The Astrophysics Spectator

Issue 2.09, March 2, 2005

Home Commentary Surveys Research Background Previously Site Info
Logo for The Astrophysics Spectator.

The basic layout of the site is as survey paths, which can be found under the Surveys link at the top of this and most other pages on this site. Each survey begins with a basic overview of the subject. Part of this overview include simulators of astrophysical phenomena that allow the reader to experiment with the phenomena. The later pages in a survey present the subject in greater and more mathematical depth. A path ends with research pages that describe current research projects and results in astrophysics.

The links at the top of each page are Home, which is the current home page of this site, Commentary, which is an index of short essays on topics loosely related to astrophysics, Surveys, which is the index of survey paths, Research, which is the index of research pages and the page leading to recent news items, Background, which is the index page for all background information on astrophysics, including survey pages, simulator pages, tables, bibliographic references, and lists of web resources, Previously, which is an index of previous home pages, and Site Info, which describes the site and its author, and gives contact information.

Each Wednesday, a new issue of The Astrophysics Spectator is published that comprises a new home page, a new commentary, whatever news the author notices, and background, research, and simulator pages added to the survey paths. The home page acts as an index to the newly added pages. This site also has an RSS channel, whose link is given at the bottom of the right-hand column of this page.

March 2, 2005

Whoops, I missed a deadline. In this week's slightly-delayed issue, I again take the easy way out and present two new pages. I'm afraid that until I get my basic Java classes developed and settled, the weeks in which I publish Java applets will be lighter than normal.

This week I add another page to the “Stars” path. In this page I discuss the nuclear fusion of hydrogen; specifically, I discuss how temperature affects the different hydrogen fusion processes. A live figure is a part of this page. This figure shows the binary reaction rates for the proton-proton and the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen fusion processes.

The commentary of this week continues my discussion of academic freedom. This week I discuss the effects on academic freedom of government spending on science.

This week I begin a new service. I have at the sides of some pages recommended books available through Amazon. The books I recommend are those that I personally use and like. With time, the number of recommendations will expand to include the popular scientific literature. In this way I hope to help you, dear reader, discern the high-quality scientific books from the junk science books. By buying any book from Amazon, even one not listed on this site, after following any Amazon link from this site, you will help support this site financially.

Jim Brainerd


Academic Freedom and Government Funding. The threats to academic freedom in the astrophysics community are primarily systemic. One prime impediment to investigating unusual phenomena is the funding of science by government. Big science in particular limits the ability of an independently-minded scientist to investigate unpopular areas of research. (continue)


Hydrogen Fusion Rates. Everything interesting about the nuclear fusion of hydrogen happens between 10 and 20 million degrees Kelvin. Simply by looking at the hydrogen fusion rates, one can develop a feeling of when various hydrogen fusion processes are important. This page shows the binary fusion rates for all of the PP and CNO nuclear reactions, and discusses what these rates imply about when each PP and CNO nuclear process occurs in a main-sequence star. (continue)


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