New York State of Mind

New York State of Mind

One of the commonest questions about the Big Bang is "If the universe is expanding, is everything in it getting bigger? The solar system, the sun, the earth, our bodies and the atoms we are made of?"

Shaken, Not Stirring

Shaken, Not Stirring

On November 17 my alarm went off simultaneously with a call from Radio New Zealand asking me to do an on-air interview about the end of the world. It turned out that it wasn’t the actual end of the world that was making the news. 

A Wonderful Life

A Wonderful Life

Over the coming week 2016's slate of Nobel Laureates will be announced. These are the Academy Awards of science; it is not the only prize scientists can win but only the Nobel is simply "the Prize". 

The Man Who Sold Mars

The Man Who Sold Mars

Elon Musk knows how to make a splash, and today he outlined his plan to turn humanity into a "multiplanetary species". Musk painted a picture of a future where travel to Mars was downright cheap, with tickets costing as little as $200,000, the median price of an American home. So is this possible? I have no idea, but it makes for a great Fermi question, a problem so fuzzy and incomplete that educated guesswork is the only way forward. 

Look West

Look West

Last Friday, work kept me late at the office. It was a clear and cloudless night and the stars were out as I biked home in the dusk. And as my pedals turned, the night sky wheeled more slowly above me.