Probe returns first image of Mercury's unseen side

16 January, 2008

I have a new story published over at

“NASA's Messenger spacecraft has taken its first look at the unseen side of Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun. It has revealed the full extent of Mercury's gigantic Caloris Basin, one of the largest impact craters in the solar system and discovered its first Mercury mystery: unusual dark-rimmed craters. …”


Read the full story for free here.

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Tags: Mercury

The Edinburgh International Book Festival

14 January, 2008

Exciting news! I’ve been invited to take part in the 2008 Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Festival runs this year from 9–25 August.  The date of my appearance has not yet been finalized but I’ll post it on here as soon as I know.


Visit the festival website here.

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Europe’s next ride to the Moon: Chandrayaan-1

11 January, 2008

I have another new story posted over at ESA.

“Excitement rises as ESA is in the final stages of preparation for the first collaborative space mission with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Chandrayaan-1 will study the Moon in great detail and be the first Indian scientific mission leaving the Earth’s vicinity.” Read the full story for free here.

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Tags: The Moon

Integral discovers the galaxy’s antimatter cloud is lopsided

09 January, 2008

I have a new story posted over at ESA.

“The shape of the mysterious cloud of antimatter in the central regions of the Milky Way has been revealed by ESA’s orbiting gamma-ray observatory Integral. The unexpectedly lopsided shape is a new clue to the origin of the antimatter.” Read the full story for free here.

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Tags: Integral

US physics begins to crumble under budget strain

08 January, 2008

I have a new story posted over at New Scientist.

“The reality of the US budget cuts to particle physics has hit home. The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in California, US, has just announced a trio of painful consequences: the end of work on the International Linear Collider, the imminent closure of its BaBar antimatter experiment, and the layoff of 125 workers…”


Read the full story for free here.

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Unlocking Mercury's secrets

05 January, 2008

New Scientist issue 2637

I have the cover story of New Scientist’s first issue of the year.

“OF ALL the planets in our solar system, Mercury is an enigma. The chimeric planet has a face like the moon, yet conceals a metal heart larger than that of Mars; while all of the major planets go around the sun in more or less the same plane, Mercury opts for a jaunty angle; while Earth's orbit is essentially round, Mercury prefers an ellipse; and let's not forget the magnetic field that it shouldn't have. Clearly, the closest planet to the sun is trying to tell us something.

It even had a famous fan: Albert Einstein. Mercury's odd motion around the sun was impossible to explain with Newton's theory of gravitation alone. The puzzle remained until Einstein used it as the first convincing evidence for his general theory of relativity.
Now astronomers think it holds another secret: how the solar system itself was formed. Ralph McNutt, a planetary scientist at ...”


The complete article is 2762 words long and is available here.
(a subscription is required).

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