Science in the News


Touch the Big Bang

So much of modern science, (the search for the Higgs boson, the attempts to make nuclear fusion a reality, and even the latest dinosaur discovery) are too far away, too hot, too cold, too large or too small to get our hands on. But here's some modern science you can actually reach out and touch.
The Cosmic Microwave Background - as seen by Planck. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

The REAL First Day of Spring

Spring is on the way. Really! Despite the chilly weather and occasional snow dump, the second half of March invariably brings on scientific-sounding descriptions of something called the vernal equinox, the day when daytime and nighttime are finally equal. It marks the time when daylight starts lasting longer, nights get shorter, and (eventually) warm weather returns to our fair land.

What is rarely discussed, though, is why. Why should the Earth's axis tilt in such a way to create varying seasons? Why are seasons so predictable, year after year after year? Do other planets have similar cycles? Will our pattern ever change?

Panorama of COSI on a sunny day

A Higgs Update

A while ago we reported on the discovery of the Higgs particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe. On March 14, CNN and other news outlets reported some new information to coincide with both pi day (3.14) and Albert Einstein's birthday.

So what's it all about?


Twas the Night Before Mars-mas

An ode to the Mars Curiosity written by our very own Emily Dorrian who is an Associate Faculty Leader for Operations:

Twas the night before Mars-mas, when all through Gale Crater,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a gator;
Mount Sharp was piled in the center with care,
In hopes Curiosity soon would be there;


Alien Invader!

Imagine yourself on the surface of Mars. The temperature is a balmy zero degrees Fahrenheit. The pink, nearly cloudless Martian sky surrounds a tiny but blindingly bright Sun, shining its feeble light on the frigid surface. In other words, it’s a beautiful day on the Red Planet.

Suddenly the sky opens up in a fiery and terrifying display. What can only be described as a creature from another world begins a rapid descent to the Martian surface. In the space of seven minutes, what was a speck of fire in the sky becomes an enormous robotic vehicle firmly planted on the surface of Mars. It promises quite a show.

First a parachute catches as much of the thin Martian air as it can, slowing the body of the craft down from a blistering 900 mph to a still-deadly 180 mph.

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