No one can shoot a satellite down!

Was the title provocative enough for you? For the past several days headlines all over the web have read “US to shoot down satellite.” Ok, first off, that satellite is on its way down no matter what. That would be the problem. It doesn’t actually need shot “down.” Second, after it gets nailed by whatever our government and military, in their wisdom, decide to fire at it, the satellite is going to hopefully smash apart into a bazillion little pieces, and some of those pieces will end up going up, while others stay in orbit, so in reality we are shooting the satellite in all directions. An accurate, and still fantastic, headline should read, “US plans to blast satellite into little bits” or “US plans to blast...

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With a lever, I move the Earth

With a lever, I move the Earth

The other day, Astronomy Cast listener James S. sent us this really great question: “Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum strong enough and I’ll move the world” –Archimedes No doubt both of you guys have heard the quote. My question is just how long of a lever would be needed, and where would the fulcrum need to be placed for an average human to lift the weight of the earth. If we assume that the weight of the Earth were being pulled on by a gravity equal to that of the earths gravity. This is actually a really good question, and was way harder to work through than I had originally anticipated and requires a number of assumptions along the way. First off, if the Earth is being pulled on by another Earth, where is that other Earth...

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Carnival 41!

It’s that time again. A GIANT carnival awaits you over on New Frontiers Blog. It may require more than one circuit to take it all in 🙂

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Do we really need Dark Matter and Dark Energy?

Do we really need Dark Matter and Dark Energy?

I’m still here, but it’s an exam week, so I bring you another guest blogger, Ethan Siegel, who knows way more about dark matter than I probably ever will (a theorist even!). Enjoy his guest post! This is Ethan from Starts With A Bang! over here at Pamela’s blog, Star Stryder. I was pretty pleased that she came across a couple of press releases and actually thought of me… so let’s have at it! First off, what do the press releases say? Dr HongSheng Zhao, of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, has shown that the puzzling dark matter and its counterpart dark energy may be more closely linked than was previously thought. … Dr Zhao reports that, “Dark energy has already revealed its presence by masking as...

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Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

The following is a guest blog post written by Dr. Lenore Horner of SIUE (a physics professor who works down the hall from me and who has the best toys in the department.) In late October or early November of last year, eons in academic life, one of our graduate students introduced me to something that I think is going to have a dramatic impact on teaching physics and on how we interact with computers, especially in the classroom. Why do I think this is going to be so important? It’s cool, it’s powerful and flexible, it’s cheap, and a fair number of our students already have or want one. The gadget I’m referring to is the remote for the Wii gaming platform, sometimes called the Wiimote. The Wiimote measures acceleration and position in...

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