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Test Masses

Release the beasts!

  • By Ira Thorpe
  • February 29, 2016
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Captain A. G. Lamplugh, a British pilot from the early days of aviation once famously said “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.” Space flight is less forgiving still. A single … Continue Reading →

Of the Unicorn

Chasing Unicorns

Although the incident happened nearly ten years ago, I still remember it clearly.  I was a newly-minted NASA scientist and was attending a workshop about future space-based scientific facilities. At a coffee break I started chatting with some other young scientists, one of whom asked what I worked on. I … Continue Reading →

General Relativity Timeline

Testing General Relativity

Everyone seems to want to take shot at discrediting Einstein and his theories. I used to volunteer to answer questions for an Ask an Astrophysicist service, and nearly every week I would get a question or two that started with, “I have a new theory…” And at least half of … Continue Reading →

Spacetime Curvature

100 Years of General Relativity

  • By Barb Mattson
  • November 25, 2015
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This week is the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. On November 25, 1915, Einstein published the field equations of gravity which are the heart of the general relativity. Sure, you’ve heard of Einstein – he was a smart guy. And you’ve probably heard of general relativity, but … Continue Reading →

Modeling Gravity Waves

Doing Astronomy With Our Eyes Closed

  • By Ira Thorpe
  • November 16, 2015
  • Comments Off on Doing Astronomy With Our Eyes Closed

In space, no one can hear you scream. Any sci-fi buff worth their dilithium crystals knows why: sound requires a medium such as air or water in which to propagate and empty space is well, empty. But what if I told you that there are waves that can travel through … Continue Reading →


I was inspired to pick up where Alexe left off with her “est” blogs, and write about “Farthest,” because of some recent, cool, astronomical news. There was recently excitement over a Hubble Space Telescope discovery of seven primitive galaxies located over 13 billion light years away from us. The results … Continue Reading →



Welcome back to the -EST blog! This is where I chat about some of the astronomical superlatives that go the extra distance to make our universe so interesting and awesome. In this post I’m going to talk about a pretty popular topic, the darkest things in our universe – black … Continue Reading →


Who cares about gravity?

Numerical simulation of two merging black holes performed by the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany: what this rendition shows through colors is the degree of perturbation of the spacetime fabric, the so-called gravitational waves. Credit: Werner Benger Who cares about gravity? Shouldn’t this be a settled question by now? This … Continue Reading →


Anatomy of an Exosolar System

A good chunk of the exoplanets that we’ve detected so far are huge, Jupiter-sized and larger. A lot of them are orbiting their stars at very short distances – it might seem strange to think that planets bigger than Jupiter are orbiting their stars closer than Mercury orbits the Sun, … Continue Reading →

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