Looking far afield


Looking far afield

through Elysian fields of dust

to the very edge.

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Dawn Emerges from the Darkness to Send New Views of Ceres

Animated sequence of images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft showing northern terrain on the sunlit side of Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDAAnimated sequence of images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft showing northern terrain on the sunlit side of Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

After a brief period of silence (due to its position on the dwarf planet’s night side) NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is now sending back images from orbit around Ceres, revealing amazing details of its surface and giving another look at those mystery “bright spots” that have intrigued scientists since their discovery in 2003.

The animation above shows Ceres’ northern hemisphere as it rotated into the sunlight on April 14. The brightest bright spot can be seen in the crater at right – as Dawn was on approach earlier this year it resolved that spot into two distinct regions.

Scientists still aren’t sure exactly what those are, but soon Dawn will be getting an even better look.

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Harmony or Discord?

In his epic narrative poem ‘Lamia,’ John Keats claims that ‘Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings.’ [Philosophy in this sense means the same as science; the study of the fundamental nature of our existence through reason and lateral thinking.]
Keats then goes on to describe that ‘there was an awful rainbow once in heaven’; a jibe at Theodoric of Freiburg, who he claimed ‘destroyed the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colours.’
This stanza inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s sonnet ‘To Science,’ as well as sparking a wider discussion on the effects of science on our perceptions of the world around us. Both of these poets lament the effect of science in taking away the mystery, and therefore the allure and beauty of nature, in their works.
In Richard Dawkin’s 1998 book ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’ [Based on the lines from Keats’ Lamia] he argues that science does not destroy, but rather discovers poetry in the patterns of nature.
What are your perceptions of the relationship between Science and the Arts? Do they enhance each other, or are they at odds with each other?