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Wednesday July 11th 2012

‘Space’ Archives

Star Consciousness: An Alternative to Dark Matter

Star Consciousness: An Alternative to Dark Matter

by Dr. Gregory L. Matloff Gregory Matloff is a major figure in what might be called the ‘interstellar movement,’ the continuing effort to analyze our prospects for travel to the stars. Greg is Emeritus Associate Professor and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at New York City College of Technology as well as Hayden [...]

Exoplanets: Weeding Out False Positives

Exoplanets: Weeding Out False Positives

The success of the Kepler mission in sifting through a field of more than 150,000 stars to locate transiting planets is undeniable, and the number of planets thus far discovered has been used to estimate how often planets occur around stars like the Sun. Now comes a paper to remind us that statistical analysis based on Kepler results assumes that [...]

Brown Dwarfs Sparser than Expected

Brown Dwarfs Sparser than Expected

Nobody has been anticipating the results from WISE — the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer — any more than I have. Speculations about the number of brown dwarfs in the galaxy have been all over the map, with some suggesting they might be as plentiful as M-dwarfs, which make up perhaps 80 percent of the stellar population. But the [...]

Science, Fiction and the Sail

Science, Fiction and the Sail

Thinking about the poem “To Sail Beyond the Sun: A Luminous Collage,” which I published excerpts from yesterday, I was reminded that if Ray Bradbury didn’t spend a lot of time on solar sails, many of his compatriots did. Indeed, the early story of the solar sail is inseparable from science fiction. Astounding Science Fiction’s John [...]

On Ray Bradbury

On Ray Bradbury

Thinking of Ray Bradbury, as I suppose most of us were yesterday after learning of his death, I found my reminiscences of his work mixing with what was to have been today’s topic, solar sails and their beamed sail counterparts. I’ve read almost all of Bradbury’s work up through the 1960s and admittedly little after that, but he’s a writer [...]

A Space Telescope on the Cheap

A Space Telescope on the Cheap

Back in 1997, astronaut John Grunsfeld pulled off one of the great radio gags of all time by calling in to National Public Radio’s ‘Car Talk’ program while orbiting the Earth aboard Atlantis in STS-81. He had called to complain about his vehicle’s performance which, as he told the show’s hosts — known as ‘Click and Clack, the [...]

Big Sails, Challenging Dreams

Big Sails, Challenging Dreams

I’ve been thinking about solar sails these past few days, a topic that inevitably invokes Arthur Holly Compton, who first demonstrated that x-rays have particle-like properties. Compton’s experiments in 1923 produced a body of work for which he would receive the Nobel Prize in Physics later that decade. Thanks to him we learned that while [...]

HD 189733b: An Evaporating World?

HD 189733b: An Evaporating World?

While we wait for the last transit of Venus of the century, it’s worth remembering how tricky transit studies can be when we push them out to exoplanetary distances. You would think that catching a transit of a planet like Venus, closer to us than the Sun, would be simplicity itself, but the orbital planes of Venus and the Earth are not [...]

Is Our Civilization Detectable?

Is Our Civilization Detectable?

I haven’t even finished the first line of this post and I’m already in a digressive mood. The mental sidetrack comes from yesterday’s talk about the Square Kilometer Array, whose primary installations are now to be built in both South Africa and Australia. By observing an object through many instruments simultaneously, astronomers can use [...]

All Quiet Around Gliese 581

All Quiet Around Gliese 581

When you’re looking for signs of an extraterrestrial civilization, you can take two basic approaches. Think back to Frank Drake’s initial SETI experiment at Green Bank in 1960, when because of limited resources and time he chose specific targets: Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti. The choice made sense at the time because both were nearby stars and [...]

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