When it comes to catastrophic events for humans, a big nasty asteroid or comet colliding with Earth tops the chart, and several movies have exploited this scenario. The recent Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up” did that again, but as a satire and a warning. It is widely considered an allegory for climate change, but let’s consider the astronomical scenario as presented. Is such a scenario scientifically sound?
Darwin’s tree of life and Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements share a number of interesting parallels, the most meaningful of which lie in the central role that each plays in its respective domain.
From the evolution of consciousness to cosmic encounters, the Brain Health Gap to palliative medicine, 2021 has been a year filled with discovery across scientific disciplines. On the OUPblog, we have published blogs posts showcasing the very latest research and insights from our expert authors at the Press. Make sure you’re caught up with the best of science in 2021 with our top 10 blog posts of the year:
The abstract of a research article has a simple remit: to faithfully summarize the reported research. After the title, it’s the most read section of the article. Crucially, it makes the case to the reader for reading the article in full. Alas, not all abstracts succeed.
A new census of the Universe will allow scientists to understand more about how galaxies are born, age, and die. The millions of galaxies that have been painstakingly catalogued come in many shapes and sizes and this new work shines a light on every variety that we can see.
A long held misunderstanding of stellar brightness is being corrected, thanks to a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society based on International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly Resolution B2.
The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.
We earthlings enjoy the spectacle of shooting stars, small fragments of asteroids and comets that burn in sudden flashes upon entry in the Earth’s atmosphere. The largest of these fragments pose a limited threat to us as their mid-air blasts can produce local damage to buildings and infrastructures. Larger events are increasingly rarer, but their consequences can be devastating on a global scale.
Apep is a stellar system named after the Egyptian god of chaos due to the spiral pattern of dust generated by its two member stars. Now, astronomers have looked at Apep’s heart with the highest resolution available. They have revealed the strongest shock produced by the collision of the extreme winds of the two stars in our Galaxy.
Black holes are some of the most bizarre objects in the Universe but their existence is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity of Albert Einstein. Scientists have known for some time that much larger black holes with mass billions of times that of the sun existed as early as a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. An international team of astrophysicists have discovered such a hidden giant black hole.
Isaac Newton is known as the scientist who discovered gravity, but less well-known are the many years he spent in metropolitan London, and what precisely he got up to in that time…
Since their groundbreaking discovery of gravitational waves from a pair of in-spiralling black holes back in
2015, the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration has detected nearly 70 candidates of such events, 50 being
confirmed and published until now.
The unexpectedly rapid local expansion of the Universe could be due to us residing in a large void. However, a void wide and deep enough to explain this discrepancy—often called the “Hubble tension”—is not possible in standard cosmology, which is built on Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity.
When matter is squashed into a tiny volume the gravitational attraction can become so huge that not even light can escape, and a black hole is born. A star such as the Sun will never leave a black hole because the quantum forces between matter stop this squeezing into a sufficiently small volume.
Astronomers have discovered that there are two different types of galaxies in the Universe: elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are dead galaxies full of very old, red stars that move on chaotic random orbits around the centre of their galaxy in such a way that makes their shape look like fluffy footballs. On […]
As recently as the start of the 20th century, the idea that the Milky Way contained everything that existed in the Universe was predominant and astronomers were unaware of the existence of other galaxies or any kind of star systems outside our galaxy. A few observed nebulae that had been identified as clusters of stars […]