Discover How We Came to Know the Cosmos

Planetary formation patterns and the probability of alien civilisations existing in the universe

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

First published on 24th November 2015. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

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: Evidence of flowing liquid water on Mars

Mountain on Mars that contains flowing water.

First published on 29th September 2015. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

In September 2015, 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. »

Sex and gender: Pioneering transgender and genderqueer scientists

Transgender Pride flag

First published on 16th July 2015. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

Many scientists used to think that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person's gender can be solely determined from their genitals or chromosomes. We now know that this is not the case. While a person's sex can, by definition, be determined from their genitals or chromosomes, gender is much more complex than this. »

Robot Dreams: Artificial neural networks and Google's Deep Dream

Image created using Deep Dream

First published on 7th July 2015. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

In June 2015, a team of software engineers working for Google released images created by programs designed for image recognition software. Image recognition software works by using artificial neural networks, which attempt to mimic neural networks in the brain. Information is input, artificial neurons process the image, and the identification is output. »

Gravity, weight, and mass: How to weigh objects in space

Size comparison between the Sun (which is 1 pixel) and a massive star (which is too large to fully fit in the frame).

First published on 10th April 2015. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

Everything with mass produces a gravitational field, which causes things to accelerate towards it. The gravity on the surface of the Earth is about 9.8 ms-2, which is often referred to as 1 g. This is just high enough to keep us from falling off the surface and drifting into space, but low enough to allow us to jump up and down. »

From Salvador Dali to Monty Python: Artists inspired by science

Space debris orbiting Earth.

First published on 4th August 2014. Last updated on 25th January 2018 by Dr Helen Klus

Scientists often utilise the same tools as artists to record or illustrate their ideas. They may create computer-generated images to use in academic papers, animations to show during presentations, or models to educate the public, and scientific organisations and agencies often employ artists to do this for them. »

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The Star Garden is a science news and science education website run by Dr Helen Klus.

How We Came to Know the Cosmos covers the history of physics focusing on space and time, light and matter, and the mind. It explains the simple discoveries we made in prehistoric times, and how we built on them, little by little, until the conclusions of modern theories seem inevitable. This is shown in a timeline of the universe.

The Star Garden covers the basics for KS3, KS4, and KS5 science revision including SATs, GCSE science, and A-level physics.