Archives for April, 2012

“They will see us waving from such great heights ‘Come down now,’ they’ll say. But everything looks perfect from far away ‘Come down now,’ but we’ll stay.” -The Postal Service Whether you’re under urban, city skies, where only a few dozen stars are visible on a clear night, or beneath some of the darkest skies…

Why Should There Be Dark Matter?

“And what I wanted to do was, I wanted to explore problems and areas where we didn’t have answers. In fact, where we didn’t even know the right questions to ask.” -Donald Johanson You can learn an awful lot about the Universe by asking it different questions than you asked about it previously. If all…

“Through that last dark cloud is a dying star… And when it explodes, it will be reborn. You will bloom… and I will live.” -The Fountain I want to start off by letting you all know that I, myself, do not have any children of my own. I have taught children, adolescents and adults for…

When the fuel’s all gone…

“Some painters transform the Sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the Sun.” -Pablo Picasso But the Sun will not always be a bright spot. Though it has shone for billions of years already, and will continue to shine for billions of years more, it’s currently doing this by burning its…

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” -Carl Sagan Here on our planet, this is the one day that we take…

“April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.” -T. S. Eliot Of course you all know the refrain, “April showers bring May flowers,” but there’s one April shower that brings fireballs instead: the Lyrids! Like all meteor showers, the Lyrids come…

The Whole Story on Dark Matter

“Science progresses best when observations force us to alter our preconceptions.” -Vera Rubin I want you to think about the Universe. The whole thing; about everything that physically exists, both visible and invisible, about the laws of nature that they obey, and about your place in it. It’s a daunting, terrifying, and simultaneously beautiful and…

The Power of Admitting “I’m Wrong”

“Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.” -Mark Twain “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” -Richard Feynman Every day that you set forth in the world is a…

Weekend Diversion: Where Bigfoot Dwells

“You never need think you can turn over any old falsehoods without a terrible squirming of the horrid little population that dwells under it.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes As an astrophysicist, I get sent all sorts of (unsolicited) novel ideas and theories claiming to overturn everything from special relativity to quantum theory to the Big Bang.…

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” -Albert Einstein Our galaxy is but one among hundreds of billions in the cosmos, nearly all of which contain supermassive black holes at the center. Ours happens to be “only” a few million times as massive as our…