One of my earliest memories is standing with my father on the balcony of my grandmother’s house in Auckland. “Ma’s House” had a spectacular view northwards, across Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and the Moon was visible in the early evening sky. Following my eye, my father pointed and said, “I think there are people there at the moment.”
These images will show us the environment of the black hole itself, test Einstein’s understanding of gravity, and give unprecedented proof that black holes truly exist in our universe. Because seeing really is believing. Even for scientists.
My mother and father – whose own childhoods took place against the backdrop of the Pacific War and the Blitz, respectively – hoped that their children’s lives would be safer and more comfortable than their own. But parents today should have no such illusions about what our children could face in the anthropocene if climate action does not begin right now.
Each galaxy lives within its own three-dimensional halo of dark matter whose gravitational field corrals the stars within it. Without the stars, the halo would still be there, albeit invisible to our eyes; but if the halo vanished, the stars would scatter into the depths of the universe – just as a Christmas tree remains a tree with or without the pretty lights. Whereas without the tree, the lights would merely be a puddle of colour on the snowy ground.
Showing visitors around the University of Auckland can be a quick lesson in our colonial history. The University is named for the city, which is named for a spectacularly unsuccessful Governor-General of India. Our oldest streets are centred on Queen Street — which is crossed by Victoria Street. The settlers took a belt and braces approach to honouring their young monarch when the city was laid out in 1841.