A New Look

2 November 2020

Another month, another newsletter. Autumn has reached my neck of the woods, and the leaves have been falling faster than I can clear the yard. If weather predictions are correct, I’ll need to clear snow and rake leaves at the same time.

This month had slightly fewer posts because I’ve been making backend changes to the website. This included a few design tweaks. Let me know what you think about the changes, and if there are other design aspects you’d like to see.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Four new fiction posts went up this month. A brother and sister are on a quest to avenge their parents. A librarian tries to encourage a young boy to read. A father realizes his daughter is all grown up. A cop discovers a mystery he’ll try to solve. These stories are less about original ideas and more about sharpening my pencil as I learn how to lay out a scene. As always, feedback is most welcome.

Science News

Black holes dominated much of astronomy news this month. A team of astronomers observed a star being ripped apart by a black hole. It’s a process sometimes called spaghettification. Another team studied the shadow of the supermassive black hole in M87 to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. No real surprises as to the result. A third team looked at the stars orbiting the black hole at the center of our galaxy, and how their motion could tell us how fast the black hole rotates.

More black hole news came through gravitational wave astronomy. Most of the work in this field focuses on black hole mergers, which create a chirp of gravitational waves we can detect. We had thought mergers only produce one chirp, but new research finds some mergers can produce multiple chirps. This could help us learn whether black holes have a more complex structure than Einstein predicts. Another study looked at how gravitational waves move through space. Since they move at the speed of light, they can be deflected (or lensed) by massive objects, just as light is sometimes lensed. This could help us map the structure of the cosmos.

Finally, a few fun articles. We have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Most are discovered by the transit method, where the planet passes in front of the star, making it appear dimmer. So what if aliens on a distant world are looking at the Sun? Could they discover Earth in the same way? If we ever want to communicate with them, we’ll need a better way to send messages through space. A better method would also be useful when communicating with crewed missions to Mars and beyond.

Until Next Time

There will be more science and fiction posts in November. If you have science topics you’d like me to cover, just send them my way. Until then, I wish you all well.