty much bye-bye forever (unless you call coming out as Hawking radiation coming out!)

    In the February 2015 issue of Scientific American there is an article by Adam Brown, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University titled Can We Mine A Black Hole? I quote the article: “Black Holes, after all, are shrouded by an “event horizon,” a sphere of no return where the gravitation field becomes infinite. Anything that strays inside the sphere is doomed.” Again: “What goes into a black hole never comes out: not asteroids, NOT ROCKETS, not even light.”

    So, what gives Bob, do you have a rocket with more than infinite thrust?

  5. Dwight Klippenstine
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    I have idea that I would like your opinion on. We are well aware that time is relative to our situation. Faster things experience time at a geriatric rate (i.e. supper at 4:00 pm) compared to slower things. But what about smaller things compared to big things. Bacteria clearly ravage this world faster than blue whales. But does a bacterium appear faster because it works at a pumped up “time” scale. Here is my Einstein thought experiment: An enzyme coverts its substrate into product 1000 times per second when measured by a grade 10 chemistry student, but if I was as small as an enzyme would I still see it flex and mould chemicals this fast or would a more leisurely pace be observed. Alternatively, if my fascination with McDonald’s caused me to balloon to 100 times the size of the solar system, and the earth’s orbit approximated my ketchup and BBQ sauce stained plate, would it take a year for the earth as a crumb sized ball to revolve around the pickle sized sun. My suspicion is that it would whiz around like a car on a remote controlled racetrack in a matter of seconds. In other words, when viewed from my larger unhealthy scale, time would speed up. What do you think? I have not seen such conditions explored in my research so far and would like to see what you and others think. Please advise. Always available at klippend@hotmail.com.

  6. Mike Cane
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    Thanks Bob for the Strange Universe column.
    I recently finished reading Eureka by Edgar Allan Poe.
    An amazing take on cosmology for a poet in 1848 !

  7. Feilongshi
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    I read your article “Adventures in terra incognito” with a lot of interest. Have I got the time to memorize the stars you suggested? Nope, I spend most of my time studying the intricacies of the Chinese board game of Go. Doing so help tremendously in restoring the 10% of brain cells that I’ve lost due to throat cancer. As far as reading “Zoom,” how about tackling Cixin Liu’s “The Three Body Problem?”

  8. Eric
    | Permalink

    Hi Bob,

    Felt like reaching out. I’ve been reading astronomy for 15 years. Your column is always a favorite, i enjoy it very much and wanted to thank you for that. Anyhow, last weekend was the first time i looked at the sky through a telescope. This was at the mount megantic astrolab in quebec, 15 miles north of Vermont, actually. It was a wonderfull night for stargazing to say the least! Very little humidity, no clouds and -30 degrees. Nobody cared about the cold. Spectacular is not strong enough to describe the experience. I was starstruck. Pun intended! Or is it dumbstruck and idiotstruck? Who knows…anyhow. I saw jupiter and the big 4. Incredible, all 4 dots of light with jupiter. A privilege to see. And then the orion nebula appearing as fuzzy bluish. And then the moon. I guess one word describes it all. WOW. Many times over. Allready looking forward to going back.

    anyhow thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
    Eric fillion, montreal, quebec, canada.

  9. Chi R.Wang
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    I read quite carefully the book, ZOOM. It was a difficult task to read the last few chapters. Here, I like to have someone to clear my understanding of the book’s description of the motion of our Moon on pages on pages 240 and 241 of the book.

    The lower center of page 240 stated that the moon requires four weeks to make a single rotation and famously orbits around us in precisely that same amount of time, 27,32166 days. Yet page 241 described our situation of always seeing one familiar side of the moon with a hidden hemisphere perennially pointing away.

    I sincerely hope that some one will take time out to clear my understanding of the above statement in the book.

  10. Robert oneill
    | Permalink

    Which will probably take many years to do this but that be only way to send astronauts down and up safely while they build a permanent base on Mars and expand other structures that would be shielded from the radiation what do you think

  11. Pete Kirchner
    | Permalink

    Why are there 88 keys on a piano and also 88 constellations ?

  12. Chad Oakes
    | Permalink

    New fan of Slooh – Just wanted to express how I enjoy listening to you. I think you are doing a really good job.
    Thank you,
    Chad

  13. Christopher Clifford
    | Permalink

    Just read your story in the April 2015 issue of Astronomy. Thanks! It brought to mind my own best dark sky experience over 25 years ago. In the foothills near Lewistown, Montana while awaiting a security system reset at an ICBM site, I knew I’d see something special but I was unprepared for just how spectacular the skies would be. Getting out of our maintenance truck into the bitterly cold, clear air, Ursa Major was discernible, but just so, the stars nearby almost beyond measure. Standing with me, a member of our security escort listened as I identified other constellations shining brightly above. Living in Ohio now, I’ve been west since and to places with some of the best viewing remaining in the US, but nothing has made a greater impression than that long ago January night!

  14. Thanks, Chad. I really appreciate that. – B

  15. I have no idea, Pete. I had no hand in designing either. (-:

  16. Good luck to anyone going there. They’d be braver than I am.

  17. If the moon did NOT spin, then as it orbited around us we’d see one hemisphere, and then the opposite one two weeks later. Only by rotating in the same time in which it revolves, can it keep one side permanently hidden.

  18. Thanks Eric. I really do appreciate your kind words. Sorry it took a couple of weeks to respond. I really sort of neglect with website a bit.
    – Bob

  19. Funny! No, Zoom is a lot easier, I promise. – Bob

  20. I agree. He was the first to suggest a Big Bang. pretty amazing, and not well known.
    – Bob

  21. Wouldn’t be much of a planet. All the asteroids put together aren’t even the mass of our little moon. – B

  22. Your Mcdonald’s model of the solar system is totally original. I like it a lot. But for mass to alter gravity, there has to be a HUGE difference. Otherwise, no effect at all. Whales versus germs, none. Even the sun’s effect is small enough that Einstein himself calculated it wrong at first.
    – Bob

  23. Doesn’t need infinite thrust. Event horizon only applies to objects following geodesics (natural paths dictated by gravity). A rocket would use a non-gravitational propulsion system, and therefore need not remain on any geodesic. Moreover, every in-path also has an outpath on the same geodesic. Only freely falling objects (including photons of light) must head inward within an event horizon. – Bob

  24. Thanks, Dave. Sorry for the slow reply. I’m getting to my website after a several-month delay. Well, my guess is that the known to the unknown has a ratio more like one snowflake in a blizzard. Second question: particles that constantly penetrate us but have no charge include neutrinos. Particles that penetrate us but do have charge include cosmic rays (90% protons, with a positive charge), muons (negative charge) and some isotopes of radon, if you have that in your basement. – Bob

  25. Thanks, Dennis. I’ll try to take a look at that. Brand new, totally changed Biocentrism version will come out in 2016.
    – Bob

  26. Tina, are you serious? Why would our government want to give people cancer? And who would participate in such a thing? I know lots of military guys, and lots of pilots (I’m one, myself) and I don’t know of anyone who would want to hurt strangers like that. So what makes you think that? I agree the government does some strange stuff, but most people in office are just looking out for themselves. The last thing they’d want is to be brought up on murder charges.
    – Bob

  27. No idea, Peter. I didn’t have any hand in creating either. – Bob

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