Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Puzzles, pictures and participation

Creating new knowledge and reducing ignorance are two basic human needs. Science can help here, if we give it the freedom to do so and don’t chain it like Sisyphus to the rock of industrial production. Space missions are perhaps the prototype of humanity’s quest for knowledge, replacing more earth-bound adventures, expeditions and explorations, such as those undertaken by Alexander …

Juno, Jupiter and the art of citizen science

With political and moral life here on earth being in utter turmoil, images of/from Jupiter beamed down to our little planet by the Juno space probe have recently kept me sane (as far as that’s possible). They brought with them glimpses of beauty and moments of wistfulness. A year or so ago, I wrote a blog post …

Something for nothing

This is a blog post about nothing in particular. It’s more a stream of thoughts and associations… But in the end I’ll be talking about Kepler and snowflakes and Pluto and its moon. Nix The other day I was talking to my sister. She asked in German whether I had an idea for my next …

Jupiter and Juno

Once in a while I write a blog post about space missions – and there have been quite a few recently. I especially enjoyed the Rosetta mission to 67P and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Now another mission has crossed my horizons, namely the Juno mission to Jupiter. While Pluto was believed to be …

Ripples of rumour and ripples in space: LIGO and gravitational waves

For some days now I have been seeing announcements on twitter that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) would make an announcement about the detection of gravitational waves today. (The best description of these self-referential announcements can be found on Mark Hannam’s blog!) In 2014 I got a bit excited about an announcement that gravitational …

‘Serendipity carried through to perfection’ – thoughts on the Cassini mission

I am, as some of you might have noticed, an avid follower of …. not fashion but space exploration. I have ‘flown with’ Hubble, Voyager, Rosetta, Philae and New Horizons; I ‘follow’ Curiosity’s progress on Mars; and now I am entranced by some of the images that Cassini is sending back from Saturn and its …

Pluto and pareidolia

As everybody knows by now, New Horizons has been flying past Pluto and has beamed down astonishing images. One of these shows a peach or bronze coloured planetary object with a lighter pattern on the side that I first saw as a ‘heart’. Many others did so too, including NASA (it will now name this …

Joining the dots: Pluto, Kant and the nature of scientific knowledge

In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788) Immanuel Kant wrote these most beautiful words: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and reverence, the more often and steadily one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not need to search for them …