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Unlocking The Other Senses of Space

These days it’s no surprise to come across a gallery of amazing astronomy images. The Hubble Space Telescope, the other NASA great observatories and space probes, the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory, and many, many dedicated amateurs (among other sources) provide a steady flow of visual riches.

Invisible Hands, Peeping Toms, and the First Physics Nobel Prize

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”).

Step #11 in the Human Conquest of Space

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.

Taking Inspiration from India’s Mars Probe, and from Mr. Sulu

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).

Will the Higgs Boson Destroy the Universe?

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.

Why We Explore: A Comet Tale Told in Four Pictures

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.

The End of the Old Solar System, the Beginning of the New

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.

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.