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GLAST Makes its First Light Public !!! August 26, 2008

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, cosmology, internet, news, physics, science.
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This just in: J.D. Harrington from NASA, and Rob Gutro from the Goddard Space Flight Center inform us that NASA will announce the first results from the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope today. These include gamma-ray bursts that the telescope has observed since its launch, just two months ago, and some analysis of pulsar sources which were not well measured in the past, and now show very clearly their nature.

Another news is that the experiment is going to change its name! At the press conference the new name of the telescope will be presented.

I am impressed by the promptness with which data analysis was carried out. Of course, with a space mission things are different from ground-based detectors: everything has to be ready beforehand. Nevertheless, getting a high-resolution all-sky map of the universe at the highest light frequencies, increasing the resolution with respect to previous measurements considerably, in such a small amount of time is -well, what else?- an impressive scientific achievement. I do not know many members of GLAST, but the researchers working at the experiment for the INFN section of Padova University -Prof. Antonio Saggion, Dr. Denis Bastieri, Dr. Riccardo Rando and Dr. Luigi Tibaldo- are all very skilled, brilliant physicists. They provided a visible contribution to instrument analysis and to the study of backgrounds and diffuse sources.

The press conference is scheduled for today at 2PM EDT. You can get more information here. An audio webcast will be streamed live at this link.


1. Luboš Motl - August 26, 2008

Thanks for this alert! Who could have thought that a Woit Lite blog could inform one about something else than pure rubbish. 😉

2. dorigo - August 26, 2008

Lubos, you’re welcome. Your insults are always well taken…


3. dorigo - August 26, 2008

… And I should probably explain to the other readers of this blog that Lubos Motl is actually a nice person. I know it despite not having met him in person ever, by talking to people who know him well, and by discussing about physics and other topics in this blog and elsewhere. What one finds himself interacting with sometimes, when arguing with Lubos over the net, is his other personality, which is sociopathic, aggressive, and scurrilous. We love the former and accept his disease as we accept the crippled and the blind man for what they are, and not for their disabilities.


4. Fred - August 26, 2008

“… developed by NASA in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the United States.” After having read this from the GLAST website, the only thing I could think of was how far we still need to go before Russia stops being accepted as the bastard stepchild held at arms length until the chip falls off of her shoulder.

I love the simplicity and direct lines of this robotic structure as well as those like the Cassini Huygens craft and mission. Within the hep experimental community, are there any instruments designed and built that are comparable in size or is everything as big as your “smashing machines”? On a tangent note, how and where do you see nuclear energy being developed and incorporated for society in the next fifty years? Why haven’t we been able to figure a way to recycle the waste from the various power plants into potentially healthy uses? If we were as smart as the space debris we have forever observed, the slogan would read: “Radiation, The Breakfast of Champions!”

5. Luboš Motl - August 26, 2008

Dear Tommaso, I am nice even online. It’s the other people, the jerks, my foes, who are the bastards and whose skulls and other organs should be crushed in an ideal world!

More importantly, I am eager to hear whether GLAST gives us any nontrivial results in a few minutes, assuming that I understood the time zones well.

Best, Lubos

6. Luboš Motl - August 26, 2008

If someone is just listening to learn the new name of GLAST, you can turn it off. It will be Fermi. 😉

7. dorigo - August 26, 2008

Fermi ? What a lousy idea. Fermi is not best known for his studies with gamma rays in his illustrious life. Why not Compton ? Shoot, taken already.


8. DB - August 26, 2008

It’s about time Cerenkov got a gamma ray observatory named after him. Or other major figures in cosmic-ray astrophysics such as Anderson (discoveror of the muon). Or Yukawa, Blackett, Powell or Ochiallini involved in the prediction/discovery of the pi meson.

9. dorigo - August 26, 2008

How about Rossi ? There are dozens of unsung heroes out there. I guess it’s alright. Those who have the wits to appreciate their work are the ones whose recognition is worth something.


10. Anonymous - August 26, 2008

Rossi’s taken, although he’d be a natural choice: http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/XTE.html
Cerenkov is good. Or Primakoff.

11. Kea - August 26, 2008

Oooooo. Louise is going to love that bright band of the Milky Way.

12. Louise - August 27, 2008

Thanks Kea. I vote to name GLAST for Dr. Bruce Banner, known for his work on Gamma Rays. He is a nice person despite his aggressive, scurrilous ‘other personality.’

13. Nicola T. - August 27, 2008

Hi DB,

Giuseppe “Beppo” Occhialini was already honoured with Beppo Sax satellite.

Anderson (discorvery of e+) is still missing… uhm, I propose his name for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (antimatter search in space, perfect for him).
“Carl David Anderson Space Observatory”, it sounds good : )

14. Andrew P. - August 27, 2008

There is already a satellite named Rossi. It was launched in 1995 and is still functioning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossi_X-ray_Timing_Explorer

15. Classical Dairies Victim - August 27, 2008

Dorigo wrote:
” Fermi ? What a lousy idea. Fermi is not best known for his studies with gamma rays in his illustrious life. Why not Compton ? Shoot, taken already.”

Actually one of the things that Fermi IS known for is his proposal of the acceleration mechanism for cosmic rays. So it’s not such a stretch…

Also, I like the idea, as Fermi is one of my scientific heroes, having made fundamental contributions in both theory and experiment!

16. Luboš Motl - August 27, 2008

Dear Tommaso #9,

do you mean Valentino Rossi, the motorbike racer? Is his as fast as the X-rays? Will he pay for the GLAST? It reminds me of renaming the up-charged quarks to Rockefeller quarks etc., to get some extra funding for particle physics.


17. dorigo - August 27, 2008

Hi Victim,

well, in truth it is hard to find a topic in modern physics to which Fermi hasn’t given some contribution. I admit he is one of my heroes too. In any case, I abhorr this NASA thing of changing experiments names after a while.

Hi Lubos,

well, Rossi is THE most common italian name. We had a guy who signed three goals to Brazil, two to Poland, and one to Germany at the WC in 1982…


18. dorigo - August 27, 2008

Andrew, Anon,

thanks for reminding me. The fact that the names of these satellites do not really fly is evident. NASA should change policy somehow.


19. mfrasca - August 27, 2008

Hi Tommaso,

I just happened to hear TG2 (news in Italian tv) about GLAST/FERMI and the journalist said that the experiment unveiled three very far pulsars and, as you know, pulsar are “neuron” stars…

I leave the comment to you if any.



20. Guess Who - August 27, 2008

That’s silly. Eeverybody knows they are made of nucular matter. 😉

21. dorigo - August 27, 2008

I wonder about the huge computational power of neuron stars. As for nucular matter, I don’t think it matters.


22. Guess Who - August 27, 2008

That’s because you haven’t read Dragon’s Egg and Starquake. Think thinking nucular matter, now that’s computational power that matters!

23. Plato - August 28, 2008

Glast should be called the “Spherical Cow,” or perhaps, a Wolf Rayet? 🙂

24. Plato - August 28, 2008

Nice Logo.

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