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 …

Kissing a comet

I began writing this post this morning and I have just read that Philae has reached its landing spot Agilkia (sort of)! Touchdown happened at 1605 GMT. Congratulations!! Rocks, robots and us When I switched on the ESA live feed about the comet landing this morning, I heard one of the lead scientists say that landing …

Agilkia and public participation in science

On 12 November 2014 the space craft Rosetta will deploy its lander Philae and Philae will try to land on the Comet 67P or Churyumov-Gerasimenko. As I have written about the Rosetta mission and Philae, I thought I had to at least try and write something very short about the landing site (formerly known as …

Philae: Where space science meets language science

As those who care about that type of thing will know, Philae, the robotic lander on board the Rosetta spacecraft, will try to touch down on the surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12. While we await the next episode in this space adventure, another episode in an adventure here on earth is unfolding …

Rosetta and the rubber duck: How we got to know a comet

I can’t really let Rosetta pass by without a little blog post… This was brought home to me when Alasdair Taylor tweeted on 2:21 PM – 6 Aug 2014: “Sexiest, crazy bonkers, rubber duck, chaotic town, Disneyland, big roller coaster, scary ride: all terms used to describe #Rosetta”. This made me curious about how people …

Black sky research

A few days ago I chatted with an industry-based innovations manager who, in passing, mentioned the word ‘black sky research’. We didn’t get a chance to explore this concept further but the phrase stuck in my mind. Then Philip Moriarty tweeted a link to an article on the threat of the impact agenda to blue …

Is Ison (still) on?

Over the last weeks there has been much talk about a comet called Ison. As Wikipedia tells us “C/2012 S1, also known as Comet ISON or Comet Nevski–Novichonok, is a sungrazing comet discovered on 21 September 2012 by Vitali Nevski (Виталий Невский, Vitebsk, Belarus) and Artyom Novichonok (Артём Новичонок, Kondopoga, Russia). It attracted quite a …

Making the planet public

I have always wanted to make a link between ISS – the Institute for Science and Society at the University of Nottingham – and ISS – the International Space Station – in OUTER SPACE. When looking yesterday at a picture of a cloud vortex taken by Commander Chris Hadfield from a window of the ISS, …