Supernova Condensate is a blog about our place in the Universe. Of astronomy, chemistry and life in the big bad bubble of academia.
Invader Xan is a molecular astrophysicist and part-time alien invader, who spends life looking at very small things on very large scales, and trying to better understand the chemistry of interstellar space.
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Monthly Archives: September 2012
When constructed, the James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST for short) is scheduled for launch in 2018. When it does, it will be the largest and most complex orbital telescope ever constructed, with a 6.5 m primary mirror giving it … Continue reading
I love classic sci fi movies, but if some advanced alien being could make the whole Earth (as opposed to just the man-made parts) literally stand still, the end results would be nothing short of catastrophic. You see, because most … Continue reading
A galaxy is a huge collection of mass drifting in the otherwise bland and mostly featureless void of intergalactic space. Gravity is a force where like attracts like – mass likes to attract more mass – so, as you’d expect, … Continue reading
Have a good Caturday!
Dreamed up by the British Interplanetary Society in the 1970s, Daedalus was an idea for an unmanned interstellar space probe. It was to be powered by a nuclear fusion rocket, using a rocket engine bell larger than St Paul’s Cathedral. Continue reading
Starships. The idea captures the imagination, doesn’t it? But special relativity is a harsh law to live by if we, as a species, ever plan to make it beyond the constraints of our own solar system. It imposes the ultimate … Continue reading
I’ve always loved looking out towards the horizon. Especially by the shore on those beautifully clear days when you can see right to the edge of the sky. But just how far away is the horizon anyway? Actually, it’s pretty easy to calculate. Continue reading
Our sun sits in a rather lonely part of the Milky Way. Here in our quiet little home in a mundane part of the Orion Spur, a tiny offshoot from one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, we have few neighbours. … Continue reading
This week I discovered one of the most faintly hilarious things I have for some time. It’s a fairly common mistake in chemistry to mis-draw a structure so that a carbon atom appears to have five bonds. It’s a fairly … Continue reading