One of the themes in my writing for young readers has been that a scientist’s achievements flow from the richness of his or her life, that s/he is more than his/her discoveries. So I share this obituary of Jim Elliot, who was planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel’s mentor. I never met him, but his kindness was apparent through e-mails exchanged during and after my writing of Heidi’s biography in the Women’s Adventures in Science series.
One of my greatest writing pleasures has been getting to know Heidi Hammel when I wrote her biography, Beyond Jupiter for the Joseph Henry Press “Women’s Adventures in Science” series. Among the many things we have discussed is the advance in imaging made possible by adaptive optics, which enables the Keck telescope (and others) to correct for atmospheric distortions.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered an extraordinary planetary system with six rocky worlds capable of supporting life about 2000 light years from Earth.
Sometimes the news releases that cross my desk astonish me. This was one of them. It comes from NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope.
Fermi was launched in 2008, replacing the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) that was deorbited in 2000. I write about CGRO in the chapter on The Great Observatories in my new book Seven Wonders of Space Technology
I’m excited by this news release, especially as it connects to my “Cool Science” book, Astrobiology and my school visit talk and upcoming book Our Next Planet.
If you are a regular reader of my blog postings, you know that I am a passionate, opinionated middle-of-the-roader. I bring the same passion to my writing for young readers, but I want them to learn to form their own opinions.
I’ve bitten the bullet and created a Facebook page for myself as an author of children’s science books. If you know teachers or librarians who care about good science books for children, or middle graders and teens who might enjoy interacting with an author on Facebook, please send them my way! Scientifically yours, “Dr. Fred” … Read more
Noted planetary astronomer Heidi B. Hammel, who is best known scientifically for her studies of Uranus and Neptune and by the general public for her lively descriptions of the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter in 1994, has begun a new phase in her career.
The blogosphere and mainstream media have been buzzing for the past day or so about a new finding that changes our view of alien life. If you were looking for Little Green Men, you’ll be disappointed; but if you like my 2008 book on Astrobiology, then you’ll realize the scientific importance of this discovery.
I’ve blogged before about trying to avoid geo-engineering as a solution to climate change. We just don’t know enough about the complexities of climate to try relatively simple fixes, like adding sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere. The following news release from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express program ought to give us pause.