Archives for November, 2016

“The evidence at present available points strongly to the conclusion that the spirals are individual galaxies, or island universes, comparable with our own galaxy in dimension and in number of component units.” -Heber Curtis, 1920 In many different areas of life, we settle disagreements by popular vote. But in science, we know better; regardless of…

“Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge.” -Nate Silver When you take a poll, you survey a number of people with an opinion about something in an attempt to predict the behavior of a much larger number of people. If you increase the number of people you poll, your poll…

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” -Albert Einstein When we first began looking for exoplanets, we were expecting that other solar systems would be like ours: with inner, small, rocky worlds and outer, large gas giants. What we…

Quiz: Mars or Earth? (Synopsis)

“This is the plan. Get your ass to Mars, and go to the Hilton Hotel and flash the fake Brubaker I.D. at the front desk, that’s all there is to it.” -Hauser, Total Recall There are many locations on Earth that look like they’d be right at home on another world. While from space, it’s…

“Computers don’t make mistakes. What they do, they do on purpose.” -Dale Gribble, King of the Hill Alright, so I know you’re all impatient with the most burning Starts With A Bang! question of all: what was Ethan for Halloween? Well, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my avatar for the next 12 months:…

“Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.” -Frederick S. Perls, quoting Einstein The Universe we can see and access is certainly a big place. We see that it goes on for 46 billion light years in all directions, full of stars, galaxies, matter…

“The Universe is very, very big. It also loves a paradox. For example, it has some extremely strict rules. Rule number one: Nothing lasts forever. Not you or your family or your house or your planet or the sun. It is an absolute rule. Therefore when someone says that their love will never die, it…

“Cosmology is the study of the origin, evolution, and fate of objects in the observable universe. […] The key to the birth and evolution of such objects lies in the primordial ripples observed through light shining through from the early universe.” -Wayne Hu The Big Bang’s leftover glow — the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — is…

“The pressure to compete, the fear somebody else will make the splash first, creates a frenzied environment in which a blizzard of information is presented and serious questions may not be raised.” -Carl Bernstein Why is our Moon so unlike every other moon in the Solar System? No other moon is such a large percent…

“All we know so far is what doesn’t work.” -Richard Feynman The past month has seen a slew of papers out highlighting the tension between modified gravity and dark matter. Both recognize the same puzzles and problems with the Universe, and both ideas recognize that either one could be valid. In fact, if you look…