Three Things on Thursday #8

Hello, and welcome to the eighth edition of Three Things on Thursday.

This week, our things include: the first-ever image of a black hole (and how to understand it), the history of Japan’s superfast train-line, and the stories of 30 animals, that have helped to shape the modern world.

Let’s go check them out!

1. The First Ever Image of a Black Hole, How It was Taken, and How to Understand It!

This week, the team behind the Event Horizon Telescope, shared the first-ever image of a black hole.

Captured over 10 days, by a team of 200 scientists, using an array of eight telescopes networked together, the image shows a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy called M87.

And when they say supermassive, they’re not kidding! It measures 40 billion kilometres across - three million times the size of the Earth!

So it’s big, and it’s beautiful, but two huge questions remain - how was this image taken, and what exactly are we looking at?

Thankfully there are some incredibly smart people we can turn to who’ve got the answers!

First up, Dr Katie Bouman, the lead developer behind the algorithm that made the image possible, explains how this image was captured, processed, and reconstructed.

Then Derek Muller (a.k.a. Veritasium) talks us through exactly what this glowing yellow doughnut is (hint: not an actual doughnut).

So nerdy. So good. ❤️

2. Bullet Train: The Shinkansen Story

In 1964, Japan unveiled the Shinkansen - a new high speed railway connecting the country’s two largest cities (in the 1960's), Tokyo and Osaka. Travelling at speeds in excess of 120 mph (200 km/h), the new specially designed Shinkansen trains had the highest service speeds in the world.

Outside of Japan, observers looked on with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. The 1960’s was the age of the jet airliner and automobile. Many countries in the west were focusing on infrastructure projects to accommodate the enormous growth of both these forms of transportation. The United States in particular, was pouring billions of dollars into building new interstate highways and country’s rail network was actually shrinking. Railways were seen as simply too slow and inconvenient to compete with automobiles and aircraft. Many predicted that passenger trains would be extinct or near-extinct by the end of the 20th century.

But the opening of the Shinkansen changed the way the world viewed railways. The Shinkansen demonstrated that trains were capable of being the fastest mode of travel for intercity trips (faster than automobile and air travel). The Shinkansen was the fastest way to travel the 320 miles (515 km) distance from Tokyo to Osaka when total door-door travel times were taken into account. Within just the first 3 years, the Shinkansen carried more than 100 million passengers.

3. Podcast: 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter

Wildlife TV presenter and biologist, Patrick Aryee, presents a brand new podcast series from the BBC World Service, which looks at 30 animals that have inspired the development of new technology.

The first 4 parts are live now (11th April 2019), and you can listen for free wherever you get your podcasts, or through the links below!

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Spotify

Listen on TuneIn

Listen on acast

Edition #8 done!

See you next week, for more Three Things on Thursday.

Chris ~ Resident Collector of Things
(Fond of fast trains, amazed by black holes!)