On Moments of Cosmic Awareness

I don't know that I want to live forever. Forever is a really long time. Maybe the Big Rip happens 22 billion years from now or the universe avoids the Big Rip and suffers the Big Crunch many billions of years later or the universe suffers heat death sometime around the year 1 Googol. InContinue reading “On Moments of Cosmic Awareness”

On Winter Reading

I have never read The Sandman. It's a curious lapse in my comic book reading. I generally like Neil Gaiman's other comics work (though I was cold on 1602). The idea of a Lord of Dreams is compelling. I love Wesley Dodds, the superhero Sandman of the 1930s (and I religiously read Sandman Mystery Theatre),Continue reading “On Winter Reading”

On the Origin of Saturn’s Rings

One scientist thinks that the origin of Saturn’s rings has been found. A moon, at least the size of Titan, if not larger, collided with the gas giant in the early years of the solar system. As it was torn apart by tidal forces, its frozen surface spun off and formed a ring system. That’sContinue reading “On the Origin of Saturn’s Rings”

On Venturing Forth to the Moon

Plinky asks today: "If you were offered a free trip to the moon, would you go?" And there's a part of me that wants to say, "Well… duh." 😉 And then there's the part of me that wants to say, "Now that I've gotten the snarky answer out of the way…" Who hasn't dreamt ofContinue reading “On Venturing Forth to the Moon”

On Cosmic Thoughts

Seeing a picture of a planet, orbiting a star hundreds of light years away, puts things into perspective — the universe is vast, unknowable, unimaginable. I mention this, because the Gemini Observatory has released a telescopic photograph of an extrasolar planet. A planet! Orbiting another sun! We’ve known for two decades that they exist, butContinue reading “On Cosmic Thoughts”

On Telescopes and Temptation

I thought, seriously, of blowing my paycheck on a reflecting telescope. A couple of us had gone to Sam’s Club on our lunch break. One of the writers in the department needed to pick up some bulk food for a Christmas party. We wandered the cavernous building, and I felt somewhat exposed and endangered; IContinue reading “On Telescopes and Temptation”

On Galileo’s Birthday

Four hundred and forty-five years ago today, Galileo was born. One of the leading scientists of the early modern period, Galileo pioneered the use of the telescope, championed the Copernican heliocentric system, and was considered the father of modern science. I received a few days ago a NASA press release — 2009 has been namedContinue reading “On Galileo’s Birthday”

On the Universe We Live In

Sometimes, I really wish I could live to see the world three billion years hence. Okay, I take that back. It’s not just sometimes. I wish that all the time. In three billion years, give or take a few hundred million years, astronomers believe that the Milky Way, our home galaxy, and M-31, better knownContinue reading “On the Universe We Live In”