Planetary formation and the probability of other civilisations existing in the Universe

24th November 2015

Future civilisation

Our understanding of planets has increased dramatically in the last decade, particularly since the launch of NASA’s Kepler satellite in 2009. This has resulted in the detection of thousands of extra-solar planets, and led to a better understanding of how planets form. »

Water in Space

29th September 2015

Water on Mars

Yesterday, NASA announced that they've found evidence of liquid water currently flowing on Mars. This began with the discovery of dark streaks on the sides of several craters. These are up to a few hundred meters long, and appear seasonally. »

Would we know if an alien spacecraft enters the Solar System?

26th August 2015

Alien spacecraft

It seems likely that alien life has evolved somewhere in the Galaxy, given that there may be millions of habitable planets, and many of these may have existed for billions of years. If just one species in the whole of the Galaxy were able to explore using self-replicating spacecraft, then they might be able to place probes across the Galaxy within a million years or so. »

A Brief History of Pluto

29th July 2015

Pluto and Charon

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible with the naked eye, and can be distinguished from stars because they move around the sky in a different way. The orbits of the planets were determined in the 1600s, and confirmed with telescopes, which had just started to be used in astronomy. »

Trans and genderqueer scientists

16th July 2015

Trans flag

Many scientists used to think that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person’s gender can be solely determined from their genitals. We now know that this is not the case. While a person’s sex can, by definition, be determined from their genitals, gender is much more complex than this. »

Robot Dreams

7th July 2015


Last month, a team of software engineers working for Google released images created by programs designed for image recognition software. Image recognition software has multiple uses: the police, for example, could potentially use it to search for images of suspects or missing people using CCTV footage, nature enthusiasts could use it to identify plants or animals, and shoppers could use it to identify items of clothing. »

Neutron stars and extreme physics

1st July 2015

Neutron star

Neutron stars are some of the most extreme objects in the universe, and so they can be used as ‘natural laboratories’ where we can observe matter behaving in ways we could never replicate on Earth. Neutron stars form when massive stars stop fusing matter. »

How to weigh objects in space

10th April 2015


Everything with mass produces a gravitational field, which causes things to accelerate towards it. The gravity on the surface of the Earth is about 9.8 ms-2, which is often referred to as 1 g. This is just high enough to keep us from falling off the surface and drifting into space, but low enough to allow us to jump up and down. »

A Brief History of Comets

28th October 2014


Comets have been documented for thousands of years, yet there is still a lot we don't know about them. We don't know what their surface is composed of, how thick their crust is, and how much frozen water is contained beneath. »

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