on Eclipses

Today, a total solar eclipse will pass over the United States, from Oregon to Georgia, cutting a path that will dim the Sun an appreciable amount for everyone in the Continental United States. It’s something that hasn’t happened in 38 years, since an eclipse in 1979. It’s going to be an event shared by an…

on the supposed Warp Drive

When people find out I’m an astronomer, one of the first questions I’m usually asked is if I want to be an astronaut. I always say no, because human spaceflight has been stuck in Low Earth Orbit since before I was born. I don’t want that; I want to go to distant worlds hundreds of…

concerning the End of Science

Is this the end of Science? That is what one scientist connected with CERN was saying in a TED talk in December. Your knee-jerk reaction (and Bettridge’s Law of Headlines) says the answer should be a confused “no”. In reality, the headline is certainly overblown, but the problem being highlighted is a real one.

on Steven Hawking’s new theory of black holes

As has been recently reported online, (well, in some places, and confusingly in others), Stephen Hawking and his collaborators have a new theory (see also this brief, more easily understandable synopsis) about black holes that might solve one of the more serious problems with their existence. Basically, Hawking is trying to solve a problem he…

on Gravitational Waves

Light waves are a fundamental way we interact with and understand the universe. It’s what our eyes see, and it was the first thing we saw through a telescope. In fact, when it comes to astronomy, light waves (whether gamma rays, X-rays, UV, optical, infrared or radio) are basically the ONLY way we can detect…

concerning the Impossible Space Drive

Sources like IFLscience (the real one, not the parody) and Slashdot are reporting that NASA has successfully tested their impossible space drive again. That’s incredibly misleading: Yes, the test was successful, but the engine itself isn’t. They already know it doesn’t work. They’re trying to figure out HOW it doesn’t work.

on Interstellar and Internal Consistency (spoilers!)

A fair warning: There are spoilers within.  Read at your own discretion. Christopher Nolan’s interstellar is out this week, and us regular astronomers are finally getting to see what critics have been gushing about and calling “the most scientifically accurate movie ever” (ok, not those words, but if you’re reading this at some point in…