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Monthly Archives: May 2011

far sight [Q&A]

When it comes to telescopes, a question that astronomers get asked with some regularity is, how far does it see? Abraham Lincoln was once supposedly asked how long his legs were, to which he is said to have answered, “long enough to reach the ground.” Same here. How far can the Hubble see? Far enough […]

Greenhouse Effect [Q&A]

Sahiba, a middle-schooler from New Jersey, asks what is the greenhouse effect and how does it work? We hear a lot about the greenhouse effect nowadays because of the global climate change that is happening, and the tendency is for people to think that this is something new that humans are causing and must be […]

superluminal expansion [Q&A]

Atul of Canara College asks, is it true that the Universe is expanding at a speed greater than light speed? And if so, does that not conflict with Relativity? Yes, but no. And no. Yes, the Universe is expanding, but there is no single speed that characterizes that expansion. However, two objects separated by a […]

Nearest Galaxy [Q&A]

We had a Science Day at Cambridge recently and the SAO ran an Open House where people could come and ask questions of astronomers. One question that came up repeatedly was, what is the galaxy that is nearest to us? It depends on how you define the term. If you are looking for a galaxy […]

Good advice [quote]

“You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.” [XKCD/XCMVI]

Analogies [cartoon]

The hardest part of explaining scientific discoveries to the lay public is in figuring out the proper analogical framework. Any explanation is an approximation, and tries to put the newly developed concepts in terms that are already familiar to people. More often than not, this is bound to fail. So we have evolved some explanations […]