Astronomy/astrophysics

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Astronomy/astrophysics

Here in the Northern Hemisphere (of Earth), today marks the Winter Solstice. Most people have some understanding that this means today is the day of minimum sunlight, or the longest night of the year. Fewer people, I think, have a good astronomical sense of why that is the case. So, in honor of the solstice,…

When collaboration ends badly.

Back before I was sucked into the vortex of paper-grading, an eagle-eyed Mattababy pointed me to a very interesting post by astronomer Mike Brown. Brown details his efforts to collaborate with another team of scientists who were working on the same scientific question he was working on, what became of that attempted collaboration, and the…

Over at Starts with a Bang, Ethan Siegel expressed exasperation that Nature and New Scientist are paying attention to (and lending too much credibility to) an astronomical theory Ethan views as a non-starter, Modified Netwonian Dynamics (or MOND): [W]hy is Nature making a big deal out of a paper like this? Why are magazines like…

There’s been a continuing discussion, in various online venues (including this blog), of Unscientific America, a book which notes the “demotion” of Pluto as an instance where the lessons the American public drew from the scientists’ decisions may have diverged widely from the lessons the scientists would want the public to draw — if they…

Over at Cosmic Variance, Julianne Dalcanton describes a strategy for scientific communication that raises some interesting ethical issues: Suppose you (and perhaps a competing team) had an incredibly exciting discovery that you wrote up and submitted to Nature. Now suppose that you (and the competing team) simultaneously posted your (competing) papers to the ArXiv preprint…

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in a family that was fairly captivated by the U.S. space program, especially the Apollo program that brought humans to the Moon. But as impressive as those manned missions to the Moon were, what did the Apollo program accomplish? Where are our moon-bases? Orphans of Apollo, a documentary…

Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer among the American Romantics by RenĂ©e Bergland Boston: Beacon Press 2008 What is it like to be a woman scientist? In a society where being a woman is somehow a distinct experience from being an ordinary human being, the answer to this question can be complicated.…

This week, in SprogCast #4, the younger Free-Ride offspring sings and then suggests that the song bears on the planetary subject of the very first Friday Sprog Blogging entry, which also involved singing. You can download the sound file for the a cappella performance and the discussion that follows. The transcript is included below.

Seeking advice from stargazers.

Reader hp asks: Do you (or your commenters) know what to look out for in a small-child-friendly telescope? My daughter (now aged 4.5) has been space-obsessed for over a year now, and I’d like to encourage her but am nervous of spending a lot of money on the wrong thing. For those of you who…

Data paparazzi.

In a comment on another post, Blatnoi asks for my take on a recent news item in Nature: An Italian-led research group’s closely held data have been outed by paparazzi physicists, who photographed conference slides and then used the data in their own publications. For weeks, the physics community has been buzzing with the latest…