The Green Bank Science Center
The Green Bank Science Center
Scientists from around the world use the Green Bank Telescope to study virtually all types of astronomical objects known, from planets and comets in our own Solar System to quasars and galaxies billions of light-years away.
Use a spark plug, receiver and spectrum analyzer to approximate Hertz's experiment in which he discovered radio waves. A spark plug is set up to give off a spark when the visitor pushes a button. A receiver positioned at some distance away will audibly register the signal. The spectrum analyzer will show spikes occurring at many different frequencies indicating radio emission.
To illustrate the fundamental similarity of light and radio waves a thunder storm and a radio will be videotaped. When lightning flashes, static is immediately heard on the radio, but the thunder is not heard for some seconds depending on how far away the lightning struck. The static results from the transmission of radio wave traveling at C. The thunder travels at the speed of sound. The visitor will be prompted to predict the order of events before playing the short video segment.
The eye is a natural detector of light. A display may show how the eye works. For other wavelengths of EM radiation different strategies must be developed. Infrared detectors will form the base of this exhibit. Infrared radiation can be sensed by visitors but not "seen". Visitors experiencing how such radiation is detected will draw fairly accurate analogies about how radio astronomy is done.
A wall display of the EM spectrum in wavelength along the x axis and altitude along the y axis, illustrated by a cross section through a landscape from sea level to Mt. Everest will illustrate which wavelengths of energy penetrate to the earth's surface and which must be investigated.
Covered "shoeboxes" will contain objects which can not be identified by sight. The boxes will have a grid of small holes along the top. Children can shake the boxes, and systematically probe the inside with dowels. They can then attempt to match the object in their box to an object in a photograph.
Discover the similarities between visible bright line spectra and radio spectra. The visitor will be guided to equate the Interstellar medium with a combination of rarefied gases like a neon light. Much radio astronomical research is directed toward understanding star forming regions in the ISM.
Astronomers map the neutral hydrogen (HI) in our Galaxy by detecting its spectral line emission at 21 cm. In this exhibit visitors will determine the connection between Doppler shift in spectral lines and velocity measurements. Using real HI radio spectra, visitors will determine the velocity of HI gas toward us and away from us. The rotation of the Milky Way can be inferred. HI spectra of other galaxies show that they are also rotating.
Would you recognize a new phenomenon if you were looking for something else? Visitors will search for the telltale anomalies in data that were noticed by scientists, leading to major discoveries in radio astronomy. Data such as that collected by Jocelyn Bell, which led to the discovery of pulsars, Karl Jansky, which led to the discovery of radio waves from space, and Bernard Burke, which led to the discovery of radio emission from Jupiter will be displayed. The discovery of the binary pulsar for which Joe Taylor and Russ Hulse shared the 1993 Nobel Prize is a recent example. Logbook entries made by then graduate student Russ Hulse reveal a dawning awareness that his data was not in error, but in fact an incredible discovery.
Pictures and information were provided by the Green Bank Science Center
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