Archives for November, 2015

“Some kind of celestial event. No — no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should have sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful… I had no idea.” –Dr. Ellie Arroway, Contact Back in 2006, the International Astronomical Union defined the term “planet” for the first time by three criteria: its ability to orbit the…

“It is true that we are made of dust. And the world is also made of dust. But the dust has motes rising.” -Muhammad Iqbal If you want to view the Milky Way in all its true splendor, you need to go beyond visible light, as the cosmic dust that gives rise to new stars…

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” -Richard Feynman Every few months now, the popular press goes wild with claims that there’s a new engine out there, one that produces thrust without any exhaust, violating the fundamental law of conservation of momentum. While science is, fundamentally,…

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” -Henry David Thoreau Every week at Starts With A Bang is special, but we made an amazing move, over to Forbes, which is the new home of…

“In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” -Yogi Berra Scientific theories are a dime a dozen, yet only the most successful have a large range of validity, hold up to many disparate lines of evidence, and stand the test of time. Inevitably, our explorations go beyond that range of…

“Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. That’s something that is almost part of being human, and I’m certain that will continue.” -Sally Ride If you came to the Solar System some 500 million years after its formation, you would’ve…

“Based on our understanding of how galaxy clusters grow from the very beginning of our universe, this cluster should be one of the five most massive in existence at that time.” -Peter Eisenhardt While deep galaxy surveys from telescopes like Hubble are great for identifying distant individual galaxies, they’re not wide-field enough to find massive…

“Historically, when we have better clocks, we have better navigation.” –David Wineland If you want to keep time in the Universe, you need a reference point that everyone can agree on, so that when you talk about things like “meters,” “seconds,” or “the speed of light,” everyone else in the world is in agreement. In…

“This scenario implies that the giant planet instability is not the source of the Late Heavy Bombardment and that terrestrial planet formation finished with the giant planets in their modern configuration.” -Nathan A. Caib & John E. Chambers It’s a common but nonetheless spectacular occurrence when our leading scientific theories — the ones with the…

“Gravitational and electromagnetic interactions are long-range interactions, meaning they act on objects no matter how far they are separated from each other.” -Francois Englert Want a recipe for seeing as far into the distant Universe as you can? Because of how distance and brightness are inversely related, you need to make the most of every…