Because starlight takes many years to reach us, the stars in the night sky are images of the past. This curious fact has inspired the following two poems, which like starlight have outlived their originators. . For the Star by Mihai Eminscu (1850 – 1889) Translated from Romanian by A. Z. Foreman It’s been a … Continue reading The slowness of starlight
For the first time in history, new planets are regularly discovered around other stars. Could they support life? In a new paper in Planetary and Space Science, my colleagues and I show that life may exist far outside the traditional “habitable zone”. Life on Earth requires liquid water, an accessible source of energy and … Continue reading Habitable zones for deep biospheres
Oh how grassy is this hopper, How this berry ripely rasps. I would never have conceived it If I weren’t conceived myself! —Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012) Astrobiology is sometimes and with some justice disparaged as a science with only one data point. This is not to deny the wealth of geological, astronomical and biological knowledge that … Continue reading “As to what they may be”
This week, I am in a drab little town called The Woodlands* in Houston, Texas, for the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). The LPSC is the kind of international mega-conference that fills the ballrooms of a large convention centre and swamps a dozen local hotels with delegates. Some of it is being streamed … Continue reading Houston, we have a conference
I was pleased to help the excellent UK-based charity Sense about Science by designing their annual Celebrities and Science leaflet again this Christmas. Celebrities and Science 2012, compiled by volunteers, expertly rebuts the silly health fads and other ill-informed enthusiasms of the rich and famous. It is a grimly funny document. Most celebrities are distinguished in only one … Continue reading Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck…
Fractals are a set of complex, self-similar, organically beautiful structures described by certain mathematical functions. Images of fractals are generated by iterative algorithms, many of which are very simple. By starting with a small pattern, applying a simple transformation, applying the same transformation to the result, and repeating, one can quickly construct elaborate fractals with only a … Continue reading Making fractals in MS Paint
I am a PhD research student at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. I’m English and before I came to Aberdeen I read Earth Sciences at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford ( I graduated in 2010). I am a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a STEM Ambassador (this means I can be booked for UK … Continue reading Hello, world.