Back in 2007, a science team under Eric Mamajek of the University of Rochester announced something unusual – a giant world, orbiting the star 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6 with a ring system so immense it makes Saturn’s look like a kiddie toy. This world – officially known as 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6b to differentiate it from its star 1SWASP… More Saturn’s no longer the Lord of the Rings…
Would anybody who lived on Pluto be called a ‘Plutocrat’, or something? I might not be the first to ask this question – I think Heinlein did it in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, where his hero ended up being kidnapped by the Wormface aliens and taken to Pluto. Being Heinlein, the story was a lot better than… More Would a denizen of Pluto be a Plutocrat?
This post begins on a personal note. My Mum passed away, suddenly, last week. Mum got me writing, encouraged me to write – and was an avid reader of what I wrote. Including this blog, where her favourites were my science posts. Mum taught me to wonder about everything – about the way our curiosity fuels our… More Of the sense of wonder that casts light into the darkness
This week the SETI institute announced they were going to check the newly discovered Earth-size world 1400 light years away, Kepler 452b, for radio transmissions. I don’t think they’ll find any. Here’s why. The problem is that near-Earth size, insolation and orbit – which is all we know just now – doesn’t necessarily mean Earth-like. The planet was… More Why the new ‘Earth 2.0’ is more likely to be Venus 1.1
I was asked the other week, on Facebook, why Jupiter doesn’t just fly off into space. You know, it’s so enormous, surely the Sun can’t hold it. Actually, it can. Jupiter is around 300 times the mass of Earth, sure – but it’s only 0.09 percent the mass of the Sun. Not only can the Sun… More The Sun’s big. Really big. And really grippy.
The other day I threw a crumpled bag into a bin and almost missed. It hung on the edge for a while. Quite suddenly it began collapsing into the bin, flexing as it did so. In a strict sense this was all understandable; I’d crushed the bag, meaning the energy of my fingers was stored… More Do humans see patterns where there aren’t any? Let’s talk…
I never fail to boggle at the convenience of social media. Even as the southern hemisphere is swathed in a wet and dark winter, a friend of mine on tour in north Sweden has been extoling the experience of the midnight sun on Facebook. More a sort of taunt, really, for those of us stuck… More It’s winter in New Zealand. I blame Earth’s axial tilt.