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Win Some, Lose Some

In History by Brian KoberleinLeave a Comment

On a calm November evening in 1988, the 300 foot radio telescope at Green Bank Observatory collapsed. While the collapse was a huge blow to radio astronomy, it is somewhat surprising that it lasted as long as it did. The radio telescope was proposed in 1960 as a way to fill the observational gap between earlier radio telescopes and telescope arrays such as the VLA, and was intended to operate for about five years. In a way it was meant to nurture success out of failure. Read More

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Chicken Universe

In Pseudoscience by Brian Koberlein3 Comments

I have a theory. Maybe the Sun isn’t powered by the fusion of hydrogen in its core, maybe it’s powered by chickens. Now, I don’t have a fancy Ph.D. in chickenology, but I’ve raised chickens. I know chicken behavior when I see it. It seems pretty obvious that the Sun is powered by chickens. Don’t believe me? Just watch this YouTube video that proves it. Read More

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The Gilded Age

In Chemistry by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

The first elements to appear in the Universe were hydrogen and helium, created soon after the big bang. Other elements on the periodic table are produced through nuclear interactions within stars. Lighter elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen are formed through nuclear fusion in a star’s core, but heavier elements such as gold are formed through catastrophic events such as a supernova explosion or the collision of neutron stars. It’s known as r-process nucleosynthesis (due to the rapid neutron interactions) and is still a bit of a mystery. Read More

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The Human Equation

In Life by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

There’s been a flurry of discussion about academic diversity recently. This time its about the lack of conservatives in universities, but it could just as easily be about gender, or ethnic and cultural backgrounds, or economic diversity. But why should we care about diversity at all? Isn’t science supposed to be a meritocracy? Read More

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Astronomers Probably Discovered 1,284 New Planets

In Exoplanets by Brian KoberleinLeave a Comment

NASA’s Kepler mission has announced the discovery of 1,284 newly confirmed planets, raising the total confirmed exoplanets to more than 3,000. While this is a big step forward in exoplanet astronomy, it is also part of a shift in how exoplanets are discovered. That’s because these new planets weren’t discovered individually, but rather through an automated algorithm that gives candidate planets a statistical thumbs up or down. Read More

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Lost And Found

In Supernovae by Brian Koberlein4 Comments

In the spring 0f 1006 an object appeared in the night sky in the constellation Lupus. Its appearance was noted by astronomers across the world, and it was said to be extremely bright. By some accounts it could be seen during the day, and estimates put it at being 16 times brighter than Venus. It is thought to have been the brightest supernova to appear in recorded human history. Read More

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An Artist’s Eye

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

When a new astronomical discovery is made, the feature image is often an artist’s rendering. When we discover a new planet or black hole, the actual image we get isn’t visually impressive, so an artistic image can hook the reader and provide an imaginative vision of what’s actually out there. It’s a tradition that has been used for centuries. Read More