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Back to the basics: how radiation affects our health

Radiation is ubiquitous; an inescapable part of life on Earth.  Background radiation reaches us from outer space, from the rocks and soils we walk on, and from naturally radioactive potassium in our own bodies.  Through its entire history, organisms on Earth have been bombarded by radiation, and this will continue for as long as the […]

Weapons in space

Space may be the final frontier, but it’s likely to be the next battleground. At least that was the conclusion I drew from a distinguished panel that spoke to the Fletcher Club of New York a few days ago (May 9). The evening’s topic, the weaponization of space, seemed reasonably innocuous – I’d expected to […]

Fermi versus some guy from Podunk

Nobel prize-winning physicist I.I. Rabi commented once that “In science we can’t let some guy from Podunk have the same vote as (Nobel laureate Enrico) Fermi.” Science has nothing to do with voting – I dislike gravity (especially when I step on a scale) but convincing my fellow citizens to vote against gravity (or to […]

Solar Storms

Over the weekend Earth was slammed by the biggest solar storm in about a decade. Days earlier a huge x-class solar flare (the most powerful category) had blasted millions of tons of hydrogen into space, with Earth in the cross-hairs. The eruption – called a coronal mass ejection – blasted through space at more than […]

Who gives a fig for the Higgs?

A few months ago the Center for European Nuclear Research (which goes by the acronym CERN) reported it had found evidence of the most-wanted subatomic particle – the Higgs Boson (aka the God particle). If this finding is confirmed it will wrap up one of the longest-standing loose ends in our current model (the Standard […]