It was the news for which everyone had been waiting. At the end of last month, the popular press went wild. A planet had been discovered that was so much like Earth it was heralded as our best bet for supporting life. Positioned 16 light years away, Gliese (or GJ) 832c was a mere hop […]
At the end of March, the international scientific journal Nature published a paper announcing the discovery of a new dwarf planet in the outer reaches of our Solar System. This made a lot of people very excited. It also made a lot of astronomers very confused.
Embedded in the meteors that orbit our star are the oldest objects formed in the solar system. As the first solids to condense out of the gaseous nebula that surrounded the young Sun, their appearance is key to understanding the formation of terrestrial planets such as the Earth. Unfortunately for those wishing to unlock our […]
I build telescopes. This is what I tell people, if they should show the slightest interest. It usually instils just enough awe and sometimes a little jealousy; astronomy is the vocational equivalent to astronaut for the vertigo-sufferer. Of course I don’t build telescopes all on my own. At times, I’ve commissioned everything from optics to […]
It is now a couple of weeks since the Herschel telescope reached the end of its operational life after exhausting its supply of liquid helium (needed to keep the instruments and detectors cold enough). Much has already been said about the scientific importance of Herschel, which gave us an unprecedented view of the infrared universe, […]
Hello from Sydney! Welcome to my blog that will cover physics and issues affecting physicists, with an Antipodean slant. I’m a rare breed: a medical physicist turned science writer. In my clinical career I’ve done everything from plan complex radiation therapy treatments to decontaminate radioactive toilets. I arrived in the harbour city seven years ago […]
The recent results from the Planck satellite have garnered considerable interest among both scientists and the media. But from the discussions that have followed, I am learning at least as much about the nature of science as the origins of the universe.