Grapes of Wrath

Contributed by
Oct 5, 2005

I was reading a recent entry at Astronomy Blog about what happens to a grape when held up to the eyepiece of a solar telescope, and it reminded me of grad school. We had a lab where students tracked sunspots to calculate solar rotation, and they projected an image of the Sun on a piece of paper to trace the sunspot locations. There was a mechanism to hold the paper in front of the eyepiece... but this pair of geniuses moved the apparatus aside so they could look through the telescope at the Sun.

Think about that, revel in it for a moment. They looked at the telescope, saw the piece of metal in front of the eyepiece which was clearly designed to hold a piece of paper (of course the instructions in the manual also clearly outline how to mount your paper), and decided to move it aside. Then they had to bend over at an awkward angle, move the 'scope around to find the Sun, and actually sight along the telescope at the Sun-- basically staring right at the Sun-- to find it.

And never, not once, during this entire process did it occur to them that they were trying to look at the Sun though a telescope! Sheesh. The fact that they survived, and didn't blind themselves in the process, is almost enough to make me doubt evolution.

Even more ironically, getting the Sun in that telescope was a bit tough. As it was, they weren't good enough at handling it to get the Sun in the eyepiece, so they were unhurt. Had they been better at astronomy, they might have blinded themselves. Reverse evolution, it seems.

Anyway, Astronomy Blog posted a short video of the grape, and the fun is at the very end. Make sure your speakers are turned up, you can actually hear the sizzle.

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