It’s 52 years this week since the first moon landing. For all the politics shrouding Apollo, it captured a dream: the idea that humanity could – if it wanted – conquer any challenge, no matter how difficult. And, back in the 1960s, that moon landing was really difficult. That dream faltered, but now there’s a … More Remembering the dream in the age of a billionaire space race
There’s a planet in our solar system that’s the butt of far too many jokes. You know the one (and yes, I said ‘butt’). Nobody pronounces its name properly. Some say it’s ‘Your Anus’ (there, I said it). Others say it’s ‘Urine-us’ (there, I said that too). I know. Lame. And I can’t wait until … More Why Uranus is funny (and how to pronounce it properly)
The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, the ‘shoulder’ of Orion, has been dimming of late. As we saw last week, that’s possibly a sign it might be about to go supernova. Odds are on that won’t happen. But what if it does? One of the actual ways an apocalypse could descend upon Earth is when a … More Will we all die if Betelgeuse goes supernova?
Betelgeuse – the biggest, reddest star in our neighbourhood – has been fading of late. It oscillates anyway, over a defined cycle; but this cycle of dimming is more pronounced than any seen. It’s dropped from being one of the top ten brightest stars in the sky to the 21st. And that, astronomers consider, might … More Is Betelgeuse about to go bang?
Eighteen months on, the Juno mission to probe the otherwise little-known poles of Jupiter is producing incredible dividends. Check this out. This is just so cool on so many levels. One of the things that NASA and JPL have done is to publish the raw Juno-Cam images sent back by the probe, for everyday people … More By Jove, Jupiter’s impressive!
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
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…
Lately space science has made a slightly disturbing discovery. Space travel makes you go blind. Really. It’s a bit of a surprise, given that in other ways science has found solutions for most of the biomedical problems of free fall and, along the way, learned an awful lot about osteoporosis, which is a spinoff of … More Don’t space travel. You’ll go blind.