Archives for July, 2009

I get a certain question every so often, and it’s one of the most difficult questions any cosmologist faces. Today, I try to tackle it. It goes something like this: If the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, and nothing can go faster than the speed of light, how is it that we see things…

Why do stars twinkle?

Sure, sure, everyone knows that stars twinkle. You look up at the night sky, and pretty much any star you look at appears to fluctuate in its brightness and intensity very rapidly, giving it a “twinkling” appearance. Why does this happen? It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the star itself, because “our” star,…

Mobile, AL school system loses its mind

After just finishing my series on the last 100 years in astrophysics, I was surprised to read an article in Bust Magazine that seems like it ought to be from 100 years ago. You see, 100 years ago, segregating boys and girls was commonplace in schools. Not only that, but girls took “girl classes” like…

Doomsday in 2012? Please, I don’t even have time for that. (Check out Ian O’Neill’s work for a nail-in-the-coffin of those myths.) But there is a big milestone that we will reach right around 2012. Prior to the industrial revolution, the Earth’s atmosphere was really ideal for supporting the wide diversity of life on the…

I’m not responsible for this one, though! Head on over to Steinn’s page, Dynamics of Cats to see this week’s Carnival of Space in full. Sure, I wrapped up my series on the last 100 years, but you’ll want to take a look at my top 3 from this week’s Carnival: 1. Chandra’s 10th anniversary:…

There is so much good music out there that never, ever hits the mainstream. But if you dig a little bit, you can not only find some good ones, occasionally you hit the gold mine. Such is the case with The Bridge, a Baltimore-based band that I’ll almost definitely come see September 5th when they…

Should we go to Mars or not?

Recently, I expressed an opinion on this site in favor of a manned mission to Mars. I was met with many comments — both positive and negative — discussing this position. So I’d like to, first off, find out what your opinions on it are: I realize that there are many other deciding factors on…

Nietzche and Astronomy?

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster. And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. –F. Nietzsche That’s supposed to be a metaphor, right? Not so, says NGC 1097. In visible light, it just looks like a barred spiral galaxy: But damn if the abyss isn’t gazing…

The Last 100 Years: The 2000s and WMAP

The last 100 years have brought us from a Universe no bigger than the Milky Way ruled by Newton’s gravity to a vast, expanding one with hundreds of billions of galaxies, covered in dark matter, beginning with the big bang, which was likely caused by inflation, and which will end in a freezing cold death…

Although many of the best sites for eclipse viewing — such as Shanghai, China — were clouded out during this early morning, an old high school friend of mine in Taiwan had a chance to view an outstanding partial solar eclipse, which is something that most of us will get to see in our lifetimes.…