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Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ

The Worldcon of Planetary Astronomy

This past week the largest gathering of planetary astronomers ever, the joint EPSC-DPS1 meeting, was held in Nantes, France. It was the Worldcon of Planetary Astronomy.

Nantes is of course famous as the home of Jules Verne. It is also the location of the incredible Gallery of the Machines, a must-see for any steampunk fan. (The meeting banquet began at the museum, with the large mechanical elephant in a rare nighttime walk leading the way. Watch the above video!)

 

[Video and more below the cut]

Reporting on Science: Does the Press Get it Right?

“We don’t serve faster-than-light particles here,” growled the bartender. A neutrino walks into a bar.

Last week, scientists at the CNGS experiment (CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso) reported the arrival in a lab in Gran Sasso, Italy, of neutrinos produced at the accelerator in CERN, on the Swiss-France border, at a rate that implied they were moving slightly faster than the speed of light. As soon as the reports hit the press, in physics departments around the world, jokes like the one above were all the rage. Particles moving faster than light? Wouldn’t that mean a violation of causality? Could these particles be moving backwards in time?

Behind the science is an interesting social issue, however… how much can you believe of you read in the papers about science? Do news reports of major breakthroughs get it right?

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