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The Puzzle Of Fluffy Galaxies

In Galaxies by Brian Koberlein

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 Koberlein

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 Koberlein

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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How To Build A Pinhole Camera, And Why It Works

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein

As we prepare for the Great American Eclipse, you might have your eclipse glasses ready. If not, another great way to view the eclipse is with a pinhole camera. They are extremely easy to make, and you just need a cardboard box, some tin foil, scissors, tape and a toothpick. Read More

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What’s In It For Me?

In Big Science by Brian Koberlein

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 Koberlein

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

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How To Tell If Your Solar Eclipse Glasses Are Safe

In Science by Brian Koberlein

America will experience a total eclipse this month. Even if you aren’t in the path of totality on August 21, you will experience a partial eclipse, where the Moon blocks some portion of the Sun. Millions of Americans will be tempted to look up at the eclipse, which violates one of the most basic rules of astronomy: Do NOT look directly at the Sun. This rule always applies, even during a partial eclipse when the Sun looks like a crescent. You can permanently damage your eyes, so don’t do it. Fortunately, there are special eclipse glasses you can get that allow you to watch the eclipse without harming your eyes. Unfortunately, some eclipse glasses aren’t safe to use, so you shouldn’t use any eclipse glasses that haven’t been verified as safe. Read More

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Dark Matter Isn’t Warm And Fuzzy

In Cosmology by Brian Koberlein

Dark matter is one of the big mysteries of cosmology. Theoretically it explains cosmic phenomena such as the scale at which galaxies cluster, and observationally we see its effect through things like gravitational lensing, but it hasn’t been observed directly. This means we have a limited understanding its exact nature. As a result, there have been lots of theoretical ideas about what dark matter could be. But we now know that whatever dark matter is, it isn’t warm and fuzzy. Read More