In 1977, just a few months after Voyager 1 and 2 began their grand tour of the solar system, Carl Sagan gave the esteemed Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. You can watch them below via YouTube or at the Royal Institution's site. Launched by Michael Faraday in 1825, the Christmas Lectures are meant to be "engaging and mind-expanding... for all ages but particularly children and young adults." As usual, Carl delivered the goods. From the Royal Institution:
Beginning with a closer look at the world we inhabit, Sagan explores of the diversity of life on our own planet and the building blocks behind it, before questioning whether the same organic chemistry is occurring on planets in the outer solar system.
In Lecture Three onwards Sagan takes a closer look at our neighbouring planet, Mars. From early interpretations of terrestrial life on its surface to the surprising discoveries made by NASA’s Viking Program, the Red Planet has become the focus of efforts to discern whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.
When Sagan delivered his lectures in the late 1970s, NASA had only just begun its Voyager program to the furthest planets in our solar system and no extra-solar planets were known to exist. Now, over three decades later, astronomers are looking at planets that lie beyond our solar system to ask the very same question we pondered over Mars: is there life out there?
Carl Sagan: The Planets lecture series (RI via Kottke)
NASA’s AIRS instrument captured this image of Tropical Storm Fay around 2 p.m. local time on July 10, 2020, as the storm swept through New England. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Tropical Storm Fay is sweeping across New England, with the center of the storm making landfall about 10 miles (15 kilometers) north-northeast […]
The deadly 2013 El Reno tornado was 2.5 miles (4 km) wide and killed a team of tornado experts. But as Anton Seimon explains, his colleagues turned that tragedy into an opportunity to confirm a key element of tornado formation.
Some snakes have evolved the ability to glide through the air. For example, paradise tree snakes in southeastern Asia can launch off from a branch and fly as far as 10 meters. Scientists have known that the snakes flatten their bodies to gain lift but new research reveals that they also undulate their bodies as […]
Unless you’re doing a lot better than most of us these days, having a personal masseuse on call isn’t really financially doable. And of course, how many masseurs are still doing house calls or accepting visitors during all this time of medical uncertainty? With skilled human hands mostly out of play right now, it falls […]
It’s almost shocking to say…but there’s actually an incredible amount of manhood wrapped up in how well you cook a steak. Of course, no one would argue your grilling abilities are THAT important. Or that how well you sear a prime slab of beef should have any bearing on your social standing or feeling of […]
The notion of two people sleeping in the same bed always inspires romantic visions of love and intimacy. However, most quickly realize that the romance of sleeping together is often quickly replaced by the realities of the act. One partner snores. The other talks in their sleep. One grinds their teeth. The other hogs the […]