The Northern Lights Seen As Far South As Arizona. G5 Magnetic Storm To Continue Through Sunday.

The northern lights as one would expect and see them if they were in the frozen reaches of Canada...

DEI Without Compromise: Embracing Diversity in the LISA Global Scientific Collaboration. A ESA NASA Project.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have become buzzwords often debated within the United States...

Avi Loeb And Aliens: The Right And Wrong of Science Funding. (Also Bing Image Search Brings up Porno When you Search for him)

Avi Loeb he prolific Harvard astrophysicist, dances on the edge of cosmic controversy. His research...

What Is And Is Not Plagiarism In Scientific Papers? Neri Oxman And Claudine Gay Did Nothing Seriously Wrong. A Basic Guide To Citation.

The online discourse of our time has come to the issue of plagiarism. Now Claudine Gay and Neri...

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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and raised in Chicagoland I have lived in Bellwood, IL since 1984 and attended public schools here... Read More »

In the past I have predicted certain things at the start of certain years.  This is a selection of those which I recall, along with issues I am watching out for the next year.  They include a solar eclipse that will happen, and an asteroid that is not likely to impact us.   
Christopher F Rufo has accused the president of Harvard of plagiarism in an effort so clumsy that his own case provides proof that he has no idea what plagiarism even is.   To use someone's ideas and build on them one must quote or paraphrase them, cite them in the text, and the citation should be accompanied with a reference that points to the original source.   In natural science it is quite often the case that people come up with the same basic idea independently.   In social science this can happen as well.  It is also the case that when describing the same concepts, one will use the same words.
A brief personal update as to what I have been doing.  There has been much interesting science news to discuss.   A possible galaxy comprised of not much more than gas and dark matter with no stars. Many other things in astronomy and physics.  Things I might normally write about.  So why haven't I?  Well, I am getting on with the day-to-day work of being a low level academic and scientist. 

How can you as a person who is not a scientist know if a given claim of having found alien life is valid?  In 2014 I used the planet Kepler 186f as an object for discussing this very question.  First of all, at best we can know the odds that a given planet has life.  We can't be 100% certain until we get a sample and if that planet is around another star, then it'll take a while.   What we can do is roughly estimate the odds based on three primary lines of evidence.  These three types of evidence are things anyone can understand and assess based on the output of professional scientists.  You need not know how to analyze the data, but any scientist claiming to have found alien life on planet X needs to be able to claim to have

Last week it was claimed that a material that would be superconducting at  normal pressure has been found.  This substance known as LK-99 was alleged to be superconducting at normal atmospheric pressure and "room temperatures.  This would mean being able to say, make a superconducting power grid that could transport electricity without loss, or cheap superconducting magnets for maglev vehicles or particle accelerators etc. Since writing this story more than one team has reproduced the diamagnetic looking effect in which samples of LK-99, both big and small, all lean to one side in a characteristic way. The sought for Meissner effect would not do that, at least not in a way that is the same no matter how big the sample is.

What are gravitational waves? What are Pulsars and what does it mean to time a pulsar? How does this relate to past and future observations of gravitational waves? These are all fundamental questions to ask and this article seeks to answer them in simple and easy-to-understand terms for a general audience.