Where Is Everybody?

July 14, 2017

Enrico Fermi was born in Rome in 1901. He was one of the great physicists of the 20th century and made many important contributions to physics including a ground breaking theory of the weak nuclear force that predicted the existence of neutrinos. He was also a leading experimental physicist and created the first nuclear reactor […]

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To Boldly Go…

July 14, 2017

We Earthlings have long dreamed of visiting the stars. This fantasy may soon be realised – remotely at least. The first artificial craft ever sent beyond the solar system was Pioneer 10, launched in March 1972. Its main mission was to study the planet Jupiter and it was the first probe to visit such a […]

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The Gorgon’s Head!

July 11, 2017

A great cosmic drama plays out above our heads every night. Perseus, the Greek epic hero, was challenged to visit the land of the hyperboreans, a semi-mythical bleak and frosty land beyond the north wind known today as the island of Britain, his task to retrieve the head of the gorgon Medusa. The beautiful Medusa […]

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Raise Your Glasses to the Skies!

July 3, 2017

Science fiction writers have long assumed that there are planetary systems around most stars. The stars are so distant that confirming this belief was impossible until relatively recently. But in the last two decades the number of confirmed exoplanets, as they are known, has steadily increased. The most fruitful method for finding them is to […]

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The Best of All Possible Worlds

March 15, 2017

Voltaire is best known today for Candide, a short novel published in 1779. The young hero Candide travels the world in a tale littered with rape, murder, pestilence, enslavement and natural catastrophe. Amidst this apocalyptic nightmare Candide’s tutor Dr Pangloss maintains a philosophical detachment, arguing against all evidence to the contrary that we live in […]

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The Event Horizon Telescope

March 2, 2017

The image below shows a beautiful region of the night sky in the constellation Sagittarius. The asterism known to amateur astronomers as the ‘teapot’ forms part of the constellation. This is rather apt as the many nebulae and gas clouds located towards the centre of the galaxy appear as steam rising from the spout of the […]

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Diamonds in the Sky

November 1, 2014

Alvan Clark, an American telescope manufacturer,  was testing a new 18.5″ telescope in 1862 when he discovered that Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, has a very faint companion. Sirius is known as the Dog Star, so its companion Sirius B is sometimes referred to as the Pup. In 1914, Walter Adams described the […]

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Higgs News

August 20, 2014

It is two years since CERN made its momentous announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson on 4th July 2012. The Large Hadron Collider is currently being upgraded and is expected to restart operations in April 2015. Before it was shut down the LHC was colliding protons with a total energy of 8 TeV. […]

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A Telescopic Behemoth

June 25, 2014

The Starry Messenger It is just 400 years since Galileo first pointed his telescope at the night sky – a mere five lifetimes ago. His enhanced view of the heavens brought about a revolution in our understanding of the universe. Everywhere Galileo looked he made new discoveries. He found that the Moon was mountainous and […]

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Viewing the Big Bang Through Sunglasses

March 23, 2014

In 1929 Edwin Hubble revealed that distant galaxies are receding from us and that the more distant the galaxy the faster it is racing away. Running the universe backwards, this means that the galaxies must have been much closer together in the past. It would appear that the universe and everything in it were compressed […]

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