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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.

Hungry Rumblings from the Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way


There is a monster at the center of our galaxy: A black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, weighing 4.3 million times as the sun and measuring about 25 million kilometers (15 million miles) across.

Saturn’s Endless Beauty


Saturn is probably the single most iconic image in all of astronomy–so iconic that it was, literally, the official Discover magazine icon for a number of years.

Crowdsourcing Astronomy: DISCOVER Readers Fight Asteroid Threat


Four months ago, NASA issued what the agency—in all its acronym-loving glory—called an “RFI for the Asteroid Grand Challenge.” Translated into English, that means the agency was opening its doors to outside ideas about how to locate, study, and deflect potential Earth-threatening asteroids.

After the Higgs Boson: A Preview of Tomorrow’s Radical Physics


I don’t mean any disrespect when I say that the Higgs Boson is yesterday’s news. In some ways, that is the very definition of what qualifies something for a Nobel Prize: a discovery that has already established its lasting importance and shown the way toward deeper insights.

The Real Stories and Real Science Behind “Gravity”


When you take a science geek to a science-fiction film, no good deed goes unpunished. Throw together a bunch of narrative nonsense linked by sheds of technobabble and the boffins will enjoy your movie as high camp (see The Core, Armageddon) or indulge it as well-meaning drama (I’m looking at you, Prometheus).


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