What are facts?

16th February 2017

Photograph of the Earth taken from the International Space Station.

A theory will never become a law; theories and laws are two separate things. Both have been thoroughly tested, and so both are often referred to as facts. »

A Brief History of Dinosaurs

17th January 2017

Photograph of a Shoebill bird.

In the 20th Century, most people thought that all dinosaurs were lizard-like and extinct. We now know that dinosaurs are not lizards and that birds are a type of dinosaur. Scientists now refer to modern birds as avian dinosaurs and to extinct dinosaurs as non-avian dinosaurs, many of which had feathers and beaks. »

The Impossible Engine

1st December 2016

Photograph of the International Space Station.

Last month, NASA officially announced that they've tested British engineer Roger Shawyer’s controversial spaceship engine known as the EM Drive. They found that it appears to work, despite the fact that it appears to contradict the conservation of momentum, making it “as impossible as a perpetual motion machine”. »

The new alien water hole: How aliens could use lasers for both communication and cloaking

6th August 2016

Photograph of the Yepun Telescope emitting a laser.

In a paper published in MNRAS last month, astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey showed how we could cloak the Earth using lasers. We could also do the opposite, and use lasers to broadcast our presence. If we can do this, then presumably any other intelligent, technologically advanced species can do this too. »

Carl Sagan’s influence on space exploration

6th April 2016

Photograph of Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking lander.

In the 1960s, science journalism in the United States was sparse and mostly performed by journalists with little or no scientific background. Science was perceived as minimising the need for pseudoscience, but it didn’t fill the spiritual void this left in people. »

Cycles of destruction

28th January 2016

Photograph of the Ouarkziz Impact Crater in Algeria.

Over 180 impact craters have been identified on Earth, and most of these were discovered in the first half of the 20th century. Impacts have been associated with mass extinction events since the 1980s, with strong evidence coming from the Chicxulub Crater, which was linked to the extinction of most of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. »

Supermassive Black Holes and Stellar Consumption

27th December 2015

Artist’s impression of a flare emanating from a supermassive black hole.

Last month, a team of scientists led by Sjoert van Velzen of Johns Hopkins University and Gemma Anderson of ICRAR (the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research) in Perth discovered what happens when a supermassive black hole devours a star. »

Planetary formation and the probability of other civilisations existing in the Universe

24th November 2015

Painting showing astronauts working on a space colony that contains land and oceans.

Our understanding of planets has increased dramatically in the last decade, particularly since the launch of NASA’s Kepler satellite in 2009. This has resulted in the detection of thousands of extra-solar planets, and led to a better understanding of how planets form. »

Water in Space

29th September 2015

Mountain on Mars that contains flowing water.

Yesterday, NASA announced that they've found evidence of liquid water currently flowing on Mars. This began with the discovery of dark streaks on the sides of several craters. These are up to a few hundred meters long, and appear seasonally. »

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