Interstellar Travel: Hawking aims for Alpha Centauri

In the announcement of the most ambitious space exploration project yet Prof. Stephen Hawking set out a plan, with financial backing from investors such as Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, to send a spacecraft to our neighbouring star in the coming decades. The proposal named ‘Breakthrough Starshot’, sees a $100 million investment in the development…

The Far Side of the Moon

A series of images taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) gives us a rare glance at the surface of the far side of the Moon. As our natural satellite is tidally locked with the Earth it always has the same side facing us throughout it’s orbit. The reason you can observe the far…

Kepler-452b: The Importance and Reality of the “Earth 2.0” Discovery

Yesterdays announcement by the NASA Kepler mission confirmed many new exoplanets discovered by the impressive telescope. Among these is the press self-proclaimed “Earth 2.0” or Kepler-452b. There are reasons to both get excited and be hesitant about these announcements. The raw facts released in the paper published to Astrophysical Journal – http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ms-r1b.pdf – suggests that this…

How to make an Invisibility Cloak

For many years there have been a number of theories of how to achieve cloaking through different branches of Physics. At the University of Rochester they have succeeded in producing an effective multi-directional cloak out of a series of 4 readily available lenses. This has very exciting implications as it would mean that anyone can…

Bad News for Cosmic Inflation

A paper released today after careful analysis of the CMB (cosmic microwave background) map captured by the Planck satellite have revealed that contrary to the claim by the BICEP2 telescope of polarisation in the photons from the CMB this could be purely due to unaccounted for galactic dust. The original BICEP2 evidence released in support of polarisation…

Sexist Bias in HST Proposal Reviews

A study carried out by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore has found that men are more likely to have a proposal accepted than women led teams on the Hubble Space Telescope. This bias exists even though a good representation of women are on the review panel. It is not only the most recent…

Superheavy Relativistic Chemistry

Einstein’s law of special relativity provides us with a model for how particles will act when moving at close to the speed of light. Recently there has been great advancement in the production of superheavy elements. For these elements with an atomic number greater than 104 life is short lived. The instability of the nuclei,…

Put the colour back into Science

Many of my readers may remember that last year I wrote an article about a remastered picture of the Solvay Conference of 1927. This picture had been re-coloured and gave a whole new depth to the eminent scientists who we are standing on the shoulders of today. Well, I was browsing the internet this evening…

Spotlight #1: The Big Bang

Welcome to the first of the Physics Horizon Spotlights, what better way to start than with the most accepted theory about how our Universe began! I will start by testing your brain to see whether you are superhuman, I ask you to close your eyes and imagine a zero dimensional space-time region, no space, no…

Ununpentium a confirmed element?

In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published a paper which included a table of all the known elements in existence showing trends in electron configuration and properties. Since then a large portion of nuclear physicists have been trying to use various techniques in order to push the boundaries of this table. As of May last year with…

Scientists on Strike!

At 5000 meters above sea level in a Chilean desert sits the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). This array consists of 66 radio telescope dishes and was officially opened in March 2013.  This marvel of technology has already peered through cosmic dust clouds in the milky way to observe planet formation and distant galaxies. However…

Milky Way has a Dark Matter deficit?

A new set of galactic formation simulations has suggested that our Milky Way could actually contain only 1/4 to a 1/3 of the previously accepted quantity of Dark Matter. When scientists observe other spiral galaxies in the Universe one property which is commonly investigated is how the rotational velocity of the stars is related to…