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Twisted Physics

All Along the Watchtower

31 Aug 2009, 16:08 UTC
All Along the Watchtower
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Space science fans are on tenterhooks today awaiting the fate of the historic Mt Wilson Observatory just outside Los Angeles. The observatory is threatened by a wildfire still raging and casting a cloak of smoke over the region. Firefighters battled through the night to keep the flames at bay, and as of 9 AM Pacific this morning, the observatory's Webcam was still up and running -- a good sign, although it's not out of the woods yet.For those who aren't familiar with Mt Wilson, this is the place where Edwin Hubble made his momentous discovery that the universe was expanding. That observation, combined with Einstein's theory of general relativity, changed the way we viewed our universe, from static and unchanging to dynamic and constantly evolving. Sure, there are communications towers at the observatory as well as the precious Hooke telescope with which Hubble made those observations. Communications towers can be rebuilt. A piece of astrophysical history is on the line, and here's hoping LA's firefighters prevail. By the way, Hubble was assisted in collecting the spectrograph images of galaxies he used to make his conclusion by one Milton Humason -- a former janitor who found himself promoted to staff scientist ...

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