It is 49 years, this weekend, since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon. And it was an incredible achievement – not just for the United States, but for humanity as a whole. For the first time in the history of the world, we had left it – and stepped on another celestial … More Thoughts on the future of humanity, 49 years on from Apollo 11
There’s been a lot of speculation of late about a putative ‘Planet Nine’. No, Pluto hasn’t been restored to proper place – this one is a new idea, proposed in 2014 by Chad Trujillo and Scott S. Sheppard on the basis of the orbits of the trans-Neptunian objects Sedna and 2012VP (which hasn’t been given … More Planet Nine from Outer Space
If both Special and General Relativity didn’t work precisely as Einstein said it did, GPS would be far less accurate than it actually is. Like, way off, meaning those auto-drive cars wouldn’t even get to the right road. Or any road. And we’d all be lost. Let me explain. GPS works by very precise distance … More How GPS finds you and lets Google send you adverts
I love science. Check out this photo of NASA astronaut Alan Bean descending the ladder of lunar module Intrepid during the Apollo 12 mission in 1969 and about to set foot on the Oceanus Procellarum. Know what’s so awesome about it? Other than the fact that – hey – these guys are on the moon, … More Why science is so awesome
There’s an apocryphal story about the time an eminent scientist was asked to write 500 words for a leading magazine on whether alien life might exist. The resulting article consisted of the words ‘nobody knows’, repeated 250 times. That point’s still true today. There are plenty of clues that point towards the idea that life … More Are there aliens? Nobody knows…
It seems to me that by our everyday standards, hyper-extreme physics of the Einstein variety is magic – abstract, nonsensical and absurd. To me it’s like dada art. And that also isn’t surprising, conceptually. Setting aside the fact that both dada and Einstein came from Switzerland, the turn of the twentieth century brought the great … More Extreme physics as dada art – really!
Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (1962) impressed me for lot of reasons when I first read it. The book still does – not least because, seven years before the first Moon landings, he predicted (a) that the only life found on the Moon would be bacteria retrieved from human-built probes, and (b) the … More The writers who predicted the future