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Nibiru, Climate Change, and Other Pseudoscience

In Pseudoscience by Brian Koberlein7 Comments

In four days, Nibiru will strike the Earth, raining destruction upon us all. September 23, 2017 to be precise. At least according to a YouTube video with nearly 3 million views. Of course, that’s crazy. There is no Nibiru, and nothing remotely planet sized has any chance of striking Earth. But that hasn’t stopped people from sending astronomers emails, or calling local science centers to ask about the apocalypse. Even when we assure them there’s no risk, or explain how we know Nibiru doesn’t exist, they still have doubts. We’re probably lying, or haven’t looked at the “real” evidence. Read More

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How Saving Energy Can Hurt Astronomy

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

Artificial light has transformed human society. It frees us from the darkness, and allows us to light our homes and communities. It has also made the night sky increasingly less dark, which poses a challenge to astronomers. And it’s gotten worse in recent years, thanks to an energy-saving light known as LEDs. Read More

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The Puzzle Of Fluffy Galaxies

In Galaxies by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

When we look in the night sky, we can see hundreds of stars. In remote and dark areas we can see a few thousand stars with the naked eye. But imagine a night so bare you could only see a couple dozen stars. Most of them distant and dim. This would be our sky if our solar system existed in an ultra-diffuse galaxy. Read More

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Did You Look At The Sun? So Did Galileo

In History by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

If you caught the eclipse this week, you probably took care to use eclipse glasses or a pinhole camera. But you may have caught a glance at the Sun with the unaided eye. Perhaps while looking at the Sun during totality you saw a bit of the Sun come back before looking away. If you did, you wouldn’t be alone. Lots of people have looked at the Sun before, including Galileo. Read More

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And Thanks For Your Support

In Big Science by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

One of the overarching goals of the Big Science TV project is to break down the perception that scientists are different from everyone else. There’s a common view that we sit in an ivory tower of academia, looking down upon the unwashed masses and telling people what to think and what to believe. In reality we have jobs that can be tiring and frustrating, we pay our bills, save for retirement, and worry about our kids. Read More

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What’s In It For Me?

In Big Science by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

Whenever I give a presentation to the general public, there’s one type of question I always get. Why should we spend money on this stuff? What good does it do? What about people who are starving in this country? What’s in it for me? The answer they’re looking for is typically an argument that this science will lead to something tangible. A better cell phone, draught resistant wheat, self-driving cars. But those kinds of breakthroughs typically come from targeted research, not pure science. The goal of studying gas clouds in distant solar systems is not better cell phones, but a deeper understanding of the cosmos. How could that possibly affect you on a personal level? It affects you in lots of subtle ways, such as increasing political stability in the world. Read More

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Big Science

In Big Science by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

It is often thought that science is about data, but at its heart science is about stories. The universe has a story to tell, and through science we can learn a part of that story. When I write about scientific discoveries, I try to tell that story. If I tell the story well, then it becomes both understandable and relevant to readers. But there is a part of the scientific story we don’t often tell. That’s why I’ve been working on a new projectRead More