Category: Science

  • Apollo to the Moon: We Were Explorers

    Apollo to the Moon: We Were Explorers

    In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July, two major players from the Apollo days of the 1960s and 70s appeared in Austin at SXSW to reflect on the Apollo program that sent 6 six missions and 12 people to the lunar surface. “We were explorers: our role models […]

  • Copenhagen: A Wild Improbability

    Copenhagen: A Wild Improbability

    This play about physics is, to use words uttered within the play itself, “a wild improbability.” Written by Michael Frayn, Copenhagen premiered in London in 1998. The Broadway opening in 2000 was crowned with success, garnering the Tony Award for Best Play. In a review of Frayn’s 2007 book The Human Touch, John Banville wrote […]

  • THE GATES OF HELL: First Black Hole Image

    THE GATES OF HELL: First Black Hole Image

    “We’re looking at a region that we’ve never looked at before — a region we cannot imagine being there. It feels like looking at the gates of Hell, at the end of space and time: the event horizon, the point of no return. That is awe-inspiring to me, at least, but it’s also important to […]

  • Finding Another Habitable Planet

    Finding Another Habitable Planet

    “The problem is monstrously hard.” That’s Dr. Scott Gaudi, speaking of the search for an Earth-like planet orbiting another star. “There is a whole host of information we need to infer life on an exoplanet..” A bedrock issue that needs addressing is how Earth itself was formed. Dr David Bennett, one of the panelists at […]

  • Extremely Large Telescope: A Progress Report

    Extremely Large Telescope: A Progress Report

    At 39 metres in diameter, the mirror of Europe’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the largest in the world. Scientists plan to begin serious observations with it around 2025, from a mountain-top site 10,000 feet high in Chile. Unlike the 5-metre (200-inch) Hale telescope in California (which was the largest in the world when […]

  • Astronomy in the 2030s

    Astronomy in the 2030s

    No one can predict what discoveries will be made in the 2030s, but we can say with some certainty what space-based telescopes will be used to make those discoveries. That is the subject of many papers being presented this week in Austin and an international telescope conference. It typically takes 20 years between the time […]

  • We Are Not Alone: Nobel laureate in Austin

    We Are Not Alone: Nobel laureate in Austin

    “Most modern scientists think we’re not alone,” said Dr. John Mather, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006. He was referring to intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and it is the search for planets like Earth that is motivating many of the astronomical advances being made now. Mather, who cautioned that “Earth-like […]

  • Gravity Waves Now Part of Pop Culture: Kip Thorne

    Gravity Waves Now Part of Pop Culture: Kip Thorne

    Last year he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for one of the greatest discoveries in human history. Even though it took more than a century between the time Einstein said they exist, until they were discovered, it took only days for gravitational waves to enter pop culture. Dr. Kip Thorne showed a slide of […]

  • Why Don’t I Have a Nobel Prize?

    Why Don’t I Have a Nobel Prize?

    In his role as Vice President for Research at the University of Texas, Dr. Daniel Jaffe has developed instruments used to expand our knowledge of the universe. Why, he asks, “don’t I have a Nobel Prize?” This was one of the provocative questions posed to an audience at UT recently, when Jaffe delivered a talk […]

  • The Showman of Astronomy

    The Showman of Astronomy

    In every generation there is a populariser of science. The first that drew big crowds on a regular basis was Sir Humphrey Davy, whose lectures in London two centuries ago set the stage for all future showmen. The most recent, and famous, of these popularisers was Carl Sagan. I met him several times in two […]