For a little over 150 years, people have been coming to terms with Darwin’s Origin of the Species, with the fact that the the amazing and beautiful diversity on our planet is due to a constant, millions year long struggle for life to conquer other life, to evolve as conditions demand and that genetic makeup of every type of life form changes over time due to mixing and matching and environmental pressures. But what about the universe? Is there any “purpose” to our universe? Lee Smolin, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo has proposed an idea called the Theory of Cosmological Natural Selection in which he postulates that the universe’s ultimate goal is to make stars, which then become black holes, which then makes more singularities that can potentially turn into other universes.
While the number of exoplanets discovered by scientists via the Kepler telescope numbers in the thousands, most of the planets found have been gas giants, because gas giants are much easier to spot. But if you’re looking for an Earth 2, the closest thing so far is Kepler 186f, a small rocky planet only slightly larger than Earth that orbits in the comfortable “Goldilocks zone” around its star where it’s not too hot, not too cold. We may never know if there’s life on Kepler 186f, but its discovery is certainly a damn good start in the search for other Earth-like planets out there.
This is a selective list of some short stories and novels that use more or less accurate science and can be used for teaching or reinforcing astronomy or physics concepts. Included are both traditional “science-fiction” and (occasionally) more serious fiction that derives meaning or plot from astronomy or physics ideas.
It was the discovery of a number of tiny dwarf planets beyond Pluto, in the Kuiper Belt, that prompted the definition of dwarf planet vs regular planet. But most of these except Sedna were within the Kuiper Belt… between that and the edge of the Oort Cloud, astronomers thought there was pretty much nothing. And then this faint pink dot shows up, an icy world orbiting 44 billion miles away from the Sun. For right now, the planet is just called VP113, and is technically being called a “sednoid” right now due to its weird spot waaaay out there on the edge of the solar system.
The majority of exploration into the presence of water on Mars deals with looking for evidence that there was water on the planet at some point in the past. But NASA JPL has announced they think water may be flowing right this very moment. A combination of salt and iron may be giving this seeping groundwater a natural antifreeze property, and you wouldn’t want to drink it, but still, shit… water on Mars as we speak.
Conventional thinking has it that the universe and all the matter within it exploded out from a single point, the so-called Big Bang Singularity. But a German theoretical physicists says this never happened. Instead, the universe started empty and cold, slowly emerging from a deep freeze.