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I’m not someone who gets as excited about science-fiction space shows as many other science bloggers, but I am a fan of the current Battlestar Galactica and, especially, of Star Trek: The Next Generation. But there’s one man who stands out as the hero of Star Trek: TNG, and it’s the seasoned, savvy, courageous and…

The Story of Neptune

(This is adapted from my public lecture, Afraid of the Dark: How We Know What We Can’t See.) Let’s go back over 200 years ago, to 1781. William Herschel (left) discovered the planet Uranus, noticing that an object, as bright as a star, was actually moving relative to the other stars. The other five inner…

Will the LHC Create Dark Matter?

Hector writes in and asks about someone from Sheffield in the UK who says that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will create Dark Matter: The massive ATLAS detector will measure the debris from collisions occurring in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which recreates the conditions found in the early universe during the Big Bang when…

Ethan takes on Johannes Kepler

Can you believe that I had a fight today with someone who’s been dead for over 350 years, and I’m losing? — Ethan, yesterday Of course you can believe it, when the man I’m fighting with is Johannes Kepler. I don’t get a chance to tell you about my research very often, mostly because it’s…

DAMA is at it Again!

Remember how I told you earlier this week that DAMA was going to announce that they found dark matter, even though the signal that they found is not consistent with other experiments? Looks like my powers of predicting the future are pretty damned good. They have a new plot with more data showing the continued…

Dark Matter: Anything Practical About It?

Yesterday, my good friend (and SWAB reader) Brian wrote a great comment about the practical reasons to explore space, where he talked about the overall economic impact that Space Exploration has had on the economy, as well as the impact it has had on our knowledge and understanding of the Earth, its environment, and how…

Future News: DAMA discovers Dark Matter?!

The DAMA collaboration, an experimental team searching for dark matter via direct detection, is poised to report this week that they have discovered Dark Matter. And I’m here to pre-empt that by bringing you the truth: no, they haven’t. They take some very cold (cryogenic) atoms, look for nuclear recoils resulting from dark matter collisions,…

Is Dark Energy the same as Acceleration?

In a comment on my last post, What is Dark Energy, Kendall asks the following, which is such a good one I think it deserves its own post: I thought the expansion was accelerating? Aren’t you saying that it is on its way down to 85% of its current rate? Sounds like expansion is slowing,…

What is Dark Energy?

You’ve all heard these words before. Dark Energy. But what is it, and why are we stuck with it? Let me start by telling you a story. Imagine, for a minute, that you have a candle. You know everything about this candle, including how bright it is and how far away it is from you.…

Somethin’ Neat about our Galaxy

So last week I was up at Pacific University in Portland, OR for a job interview. As part of a faculty interview, you have to lecture on a topic for undergraduates, but they give you the topic just a couple of days before. My topic was Gauss’ Law, which talks about the relationship between an…