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Did NASA Validate an “Imposible” Space Drive? In a Word, No.


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 Secret Centennial of Space Exploration


The drawing that launched a thousand ships: Goddard’s liquid-fueled rocket, patented July 14, 1914. Noisy revolutions often emerge from quiet beginnings.

“How Can You Talk About Space Exploration at a Time Like This?”


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).

Deep Digital Science Behind “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”


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.

The Greatest Fireworks in the Universe


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.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Dish on the Scientific Spirit Behind Spider-Man


If there is any superhero who qualifies as a nerd icon, it is Spider-Man and his alter ego, Peter Parker.

The Secret History of Cosmic Buzzwords


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.

A Rare Alignment of Sun, Earth, Moon, Mars—and the Human Spirit


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.

Battle of the “Cosmos,” Round 3


The new Cosmos show is doing an inspirational job bringing the wonders of science to a mass audience.

On His 135th Birthday, Einstein is Still Full of Surprises


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.

Defending Giordano Bruno: A Response from the Co-Writer of “Cosmos”


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.

Did “Cosmos” Pick the Wrong Hero?


The first episode of the ambitious reboot of Cosmos, which debuted last night, closely follows the template of the first episode of the original.

The Astonishing Trend Line of Planetary Discovery


Earlier this week, two NASA-affiliated teams announced the discovery of 715 new planets around other stars.

Waiting for the Next Pompeii (It Won’t Be Long)


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.

Dinosaur Bones and Jelly Doughnuts on Mars


When something strange shows up on Mars, Jim Bell is the guy to call for answers. For the past decade he has watched Mars through the eyes of the Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers.

10 Lessons from the “Comet of the Century”


Remember Comet ISON? Last year began with a blizzard of hype, with stories repeating the mantra that this mysterious celestial visitor could become the “comet of the century.” This year begins with Comet ISON obliterated, an invisible cloud of debris expanding and traveling outward from the sun.

Is This the Death of Comet ISON?


UPDATED 11/29 All along, astronomers knew that there was a real possibility that Comet ISON would not survive its passage by the sun.

Comet ISON’s Moment of Truth


Astrophotographer Damian Peach captured this view of Comet ISON and its complicated tail on November 15.

Watching “Ender’s Game” With My Science Goggles On


I get it: Ender’s Game is not a science movie, or even a hard sci-fi movie. In many ways it’s barely sci-fi at all, falling closer to the coming-of-age hero fantasy narratives of Percy Jackson or (ducking) The Phantom Menace.

A Novice Observer’s Guide to Comet ISON


If you enjoy a dramatic spectacle in the sky, you have probably heard about Comet ISON, currently streaking toward the sun.


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