Physical Science

Throwback Thursday: The Green Flash (Synopsis)

“It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” -Carl Sagan Although I often hear people utter sentiments that knowledge somehow undermines the beauty of the natural world — quoting some farcical poem about bad teachers like When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer — I never quite understood it. How…

“I was confided to your loyalty and accepted by your treason; you offer my death to those to whom you had promised my life. Do you know who it is you are destroying here? It is yourself.” -Victor Hugo So those of you who’ve been paying attention may have just heard that we’ve mapped out…

Travel Cons

Matt “Dean Dad” Reed has a post about the issue of academic conference travel, which is expensive and often the first thing cut out of college budgets. Which leaves faculty either disconnected from their field, or paying out-of-pocket to attend meetings that they need to demonstrate their scholarly productivity. This, in turn, tends to skew…

Until now I thought I had come up with enough reasons to dislike mosquitoes, those tiny little blood sucking vectors of disease. With reports of the debilitating mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the Americas (Carribean), I was ecstatic hear that researchers are working hard to find ways to control mosquito populations. As mentioned in a previous…

Most Efficient Tornado Hunt Ever

Al Franken likes to joke about having run the most efficient campaign for Senate ever, referring to when he beat incumbent Norm Coleman by just a couple of hundred votes (on the first count … the number went up during the grueling recount). Now, we have an example of the most efficient ever tornado hunt.…

On Productivity

One of the weirder experiences I had at the Nordita Workshop for Science Writers a couple of weeks ago was having people ask me “How are you so productive?” (or the equivalent). That caught me off guard, because I don’t feel like I’m especially productive– in fact, I tend to feel like I’m falling behind…

The Planets that Never Were (Synopsis)

In 1992, scientists discovered the first planets orbiting a star other than our Sun. The pulsar PSR B1257+12 was discovered to have its own planetary system, and since then, exoplanet discoveries have exploded! But did you know that long before that, back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, a scientist studying Barnard’s Star — the second-closest…

The Inconstant Moon (Synopsis)

“O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.” -Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2 Tonight holds a full Moon in store for skywatchers everywhere. Not just any old full Moon, mind you, but a Supermoon, the last one of the…

Remember that asteroid that was supposed to pass harmlessly by the Earth on Sunday? Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned… Apparently, a meteor hit Nicaragua late Saturday night, forming a 12 meter wide crater. This would be a small chunk to make a crater that little. It has not been confirmed yet, but there…

“You ain’t supposed to get salmon when they’re swimming upstream to spawn. But if you’re hungry, you do.” -Loretta Lynn One of the most remarkable stories in the natural world is the end-of-life story of the salmon. After being born in a stream, tributary, or other small spawning ground, baby salmon swim downstream into the…