Black Holes Only Grow So Big

A few weeks ago there was a fairly cool paper on arXiv that suggested that supermassive black holes may only be able to grow so big. This triggered several Astronomy Cast listeners to write and basically say “Huh?” We addressed this a little bit in today’s questions show (real show to follow tomorrow or Wednesday – we had problems with a corrupt audio file over the weekend and got behind). I wasn’t able to give as thoughtful a response in the show as I might have liked however, so I’m going to try and write something here. So, first, I’d like to say there are two ways to look at this: 1) In reality, 2) in make-believe land. Make-believe land is oh so much more fun. So, lets imagine that somehow we are able to grow a very...

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Soldiers in the Classroom

I think I might have mentioned on this blog a couple of times that one of the classes I  sometimes teach is physics for elementary  education majors. All told, I have probably interacted with 100 different education students across a couple different years. It’s not a lot, but we try and keep the class sizes down.  Working with the students and working with teachers  in general has given me a deep appreciation for how unprepared the average person is for physics and how unprepared they are to teach science. Tonight, when John McCain said we should send soldiers into the classroom, he scared me on many levels. Teaching requires preparation. I have a doctorate degree in astronomy, and preparing for class is still hard,  takes time, and...

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Loving what we do (& AHWOSG)

It’s odd how sometimes ideas will all come together  all at once.  I’ll see in a book, see on the television, and see even in my own notes the same thing resonating loudly. This has been one of those odd 48 hour periods of everything coming together all at once. While flying to Nebraska last night, I was reading a book  handed to me by a friend: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s a beautiful book, and I have to admit it’s made me tear up in places. There are things I don’t like – the character John – but I know I’ll eventually read it again to find the  things I missed on this first read through.  There were things that caught my attention, and I dogeared the pages as I read and...

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This weekend in Nebraska…

This weekend I’m going to be at the University of Nebraska of Lincoln giving a series of talks. I have to say, I’m a bit wowed by the amount of advertising they’ve done. They have cool graphics in particular on this advert for a lunch time talk, a flier posted for my after dinner talk, and a schedule posted for the conference, and even a press release! Um, wow. I suddenly want to hirer the organizer, the wonferful Kevin Lee, as my publicist. If you are in the Lincoln area (or like to drive), please come! Please? More to...

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Mythbusters give me reason to fear my water heater

I am a bit sad that our water heater video is getting more hits then my science talks, but… The Mythbusters have given me a new reason to keep watching the water heater: And as a reminder, here’s our Pilot Episode (related to my Husband’s...

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