- Did NASA’s Stereo A solar observation satellite capture an image of a planet-sized alien spaceship? Um, no. I can see why people think it looks that way, but there are several immediate strikes against it. 1) It resembles common glitches in astronomical observations. The detector is probably just getting residual afterimages of Mercury, in a similar way to when you get afterimages of a bright light if you look at it directly. (That’s not a completely accurate analogy, but it works well enough for a short post!) 2) A spaceship the size of a planet is great for science fiction, but ridiculously oversized in terms of practical engineering. (That’s not even getting into the challenges of transporting something that large between star systems!)
- If you want to see real and interesting images, have a peek at the latest set of pictures from Vesta. Real science trumps conspiracy theories any day, in my opinion.
- Freeman Dyson is a brilliant physicist and writer best known for his work reconciling the two approaches to quantum electrodynamics (including Richard Feynman’s clever diagrammatic approach). In recent years, though, he’s taken the stance that climate change isn’t harmful, and occasionally slips into the all-too-common arrogance of assuming knowledge he hath not. My friend Cedar Riener takes him to task for his ignorance about the history of psychology (and I learned a lot about the subject myself reading his post!). And let me just say: Dyson still is a capable scientist, so don’t let this stand as a criticism of the whole man (as Cedar does not). I saw him give an excellent talk on the mathematics of quasicrystals several years ago.
- Our Fearless Leader at Double X Science, Emily Willingham, writes eloquently about the need for scientific values in public discourse. Science argues from evidence, while pseudoscience resorts to what feels right and shuts down argument via censorship or other forms of suppression.
- What do you do if you find yourself on the other side of an argument with a scientist? Jacquelyn Gill wrote a guidebook!
Finally, here’s a stunningly beautiful movie of Jupiter, created from a series of high-resolution photographs. If you look carefully, you can even see the differential rotation between the pole regions and the equator.