One Universe at a Time

Credit: NASA 0

Six Degrees of Isaac Newton

There is a hexagonal cloud pattern at the north pole of Saturn. It was first discovered by Voyager in 1981, and was still there when Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2006. So it seems the pattern has been stable for more than 30 years. There’s been a great deal of debate about just how such a stable geometric shape could form in Saturn’s clouds, but it turns out the solution is surprisingly simple, and it traces back to some early experiments of Newton.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 0

Flare Up

Carbon 14 is radioactive, and decays over time. It is one of the ways we can date the age of living things long after they’ve died. The reason is because carbon 14 is generated in the atmosphere when high energy particles strike nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere, and living thing utilize that carbon while they are alive. Once they die the carbon 14 in them isn’t replenished, so as the carbon 14 decays it over time it gives us a measure of how long an organism has been dead.

Credit: NASA, J.J. Hester 0

Loop de Loop

Last month research project known as BICEP2 announced evidence of inflation within the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Now a new paper argues that a different effect known as a radio loop could produce similar results, which raises the question of whether inflation was detected after all.

Credit: NASA/Margarita Karovska 0

Wondrous Star

Mira is a red star in the constellation Cetus. It is a variable star, meaning that its brightness changes over time. The name Mira is Latin for “wondrous”, and so Mira is indeed a wondrous star.

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