Weekend 7.16

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When Hubble was launched, back in 1990, it was — initially — an embarrassment. The mirror (8 ft in diameter) had been ground in such a way that it was two microns off, resulting in blurry images.

As a point of comparison, a piece of paper is 100 microns.

Happily, the Hubble was eventually repaired through servicing missions, and, over the years, its capabilities were expanded even further, with newer instruments added on. Fun fact: One of the most recent adds, the WFC3 camera, was a project Mike worked on early in his career at Lockheed.

Working at Hubble was a particular dream of my husband’s. Even as a kid, he had a newspaper article about that someday telescope taped to his wall, and he remembers the launch (and the mirror mistake) well. Once he started working with NASA, I remember he was struck that for many of these guys, working on programs like the Hubble takes an entire career. So when a NASA launch goes badly, even if there’s no one aboard, it’s devastating. The work of an entire career gone up in smoke.

The James Webb Telescope, which was launched in December and is now sending its first images back to earth, is immensely more complex than the Hubble. It was designed with a mirror that is 20 ft in diameter (as compared to Hubble’s 8-ft mirror), and must be kept very cold. To keep Webb’s mirror at the proper temperature, engineers designed a solar blanket the size of a tennis court to protect the mirror from the sun’s heat. Engineers then had to figure out how to fold this solar blanket like origami on the top of a rocket, blast it more than a million miles away from earth (that’s a literal number, not a figurative one), and then, unfold this blanket, along with 20-something other separate mirrors, exactly once, perfectly.

And it did. The design and launch of the James Webb Telescope was almost flawless — an engineering marvel.

But why do all of this? Why spend $10 billion on something that was, obviously, such a huge risk? Unlike the Hubble, there are no possible servicing missions for the Webb telescope. If something goes wrong…disaster.

So here’s the thing: The James Webb Telescope is designed to see the deepest, most ancient light in the universe. It can see back to some of the first stars ever created. This stop-motion video from Scientific American does a pretty good job of illustrating how much farther back to the beginning of the universe the Webb telescope can see.

In order to detect the oldest light in the universe, this telescope has to see the very limits of the infrared spectrum. And it’s a bit like a library. This telescope basically has spectrographs that are cataloged, like books in a library, that will allow light to tell its story. A story of its journey through space and time, a story of what has happened to that particular beam of light. It’s these stories — the stories of the light — that have scientists so excited. It’s these stories that will help us unravel some of the universe’s deepest mysteries. How are stars born? How do planets come into existence? Are there any other habitable planets out there? Why is the universe accelerating and what causes it? Is it Dark Matter? Are there multiverses?

And, of course, how did the universe begin?

These first first images, just released, are only the beginning. Scientists are literally blown away with the possibilities of discovery. And, because the launch was so nearly flawless, the life of the Webb telescope (calculated by how much fuel is needed to orbit correctly) has been doubled, so we’re looking at roughly 20 years of use.

Mike recently heard someone say that there have been two really big jumps in human history regarding the way we understand our physical realities: Newton, with the understanding of the role of gravity and the creation of physics, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and other discoveries that advanced our understanding of quantum mechanics — something we still don’t quite grasp. What has the scientific community really excited now, is that fact that cracks are starting to show in our current theories. Some of our quantum theories aren’t coming together, and when cracks in our understanding appear, over and over…that usually means something big is coming.

And the James Webb telescope is likely to be a part of that something big.

Get ready.


It’s no mind-blowing science, but… here’s one really freaking cool dress.

It’s Girl-Next-Door vibes, but affordable. I’ve been waiting (WAITING) for Quince to come out with a 100% linen dress that looked more like Reformation, and their latest linen mini dress is exactly it. I’d wear it with Vans or flat sandals.

More of a pockets girl. Handbags or — shudder — “purses” are not really my thing. In the winter especially, I typically dash out the door with my coat pockets stuffed so I can leave my bag at home. If I do need a bag, I’m much more prone to carry something low-key: straw bags or backpacks or a tiny crossbody/fanny pack. Which is why I typically turn to Clare V, because those bags have the appropriate amount of irreverence. That said…I keep coming back to this rag & bone leather sling bag. It strikes me as unfussy and nonchalant, and I suspect I could even stuff a sweater in there. Hmmm.

And we were worried about sell-out risk…it looks like a few of my very favorite NSale purchases are still in stock? I’m shocked. They are, in order, FRAME’s chunky chelsea boots (sooo lightweight and comfortable), Vince’s Block-Heeled booties (I like the taupe), this cool Barbour raincoat (regular and plus sizes), and Vince’s oversized sweater blazer (annoyingly good).

Saks’ sale. It looks like other retailers are picking up on the NSale momentum, which is a win for all of us. Saks’ sale, in particular, has us swooning. So much so that the team put together a whole entire article about it. Personally, I’m going after the denim (like this pair or this pair or even this white-ish pair), and this cute Varley half-zip (looks better IRL).

My favorite cotton dresses are also on sale. Remember that white ALC cut-out dress I featured here? It’s on sale at Bloomingdale’s. Size up, though, runs small (I wear a size 6). And the black cotton STUAD midi dress (in that same article) is not on sale, but the mini version is, in some seriously cute colors.

Play in the waves. I’m such a baby about cold water and my kids are getting impatient with me waiting for the ocean to warm. (End of August, btw). When they were small, I swore by shortie wetsuits, but I no longer fit into mine. Backcountry has a few on sale, though, like this Billabong Salty DZ, or this O’Neill wetsuit (the ‘french navy’ is on sale). I’m tempted to grab a full wetsuit, but that’s likely overkill. (This one is on sale, if not.)

Andie Swim on sale! Andie Swim has 30% off sidewide this weekend! Returns are for store credit only, but I suspect you’ll be able to find something you love eventually (I have a try-on coming out today or tomorrow). I have The Paloma and love it (it’s that ribbed fabric for me), but in hindsight, I wish I had also tried The Fiji. Fit seems to be very TTS; no sizing up needed (I take a size small).

New pan? Our Place is having a summer sale, 20% off basically everything. The team is split on which pan they like best (Laura and Em like the Always Pan, Kat and Linz are all about the Perfect Pot) and the expanded line-up of color is awfully exciting.

Old-school cool. We picked up this retro version of Uno, and it’s embarrassing how much those black cards make me happy.

Oooo….Linzi gets controversial. I’m excited for Linzi’s latest YouTube video, where she reviews those Amazon pillow slides and….hates them. There’s a tiny chance that her video isn’t yet published (sorry gang, I’m tired, it’s the weekend, can’t find the schedule), but click that link to see if it’s up yet.

Hope you guys are enjoying your weekend…

xo,

S

3 COMMENTS

  1. Loved reading your summary of the Webb Telescope, Shana! And thank you Linzi for validating my confoundment over those Amazon slides! haha. Love you gals xo

  2. Can I say how much I love that you devoted the whole update to how the Webb telescope works? Love hearing about Mike’s work on Hubble. As a once-aspiring astronomer I interned at Hubble many, many years ago. I still think all of this is so cool. So happyto get my mom fashion with a dose of science nerd.

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