Your Brain Products Catalog
You've saved your money, done your research and finally purchased your telescope. You've gotten your new baby home and you're ready to go. Before we plunge into the wild black yonder, it would be a good idea if we first take some time to go over some basics for how to use that new scope in conjunction with your eyes and your brain. Brain, eyes and telescope are all part of one integrated system that must be properly adjusted, maintained, developed, educated and trained. In this chapter we'll talk about using and caring for all three. We'll talk about the secrets of being a great observer by using all the techniques available to us as astronomers. We will go over all the available resources and how to use them including the resources in your brain. We'll discuss the secrets of maintaining your new telescope so that it will perform at its peak level. We will then discuss the right way in which to keep optical surfaces clean and free from unwanted contamination. We will then discuss the...
Your brain offers you several key tools that you can use to enhance the observing experience. The first is your ability to learn. You try something and it does not work. Do you try the same thing again No, of course not You try something else and get a different result. You try as many different variables on the same problem as you can think of until you create the result you are looking for. This is learning by experience. This can be frustrating over time because you may make an awful lot of mistakes before the proverbial light comes on. I can't begin to tell you how many rolls of film I've wasted over the years making bad exposures trying to figure it out. But in time I did. I've learned to make very beautiful wide field panoramas by properly adjusting for all the variables. You can also learn through education. You can train yourself by finding someone who knows how to do it and learning from them, you can save a lot of time and frustration, but you don't necessarily learn from...
On Earth, life evolved to near perfection in the form of the dinosaurs. However, none of them had brain power approaching that of primates such as monkeys, let alone human beings. If it were not for a supposed small asteroid or comet splashdown around 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs would still be here, and the Earth would be a vastly different place. Many evolutionary scientists think that Homo sapiens wouldn't exist. Evolution would never have produced our forebears. Dinosaurs would have eaten them
In 1921, Niels Bohr founded the Copenhagen School which addressed the mysterious new topics which had changed the face of physics over the previous years. At one time or another practically every top physicist of that period attended Bohr's institute. They formed a 'think tank' of enormous brain power and imagination which developed the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. It concluded that Planck's discovery, and Bohr's atomic model, were only the first steps in an exciting adventure
When light strikes the nerve cells within your retina, a photochemical reaction produces a nerve impulse that sends an electrical signal to your brain. It is within the nerve cells found lining your retina that light is detected. As an astronomer, the ability of your eyes to detect light is critical since that is your ultimate goal. Detecting light and the sensitivity of your eyes is controlled by chemistry. Essentially, by varying the amount of photosensitizing chemicals within your eyes, not by opening your iris, they can adapt to a wide range of intensity levels.
The reason that you cannot view faint objects in detail is that your eyes send images to your brain too rapidly. While you can adjust the shutter speed on a camera, or the read-out time for a CCD in order to collect more light, you cannot alter your basic physiology to slow down the transmission of signals to your brain.
People sometimes report bright lights that follow their car or airplane. These tend to be explained away as probably Venus for no reason other than the fact that Venus is very bright and might well have been low in the sky and in the right direction. It's an explanation that may sound facile, but it is often right. What people tend not to appreciate is the degree to which the human brain, striving to find patterns in everything, processes the optical information from our eyes. Think about driving fast at night. Scenery is rushing past you at great speed, but with very little visual input you drive with complete confidence. Based on no more than a glimpse of a fence here, maybe a half-seen road marking or flickers of light in your headlight beam, or distant tail-lights, your brain confidently models the road ahead with stunning accuracy. Humans are incredibly good at mentally reconstructing the landscape in front of them at night, from the tiniest scraps of evidence. No computer could...
CCD cameras are almost universally computer driven, so you must have a laptop computer that is capable of handling the camera and whatever other applications you are using in the field. Make sure that you spend some time training your brain to use the imaging software and the computer in the dark. There is little that is more frustrating than wasting time messing with your computer while the night slips away. The keys again to success are telescope alignment, software familiarity, focus, cooling and aiming.
Let's now push things to the limit and try to find a faint galaxy or quasar. Step by step in an incremental sequence going from the naked eye - Telrad - finderscope - low power eyepiece at the telescope - high power eyepiece. Thus starhopping is normally three-dimensional that is by moving along a (two-dimensional) path on the celestial sphere, while getting deeper into space at the same time by using a larger instrument (higher magnification). By changing the instrument, the size and orientation of the field will also differ. You first start with the Telrad, showing an upright image. Next you look through the finderscope with a star diagonal, which is an inversed and mirror-reversed field. Finally you use a Newtonian, where the image is not mirror-reversed but rotated, depending on the position of the focuser. Your brain has a lot to do.
You are looking through the reflecting surface all objects appear dimmer and most stars disappear entirely. The correct mode of use, as with all straight-through finders, is to begin with both eyes open. The eye that is not looking through the finder gets an unattenuated view of the sky and your brain merges the images received by both eyes, exactly as it does in normal use of a pair of Mark I eyeballs
Consider what happens when you observe a particular object, such as a page of this book. Light, either from the sun or a lamp, is continually being reflected off the page, and some of this light will enter your eyes. This will stimulate the retina, thereby causing a signal to be sent via the optic nerve to your brain. The brain then deciphers this signal and 'reads' the words that are printed. The key point is that light has to be reflected if you are to see the words. In effect, it must escape from the surface of the page.
All living cells, from the bacteria lounging in your gut to the neurons humming in your brain, depend on an intricate pas de deux between nucleic acids and proteins. Neither can be made without the assistance of the other. The DNA code cannot be read without an elaborate protein transcription machine. The machine cannot be built without the code. Once it's up and running, this system works wonderfully. But it presents us with a serious chicken-and-egg problem. Which came first, proteins or DNA And how did such a tangled web evolve
Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have no end of clever ideas, who are able to think quickly in any situation, or who seem to have flawless memories? Could it be that they're just born smarter or quicker than the rest of us? Or are there some secrets that they might know that we don't?