Helping African children become radio astronomers, and other stories

Image: NASA/EOS/GSFC I’ve written a piece for EarthSky about last month’s International Astronomical Union Symposium on Astronomy for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: https://earthsky.org/human-world/iau-symposium-diversity-inclusion-astronomy The article focusses on two stories from two continents. Ikechukwu Anthony Obi — from the Center for Basic Space Science at Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency — is finding cleverContinue reading “Helping African children become radio astronomers, and other stories”

The top ten ephemeral moments in the sky

As part of the build-up to next week’s Mercury transit, I’ve put together a list for Sky & Telescope on the top ten fleeting phenomena in astronomy… https://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/top-ten-ephemeral-moments-sky/ At Number 10: An Overhead Pass of the International Space Station. Image: Bob King. Coming soon: there will be a lovely ‘ephemeral moment’ at the end ofContinue reading “The top ten ephemeral moments in the sky”

Physics at the movies

The November 2019 Physics World is a special issue on “Physics at the movies – the science behind the scenes”. Among the highlights: Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe talks to friend and physicist Jess Wade about what it’s like as an actor to work with visual effects (VFX), from 3D body mapping to green screensContinue reading “Physics at the movies”

How ‘the little stuff’ helps language learners

Later this month the Japanese publisher CosmoPier is bringing out a special magazine on foreign TV dramas that can help people learn English. I was asked to write a piece about the BBC comedy The Office. How can The Office help learners improve their English skills? I quoted the show’s creators, Ricky Gervais and StephenContinue reading “How ‘the little stuff’ helps language learners”

Wish you were here? 7 chances to experience totality in the 2020s

My latest piece for Physics World is a travel guide to the seven total solar eclipses of the 2020s. Link: https://physicsworld.com/a/wish-you-were-here-seven-chances-to-experience-a-total-solar-eclipse-in-the-2020s/ Luxor, on the banks of the River Nile in Egypt, will enjoy 6 minutes 22 seconds of totality on 2 August 2027. (Image: Mahmoud Algazzar)

The top five films about science or scientists

To celebrate the Oscars weekend, Physics World asked me to come up with the top 5 films about science or scientists. They span 51 years and include two Stanley Kubricks, one Ridley Scott, one Steven Spielberg, and one film by the not-so-famous Shane Carruth. My top 5, in order of the year of release, isContinue reading “The top five films about science or scientists”

Citizen scientists spot meteorite strike during lunar eclipse

This week’s total lunar eclipse featured a dramatic bonus: shortly after the start of totality, a space rock hit the moon and vaporised in a flash of light. My latest piece for Physics World tells the story… Link: https://physicsworld.com/a/citizen-scientists-spot-meteorite-strike-during-lunar-eclipse/ Can you spot the lunar flash…? Here is a link to the moment of impact onContinue reading “Citizen scientists spot meteorite strike during lunar eclipse”

Astronomy beyond sight

Our favourite astronomy professor Richard Gelderman (Western Kentucky University) and I have produced two stories for EarthSky about astronomers who are exploring the universe through hearing and touch. In Listening to the patterns of the universe, Richard talks to Wanda Díaz Merced (International Astronomical Union) about using ‘sonification’ to find signals hidden in large dataContinue reading “Astronomy beyond sight”

The complicated relationship between science and sci-fi

How important is the science in science fiction? I talked to three big thinkers – physicist and philosopher David Deutsch, film-maker Olga Osorio, and scientist turned novelist Gianfranco D’Anna – for a piece in Physics World. Link: https://physicsworld.com/a/the-complicated-relationship-between-science-and-sci-fi/