on whether your Exoplanet is Earthlike

This week, NASA announced the discovery of Kepler 452-b, the newest candidate for Most Earthlike Exoplanet Ever. Most of my astrophysical colleagues are bit annoyed about that. I want to be clear: It’s not like the Kepler people are lying… far from it; in the ways that Kepler looks for planets, this one really does…

on Time Travel

The spousal overunit found this listverse list posted to imgur and brought it to my attention.  Given that I am both a scientist who’s taken some of these classes (long ago, prior to beginning my dissertation work) and a science fiction fan prone to pondering time travel, I feel semi-qualified to talk about what’s in…

in which Pluto is revealed

This is Pluto: The “Heart” region of Pluto, from the 8 AM press conference (but, due to light travel time delay, taken more than 4 and a half hours earlier) All the textbooks and all the future T-shirts and websites and posters will use these pictures of Pluto. We will never again not know what…

On the first stars

The Big Bang basically produced only Hydrogen and Helium (and the Universe is still full of Hydrogen and Helium), which means the first stars would have solely had Hydrogen and Helium to work with when they formed. These so-called “Population III stars” have been predicted for years, but no one has ever seen evidence of…

On the Exploration of Pluto

We live in exceptionally exciting times with regards to the Solar System. Right now, there are active spacecraft at Mars, Ceres, 67P-Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Saturn, and soon… Pluto. And three of those are the first time we’ve ever really had a good look at those parts of the Solar System. Pluto (and Charon) will be the first…