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Author Archives: Jonathan Roberts
As eager as we are to explore the solar system and beyond, space is not a very hospital place. Muscular atrophy, increased exposure to harmful radiation, and insomnia are just a few of the effects of spaceflight on the human body. Even acknowledging these known risks and the possibility of others, many people are eager … Continue reading Ethics of Space Travel → Continue reading → Continue reading
Is liquid water necessary for life to form? If judging strictly from the only life we know, of course. However, humanity’s exploration of the universe has just begun, and we can’t say for sure what lies beyond Earth. Other worlds within our solar system have organic compounds that life could possibly evolve from. In particular, … Continue reading Methane-Based Life → Continue reading → Continue reading
As it currently stands, Earth has no recourse if a large asteroid decides to strike. Something on the scale of the Cretaceous-Paleogene event would devastate humanity. So, how do we protect ourselves against such an impact? Enter NASA and the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness and Strategy Plan.” According to them, five steps need to be … Continue reading Asteroid Defense Systems → Continue reading → Continue reading
Venus is the unfortunate victim of a runaway greenhouse effect. Not only does this make the planet uninhabitable, it also causes a tremendous degree of difficulty in observing the planet’s surface. However, there are many interesting things to gain from Venus by just looking at the atmosphere, including a massive gravity wave. Gravity waves in … Continue reading Gravity Waves → Continue reading → Continue reading
In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 to study the far reaches of our solar system. The program was a tremendous success: not only did the probe gather useful information about Jupiter and Saturn, it also captured the first detailed images of their moons (including a flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon). Even now, after Voyager … Continue reading Retrieving Voyager 1 – A Rescue Mission → Continue reading → Continue reading
This story begins where so many great ones do (including the unnecessarily long URL of my blog) – by making fun of Bill O’Reilly: Like many people. Bill can’t grasp how the tides operate. And, in his defense, the explanation isn’t exactly obvious to the layperson. As the moon orbits Earth, its gravitational influence produces … Continue reading Tides and the Limits of Human Understanding → Continue reading → Continue reading
Isaac Newton (1643-1727) was a revolutionary figure in the field of astronomy, and science in general. Newton expanded upon the ideas of Galileo by identifying the force of gravity, and subsequently formulating the law of gravitation. Along with the law of gravitation, he introduced the three laws of motion. Other contributions to astronomy include observing … Continue reading Historical Astronomers in Context → Continue reading → Continue reading
It’s an incredible experience to observe a solar eclipse, but not only for the eclipse itself. A large portion of the animal kingdom reacts to solar eclipses, some of them in surprisingly unique ways. A 2001 study of African wildlife showed that hippos feel like their daily routine has been disrupted, and act nervously after … Continue reading Eclipses and Wildlife → Continue reading → Continue reading