Chernobyl and the Future of Nuclear Energy
Chernobyl. Created and written by Craig Manzin. Directed by Johan Renck. HBO and Sky Atlantic. 2019. 5 hours, 30 minutes in five parts. The 1986 explosion of the Number 4 unit of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, was the worst nuclear accident in history. The accident and the costs of responding to …
Space Exploration: Robots vs. Humans
What should be the roles of humans and robots in space exploration, including the search for life beyond Earth? This question will be important for the newly announced NASA goal of human landings on the Moon by 2024, followed by a lunar outpost and future human flights to Mars. Sometimes this issue is posed as …
Interstellar Visitor Continues to Behave Strangely
In late 2017, an interstellar asteroid named ‘Oumuamua swept past Earth, looped around the Sun, and departed—the first recorded visit from beyond our solar system (see my “Interstellar Visitor: The Strange Asteroid from a Faraway System,” News and Comment, SI, March/April 2018). Its orbit was unique but so was its shape as revealed by its …
Climate Fundamentals: NOVA’s ‘Decoding the Weather Machine’
NOVA, PBS, “Decoding the Weather Machine,” broadcast April 18, 2018, two hours. http://www.pbs.org/video/decoding-the-weather-machine-vgqhot/. DVD available from https://shop.pbs.org/nova-decoding-the-weather-machine-dvd/product/NV61803. Despite nearly unanimous consensus among climate scientists and increasing evidence for disruption of “normal” weather, a substantial minority of Americans do not accept the reality of human-caused climate change. There have been many discussions of how to bridge …
The Meaning of Consensus in Science
Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth by James Lawrence Powell
Has Global Warming Stopped?
The latest public confusion about climate change involves an apparent slowing of the rise of global temperatures. What is the reality concerning this putative temperature ‘plateau’?
The Chelyabinsk Event of February 15, 2013
On February 15, 2013, the million inhabitants of the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk experienced a half-megaton explosion from a disintegrating space rock. What happened, and how did the people of Chelyabinsk react?
The Parameters of Pseudoscience
Skeptics often say they are trying to expose pseudoscience, but in reality we tend to use this term loosely. Creationism, homeopathy, alternative medicine, and cold fusion are clearly pseudoscientific, but what about ancient aliens, UFOs, alien abductions, Bigfoot, crystals, the Moon hoax, and many other claims investigated in the pages of the Skeptical Inquirer?
Ask an Astrobiologist
What is the history behind Astrobiology? How could we find life on other planets? Why is the U.S. government building bunkers to house the elite in case of a global disaster? Are we headed for another ice age?
Will Comet Elenin Destroy the World?
On Internet conspiracy sites, this comet is being blamed for the March 10 Japan earthquake and tsunami, and it is supposed to either hit the Earth or…
Fear of Sun, Moon, and Comets
NASA astrobiologist David Morrison answers more questions
Predicting the End of the World
NASA astrobiologist David Morrison answers more common questions
Concerns about the Solar Maximum and Planet X
Questions from the public regarding the next solar maximum and the hypothesized “Planet X”
Morrison Q&A #3
David Morrison answers more common questions
Questions from the public regarding extraterrestrial life.
Concern about Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions
Questions from the public regarding earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, answered by Dr. David Morrison