I was looking at the seafloor, focused on identifying fish species as I normally did when diving off of the California coast, when suddenly I felt something large above me. When I turned my head I saw a giant fish – more than 6 feet (2 meters) long – calmly […]

This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech For decades, the exploration of our solar system left one of our neighboring planets, Venus, largely unexplored. Now, things are about to change. In the latest announcement from NASA’s solar system exploration program, two missions […]

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has recently commissioned three private companies, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, to develop nuclear fission thermal rockets for use in lunar orbit. Such a development, if flown, could usher in a new era of spaceflight. That said, it is only one of […]

A volcanic eruption on Jupiter’s moon Io. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR It’s been 30 years since NASA last visited Venus, with the Magellan orbiter in 1990. Now, two new missions have been selected to explore the deadly atmosphere, crushing pressures and volcanic landscape. The process dates back to February 2020, when NASA announced that four missions were to […]

ANIMATION The visible surface of the Sun, or the photosphere, is around 6,000°C. But a few thousand kilometers above it – a small distance when we consider the size of the Sun – the solar atmosphere, also called the corona, is hundreds of times hotter, reaching a million degrees celsius or […]

Faster than light travel is the only way humans could ever get to other stars in a reasonable amount of time. Credit: NASA The closest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri. It is about 4.25 light-years away, or about 25 trillion miles (40 trillion km). The fastest ever spacecraft, the […]

ANIMATION Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity profoundly changed our thinking about fundamental concepts in physics, such as space and time. But it also left us with some deep mysteries. One was black holes, which were only unequivocally detected over the past few years. Another was “wormholes” – bridges connecting different points […]

New mathematics have shown that lines of energy can be used to describe the universe.   ANIMATION Matter is what makes up the universe, but what makes up matter? This question has long been tricky for those who think about it – especially for the physicists. Reflecting recent trends in physics, […]

The periodic table of the elements, principally created by the Russian chemist, Dmitry Mendeleev (1834-1907), celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. It would be hard to overstate its importance as an organizing principle in chemistry – all budding chemists become familiar with it from the earliest stages of their education. […]