The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the first-ever detection of gravitational waves, confirming a 100-year-old prediction of Einstein’s. The discovery, announced in 2015, launched a new era of gravitational wave astronomy, but also raises challenging philosophical questions about the nature of space, time and gravity. What are gravitational waves and how are they being used to study the universe? And is there an inherent conflict between General Relativity and key metaphysical principles?
The wonderful Richard Feynman lectures at Cornell on The Character of Physical Law – Part 1 The Law of Gravitation
Former astronaut Chris Hadfield helps debunk (and confirm!) some common myths about space. Is there any sound in space? Does space smell like burnt steak? Is NASA working on warp speed?
“[H]alf of that greening comes from carbon dioxide itself. In other words, the fact that we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air means there’s more fuel to grow plants and when a plant has more carbon dioxide in yet doesn’t have to open its pores so much so it doesn’t lose so much water in absorbing the carbon dioxide that it needs to grow and so there’s tons of experiments now showing that plants grow faster if there’s more carbon dioxide in the air; roughly speaking on average for a 200 parts per million increase in carbon dioxide in the air you get a 30% improvement in plant growth. That’s experiments both in the field and in the laboratory. So it’s really quite a remarkable phenomenon here because of the burning of fossil fuels we’re making the planet greener. It’s an astonishing discovery I think. I think it’s rather amazing and of course it’s an incredibly unwelcome discovery for the environmental movement. They don’t want to hear this at all and how is it possible…” – Matt Ridley
Set foot on an alien world, on average three to four billion miles from the warmth of the sun.
On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto, scanning the dwarf planet in unprecedented detail. Using data from that flyby, The New York Times created a seven-minute virtual reality film. Fly over Pluto’s rugged surface, stand among the icy al-Idrisi Mountains and touch down in frost-rimmed Elliot Crater. The film was produced in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Universities Space Research Association.