What’s the Big Deal About the Pentaquark?

“Three quarks for Muster Mark!,” wrote James Joyce in his labyrinthine fable, Finnegan’s Wake. By now, you may have heard this quote – the short, nonsensical sentence that eventually gave the name “quark” to the Universe’s (as-yet-unsurpassed) most fundamental building blocks. Today’s physicists believe that they understand the basics of how quarks combine; three join up to form baryons (everyday particles like the […]

Using 19th Century Technology to Time Travel to the Stars

In the late 19th century, astronomers developed the technique of capturing telescopic images of stars and galaxies on glass photographic plates. This allowed them to study the night sky in detail. Over 500,000 glass plate images taken from 1885 to 1992 are part of the Plate Stacks Collection of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), […]

If You Could See in Radio These Are the Crazy Shapes You’d See in the Sky

Even though it’s often said that the average human eye can discern from seven to ten million different values and hues of colors, in reality our eyes are sensitive to only a very small section of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, corresponding to wavelengths in the range of 400 to 700 nanometers. Above and below those ranges […]

Hearing the Early Universe’s Scream: Sloan Survey Announces New Findings

Imagine a single mission that would allow you to explore the Milky Way and beyond, investigating cosmic chemistry, hunting planets, mapping galactic structure, probing dark energy and analyzing the expansion of the wider Universe. Enter the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a massive scientific collaboration that enables one thousand astronomers from 51 institutions around the world to do just that. At Tuesday’s AAS briefing […]

What Does It Mean To Be ‘Star Stuff’?

At one time or another, all science enthusiasts have heard the late Carl Sagan’s infamous words: “We are made of star stuff.” But what does that mean exactly? How could colossal balls of plasma, greedily burning away their nuclear fuel in faraway time and space, play any part in spawning the vast complexity of our Earthly world? How is it that “the nitrogen in […]

New Signal May Be Evidence of Dark Matter, Say Researchers

Dark matter is the architect of large-scale cosmic structure and the engine behind proper rotation of galaxies. It’s an indispensable part of the physics of our Universe – and yet scientists still don’t know what it’s made of. The latest data from Planck suggest that the mysterious substance comprises 26.2% of the cosmos, making it nearly five and a half times more prevalent […]

Parallel Universes and the Many-Worlds Theory

Are you unique? In your perception of the world, the answer is simple: you are different than every other person on this planet. But is our universe unique? The concept of multiple realities — or parallel universes — complicates this answer and challenges what we know about the world and ourselves. One model of potential […]

Parallel Universes and the Many-Worlds Theory

Are you unique? In your perception of the world, the answer is simple: you are different than every other person on this planet. But is our universe unique? The concept of multiple realities — or parallel universes — complicates this answer and challenges what we know about the world and ourselves. One model of potential […]