Physics

Hubert Reeves looked out the window. The Alps, magnificent and snowcapped, caught his eye as the train rounded a curve on its way from Geneva to Berne, Switzerland. It was October 1970. Beneath the mountains, an autumn patchwork of gold and vermilion framed a winding brook. Reeves briefly wondered if its source was melting snow, and then it came to him, the answer to the puzzle. The stream...

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featured question

Q:

I was browsing the Cornell University Astronomy web site and I read in an answer to a question posed by a school teacher that one should be able to see stars from the lunar surface when looking up into the moon's sky "day or night" as there is no atmosphere. This made sense to me. So then I got curious and went to see what stars the Apollo astronauts were indeed able to see as I suspected one could see stars all the better with no atmosphere. Well I must say I found myself so very surprised to hear Neil Armstrong tell Patrick Moore in a 1970 BBC interview that the only objects one can see from the moon's surface in the lunar sky are the the planet earth and the sun. Neil Armstrong said in that interview, "The sky is a deep black when viewed from the moon, as it is when viewed from cis-lunar space, the space between the earth and the moon. The earth is the only visible object other than the sun that can be seen, although there have been reports of seeing planets. I myself did not see planets from the surface but i suspect they might be visible".

So now I am very confused. The Cornell Astronomy people's answer to the teacher makes sense to me. But on the other hand, the Cornell astronomers have never been to the moon and maybe they are not as smart as they think they are. What is the correct "answer" if one could call it that? By the way, one can find the Neil Armstrong interview on You-Tube. It is short and the stuff about not seeing stars is the first issue addressed.

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In the news

Stem cell breakthrough led by Canadian researchers

December 11, 2014

A team of over 50 scientists led by Andras Nagy of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital have discovered a new class of stem cells, which could eventually lead to new treatments for all sorts of diseases. In particular they have characterized all the proteins involved in the three week process that changes an ordinary skin cell into a stem cell, which can then become any kind of cell in the human body. The results are published today in the journal Nature.

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