Ask Ethan #1: Back-to-school advice

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” –Oscar Wilde As many of you know, last weekend I launched a suggestion box here on the site, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response: about fifty of you have sent something in to … Read moreAsk Ethan #1: Back-to-school advice

Most of Earth's twins aren't identical, or even close!

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” –Robert Brault You’ve of course heard by now the news that Kepler, the most successful and prolific planet-finding mission of all time, has probably reached the end of its useful lifespan. With nearly 3,000 planet candidates under its belt, including … Read moreMost of Earth's twins aren't identical, or even close!

An Atom in the Universe

“The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out – there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.” –Richard Feynman Here you are, a human being, a grand Universe of atoms that have organized themselves into simple monomers, assembled together into giant … Read moreAn Atom in the Universe

The Nearest Sun-Like Star May Be As Miraculous As Our Own!

“Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson In the great cosmic ocean, there’s only one planet that we know — for certain — has the right conditions and history to result in intelligent life: our own. Life — or even intelligent life — … Read moreThe Nearest Sun-Like Star May Be As Miraculous As Our Own!

There's Water on Mercury, and EVERY World Like it!

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” –Edwin Louis Cole Our Solar System is — at least from our perspective — the most well-studied system of planets, moons, asteroids and comets in the entire Universe. And in this system, the closest planet to our Sun, Mercury, was also one … Read moreThere's Water on Mercury, and EVERY World Like it!

Giving thanks for our place in the Universe

“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.” –George Bernard Shaw All that is real about ourselves is nothing … Read moreGiving thanks for our place in the Universe

Our way is not the only way!

“The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at least once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at-least-once. And for life as we know it, with … Read moreOur way is not the only way!

The Sirens of Titan

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” –Mark Twain Back before the telescope was invented, Saturn was known as the Old Man of the Skies. The slowest-moving of the naked-eye planets, it’s the only one that would reliably be in nearly the same location, year after year. … Read moreThe Sirens of Titan

Practically Everything Leaves Something Behind

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people … Read morePractically Everything Leaves Something Behind