Archives for February, 2012

The Physics of Leap Day

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.” -Cynthia Heimel Once every four years, the elusive entity that is today — February 29th — comes along. The historical origins and urban…

The Most Distant, Dark Galaxy Ever Found!

“One mustn’t look at the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexpressible charm which attracts us.” -Gustave Flaubert The deepest depths of space, out beyond our atmosphere, our Solar System, and even our galaxy, hold the richness of the great Universe beyond. Stretching for billions of light years in every direction, there are…

“Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago?” -Bernice Fitz-Gibbon Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Yes, I’ve spent years as a professional scientist, an award-winning physics teacher and professor, and a…

The Planet with Nowhere to Land

“Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner Despite the discovery of dozens of…

Alright, Neutrinos, The Jig Is Up!

“I have difficulty to believe it, because nothing in Italy arrives ahead of time.” -Sergio Bertolucci, research director at CERN, on faster-than-light neutrinos You know the story. Last year, the OPERA experiment at CERN announced, to the shock and surprise of practically everyone, that they had observed what appeared to be neutrinos moving faster than…

Weekend Diversion: Run For Your Lives!

“If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” -Frank Zappa I’m no one to tell anyone else how to live their lives, save to say that,…

“Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.” -Carl Sagan Nothing lasts forever in this Universe, not even the seemingly timeless stars in the sky. At any moment, any one of the brilliant, twinkling points of light from across the galaxy could run out of fuel,…

“What’s that star? It’s the Death Star. What does it do? It does Death. It does Death, buddy. Get out of my way!” -Eddie Izzard Like it was for many people, the original, very first Star Wars movie was one of my favorites as a child. And while there was a lot to be in…

The Galaxy’s Biggest Valentine

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” -William Shakespeare Up in the night sky, just a few degrees away from Orion, one of the most identifiable constellations in the winter sky, lies a cluster of newly formed stars. 5,000 light years away, this cluster…

“The phenomena of nature, especially those that fall under the inspection of the astronomer, are to be viewed, not only with the usual attention to facts as they occur, but with the eye of reason and experience.” -William Herschel We live in the most plentiful of scientific times, where the full extent of both our…