4 October 1957 – Sputnik 1

Despite the somewhat difficult relations between Russia and the West in the last few years, it is worth looking back 65 years to October 1957 and the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1. This historic event, which caught many in the West by complete surprise, was the beginning of the space age. To… Continue reading 4 October 1957 – Sputnik 1

Frank Drake and the Drake equation

I was saddened to find out about the recent death, at the age of 92, of Frank Drake, one of the pioneers of SETI. One of the things he is most famous for is the equation bearing his name which estimates the number of intelligent civilisations in our galaxy, the Drake equation. As a tribute… Continue reading Frank Drake and the Drake equation

Fake Astronomical Images

A friend of mine, the active amateur astronomer Colin Henshaw, brought the following photograph to my attention. It appears to show the Moon rising over Mossel Bay in South Africa. Although it was passed off as a genuine image, for reasons which Colin pointed out, it is a fake. If you study the Moon, it… Continue reading Fake Astronomical Images

Our finely-tuned Universe part III – Explanations for fine tuning

As discussed in my previous two posts our  Universe appears to be very finely tuned and is governed by four fundamental interactions. A relatively small  increase or decrease in the strength of one of these interactions, such as making the force of gravity weaker or stronger, would make the emergence of life impossible. The four… Continue reading Our finely-tuned Universe part III – Explanations for fine tuning

Our finely-tuned Universe part II – Examples of fine tuning

In a previous post I talked about the four forces which govern the way the Universe works. I’m now going to give some examples of fine tuning. How different our Universe would be if these four forces had very different relative strengths. But before I do this, it is worth giving a quick summary from… Continue reading Our finely-tuned Universe part II – Examples of fine tuning