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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On-line Interview at Powells.com

26 December, 2007

Bookseller Powells.com have generously featured the Sun Kings in their September Technica newsletter.  They say:  “Stuart Clark loves to tell a good story, and he outdoes himself in his latest book, The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began. Clark transports us back to Victorian England in 1859, when, during a solar flare, buildings burned, telegraphs failed, and compasses went wonky. Astronomer Richard Carrington tried to explain how the sun's magnetisms affect the Earth, but was met with ridicule and hardship, and died before he was proved correct. Check out Stuart Clark's Q&A to discover exactly what he found so fascinating about this nearly forgotten man. You'll save 30% on The Sun Kings, too.”


You can read the interview by clicking here

You can order the book from Powells by clicking here

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Science cuts may harm UK's international reputation

21 December, 2007

I have one last piece about the UK physics budget cuts published over at New Scientist.  It is only short, so I’ve reproduced it in its entirety here:

“Does the UK quit when the going gets tough? That's how it looks to scientists across the world.

Last week the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) horrified scientists when it announced cuts in contributions to a range of major collaborations after an £80 million squeeze in its physics budget. Among the casualties is the International Linear Collider - a $6.7 billion particle smasher intended to probe dark matter and search for extra dimensions. The UK was to be a major partner along with the US, Japan and Germany and has already invested £30 million. It will now withdraw its support.

"We know this is damaging to our international reputation," says Keith Mason, chief executive of STFC. The U-turn could stymie its ambitions to host major international physics facilities.”

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US budget cuts a 'body blow' to particle accelerator

19 December, 2007

I have a follow-up story to the UK physics budget cuts over at New Scientist.

“There is nothing but bad news for particle physicists at the moment. The US has now slashed funding for the International Linear Collider (ILC), just over a week after the UK pulled out of the project because of an £80 million shortfall in its budget.”


Read the full story for free here.

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UK researchers reel from budget cuts

17 December, 2007

I also had a opinion piece published by New Scientist in their blog about the UK astronomy and physics budget cuts.

“There cannot have been too much astronomy and physics research performed in the UK's universities in the past week. Instead of unpicking the workings of distant galaxies and ghostly particles, astronomers and physicists have been trying to make sense of the bombshell that £80 million must be removed from their research budget without delay.”


Read the full story for free here.

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Science Fiction Symposium at Gresham College

15 December, 2007

Gresham College in London has announced a afternoon symposium to discuss science fiction as a literary genre.  It takes place on 8th May 2008 and features the keynote speaker Neal Stephenson.  See you there!


Further details can be found here.

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