Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Always be skeptical of first reports ...

Carl Sagan had it right: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." 

More dark than light
In that spirit, see: Astronomers Just Solved The Bizarre Mystery of a Galaxy With No Dark Matter

Monday, July 1, 2019

New Horizons, metaphorical and literal

Did you savor the Pluto closeups returned by NASA's New Horizons probe in July 2015? Of course you did -- it's the kind of thing that appeals to the kind of folk who visit SF and Nonsense.

The saga of New Horizons itself is every bit as fascinating, written (to be precise, coauthored) by the man who first dreamed of the mission and eventually became its principal investigator. The book covers the guerilla struggle to interest NASA in the mission concept, the funding wars, the mad dash (once funding was finally approved) to complete the probe while Jupiter and Pluto still had the proper alignment (celestial mechanics is a harsh mistress), the long flight, and the hectic close encounter with Pluto.

In short, I highly recommend Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, by (the aforementioned PI) Alan Stern and fellow scientist/author David Grinspoon.