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Posts Tagged "astronomy"

@ScientificAmerican

The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Stellar Life Cycle

The evolution of a Scientific American information graphic: stellar life cycle

As the art director of information graphics at Scientific American, I’m charged with developing explanatory art for some pretty mind-blowing topics. Our team—text editor, expert author, artist, and me—often works toward illustrating a process or concept that has never been rendered before, or may have only been visualized for other specialists in the field in [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Getting Ready for Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

We’re counting down the days here until the Scientific American tweet-up at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, January 18, starting at 6 p.m. Full details are on my earlier blog post. We’ll enjoy talks, a tour of the “Beyond Planet Earth” exhibition–and some conversations over cocktails. Attendance is free for followers of [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

You say you’d love a fun science evening? Great, here’s your chance. Scientific American will be co-hosting a tweet-up and reception in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History the evening of Wednesday, January 18. While we expand our minds, we’ll enjoy some cocktails and open access to the Beyond Planet Earth exhibit. Attendance [...]

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Basic Space

International Women’s Day: Butterflies and Galaxies

The Sculptor Galaxy. Credit:  {link url="http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1025a/"}ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. {/link}

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, here’s a post showcasing just a couple of the many really amazing discoveries made by women in astronomy. * Annie Maunder was born in Ireland in 1868. She won a scholarship to go to Cambridge, where she studied mathematics. She was top in her year, but did not [...]

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Basic Space

How ‘UFOs’ Curb Black Hole Growth

Something unusual has been spotted lurking around several galaxies’ central black holes. Astronomers think it may be limiting the growth of the black holes – and stars elsewhere in the galaxies, too. Astronomers studying nearby galaxies have found a new type of outflow called an ultra-fast outflow, or UFO. An international team of astronomers led [...]

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Basic Space

Snap Asteroid Eros and Help Measure the Size of the Solar System

Fed up of simply reading about space and want to do some real science? Well, here’s your chance: astronomers are asking anyone with a pair of binoculars or telescope to train them on a new object visible in the night sky. The object is an asteroid called 433 Eros. At 20 miles wide it’s one [...]

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Basic Space

How Brain Scans Can Help Astronomers Understand Stars

A false color image of Cassiopeia A using observations from both the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: {link url="http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1445-ssc2005-14c-Cassiopeia-A-Death-Becomes-Her"}NASA/JPL-Caltech{/link}

They may come from completely different fields of study, but brain scans and supernovae have more in common than you would think. In a new TED talk, Michelle Borkin explains how software developed for use in a hospital was able to help astronomers study the structure of supernovae. An astronomer colleague of Borkin’s at the [...]

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Basic Space

Stars That Go Out With a Bang

Supernova 2011fe in the Pinwheel Galaxy. Credit: {link url="http://thunderf00tdotorg.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/supernova-in-m101-aug-25th-full-processing/"}Thunderf00t{/link}

When a star becomes a white dwarf — an old, extremely dense star that would have once been similar to our own Sun — the eventful part of its life is over. It releases what heat and light it has left over billions of years, slowly cooling until it no longer shines. Usually. Some white [...]

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Basic Space

The Strange Case of the Christmas Burst

Artist's impression of one possible scenario — the supernova model — for the creation of the Christmas gamma-ray burst.  Credit: {link url="http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010800/a010808/"}NASA/Swift/Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State Univ.{/link}

How did the Christmas gamma-ray burst explode? No, it’s not a geeky Christmas cracker joke, it’s a real question scientists have been trying to answer since Christmas day last year, when a gamma-ray burst called GRB 101225A first lit up the sky. The Christmas burst, as its come to be known, exhibted some rather unusual [...]

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Basic Space

Look up and see the “stars” tonight…

This post in an updated version of one that appeared last year on the previous incarnation of this blog. Once again, by chance, I’m away from the bright lights of the city during a yearly event that is best witnessed in an area with little light pollution and a clear sky. Unfortunately, this year, the [...]

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Budding Scientist

Here a Henge, There a Henge: Astronomy Fun on a Street Near You

Manhattanhenge, by EffingBoring via Flickr

Invited Guest Post by Evelyn Lamb (@evelynjlamb) Later today the setting sun will align with Manhattan’s street grid to produce a striking phenomenon dubbed “Manhattanhenge.” Taking its name from the more famous Stonehenge in England, where the sun rises over the prominent Heel Stone on the summer solstice, Manhattanhenge happens twice a year, once about [...]

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Budding Scientist

The Transit of Venus: Viewing Tips from an Astronomer

My family is gearing up for a big weekend of science in New York City. First, there’s the annual World Science Festival, which this year is bringing free activities like bug hunting, weather forecasting and marine ecology research to Brooklyn Bridge Park among many other locations. (Check the full slate of activities here.) Then, on Tuesday comes [...]

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But Seriously...

Cosmos: The Second Coming

Cosmos Trailer Neil deGrasse Tyson

I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Fresh from its debut at San Diego Comic-Con, the first official trailer for the reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: In August of 2008, I attended the third annual SciFoo conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.  That’s a whole other subject, which I’ve touched on here [...]

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Critical Opalescence

What Would It Be Like to Fall into a Naked Singularity? [Guest Post]

Last year, novelist Sergio De La Pava compared the American criminal justice system to the strange physics concept of naked singularities. That inspired me to ask the author of Sci Am’s article on the concept, theoretical physicist Pankaj Joshi of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai (right in photo), for an update. Watch [...]

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Critical Opalescence

As If 1 Giant Black Hole Weren’t Enough, What’s a Galaxy Doing with 3?

Last Thursday, my colleague John Matson described a truly amazing galaxy known, somewhat unromantically, as BX442. It has a majestic spiral pattern while hundreds of its galactic contemporaries were gawky and misshapen—a peculiar and special anomaly which suggests to many astronomers that cosmic pinwheels are ephemeral art forms, like Tibetan sand mandalas. John’s piece spurs [...]

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Critical Opalescence

Charismatic Megaparticles Might Hint at Dark Matter, and Much Besides

At a lecture I went to some years ago, astrophysicist Trevor Weekes compared garden-variety elementary particles to mosquitoes. They are plentiful and easy to find—indeed, they find you. But ultra-high-energy gamma rays, he said, are like elephants. They are fairly rare, but among the greatest of creatures. They often roam in spectacular habitats. Their sheer [...]

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Dark Star Diaries

How to See a Black Hole: Introducing Dark Star Diaries

Sagittarius A*

The image you see here is a computer-generated model of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which we call Sagittarius A*. More precisely, it is a model of the “shadow” that Sagittarius A*, with its mass of four million suns, should cast. The glowing blob in the lower right corner is [...]

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Doing Good Science

Ada Lovelace Day book review: Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science.

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Last year, I shared my reflections on Ada herself. This year, I’d like to celebrate the day by pointing you to a book about another pioneering woman of science, Maria Mitchell. Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer among the American Romantics by Renée Bergland Boston: Beacon Press [...]

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Doing Good Science

Who profits from killing Pluto?

composite-square-02

You may recall (as I and my offspring do) the controversy about six years ago around the demotion of Pluto. There seemed to me to be reasonable arguments on both sides, and indeed, my household included pro-Pluto partisans and partisans for a new, clear definition of “planet” that might end up leaving Pluto on the [...]

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Guest Blog

Habitable and not-so-habitable exoplanets: How the latter can tell us more about our origins than the former

On 29th September this year, astronomers announced the discovery of an exoplanet called Gliese 581 g. This planet, they said, was exactly the right distance from its star for water to exist on its surface, with a good chance that it could hold an atmosphere. These two properties are very important when judging whether a [...]

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Life, Unbounded

So You Want To Be An Exozookeeper?

Kepler's tally of exoplanets (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe)

                  This week has seen the release of the latest set of ‘confirmed’ exoplanets from NASA’s Kepler mission. In total, 715 worlds have been added to the list of what are thought to be genuine Kepler planet detections (previously standing at 246). If you’re confused because you’ve [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Monk Of A Million Telescopes

John Dobson in 2002 (AlanJWylie at en.wikipedia)

“IF THERE WERE A MILLION PEOPLE WITH TELESCOPES WILLING TO LET A FEW THOUSAND OTHER PEOPLE LOOK THROUGH THEM, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT EVERYONE WHO WALKS THIS EARTH, WITH EYES TO SEE, MIGHT SEE THE UNIVERSE” John Dobson, (September 14th, 1915 – January 15th, 2014) John Dobson’s life reads like a movie script. He was [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Cosmic Solitude, Exoplanets, and Books

Credit: NASA

Earlier this week I had the very great pleasure of catching up with Lee Billings, the author of Five Billion Years of Solitude, a beautifully written and provocative new book about the quest to find other Earths, other life in the universe. If you haven’t read it, you should. The Strand Bookstore in New York [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Voyager Has Entered The Interstellar Medium

pia17462-640

                After many claims and statements over the past few years that Voyager 1, our most distant operating spacecraft, has ‘left the solar system’ (it hasn’t, as I explain here), it does now seem that as of August 2012 this extraordinary vehicle has entered the interstellar medium. This [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Greeks, Trojans, and a Temporary Companion for Uranus

image_1348-QF99

A telescopic survey looking for trans-Neptunian objects has chanced across a 37 mile wide chunk of rock and ice that instead moves around the sun in the same orbit as Uranus, just further ahead of the planet. This discovery is notable because such objects cannot stay in place for long – unlike planets such as [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Earth Waves To Saturn: The Pictures

IMG004880-br500

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, or in this case 1,400 pictures are worth a few words. Here is the collage of images uploaded by people across the planet for NASA’s Cassini ‘Wave at Saturn’ event on July 19th 2013, while Cassini snapped Earth in turn, as a teeny, tiny dot of [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Dirtiest Lunar Mystery Of All

It's filthy work, but someone has to do it...(NASA/Apollo)

                      There may be something funny going on with the stuff covering the Moon, and a new NASA mission launching next month is aiming to solve the mystery. Gaze up at a brilliant Moon in the night sky and it’s hard to imagine that our [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Andromeda Beckons Across The Void

A mega-portrait of Andromeda - see the link further down this page (Subaru Telescope, NOAJ)

                          The Andromeda galaxy holds a particular fascination. Not just because it’s the nearest large galaxy to our own, some 2.5 million light years away, but because it shares a destiny with us. Eventually there will be no more Milky Way and Andromeda, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #3: The Ripening Of The Planets

IMG_0349

Although NASA’s planet hunting mission Kepler seems unlikely to return to a fully functioning state, after another reaction wheel failure, it has already yielded an extraordinary crop of new worlds. In fact, as well as finding many remarkable individual systems (from those orbiting binary stars to those laden down with planets), Kepler has provided a [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #2: Possible ‘Comet Of The Century’ Starts Warming Up

Enhanced Hubble Telescope image of ISON from April 2013, showing a dusty tail and some evidence of volatile sublimation around the nucleus (NASA, ESA)

Back in February these pages discussed a newly discovered long-period comet, ISON (otherwise known as C/2012 s1), that is falling sunwards for what is probably its first passage through the inner solar system later this year – on a beautiful near parabolic orbit. At its closest point it will pass a mere 700,000 miles from [...]

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Observations

Zoom through a Stunning Panorama of the Milky Way

The Spitzer Space Telescope'ss GLIMPSE project has created a huge zoomable panorama of the Milky Way. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GLIMPSE Team

Do yourself a favor. Don’t read this article just yet—first, take a moment to zoom around this incredible panorama of our galaxy and soak in the splendor: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360/aladin. Okay, are you back? Now we can talk science. The photograph you just saw—actually, a mosaic of two million photographs—represents the infrared view of the disk of [...]

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Observations

Why the Moon Looks Different in Winter [Video]

As we steel ourselves against the cold and curse the polar vortex for bringing these bitter winds upon us, it’s helpful to remember that winter can also be a magical time of fluttering snowflakes and beautiful evening skies. This Minute Physics video explains how the earth’s tilted axis makes winter the best season for viewing [...]

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Observations

My God, Man! XPRIZE Unveils Medical Tricorder Teams

"Jim, I'm a doctor, not an entrepreneur." Image of iPhone and Tricorder courtesy of JD Hancock, via Flickr

In the Star Trek universe, handheld medical tricorders became standard issue for Starfleet vessels as early as the mid-22nd century. Here in a little place we like to call “reality,” a competition seeks to help deliver such all-in-one health analyzers at least 100 years ahead of schedule. After more than 300 prospective entrants for the [...]

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Observations

The Continuing Mystery of the Moon Illusion [Video]

The harvest moon is almost upon us—specifically, September 19. It’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it has deep significance in our cultural histories. Namely, it enabled our ancestral farmers to toil longer in the fields. (Today, electricity enables us to toil longer in the office—thanks, Tom Edison.) One enduring belief is [...]

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Observations

Not Just Pretty, Perseid Meteors Hold Key to Clear View of the Heavens

Propagation inside the dome

The Perseids meteor shower, which peaks August 11-12, isn’t just a dazzling celestial show. The annual event also supplies our atmosphere with an essential ingredient for groundbreaking astronomical research. Our atmosphere is turbulent. The turbulence is what makes stars twinkle. Although twinkling stars are lovely to look at, they are a bit of a nuisance [...]

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Observations

Neptune’s New Moon May Be Named after One of Sea God’s Monstrous Children

Neptune's new moon

This past Monday, the planet Neptune officially got a new moon, a relatively tiny chunk of rock and ice about as wide as Manhattan is long. The object is currently dubbed S/2004 N 1, and it’s the fourteenth now known to circle that distant icy world. Mark Showalter, a researcher at the SETI Institute in [...]

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Observations

Next Mars Rover Will Seek Out Signs of Past Life

Artists concept of rover

NASA officials have revealed their vision for what comes after the wildly successful Curiosity rover on Mars. Think of it as Curiosity Plus. Using Curiosity’s design as a starting point, Mars 2020 (as it’s currently known) will be another rover digging around the surface of the red planet. But, this time, rather than just looking [...]

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Observations

Today the Earth Falls Toward the Sun

Sun and Earth from space

Notice anything different today? Is the sun looking a little smaller? Or the Earth moving a little slowly? Well, today is Aphelion Day. Around 11 A.M. Eastern, Earth passes through the point in its orbit that is farthest from the sun, a point called the aphelion. After today, we pick up speed as we fall [...]

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Observations

NASA Adds a New Space Telescope to Its Fleet of Solar Satellites

iris_launch_crop

Despite being the closest star to Earth, the sun still has its secrets. What drives the powerful eruptions of gas known as coronal mass ejections? How does the sun regulate Earth’s climate? Why are the upper layers of the sun’s atmosphere hotter than those next to the surface? Last week’s successful launch of the IRIS [...]

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Observations

50 Years Ago an Astronomer Discovered the First Unambiguous Exoplanet (or So He Thought)

Barnard

In April 1963, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Tucson, Ariz., Peter van de Kamp made what should have been a landmark announcement. By tracking the motion of a dim, nearby star across the night sky, he had uncovered an unseen object tugging ever so slightly on the star and perturbing its [...]

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PsiVid

The City Dark

CityDark

I was recently in Alaska as an invitee of GoPro cameras in support of a pretty cool science experiment by Project Aether. Briefly, I was there to assist as they launched weather balloons with GoPro cameras attached in order to collect intra-auroral images. After the weather balloons dropped, the GPS tagged cameras were then retrieved, [...]

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PsiVid

Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Stephen Colbert is a smart science fan and often features great science book authors and scientists on his show, The Colbert Report. I also appreciate his funny takes on scientific topics such as tissue engineered meat, the LHC and more! Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has appeared on The Colbert Report six times. What a boon [...]

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Roots of Unity

10 Secret Trig Functions Your Math Teachers Never Taught You

A diagram with a unit circle and more trig functions than you can shake a stick at. The familiar sine, cosine, and tangent are in blue, red, and tan, respectively.

On Monday, the Onion reported that the “Nation’s math teachers introduce 27 new trig functions.” It’s a funny read. The gamsin, negtan, and cosvnx from the Onion article are fictional, but the piece has a kernel of truth: there are 10 secret trig functions you’ve never heard of, and they have delightful names like “haversine” [...]

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SA Visual

The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Stellar Life Cycle

The evolution of a Scientific American information graphic: stellar life cycle

As the art director of information graphics at Scientific American, I’m charged with developing explanatory art for some pretty mind-blowing topics. Our team—text editor, expert author, artist, and me—often works toward illustrating a process or concept that has never been rendered before, or may have only been visualized for other specialists in the field in [...]

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Symbiartic

Stellar Photography By A Citizen Astronomer

13-038FEATURE

By now you might be used to spectacular images of celestial bodies thanks to organizations like NASA and the ESA. But it’s still possible to be wowed by these images, especially when they’re taken by people like you and me. Citizen astronomer Alan Friedman takes breathtaking photographs of the sun’s roiling surface from his backyard [...]

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Symbiartic

The Coolest Photo My iPhone Never Took

moon photo

Alex Wild over at Compound Eye is quick to point out with his Thrifty Thursday posts that great photos can be taken with relatively inexpensive equipment… IF you know what you’re doing. Here’s a great case in point: A few nights ago, I was strolling along a pedestrian mall in Boulder, CO with some friends. [...]

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Symbiartic

Unveiling The Universe Within

13-001FEATURE

Almost five years ago to the day, Neil Shubin’s first book (and my first foray into illustrating popular non-fiction), Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body debuted. It was by all accounts hugely successful, far exceeding the publisher’s sales expectations in the first few months and going into multiple [...]

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Symbiartic

Curiosity’s Storybook Wishes For Mars

Curiosity's storybook wishes for Mars

The Martian rovers Opportunity and Spirit have represented optimism, hope, and even cuteness to millions of people dreaming about discoveries on the red planet. How appropriate then, that the newest rover, Curiosity, should carry a sundial with sentiments and illustrations worthy of classic children’s literature. Curiosity blasted off aboard an Atlas 5 rocket on November [...]

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Symbiartic

Alone in the blogiverse: where are all the space-art bloggers?

Eskimo Nebula © Katy Ann Chalmers

Where are all the space-art bloggers?  When Symbiartic was in the planning stages, this was a post I knew I had to write. There are so few I found it at first surprising.  Do the images from the Hubble trump inspiration in painters?  Is interest in space waning compared to say, paleontology? Science inspired art [...]

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Symbiartic

5 Reasons Your Camera Won’t Steal My Job

Illustration of a neuron © Cosmocyte

By far the most common question I get when I tell people that I am a scientific illustrator is one variation (some more tactful than others) of, “They still use illustrators? Why don’t they just photograph everything?” In fact, it’s a great question. Although photography is fantastically impressive and can offer glimpses into worlds both [...]

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The Countdown

5 Essential Facts about Gravity Waves from the Big Bang – The Countdown, Episode 44

On March 17th, physicists with the BICEP2 experiment announced they had detected the remnant of gravity waves in the cosmic microwave background, the light left over from the Big Bang. While still needing confirmation, the discovery lends weight to the idea that the early universe underwent rapid expansion. More to explore: BICEP2 page Simple Gravitational [...]

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The Countdown

5 Space Photos that Speak to Our Human Existence – The Countdown, Episode 43

297755main_GPN-2001-000009_full copy

Since at least the 1960s, astronauts and satellites have been snapping photos of planet Earth from on high. While many of these photos possess an intrinsic beauty, some hold important clues about the goings-on of the inhabitants below. In this episode of The Countdown, we bring you five images that speak loudly about the challenges [...]

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The Countdown

5 Things You Should Know about Comet ISON – The Countdown, Episode 36

ison_youtube

If you live in the U.S., chances are good you’ll be munching on turkey tomorrow in celebration of Thanksgiving. But millions of miles above your head, Comet ISON will make its closest pass to the sun. It’s still a big question mark what will happen next: ISON could be torn apart by the sun’s gravity. [...]

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The Countdown

5 Amazing Exoplanets – The Countdown, Episode 33

Artist's conception of TrES-2b, the darkest known exoplanet.

  More to explore: Exoplanet colour confirmed for first time: it’s blue, but not pale — and nothing like Earth (Scientific American Blog Network) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/b… Diamond ‘Super-Earth’ May Not be Quite as Precious (University of Arizona) http://uanews.org/story/diamond-super… Strange Exoplanet’s ‘Backwards’ Orbit Explained by Extra Star, Planet (Space.com) http://www.space.com/19421-backward-a… Astronomers Find Most Ancient Planet Yet (Scientific [...]

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The Countdown

Water on Mars, and More – The Countdown, Episode 32

Marks left in Martian soil by the Curiosity Rover's SAM instruments, which were used to test for the presence of water. (Credit: NASA)

                More to explore: Universe May Be Curved, Not Flat (Scientific American) http://www.scientificamerican.com/art… Air Apparent: Pluto’s Eternal Atmosphere (Scientific American) http://www.scientificamerican.com/art… Astronaut and a Writer at the Movies (New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/sci… Analysis of Surface Materials by the Curiosity Mars Rover (Science Magazine) http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341… Ancient Supervolcanoes Revealed on [...]

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The Countdown

Voyager Enters Interstellar Space, and More – The Countdown, Episode 31

The Voyager 1 spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

More to explore: Voyager 1 Leaves the Solar System—for Real This Time (Scientific American) Voyager Has Entered The Interstellar Medium (Scientific American Blog Network) Space Farming: The Final Frontier (Modern Farmer) The inside of our Milky Way in 3D (Max Planck Institute) Moon Mission to Suck Up Lunar Dust (Nature News) (Scientific American is part [...]

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The Countdown

Miniature Big Bang Created in Ultracold Lab, and More – The Countdown, Episode 30

Cheng Chin of the University of Chicago stands in front of his ultra-cold vacuum chamber.

More to explore: Earth life ‘may have come from Mars’ (BBC News) Maybe Mars Seeded Earth’s Life, Maybe It Didn’t (Scientific American Blog Network) China Plans Its First Unmanned Moon Landing This Year (New York Times) China to launch lunar probe for landing mission (Xinhua) NASA Data Reveals Mega-Canyon under Greenland Ice Sheet (NASA) Space [...]

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The Countdown

“Singing Stars” Reveal Their Secrets, and More – The Countdown, Episode 29

Plasma erupts from the sun in the shape of a massive handle. (Credit: NASA)

More to explore: Curiosity Catches Sight of Mars’ Moon Passing the Other (PsiVid) Latest SpaceX Rocket Test Successfully Goes Sideways (New York Times) Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites: Reaching Out for Worldwide Recognitionwith the Help of the IAU [Pdf] (IAU) Around the World in Four Days: NASA Tracks Chelyabinsk Meteor Plume (NASA) Russian [...]

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The Countdown

Top 5 Places to Look for Alien Life – The Countdown, Episode 28

europa-report-exterior-space

More to explore: Is There Life on Venus? (Scitable) Venus May Have Had Continents and Oceans (Nature News) (Scientific American is part of the Nature Publishing Group) Was Venus Alive? ‘The Signs Are Probably There’ (Space.com) Tiny Saturn Moon ID’d As Good Candidate For Alien Life (Wired) Planet Profile of Titan (ESA) The Europa Report: [...]

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The Countdown

Black Hole Devours Cosmic Cloud, and More – The Countdown, Episode 27

Links for the top five stories: The Other Blue Planet Neptune’s New Moon Sizing Up Neutron Stars Meteorite Reveals History of Mars’ Crust Black Hole Devours Cosmic Cloud

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The Curious Wavefunction

“The Perfect Theory”: The story of general relativity, and what makes something a science

Until the development of radio astronomy - exemplified here by the Very Large Array telescope in New mexico - general relativity was considered more speculation than fact (Image: NRAO)

Pedro Ferreira’s book “The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity” essentially tells us what other people did with Einstein’s general theory of relativity after he developed it. While one chapter is devoted to Einstein’s hard struggle with learning the non-Riemannian geometry and building the field equations that define the [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Sidewalk Science: A Different Approach To Outreach

sidewalk science-resized

Last week (June 5, 2012), the lucky citizens of Earth were in just the right place to watch Venus’s transit across the face of the sun. While this occurred just eight years ago as well, it won’t happen again for more than a century. The next time any Earthling will be able to watch Venus [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Sunday Photoblogging: Full Moon

It was a uniquely clear night in Los Angeles, so I thought I’d try to get a shot of the full moon. Taken March 8, 2012, at 11:06pm. Speaking of full moons, here’s a fun piece from the archives: Real Life Werewolves? Dog Bites and Full Moons

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The Thoughtful Animal

Book Review: How I Killed Pluto by Mike Brown

Mike Brown always wanted to discover a planet. On August 25, 2006, Mike Brown killed Pluto. Well, the truth is Pluto had been killed long before, but it wasn’t until August 25 that the International Astronomical Union met, in Prague, to have the official vote. And it wasn’t until August 25 that the press conference [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Go Big Red!! I’m at Cornell and I want to meet you at Yuri’s Night

Cornell_University

I mostly dropped some hints on Twitter and Facebook, but now I am officially announcing it: Trumpet blares: I have transferred to Cornell University. I’m doing the same work, continuing my post doc, but I have a new glammy shingle to hang on my door, embossed insignia on my business card: Last fall I was [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Wordless Wednesday: Transit of Venus

Tiny dot at 1 o'clock on the white circle is Venus!!

I couldn’t sit back and NOT see something that only comes through every 105 years. So I got off of my duff, drove down to Oklahoma City to the Oklahoma Science Museum to see the Transit of Venus It was nice crowd.  At first there were only 40 people or so, but by 5pm (my [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Getting ready for the Annular Eclipse May 20, 2012

credit: NASA

When Halley’s Comet last come around (the Earth) was so excited about it.  I was checking out books, making special folders and writing up my own reports of the celestial event.  I made plans to camp out on the front lawn – which was a shared common plaza because I lived in an apartment complex [...]

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