astronomy

Tag archives for astronomy

Poll: Top Physics Story of 2010?

It’s the last week of the (calendar) year, which means it’s a good time to recap the previous twelve months worth of scientific news. Typically, publications like Physics World will publish a list of top ten physics stories of 2010, but we’re all Web 2.0 these days, so it seems more appropriate to put this…

The Astrophysics of Bedtime Stories

SteelyKid is a big fan of the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon, which, if you haven’t spent the last sixty-odd years in a cave, you probably know features a bunny saying goodnight to a variety of objects in a great, green room. The attentive toddler will find a lot to look at in the pictures–…

Not long ago, a new preprint on the fine structure constant got a bunch of press, nicely summed up by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker last week. I meant to say something about this last week, but what with it being the first week of classes and all, I didn’t find the time. I still…

Bad Universe, No Biscuit

Sunday was a really long day around Chateau Steelypips, and I couldn’t see staying awake to watch the premiere of Phil Plait’s Bad Universe on the Discovery Channel, so I’m way late in writing about it. I DVRed it, though, and watched it last night. The theme of the premiere/ pilot was killer rocks from…

The Science Mindset List

It’s nearly time for classes to resume, which means it’s time for a zillion stories about Beloit College’s annual Kids These Days List, listing off a bunch of things that this year’s entering college class, who were mostly born in 1992, have always taken for granted. A sample: 1. Few in the class know how…

Through the Wormhole

The Science Channel debuted a new show last night, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, with the premier apparently designed by committee to piss off as many Internet types as possible. The overall theme was “Is there a creator?” and it featured physicist-turned-Anglican-priest John Polkinghorne talking about fine-tuning but no atheist rebuttal. It spent a…

I Need to Work on My Sound Bites

One of the questions asked of Neil deGrasse Tyson at the WSF thing last week was “When did you change from a mild-mannered astrophysicist to a rock-star scientist?” (or something close to that phrasing). In his answer, he said that after his first tv interview was edited down to a three-second shot of him wiggling…

Via Jennifer Ouellette on Twitter, I ran across a Discovery News story touting a recent arxiv preprint claiming to see variation in the fine-structure constant. It’s a basically OK story, but garbles a few details, so I thought it would be worth giving it the ResearchBlogging treatment, in the now-traditional Q&A format. What did they…

Voting has closed on the Laser Smackdown poll, with 772 people recording their opinion on the most amazing of the many things that have been done with lasers in the fifty years since the invention of the first working laser (see the Laserfest web site for more on the history and applications of lasers). The…

What’s the application? Producing artificial “stars” to serve as a reference for telescopes using adaptive optics to correct for atmospheric turbulence. This allows ground-based telescopes to produce images that are as good as those from the Hubble Space Telescope. What problem(s) is it the solution to? “How can I make this giant telescope produce even…