Ravellenic Games Day 10

Yesterday I finished my first sleeve:

Sleeve 1

I finished it at about 1:30 a.m., right about when Curiosity, the new Mars rover, began it's descent. It was so exciting! It went off without a hitch, and landed just where and how it was expected to.

You could see the strain on the faces of the mission controllers on TV. All those months of work, billions of dollars, everything riding on that piece of equipment out in space, hoping to make it to Mars, and you could tell, they didn't know if the new landing that was devised for the much bigger rover would work or not. I read about it, and it was a crazy idea, something only Americans would dream of -- and they made it work. While they were waiting for the rover to land, they kept referencing its heart beat -- tones that it was making, saying it was ok and still there. They passed out peanuts for good luck, another thing only Americans would do.

When Curiosity was safely landed and was in the right landing zone, with wheels on the ground, and started sending pictures back -- the place erupted with pure joy. It reminded me of one of the scenes in Star Wars when they blew up the Death Star and there was a big party, only this was more like birthing a baby, a big mechanical baby, and no one knew whether it would make it or not. Welcome to the world, little one -- I hope Mars will give you a lot to study!

Today I have to work as far as I can on my second sleeve; it should go faster than the first one, now that I know where it's going. It's got to be easier than landing Curiosity, anyway!


The Shape of Things

For years, the form of space was thought to be Euclidean, ranging off indefinitely, seemingly flat. Measurements as we knew them seemed to confirm this. 

In the last twenty years or so, measurements have suggested that the universe may be hyperbolic, may be finite. That's sorta ... exciting! What's beyond the universe? How will we find out? What is the shape of this present universe? How can it be expanding, yet have some kind of weird shape?

Dr. Daina Taimina first sought to make a hyperbolic model with crocheted shapes, and she succeded. They're everywhere, and patterns can be found on Ravelry (36 for 'hyperbolic' alone) and all over the Internet (I found 57,100 pages on Google when I searched 'hyperbolic crochet pattern'). Hyperbolic crochet is hot. 

I think it's interesting that the shape of something like the human brain, a coral reef, and the universe all share a similar feature with Grandma's doilies. I think women have always known, deep down, that We Understood The Shape Of The Universe and Everything. (Well, ok, crocheting men maybe, too.) 

Dr. Jeffery Weeks, a freelance geometer (what a cool job that would be!) has calculated if the universe is finite, it's hyperbolic radius might be 18 billion light years. The Institute For Figuring (IFF) said that "The WMAP [Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe] satellite currently taking pictures of the early universe will hopefully provide evidence one way or other in the next few years, so that humanity may at last know the shape of existence itself." The satellite has been finished with the evidence for two years, when NASA concluded its observations of the cosmic microwave background, the oldest light in the universe. Did it prove the existence of a hyperbolic universe and I missed it? Do they need more time to go through the results? This is the kind of thing I wonder about. 

Human-brain_1001_600x450   Coral-reef_507_600x450    Crochet_12


(photo credits: the human brain; a coral reef; a model of a hyperbolic universe)

 

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Beannachtai Na Feile Padraig Oraibh!