The search for life in oceans beyond

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it! Kevin Hand will explain the science behind why we think we know […]

Surviving in Space

We are of Earth. Our bodies have evolved to work on this planet – not on the Moon, not on Mars and certainly not in conditions of weightlessness. So it is remarkable that over only a few decades of spaceflight we have learned how to combat the problems of survival in space. We use special equipment, […]

Are We Destined to Live in Space

The cultural roots of the Russian space programme were in cosmological and mystical thinking, and in the belief that humanity’s destiny was to colonise the cosmos. In our own era, the motivations of nations and private companies to initiate and maintain space projects are just as varied and complex. Geopolitical positioning and colonisation, the search for extra-terrestrial life, […]

What is Superconductivity? (Part 1)

The incredible phenomenon of superconductivity was discovered in 1911 and celebrated its centenary last year. The breakthrough led to a great number of further discoveries and exotic phenomena, leading in turn to technical applications such as superconductive magnets for particle accelerators, magnetic resonance imaging, maglev trains that can reach speeds of 581 km/h, transformers for […]

Moon birth theory holds no water

Four and half billion years ago, a meteorite the size of Mars slammed into Earth, melting the entire surface of our planet and throwing billions of tonnes of rock into space.  In time, the ejected rubble – baked dry by the explosion’s searing heat – condensed into a parched, lifeless satellite, the Moon.  This is […]

Expansive Thought

From the 19th century onward, it was well established that the coastlines of continents showed an uncanny resemblance to each other. This created the possibility that they had once existed as an unbroken landmass named Pangea, from the Greek for “whole Earth”. However, some coastlines fitted far from perfectly, leaving large gaps between certain continents.  […]

Terror in the heavens

Earth-engulfing black holes, continent-crushing asteroids, crop-cremating supernovae. Sounds like science-fiction, or at worst the rant of a lunatic – and largely you’d be right. Not that these things don’t happen, it’s just that they’re extraordinarily rare and you’re probably better off minding that car screeching past you than worrying about our collective planetary plight; after […]

Personal apocalypse

Scientists at Imperial College London and Purdue University have unveiled their new and improved impact effects calculator, ‘Impact Earth’.  First revealed in 2004, ‘Impact Earth’ is a web-based tool, designed to quickly calculate the environmental and regional consequences of an asteroid or comet colliding with our planet. Lying awake at night worrying about being obliterated […]