The interiors of large gaseous planets like Jupiter exhibit high temperatures and pressures, creating states of matter alien to our daily experience. In particular, hydrogen can become metallic, meaning that electrons are shared between the atoms in a kind of free-flowing soup. Caleb Scharf highlights new experiments showing that maybe this metallic hydrogen can actually dissolve the rocky core many astronomers believe are at the centers of Jovian planets. If this result holds up, it certainly alters the way we think about the formation and evolution of gas giants. Personally, I find the idea fascinating and will watch the development with interest. (Warning: post contains a song title, which will lodge in your brain forever.)
- Following the kerfuffle over the highly gendered “science kits for girls” last week, Janet Stemwedel has explored both why gendering science is a bad thing—but also why it’s not good to come down too hard on pinkifying science: “Indeed, if the girls one knows who are into science are uniformly those who depart from society’s picture of femininity, it may seem to the girls just working out whether to explore science that there is a forced choice between being feminine and pursuing science.” How can we reach out to girls who like pink and princesses, but should still find a safe place in the world of science? See also Krystal D’Costa’s excellent post “Science Can Be Pink But it Should Also Be Equal”.
- Alan Alda is best known as an actor, but he’s also a major advocate for science outreach. Recently, he wrote and staged a play about the life of Marie Curie; Jason Goldman interviewed Alda about Curie and his work in science advocacy.
- From the awesome Lou Woodley, we have YuleTube: an Advent Calendar featuring a science news story every day from now until Christmas.
- Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day travels to a place most of us will never go—Antarctica—to witness a solar eclipse.