April 1, 2012 |
The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish. The position of the Earth around the sun, the presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate - all make life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it isn't surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere.
June 14, 2013 |
Astronomers have put the known universe in a box on your computer screen - the 120 million light-years of it within our grasp, at least. With a mellifluous French-accented narration, some light piano music and sweeping computer animation, the video could become a stoner classic. It also happens to be the most detailed modern cosmography of all that is visible in the sky - and a great deal of what is not. At nearly 18 minutes long (that's less than one side of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon")
November 30, 2012 |
The Particle at the End of the Universe How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World Sean Carroll Dutton: 352 pp., $27.95 On July 4, 2012, at the CERN laboratory in Geneva - home to the massive particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC - two groups of physicists announced the discovery of a new elementary particle, the Higgs boson. Widely known as "the God particle," the Higgs is important, on the most basic level, for giving other subatomic particles mass.
July 17, 2013 |
Astronomers panning the heavens for glints of gamma-ray bursts have struck gold. No, really. They found gold -- so much of it, in fact, that they say they could potentially account for the universe's entire reserve of the precious metal prized by Earthlings for jewelry and industrial uses alike. All the gold in the cosmos may have come from stellar cataclysms -- the collision of two neutron stars, which sends bursts of particles and radiation into the universe. "We are all star stuff, and our jewelry is colliding-star stuff," said Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, paraphrasing iconic astronomer Carl Sagan.
December 24, 2012
Irwin Allen's universe The producer-director was behind these famous disaster flicks and TV series: " Lost in Space" Allen created this 1965-68 CBS series about a stranded space colony family. "The Towering Inferno" This 1974 thriller with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen was a best picture Oscar nominee. "The Swarm" Allen directed this 1978 action-packed monster flick about African bees on the attack.
March 21, 2013 |
The universe has hidden its age well. The European Space Agency's Planck space telescope has scanned the skies for the Big Bang's fingerprint and discovered that the universe is about 100 million years older than thought, and that there's more normal matter and dark matter filling the cosmos. The findings announced Thursday by ESA and NASA peg the universe's age at 13.8 billion years, and produced a multicolored map showing the tiny temperature fluctuations that reveal the seeds of the universe's future structure.