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How Big is the Biggest Possible Planet?

Last week, a team of astronomers reported the first potential discovery of an exomoon--a satellite orbiting a planet around another star.

The Strangest (and Second-Strangest) Star in the Galaxy

There’s an old saying: "Great discoveries don’t begin with ‘eureka!’; they begin with someone muttering, ‘That’s odd…’" I’ve long attributed the quote to the great science popularizer Isaac Asimov.

What if We Discovered an Alien Civilization Less Advanced Than Our Own?

Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of Quora, because it lets non-experts raise the kinds of speculative questions that don't normally come up in formal scientific discussions.

Real Genius

If you are going to create a television show called Genius, you had better grapple with the nature of genius.

Calvin the Martian, and the True Meaning of LIFE

LIFE the movie is both predictable and full of surprises, much itself. In the broad sense, it is a monster-run-amok genre movie.

Gore Verbinski Diagnoses His Own "Cure for Wellness"

If you feel like there is something deeply unhealthy about the modern world, director Gore Verbinski has just the movie for you.

Rebirth and Recovery in the Shadow of Chernobyl

Regular readers of this blog know that I normally focus on cosmic topics: comets, exoplanets, dark matter, the search for alien life, and the like.

Taking the Measure of Nothing in the Universe

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about nothing. Not just because focusing on nothing is a helpful, meditative antidote to obsessing over the recent barrage of anxiety-inducing news, but also because nothing is the most common thing in nature.

January 1, 1925: The Day We Discovered the Universe

What's in a date? Strictly speaking, New Year's Day is just an arbitrary flip of the calendar, but it can also be a cathartic time of reflection and renewal.

Shhhh...the Real Stars of "Passengers" are a Robot and a Spaceship

By now you've probably seen those soulful faces staring out at you from the ads for the new movie Passengers: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt playing Aurora Land and Jim Preston, two would-be interplanetary colonists who wake up from hibernation way, way too early.

The Human Footprint on Mars is Expanding...Sometimes Faster Than We'd Like

It will be a long time until humans put boots on Mars--at least until the 2030s and possibly a long longer, depending on what the incoming Trump administration thinks about NASA's unfunded exploration plans.

On TV: A Tale of Two Red Planets

I'll confess, I came to Mars, the new National Geographic miniseries that debuted last night, with a good dose of skepticism.

Living and Dying With a Comet

Like many other space enthusiasts around the world, I woke up today in a bittersweet mood as I read the reports about the death of the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet probe.

The Race to Proxima Centauri (Part 1)

Sometimes it takes a while for the meaning of a new scientific discovery to really sink in. In the case of the planet Proxima Centauri b, announced last week, it may take decades or even centuries to fully grasp the importance of what we have found.

The Race to Proxima Centauri

Sometimes it takes a while for the full meaning of a new scientific discovery to sink in. In the case of the planet Proxima Centauri b, announced last week, the process may take decades or even centuries.

How Astronomers Plan to Solve the Mystery of the "Alien Megastructure Star"

If you look in enough places, eventually you'll find something profoundly strange. That’s been a reliable rule of thumb through the history of science, and last year it proved dramatically true again for astronomer Tabetha Boyajian.

How We'll Solve the Mystery of the "Alien Megastructure Star"

An interview with Tabetha Boyajian, the Yale astronomer who discovered the flickering star KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby's Star, or better yet known as the "alien megastructure star"--an object so strange that some scientists openly suggested that it might be obscured by an enormous artificial structure.

Getting Under the Alien Skin of the New 'Independence Day'

If you are looking for cerebral science fiction stories that meticulously explore the outer limits of known science, Roland Emmerich is not your guy.

The Billionaire and the Doomsday Dust-up

First of all, let me reassure you that this post has nothing at all to do with Donald Trump. The billionaire in question is not the presidential candidate but Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer at Microsoft.

To Planet 9 and Beyond: An Interview with Mike Brown

I mean no disrespect when I say that Mike Brown is a man on the edge. In fact, it is one of the highest forms of praise I can imagine.