Cosmopomorphism

I’ve just finished a story about gas and galaxies.  You’re bored already, aren’t  you.  After I’d sent the editor a query about it, he took months to respond and then wanted several rewrites of the query; I think he was bored too.  If gas and galaxies are so boring, why did I want so much […]

The Writings on the Wall

    You’d think a wall panel in the Galileo gallery in the Galileo wing of the Galileo Museum would be a good place to get an accurate context for Galileo’s historical significance. You’d be wrong: “These astronomical discoveries heralded a revolution destined to demolish an image of the universe that had lasted for two thousand […]

Redux: Auditing Astronomy Class

This was first published in Dec 6, 2011 — it was originally a guest post, Cameron wasn’t yet an LWONer — and was honorable-mentioned for the American Institute of Physics’ 2012 science writing prize in the New Media category. Her mom sounds like a doll. I’m not sure exactly where this story begins, but maybe it’s […]

SHE?

My first interviews for this current astronomy story were with the astronomers I’ve known and known of for decades — whose research I’ve followed, whose talks I’ve attended, whom I’ve interviewed, as I said, for decades.  The astronomers were what they have been likely to be:  men. Astronomer:  Werk looked at other metal lines.  She […]

Things that Smell

My nose has been extra-sensitive lately. I can catch dog food at a hundred paces, both the kitchen and my still-diaper-wearing kids’ bedroom feel like odor minefields, and I have to walk along the lineup of barbecues at the nearby park with my shirt over my face. It’s a good thing I’m not an astronaut.

Union and Reunion

Splendid, isn’t it. It’s UGC 8335 — one name, so once it was apparently mistaken for one thing though obviously it’s two. They’re spiral galaxies in the process of running into and through each other. This is a photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope; the galaxies are really there; this is real.  You could think […]

Giving History the Finger

The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is a satisfying sight. Not because the resemblance to an obscene gesture is unmistakable (though that’s pretty amusing). And not because such a gesture might suggest that in the end a scientist who suffered persecution for the sin of being correct had gotten the last word—well, two words (though that would be amusing, […]

Anti-Copernican Shock

[NOW WITH NEW VISUALIZATION:  see below] Planets around other stars, exoplanets, have given me a long-running case of boredom – how long can you sustain OMG LOOKIT THAT PLANET HAS TWO SUNS? not long.  I keep writing about them anyway.  I do it because 1) sometimes somebody pays me to; and 2) the planets may […]