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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ask An Astronomer : Featured with Professional Astronomer Prof. Michael Snowden

Ask An Astronomer, well but what would you ask? Yes you can almost ask any question pertaining to science and astronomy in general, this is one of the best advantages you get when you talk to an astronomer, Not a lot of people get to Ask  An Astronomer, But a small group of Sri Lankan students inclusive of me, got the valuable chance of talking to an astronomer, in fact being close to an astronomer and spending a whole evening session with him.
If you're a frequent visitor to this blog, you would definitely have read about professional New Zealand astronomer Prof. Michael Snowden, Actually we are friends, In this particular case, Prof. Michael was the astronomer with us, The session got started at around 3:30 pm last Sunday (21st March) at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. There were 5 students from various backgrounds of education plus my colleague Thilina and Prof. Michael. In fact I am thankful to Mr. Thilina Heenatigala, who was key in organizing this event.

Commencing the session Prof. Michael gave a brief explanation on the modern sciences and classical science, yielding the evidences from past. Actually he pointed out that our ancestors did almost all what we do today but experiments, Experimenting was the margin that can separate the two intellectual groups of past and today. It was the Europe that gave the origin towards expansion of science based on then-age achievements, specifically the Italy, which gave the boost with with Renaissance

Moreover we discussed about empirical data and extensions of them, which we usually perceive. Of course about great intellectually enhanced people of ancient time, Eratosthenes the 2nd genius of the world of his time. It was great to see how Prof. Michael  demonstrated how he calculated the circumference of the Earth just using very primitive methods. He demonstrated it with the straw and glass table which were readily available during that evening,

The students asked different questions ranging from the start of the universe to the famous old question if we are alone in the universe. I asked couple of questions about the Adaptive Optics (AO), used in ground based telescopes and the variation of Hubble's constant over time, which as I reckon, can be called as a variable.

It was really cool talking and listening to Prof. Michael and expanding the knowledge that we usually extract from common sources like internet and books. You get to share the ideas and think astronomically, which is more important after all,

The Participated Students,

  • Prasanna Deshapriya (me, Undergraduate of University of Colombo)
  • Yashodara Abeykoon (High school Biology student of Viharamahadevi Balika Vidyalaya, Kiribathgoda)
  • Shamil Asitha Kuruppu (High school Mathematics Student of Royal College)
  • Sheloni De Silva (High school Biology Student of Anula Vidyalaya)
  • Dimuth Prasad Welivitiya (Graduate student of University of Moratuwa)