Articles from Discover Physics & Math

From the Overview Effect to "One Strange Rock": A Conversation with Leland Melvin

It’s hard to think of any modern human activity that has had more of a multiplicative impact on the imagination than space exploration. To date, a grand total of 562 humans have left the Earth—a trivial fraction compared to the 7.6 billion people currently staying put. Yet the image of astronauts voyaging away from their home planet has transformed popular culture, education, even business and politics.

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin is a lead agent helping to advance that transformation

This may be as close as you can come to going on a spacewalk 240-ish miles above Earth

The vertiginous video also offers an opportunity to consider theories posited by two of the giants of science

While on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station over Mexico, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik captured this spectacular, vertiginous video with a GoPro camera.

I spotted it in a NASA Tweet yesterday, and when I watched it, I really did have the sensation that this would be as close as I'll ever come to experiencing free-falling around the Eart

NASA's Latest Planet Hunter

It's ready to forge a new path through space.

To Scare Off Predators, Caterpillar Whistles like a Kettle

It's hard to yell "BACK OFF!" when you have no lungs, but this caterpillar has figured out a way. Under attack, the Nessus sphinx moth caterpillar emits a sort of crackling buzz from its mouth. Scientists compare the unusual mechanism to a whistling teakettle. Or a rocket.

Lots of insects make noise, of course, as opening a window on a summer evening will remind you. Conrado Rosi-Denadai, a graduate student at Carleton University, and his coauthors write that sound-making tools in ins

The First Black Hole Close-Up

An Earth-sized telescope will capture the unseeable.

Finding Stephen Hawking's Star—And Finding Your Own

When I look at the night sky, I often view the stars not just in space but also in terms of their places in time. Light moves at a finite speed (299,792 kilometers per second, to be precise), so the journey from star to star is a very long one even for a beam of light. When astronomers talk about light years of distance, they are literally describing the number of years it takes for light to travel from those distant stars to your eyeball.

And so when I heard about the death of Stephen Ha

Here's what real science says about the role of CO2 as Earth's preeminent climatic thermostat

Whenever I post something here at ImaGeo involving climate change, it's a good bet that I'll get a spectrum of critical responses in the comments section. These range from skepticism about the urgency of the problem to outright dismissal of humankind's influence on climate through our emissions of greenhouse gases.

A recent post here about thawing permafrost releasing climate-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere was no exception. For the story, I reviewed dozens scientific research

eARTh: A portrait of our planet painted with photons

When I first saw this beautiful remote sensing image, I couldn't help but feel that I was looking at a painting by an abstract expressionist.

Starting in the 1940s, abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollack and Clyfford Still "valued spontaneity and improvisation, and they accorded the highest importance to process," writes Stella Paul of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

These artists placed "an emphasis on dynamic, energetic gesture," she notes. Their works also were primarily a

Standing on the Shore, Grasping for the Stars

This month marks the 45th anniversary of Pioneer 10's passage through the asteroid belt. It was a key rite of passage in humanity's journey from this blue planet into the deep reaches of outer space. Unlike the crowded swarms of science-fiction movies, the real asteroid belt is overwhelmingly empty space. Still, nobody knew exactly what to expect. Would Pioneer 10 be pelted with dust-speck micrometeoroids? Was the asteroid belt a serious barrier to exploration?

As it turned out, the dust

A Professor's DIY Spacesuit

Cameron Smith will put his suit — and his life — on the line at 50,000 feet.