Sometimes the Nobel prize in physics requires a fair bit of decoding for the non-expert (such as last year’s award for the theory behind the Higgs boson, or the award the year before “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”).
In my previous post I talked about the magical quality of an orbit: Each time a spacecraft settles into a permanent path around a new object, humanity has taken one more step in venturing off this little blue world of ours and becoming colonizers of the universe.
To my mind, “standard orbit, Mr. Sulu” are more exciting words than “beam me up, Scotty.” An orbit contains a promise of ongoing excitement and adventure: When a spacecraft settles into orbit around another world, that means we have come to stay and explore, not just snap a few quick pictures and move on (maybe pausing briefly to break the Prime Directive).
Higgs boson, detected at the Large Hadron Collider on May 18, 2012. The world did not end. (Credit: CERN) Improbable as it may seem, this question has been pinging around the Internet a lot this past week, because of a mix of Stephen Hawking and shameless sensationalism.
There are many ways to explain the reasons for space exploration: the technological spin-offs, the science-education value, the commercial potential of space, the pragmatic lessons back home in everything from space-weather forecasting to mineral exploration.
Today marks not one but two milestones in planetary exploration. It is the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2′s flight past Neptune, the most distant planet ever seen up close.
Physicist John Baez has another, more colorful word to describe the spate of recent reports about a breakthrough space engine that produces thrust without any propellant.
The drawing that launched a thousand ships: Goddard’s liquid-fueled rocket, patented July 14, 1914. Noisy revolutions often emerge from quiet beginnings.
That is the question that a colleague of mine posed in response to the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine, Iraq, and Gaza (not to mention Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Burma, and many other places that have been pushed out of the headlines in the hierarchy of bad news).
Over the years, Planet of the Apes has been many things: a satirical French novel, a landmark science fiction movie, a series of uneven sequels, a disastrous Tim Burton reboot.
Years ago I had an opportunity to visit the historic Grucci fireworks factory on Long Island. Artisan chemists there were hard at work crafting reactions that would detonate with just the right color and just the right shape; the whole place was surrounded by a high berm to contain any accidental explosions.
If there is any superhero who qualifies as a nerd icon, it is Spider-Man and his alter ego, Peter Parker.
As the human mind and human senses reach ever-farther out into space, we keep encountering new things that require new objects that require new names.
Tonight when you look up at the sky—and I strongly urge you to do so—you can participate in three different kinds of amazing alignments.
The new Cosmos show is doing an inspirational job bringing the wonders of science to a mass audience.
You would think by now we would have exhausted the mysteries of Albert Einstein. As perhaps the most famous scientist in history, nearly every idea he expressed and every thing he did has been studied, commented on, written about.
My recent post questioning the Giordano Bruno segment in the first episode of the new Cosmos has attracted a gratifying amount of attention, both on this site and elsewhere around the web.
The first episode of the ambitious reboot of Cosmos, which debuted last night, closely follows the template of the first episode of the original.
Earlier this week, two NASA-affiliated teams announced the discovery of 715 new planets around other stars.
As a would-be Hollywood blockbuster, Pompeii is fizzling out. But when you watch the movie through the eyes of a volcanologist, things look quiet a bit different.