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“Other galaxies like Andromeda are shooting these ‘spitballs’ at us all the time.” -James Guillochon, coauthor on the new study Imagine you’re a star passing too close to a black hole. What’s going to happen to you? Yes, you’ll be tidally disrupted and eventually torn apart. Some of the matter will be swallowed, some will…

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital…

“The mystery about α is actually a double mystery. The first mystery – the origin of its numerical value α ≈ 1/137 has been recognized and discussed for decades. The second mystery – the range of its domain – is generally unrecognized.” -Malcolm H. MacGregor We assume that the fundamental constants are truly constant, but…

“Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a hideout, every word also a mask.” -Friedrich Nietzsche If you want to see all the way back to the Big Bang — to the cosmic microwave background — that means looking back through billions of light years worth of space. While individual point sources…

“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 A little over five years ago, the OPERA collaboration announced an astounding result: that neutrinos sent through more than 700km of rock arrived at their destination 60.7 nanoseconds faster than they ought…

“For me the best answer is not in words but in measurements.” -Elena Aprile Dark matter is perhaps the most mysterious substance in the Universe. It outmasses normal matter and radiation, which includes all the known particles in the Standard Model, by a factor of 5-to-1. The observational, astrophysical evidence for its existence is overwhelming,…

“You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care.” –Clayton Christensen If all we had were galactic rotation curves — like those measured by Vera Rubin — we would know that something was wrong with our picture of the Universe, but we wouldn’t know how. Two equally good explanations, that there was either a flaw in…

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” -Winston Churchill Happy new year here at Starts With A Bang! No matter how 2016 was for you, there’s a new year dawning today, and whether you’ve got sun, clouds, rain or snow…

“It’s a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.” -Neil Armstrong There are many impressive optical phenomena that we can see with our own eyes here on Earth. The…

“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.” -Aleister Crowley As we learn more and more about the Universe, we’d like to describe it…