Earth’s comet apocalypse at the hands of Gliese 710

Every so often we’re told that a rogue star or planet known as Niblick or Niburu, or some similar gibberish, is about to cause the apocalypse. Earth’s going to be whacked in 1984, 1987, 1999, 2012, 2018, apparently, with all the effect of a nine-iron on a golf ball, and NASA are hiding the truth … More Earth’s comet apocalypse at the hands of Gliese 710

Proxima Centauri’s got a planet! Yay, but don’t get too wild yet

I think it’s exciting that we’ve found an Earth-sized planet orbiting the star right next door. Proxima Centauri – the closest star to us besides the Sun. Last week’s announcement of Proxima b by the ‘Pale Red Dot’ project, operating mainly from the European Southern Observatory in Chile, was ‘leaked’ a month or so ago. … More Proxima Centauri’s got a planet! Yay, but don’t get too wild yet

Imaginings about imaginary imagination, tulips and climate

I have always been fascinated by the human ability to make what we imagine seem real. And then to take that reality and imagine something else built on it, and so on. Eventually, we build a ‘reality’ that is built not on physical evidence, but on our chain of imagined concepts – which society picks … More Imaginings about imaginary imagination, tulips and climate

Saturn’s no longer the Lord of the Rings…

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…

Of the sense of wonder that casts light into the darkness

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

Why the new ‘Earth 2.0’ is more likely to be Venus 1.1

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