The May-June 2021 eclipse season

EarthSky has re-printed our timeanddate.com article about the forthcoming eclipse season: a total lunar eclipse on May 26, and an annular solar eclipse on June 10. Between the years 1600 and 2599, there are 2108 eclipse seasons. Of these, 126 seasons contain a pair of full eclipses: one total or annular solar eclipse, plus oneContinue reading “The May-June 2021 eclipse season”

Eclipses: a pump of curiosity?

Even though the wiring of the human brain evolved in an exceptional way, if novelty had remained below a certain threshold, early humans may not have received a sufficient trigger to begin forming the concept of reasons. My accepted manuscript for the Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union Symposium No. 367, 2021, is available underContinue reading “Eclipses: a pump of curiosity?”

Earth in a spin

The Earth … has been spinning unusually fast lately. 2020 included the 28 shortest days since 1960. Image: timeanddate.com Our timeanddate.com story on the Earth’s quickening rotation is generating a lot of interest, from the Daily Express to Live Science to USA Today. Update (17 January): There’s also coverage of the story in Spanish-language media,Continue reading “Earth in a spin”

Visualizing the music of the spheres

We have known for thousands of years that the sky is full of harmonies and rhythms. Pythagoras called it the “music of the spheres.” As part of the build-up to next week’s great conjunction, Steffen Thorsen (CEO of timeanddate.com) and I have written a piece for Sky & Telescope on the pattern of closer-than-usual approachesContinue reading “Visualizing the music of the spheres”

Where did our sense of curiosity come from?

My recent article for I-M on solar eclipses and the Fermi paradox is now available online. As Daniel C Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist, has observed, searching for explanations is a central feature of our species. Where does our sense of curiosity come from? As an exercise in fun speculation, I propose it couldContinue reading “Where did our sense of curiosity come from?”

The pump of curiosity

The summer 2020 issue of I-M Intelligent Magazine… … includes “an exercise in fun speculation” by me on a potential link between solar eclipses and the Fermi paradox. According to the Copernican principle, there is nothing special about the earth’s place in the universe. Except for the awkward fact that — on current evidence —Continue reading “The pump of curiosity”

Can you solve this logical-thinking puzzle?

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute For anyone locked down and in need of some mental exercise, here’s a quick Japanese challenge. If you only speak English, the puzzle is impossible to solve. If, however, you speak Spanish — or one of a number of other languages, including French, Welsh or Hindi — it becomes an exerciseContinue reading “Can you solve this logical-thinking puzzle?”