Archives for April, 2009

The Hand of God in Space?

Someone at the New York Daily News must have started celebrating April 20th a bit early. Because this beautiful supernova remnant, with a spinning, pulsing neutron star at the center: is no excuse to run a poll asking readers if this is either the Hand of God or a natural stellar formation. I could tell…

Making Fire with Physics

In celebration of April 20th, I thought I’d show you a method for making fire that’s so neat it will work — without fuel or chemicals — both on Earth (left) and in space (right). We’re going to do it without a match, without a lighter, and without friction. That’s right, the next time someone…

Weekend Diversion: Their Fault for Asking

Our song this week comes from the little-known band Elsinore, based out of Champaign, IL, and named after a city (with a great landmark) in Denmark. (Hi, Sili!) They’ve got just a couple of albums out so far, but here’s one of my favorites for you to listen to — the song Cannonballs off of…

Battle of the Beards: Darwin vs. Kelvin

How old is the Solar System? We know now, from a variety of astronomical, geological and solar evidence that we’re looking at about 4.5 billion years. But in the 19th century, there was a huge problem. Here’s why. On one hand, you had evolutionary biology and evolutionary biologists. Charles Darwin had discovered not only that…

When Four Galaxy Clusters Collide!

It seems like it was just last week that I wrote about colliding dark matter, showing what happens when two galaxy clusters collide. Well, nature has gone and one-upped me. Let me explain. Galaxy clusters are huge conglomerations of matter: normal matter (protons, neutrons, electrons, etc.) and dark matter (this mysterious, non-collisional stuff). We find…

The Biggest Loser (at Math)

Yesterday, after a long day, my wife and I settled in for some time to chill out, and turned on the TV. Although I’d never watch it on my own, I know my wife is a fan of watching The Biggest Loser, so I joined her for an episode last night. And to be completely…

When Galaxies turn Pink!

Oh, yes, yes they do turn pink. You may be used to plain old “boring” spiral galaxies, like my buddy M74 over here. A number of these galaxies happen to be “face-on” to us, so we can really get a good glimpse of what’s going on in their individual spiral arms. Many of them, like…

Pining for the Sun

If you show people a cloudy, overcast day side-by-side with a bright, sunny one, almost everyone will choose the sunny day as the one that makes them happier. Dave, one of Starts With A Bang‘s longest readers, is no exception. The extended winter he’s living through in Kansas isn’t making him any happier: Someone remind…

When the Martian Winds Blow…

I don’t normally post about science on the weekends, but this is too good to not tell you. Back in January of 2004, we successfully landed two rovers — Spirit and Opportunity — on opposite hemispheres of Mars. The views were immediately spectacular (click image for the full version). Initially slated for 90 day missions,…

Weekend Diversion: Zombie Jesus

What better way to celebrate Easter weekend than with an old spiritual song about the birth of Jesus? This is the gospel song Last Month of The Year — an old Southern American Spiritual — sung and arranged by Jackson C. Frank. This is my favorite version of the song by far, as I really…