June 2008

100th Anniversary of a Cosmic Warning

June 30, 2008

By Larry Klaes “Suddenly in the north sky… the sky was split in two, and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared covered with fire… At that moment there was a bang in the sky and a mighty crash… The crash was followed by a noise like stones falling from […]

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Getting to Know a Familiar Star

June 28, 2008

The 60th Carnival of Space is now up at Slacker Astronomy, and if you want to see some fine science writing, I’ll point you this week to the host, whose essay on Regulus shows what can be done when a scientist with serious writing skills takes apart an interesting scientific paper. Doug Welch knows what […]

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Asteroid Impacts and an Approaching Anniversary

June 27, 2008

With the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska impact in Siberia coming up on Monday (and we’ll look at it closely then), several items seem germane to the topic of asteroid deflection. Yesterday, a technical briefing at the University of Calgary outlined the Canadian NEOSSat (Near Earth Orbit Surveillance Satellite) mission, a space telescope designed to […]

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The Explosive Cosmos

June 26, 2008

By Larry Klaes Just how dangerous a place is our universe? As Larry Klaes notes, the apparent calm of a quiet summer sky masks events that can dwarf the imagination. New instruments, particularly those in space, are now giving us an unprecedented look at stellar flares and exploding stars, allowing us to observe the earliest […]

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Dark Energy Survey Advances

June 25, 2008

Figuring out what makes up 74 percent of the universe is no small matter. But the late 20th Century discovery that the rate of expansion of the universe is not slowing but accelerating makes the research all but imperative. The Dark Energy Survey is behind the construction of an extraordinarily sensitive camera that will be […]

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Planet Formation Around the Sun’s Dusty Disk

June 24, 2008

The dusty disks around other stars can tell us much about how planets form, creating a catalog of systems in various stages of development. But some of the best evidence for our own system’s formation has to be dug out of the ground. It’s based on the chondrules found in certain meteorites that seem to […]

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Physical Constants in the Cosmos

June 23, 2008

Have the laws of physics stayed the same throughout the history of the cosmos? It’s an interesting question because even minute changes to physical constants could imply the existence of extra dimensions, of the sort posited by string theorists. But that’s a big ‘could’, because despite earlier controversial findings, at least one cornerstone constant — […]

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Extinctions and Impacts: A New Look

June 20, 2008

Asteroid and comet impacts seem to be obvious culprits in mass extinctions on Earth. The heavily cratered Moon reminds us how severe earlier bombardments have been, and it’s an easy segue to note that 23 extinction events are now thought to have occurred since the beginnings of life on our planet. In the past 540 […]

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Alpha Centauri and the Long Haul

June 19, 2008

Projects that take more than a single generation to complete — the Ultimate Project that would build a multi-generational starship is a classic example — keep the issue of long-term thinking bubbling in these pages. The immense distances to the stars almost force the issue upon us. I’m reminded of something Hoppy Price told me […]

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The Ultimate Project to the Stars

June 18, 2008

By Larry Klaes Tau Zero journalist Larry Klaes takes on an old subject with a new twist: The multi-generational starship. It’s a familiar trope in science fiction (think Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop or Heinlein’s ‘Universe’), but one given modern impetus in the hands of a small team of visionaries dedicated to making it happen. These guys […]

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