NASA Opens ISS to Tourist, Roscosmos Did It First. A Long Time Ago!

NASA welcoming private space flight participants is not new and it is misleading to call these...

General Relativity at 100. A Primer For People Who Know Algebra.

General Relativity (GR) is 100 years old and today.   Many writings will try to simplify...

When Black Holes and Neutron Stars Collide, These Are The Possible Results.

A quark star is a hypothesized type of object more dense than a Neutron star but not dense enough...

Gravitational Wave Astronomy In Space, Public Talks of LISA Con #4.

Gravitational wave astronomy in space, that is the goal of the LISA Collaboration.  LISA stands...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Robert H Olleypicture for Patrick Lockerbypicture for Fred Phillipspicture for Jerry Deckerpicture for Ramesh Chidambaram
Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the College of DuPage . My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and... Read More »


While dating in the workplace is not inherently bad and cannot be effectively forbidden there are certain rules that go with that.  Don’t date subordinates, if you do find them a new supervisor, if you end it don’t also end their employment/threaten their career.  Christian Ott violated all three of these basic rules in how he treated Io Kleiser his student.   The old case of Timothy Slater is more troubling in what happened, reassuring in what was done about him, but should trouble any who believe in due process and redemption for what is happening now.  

 Geoff Marcy soon to be retired Professor of Astronomy at UC Berkley.  Pioneer of the search for exoplanets accused serial sexual harasser and perverse sexual assaulter was tried by media this year*.  Now more documents have been released. The problem with trial by media is that accusations often equal guilt.  That is the hallmark of a witch trial, that is the hallmark of a lynch mob, and no one should be lynched in the 21st century.  Especially now that social media makes it so easy to jump on the pile.   We can do better than that by giving both sides a chance to be heard.

On Twitter #BlackOnCampus is a collection anecdotes of racial aggression and microaggression.  What does science say? What is the context for these tweets?  I am only one person and can only speak for myself.  However, many others on Twitter are sharing their own stories of what it is like to be #BlackOnCampus.   Those who are not from the United States and those who are not black may be surprised to find out that there are still very real issues with racism.  Things have gotten better even during my life time.

Scientist who specialize in sex and sexuality tested a sample of men using a device that measures the reaction of a mans privates to various visual stimuli.   Men who are attracted to transgender women were not turned on by porn featuring two gay men, but they were turned on by porn featuring women only, and three kinds of “shemale” porn (“Man on Shemale”, “Shemale on Female”, and “Shemale on Shemale”).   So a man who likes transgender women (people born essentially biologically male who are sociologically more like women) does not have to be “at least” bisexual, or really gay but hiding it, or any such thing.   What studies like this hi-lite is the sparse vocabulary most of us have in the USA.  Word

SETI has listened to KIC 8462852 for two kinds of signals and found nothing stronger than an intensity of 100 Jy (Jansky). They looked for purposefully broadcast narrow band signals and a wide band omnidirectional signal not purposefully sent.  Their first observational pass lasting two weeks found , in their words, "To summarize these observations, we estimate an upper limit for anomalous flux from KIC 8462852 to be 100 Jy in a 100 kHz band over the frequencies displayed." 1  Put another way either no one is transmitting, or no one there is transmitting anything strong enough for us to detect at the distance KIC8462852 is from us (about 1500 light years).  

There is a very little reason to think that a Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm may have been sighted in orbit of star KIC 8462852 .  Whatever it is be it natural or of intelligent design it is big enough to dim the star’s light by 22%, and is not orbiting periodically.  In the case of a Dyson Sphere or Dyson swarm this would indicate mega structures independently orbiting the star and eclipsing it along our line of sight.  They are on record as stating that their Allen Telescope Array ought not be able to detect an intelligent signal at that distance.