keep up with astrophysics news
and improve your cultural literacy 
.... now in its 7th year
feedback, questions, broken links, and what not:

last updated: 8 a
m June 3, 2020

This month's guide to the bright planets   or the   This Week's Sky-at-a-glance

and remember that many publications now have monthly article limits; plan ahead!
(including: NY Times, Washington Post, Raleigh N&O, The Atlantic, Science, Scientific American,

American Astronomical Society meets online only from June 1 - June 3, 2020
frequent updates throughout with @AAS tag

solar system

stars and in

(and ET life)

galaxies &

particle & quantum physics


science & tech

early June 2020

The once and future ring of Mars?
the source and grave of new moons

 A 'hot springs' hypothesis for the origin of life
and testing it on Mars & Enceladus
from a special issue on hot springs
mostly free

climate crisis 🔥

how we know the planet is warming
the big picture

Classical novae are source of galaxy's lithium
not the Big Bang nor cosmic rays

Starts with a Bang
has a longer explanatory

Did supermassive black holes form by accretion or merger?
in the nearby universe, by accretion; in the distant universe, by merger
so a model suggests

Spiral galaxies show asymmetric spin alignment
was the universe spinning at the start?

Cosmic rays surprise us again


(Not Even Wrong)
a university corrects nonsense about parallel universes
but scientist credibility & public understanding of science continue to suffer due to "overwhelming amount of misleading self-serving BS about parallel universes"

Accelerator experiments are closing in on neutrino CP violation
(Physics Today,
June 2020 issue)

GOP to move nominating convention from Charlotte
(Raleigh N&O)
to a ballroom in Florida?
Cooper chooses participants' health over money & threats

6/2/2020 primary election results from 7 states, DC
IA's Steve King is gone

America at the breaking point 
behaving like a 3rd world country

A.G. Barr ordered tear gas & rubber bullets to disperse lawful protesters  for Trump's church photo-op
turning holy ground into a battleground
DC Bishop furious

Trump threatens use of military to quell protests
(Washington Post) 

In America, Black deaths are not a flaw in the system
....they are the system

(The Guardian)

A President who wants you to be misinformed
(The Nation)

The rebellion in defense of black lives is rooted in American history
(The Intercept)
so is Trump's authoritarian rule

Has Trump declared war on the U.S.?
(The Guardian)

A spotlight on U.S. hypocrisy
(Washington Post)
the rest of the world IS paying attention

Look at me
(Donald Trump)

is it 1968 again?

The worst year in American history?
(The Atlantic)
an exaggeration... probably

This isn't as bad as 1968
so far

1968 vs. 2020:
the differences

(Washington Post)

The greatest U.S. uprising since 1968
(The Guardian)

Americans think America is in bad shape

the fault is not in our stars...
it's elsewhere

Trump, the destroyer
(The Guardian)

Trump berates governors: "most of you are weak"...  tells them to "take back the streets" and "dominate" the protests

plus: bring on "the vicious dogs" and the most ominous weapons ...ever seen"
just like in Alabama  50+ years ago?

Thousands of complaints do
little to change police ways

(NY Times)
union resistance, a public unwilling to second-guess

and a President who has  fanned the flames of violence for political or personal gain
instead of being a peacemaker

Republican senators: it's not too late to save your country
(Washington Post)

Policing is the U.S. is not about enforcing the law...
(The Guardian)'s about enforcing white supremacy

protests or police violence?

CIA veterans compare U.S. police crackdown to authoritarian force used by despots in China, Iraq, Syria, Libya
(Washington Post)

this can't be happening:
48 minutes of surreal violence in DC:  the Donald Trump show
(Washington Post)

White House/park  police deny using tear gas on peaceful protesters...but then there's the evidence

In America, protest is patriotic
(NY Times)

Police increasingly target journalists
(NY TImes)
as Trump blames the media

The question isn't 'why are they looting?'... it's 'why have so many so little to lose?'

but Ivanka's handbag was nice
(Washington Post)


The many varieties of voter suppression
(American Prospect) 


Tree Story
(Science News)
what tree rings can tell us
by Valerie Trouet


The end for Christo
(NY Times)
the wrapper's visions were fleeting bu unforgettable

and finding beauty in the temporary
(The Atlantic)

Astrobites @AAS

life's astrochemical origins; the Milky Way's Center; the Starlink mess; a once and future Mars ring; dealing with big data; new telescopes for the CMB

Day1 @AAS
habitable worlds;
galaxies weird and wonderful; cosmic whimpers and bangs; journey to the center of the Milky Way

UFO journalism without skepticism


57%-37%: most Americans favor controlling the pandemic vs. restarting the economy
(Washington Post)
despite the widespread economic toll

where cv isn't


at high altitudes
from Andes to Tibet

bad tech

Zuckerberg really just doesn't get it
(Washington Post)
a person so ignorant of racial injustice, discrimination, and voter suppression has no business owning a media company
it's no surprise that Fbook's track record on civil rights issues is so poor

limited time?  read the most interesting & important stories from  late May 2020:

1)  America under siege

at the breaking point

the fault is not in our stars.... it's elsewhere

whose violence?  protesters or police?

Facebook fails again, Twitter less so

2)  coronavirus hasn't gone away

pandemic politics

pandemic effects on education

pandemic effects on carbon emissions

3)   universe news

the Sagittarius dwarf and the Milky Way have had a long-term relationship

evidence (finally?  or again?) for most of universe's baryons

an unexpectedly early disk galaxy

an unexpectedly early ring galaxy

4)  solar system news

increasing doubts about Planet 9

Mars:  lakes?  mud flows? 

Earth:  the asteroid, the dinosaurs, and the cauldron that followed

Jupiter:   forming the Galilean moons & a trapped comet

 Bennu & Ryugu:  up from the rubble

watching planetary birth in other systems

late May 2020

Doubting Planet 9
(The Conversation)

Hunting meteorites in the Antarctic
(New Scientist) where ⅔ of all meteorites are found

around Jupiter

Europa: an alien world in our backyard
(Scientific American)
3 clues to whether it could harbor life

Jupiter traps a Centaur comet
(U Hawaii)
no longer thought to be a Jupiter Trojan with a tail

and with a more explanatory picture
(Sky & Telescope)
will there be fireworks in 2063?

Making Jupiter's moons
a new simulation produces promising results

NY Times
explains it with
beer bottles, steep hills, & vacuum cleaners


on Earth

Dinosaur-dooming asteroid struck Earth at deadliest possible angle
(Imperial College)
and maximized release of climate-changing gases

published article
(Nature Communications)

and a steaming cauldron followed the asteroid's impact for 150 kyr
due to creation of hydrothermal vents

published article
(Science Advances)

No asteroid needed: end-devonian extinction tied to ozone loss
and a uv-caused warming climate

The Earth's core is a reservoir of water?
but given the uncertainties, maybe it's just a reservoir of hot air



Maybe those ancient lava flows are actually mud flows?
(Earth & Sky)

More evidence for ancient ice-covered Martian lakes
(Earth & Sky)
oxalates and carbonates support alternating past warm/humid and cold/icy climates
caused by volcanoes or axial-tilt change?  ...but implications for past Martian life are unclear

NASA re-explains

Is Mars "still" volcanically active?
(Earth & Sky)
based on 'evidence' (once-flowing convective magma) from one Martian meteorite: maybe

"still" here means
~0.6 Gyr ag


small bodies

Bennu & Ryugu were formed from the destruction of a larger asteroid
(CNRS France)
say simulations
such oblate spheroids can form through gravitational reaccumulation

published article
(Nature Communications)

5/16/20 update on Comet Swan
(Earth & Sky)
although it's probably best to use the Stellarium skymap

Pluto's atmosphere is shrinking

a drop by 20% in 4 years


ruining space

NASA invents new rules for lunar & space exploration
(Scientific American)
after Trump's Covid-19 blunders, who looks for American to lead anything?

Principles for a Safe, Peaceful, and Prosperous Future


climate crisis 🔥

how we know the planet is warming
the big picture

Unusual warmth jumpstarts Arctic ice melting

(Washington Post)

and 1 week later,
it's in the 80s in the Arctic

Antarctic ice sheet retreated more rapidly during last deglaciation than today
from seafloor mapping


pandemic effects

The impact of the cv pandemic on atmospheric CO2
(Carbon Brief)

CO2 emissions fall 17% due to pandemic
(Washington Post)
~½ the drop due to transport decreases

and why that's dispiriting news
(Scientific American)
it shows how hard it will be to sustain the annual decrease needed to stop global warming

published paper
(Nature Climate Change)
but likely only a 4 - 7% drop for the year

How the pandemic slashed carbon emissions
in 5 graphs
and how it's likely to ramp back up

climate solutions

A climate policy plan to unite us?
are climate activists actually about to agree on something?

and some big climate plans

Green New Deal

Green New Deal
(Sunrise Movement)

supported by the
Green Party
with likely nominee Howie Hawkins

Solidarity for Climate Action
(BlueGreen Alliance)
Vision & Principles
Platform pdf

Equitable Climate Action Platform
Platform pdf

Equitable & Just National Platform
vision & agenda
Platform pdf

Kelp is on the way
(New Scientist)
to clean up the atmosphere and save us from catastrophic climate change

The end of meat?
(NY Times)
sadly, not even close

"if cows were a country, they'd be the 3rd largest GHG emitter in the world"

Why the Democrats didn't have a climate-focused debate
(American Prospect)
DNC corporate lobbyists

The 7 (relatively rare) exceptions to 'normal' stellar evolution end states
(Starts with a Bang)
e.g., pair-instability supernovae, white dwarf mergers, kilonovae, and more Thorne-Zytkow objects??

The strange hearts of neutron stars
(Scientific American)
are still unknown (free quarks & gluons?  hyperons? Bose-Eisntein condensate?) despite wild speculation, including that here
although better masses, radii, and magnetic field info are narrowing things down

'The COW is not alone'
(Keck Observatory)
2 additional examples found

FBOTs: a new class of cosmic explosions?
this supernova's  engine is likely circumstellar

Wandering stars pass by (through?) the solar system surprisingly often
last close encounter: 70,000 yrs ago
next: Gleise 710,
1.4 Myr from now

Understanding the music of
δ Scuti stars
follow-up to earlier announcement

An Earth-like planet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri
(U Geneva)
1.2 MEarth with orbital period 11 days around M6 star

more commentary
(Earth & Sky)

Watching the disintegration of a planet?
(AAS Nova)
a small, close-in planet with variable transit depths

Are cosmic rays respsonsible for chirality?
(AAS Nova)
aka the handedness of Earth life

A new Bayesian analysis suggests ET life is common

(Columbia U.)
and that its rise likely happens rapidly, not slowly
but whether the life is intelligent & complex is a tossup

published article
assuming you understand Bayesian statistics

Watching planet birth
(Scientific American,
June 2020 issue)

entire issue is free to download

and images of the latest two
(Sky & Telescope)
PD370 & AB Aurigae

A 'twist' marks the spot of planetary formation?
(Science News)
more details on AB Aurigae dynamics

A climate decoder -- for exoplanets
(Cornell U)

published article:
How surfaces shape the climate of habitable exoplanets

Universe's baryons found (finally? again?) using FRB dispersion
(IRCAR Australia)

with a
7-page "media backgrounder"

lead authors' commentary claim
'finally' not 'again'

(The Conversation)

published article
Ωbary  =  0.51 + 0.02, consistent with CMB and Big Bang nucleosynthesis

The Sagittarius dwarf collided with Milky Way at least 3 times
inciting a burst of star formation @
5.7, 1.9, & 1.0 Gyr ago

with a simulation showing the Sgr- dwarf/Milky-Way interaction

Nature Astronomy
with a diagram showing why our solar-system's formation 1 Gyr later is not unreasonable

Andrew Fabian awarded 2020 Kavli prize in Astrophysics
(Kavli Prize)
for ground-breaking work in x-ray astronomy focused on galactic centers

An unexpected ring galaxy early in the universe
(Science In Public)
evidence for
thin-disk galaxies
 2.9 Gyr A.B.

Nature Astronomy

Galaxies with a warmer interstellar medium have larger SMBHs
(U Hawaii)
and a warmer ISM might be due to an interaction with other galaxies

An early start for galactic disks
a gas disk already formed 1.5 Gyr A.B.,
unexpectedly early
do all galaxies form this way?

a much superior commentary by one of the authors
(Max Planck Inst.)
support for the cold accretion model of galaxy formation

and commentary on the birth of disk galaxies
eldest sibling of the Milky Way

A supermassice black hole duo gets confirmation
(Sky & Telescope)
with the prediction of a periodic flare

How to explain the Big Bang to kids
(Starts with a Bang)
or the average adult

How GAIA measured the mass of the Milky Way
using globular clusters
an oldie but goodie

The biggest ideas in the universe
(Preposterous Universe)
on topics from field and forces to quantum entanglement
10 videos
(30 - 60 min)

Will anti-deuteron production help in search for dark matter?

The U.S. bets it all on neutrinos

May the 5th force be with you
(New Scientist)
the universe increasingly seems to be telling us there is an unexplained presence

read with caution

What 'banged' in the Big Bang?
(Scientific American)
Alan Guth speculates
but beware... there's still no proof of 'his' inflation, consequent 'pocket universes', or primordial black holes

Black hole paradoxes link energy and entropy?
maybe they should turn their efforts instead toward actual finding evidence that black holes can evaporate and that Hawking radiation exists?
before piling on more speculation on top of it

'Milestone' evidence for a 3rd kingdom of particles?
if you have a low threshold for 'milestone', that is


and then there's the parallel universe that's been spotted going backwards in time
(New Scientist)
read while laughing?
they should be paying us to read it

commentary by
Starts with a Bang

Many Worlds

(MIT Press Reader)
is the non-scientific ever 'explainable'?

written by a supposed 'agnostic'

protests or violence?

Violent protests are not the story
police violence is

Across America, police react to peaceful protest with violence
(The Guardian)

Facing protests over use of force, police respond with more force
(NY Times)

 Is it OK *not* to protest the violence after police killings?

or does this 1967 MLK quote still have relevance?
'A riot is the language of the unheard'
(USA Today)

Scenes from a protest

America in crisis
(Washington Post)
gripped by disease,
unemployment, and

outrage at the police
and yet Trump tweets about Twitter

Viewing America's disintegration
(Washington Post)
the revolution will be televised
...52 years later


Trump called Cooper on 5/29 to argue for no masks and no distancing @ July GOP convention
(Washington Post)
Cooper demurred... talks continue
No masks? 
No physical distancing?
No convention in Charlotte!

Life as we know it....after the pandemic
(Washington Post)
pessimistic and optimistic views
and the truth in between?

The unluckiest generation?
(Washington Post)
in 9 charts

Will the coming fall economic recovery re-elect

the nightmare scenario

The future of flying

forever changed?

ready to get on a planet again?
(NY Times)

foreign policy

How the Taliban outlasted the U.S.
(NY Times)
the war in Afghanistan

Mike Pompeo: worst Secretary
of Stae ever?

(NY Times)

Trump and his presidency

and his malignant cruelty
(The Atlantic)

Why does he get away with egregious behavior?
(Washington Post)

Why are so many Republicans remaining silent?
(The Atlantic)

Trump's presidency: the one George Wallace never had
(Washington Post)

Trump's bluster & hollow threats
should be ignored

pandemic politics

The pandemic has hit Democratic counties harder than GOP ones
(NY Times)
primarily due to differences in population density
and largely responsible for the polarization in pandemic responses

What kind of country do we want?
(NY Books)
ruled by justice or by profits?
that we'd rather pay cheap workers in China -- who live in factory dorms -- than pay American workers a livable wage says something about us

The sickness in our food supply 
(NY Books)
we sacrifice workers but love monopolies

it's no surprise that Trump re-opened meatpacking plants via DPA despite widespread worker infection

Will $7 trillion more be enough?
(The Atlantic)
to prevent a great depression
but right now, the GOP is holding out for 0

The worst predators have persuaded the worst Republicans to end the shutdown
(American Prospect)

Why do Trump & McConnell want liability protection for businesses bringing workers back?
(NY Times)
if it's not a danger to workers?

so their next idea:
bribe them to go back to work

The worst is yet to come?
(NY Times)
teetering on the edge of pessimism and optimism

Liberals' safety fears vs. conservatives' mask cowardice
(NY Times)
covid-19 polarization
strikes again

but Who's more afraid of coronavirus, liberals or conservatives?
is more interesting

with 3 theories

Why immunity passports are a bad idea
10 reasons 

Ranking every country's coronavirus impact
The U.S.: worse-than-average public health and economic outcomes
but, hey, we're doing better than Iran

Pandemic exposes America's hollowed-out government
(Washington Post)

The stupidity of not expanding Medicaid in NC
(NC Policy Watch)
the uninsured rate will soar
including for the nearly
 ~1 million who have just lost jobs

bad news

Bad news for old people
(Washington Post)

Bad news for the millennials
in 14 charts

  Bad news for
2020 college graduates
(The Atlantic) 

Bad news for the young and un-immunized

Bad news for workers in the gig economy
(Washington Post)


non-pandemic politics

The Decade of Democracy's Demise
Citizens United,
overturning of the Voting Rights Act, legislative gerrymandering, ....
a very very long read

Midwestern states -- the last bastion of pension plans
(Washington Post)
the home of well-educated workers with a desire to work

as opposed to, say, the South

Barton Gellman is still watching his back
(The Atlantic)
a follow-up to
reporting the Snowden story


Bipartisan NC election bill filed
containing much of what State Board of Elections asked for
but rejects giving SBoE Director more say over elections

the bill itself
what it does do:
allows absentee ballot request by email; reduces witnesses from 2 to 1; allots money for cybersecurity, covid-related safety measures & extra equipment

what it doesn't do:
mail absentee ballot request forms to every voter;  make Election Day a holiday;  pay postage for mail-in ballot return

bill expected to pass, as is

another election lawsuit filed
(Raleigh N&O)
asking to overturn much of NC election law as unconstitutional

for failure to adjust procedures in the face of the pandemic

but  25 states have already changed their elections procedures this year
(Washington Post)

Twitter FINALLY fact checks a false Trump tweet as false
(Washington Post)
will wonders never cease?

June runoff in Western NC previews election problems for Nov.
(Raleigh N&O)
election officials there are expecting a pollworker shortage
not to mention money for plexiglass shields, masks, cleaning crews, ...

Texas GOP fights to keep voting unsafe
(Washington Post)

GOP will be watching you vote
(NY Times)
hiring 50,000 activists in 15 states to monitor polls
now that 4-decade ban on GOP pollwatching
(aka harrassment) expired in 2018

The clock is ticking: deadlines start now for avoiding November chaos

and what deadlines need to be met when
(Brennan Center for Justice)
for running a safe election

What happens if a presidential candidate dies (or withdraws) before the election

(Washington Post)
part 1
part 2

A guide to (almost) all the remaining congressional primaries
(Washington Post)

Each state's electoral preparation in response to covid-19
(Vote At Home)
NC gets 2
★ out of 5

Only Congress can change the date of a presidential election
(Washington Post)
the Constitution says so

Grading the Electoral College:
C for Chaos

(Washington Post)

Elections during a pandemic
50-min audios
WBUR OnPoint
WAMU the 1A
Free & Fair


A death sentence for restaurants

(NY Times)
and suggestions for overturning it

Crumbs for the hungry, but zillions more for the rich

(NY Times)
retroactive tax breaks for real estate developers for periods long before coronavirus arrived
once again, what kind of country do we want?


Let them Eat Tweets
(W W Norton)
how the right rules in the age of extreme inequality

Quantum Legacies:
Dispatches from an uncertain world

(Physics World)
essays on how physicists grapple with cutting-edge issues
a review of David Kaiser's book

Trumpocalypse: is there a way out?
(Washington Post)
it's not so much the millions he's personally extracted from government, it's the moral turpitude

by David Frum

bad tech

Restaurants are barely surviving  --  delivery apps will kill them
(Washington Post)
an exhaustive takedown

Twitter confronts Trump...
Fbook abdicates

(NY TImes)

Fbook still can't won't tell truth from fiction
(The Guardian)

although a few Fbook employees chastise Zuckerberg for his silence
(Washington Post)
on Trump's divisive tweets

Trump is doing his all for Fbook
(The Atlantic)
why are thoughtful people still using it?


pandemic education

Memo to NC Charter schools:  stop lying about being underfunded!
(NC Policy Watch)
they spend more $ per student than traditional public schools
and have less to show for it

NC Senate isn't interested in funding pandemic help for schools

(NC Policy Watch)
unlike the Governor and the NC House

What college will be like in the fall in NC
(Raleigh N&O)
what we know;
what we don't

UNC system's
Roadmap to 2020


but  faculty & students skeptical
 faculty push back
(NC Policy Watch)

Universities overcome bumps in transition to online teaching
(Physics Today,
June 2020 issue)
assessing students, preserving privacy, suppressing cheating, minimizing anxiety

The future of college is online -- and it's cheaper
(NY Times)
so what if it's not anywhere near as good?

How America sabotaged the pandemic higher-ed crisis
(The Atlantic)
the deprioritization of community colleges

which are now left totally unprepared

The longest summer vacation ever
why it's a bad thing for low-income students

How to find your life passion work

(The Atlantic)
a college graduation speech?



Carbon dating gets a major re-calibration
magnetic field reversals, nuclear bombs, & fossil-fuel use have changed carbon levels in atmosphere

In search of life's smoking gun
a journey to underwater volcanoes where life may have erupted

Do civilizations collapse?
good television?
or bad archaeology?


Harmeet Dhillon,
apparently learned little science while at NCSSM (c/o '85)


A John Conway retrospective
(NY Times)
written by a worshipper
Conway died of coronavirus in April

grad studnet solves lingering Conway map problem

Rosenkrantz, Tycho, & Kepler: a most excellent adventure
the thin line between oblivion and immortality
so who IS the most famous?


Estonia lives online.
Why can't the U.S.?

(The Atlantic)
bank, get health care, order prescriptions, apply for sick leave or government assistance

The confessions of Marcus Hutchins

the hacker who saved the internet

a very very long read
for computer geeks only

paywall perhaps

which is why you should read
How to stop a cyberattack
(Washington Post)
because now is the perfect time to start one?



The epic battle against coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories

Covid-19 modeling is fraught with uncertainties
(Physics Today)
which political leaders are quite poor at dealing with

CDC defends failure
(Washington Post)
to spot virus spread early and to develop a reliable test

Social distancing is not enough
(The Atlantic)
we need to covid-proof restaurants, offices, and public entertainment

Why coronavirus is worse than the flu
(Washington Post)
it attacks blood-vessel linings in the lungs

Why immuno-passports are not a good idea
10 reasons

but a vaccine and contact tracing are

Earlier lockdown would have prevented tens of thousands of deaths
assuming people would have behaved appropriately
36,000 fewer deaths if lockdown had started just
1 week earlier

Scientific American,
July 2020 issue

is mostly devoted to  the cv pandemic
free to download
but may require registration

Good news on the human immune response to coronavirus?

but Moderna didn't release sufficient vaccine evidence
so it's hard to draw conclusions

Nature  agrees

A visual guide to how various coronavirus vaccines might work

Why contact tracing won't work in America
(MIT Tech Review)
high caseloads, lack of testing, attitudes toward government surveillance, lack of workers, and more

How coronavirus destroys the human body, one organ at a time

Lockdowns worked
the evidence
for flattening the curve

Animal source of coronavirus still eludes researchers
bats?  pangolin?
and still no evidence it originated in a lab

The proof that social distancing save lives

and  here's your chance to explore the models
(Washington Post)

Where chronic health conditions and coronavirus (could) collide
(NY Times)
and documenting the poor health of Southerners

Why the Navajo Nation is one of the worst covid-19 hot spots
(NY Times)
decades of bad federal government behavior

Anti-vaxxers are gaining ground
pandemic polarization helps

limited time?  read the most interesting & important stories from  early May 2020:

1) coronavirus still tops the charts

2) more bad news about climate

climate moving out of human comfort levels

reaching new heights of heat and humidity

visualizing Antarctic ice loss

a warning about sea-level rise:  an exponential increase in flooding

and 6 new climate books

3)  is the Sun normal?

4)  a Ryugu update

5)  A new cosmological tension?:   the universe's clumping of mass

6)  a Milky Way FRB

7)  art to watch instead of visit

8)  and here and there .....

how the Snowden spying story broke

NCSSM astronaut returns home

Fbook's continuing truth problem

early May 2020


Long-dormant Mauna Kea has been g(rumbling)
(Science News)
for decades
small periodic earthquakes no cause for alarm?

Mt. St. Helens,
at 40


New simulation 'evidence' that Europa's plumes are water
(Max Planck Inst.)

and more from


How a collision on one side of Pluto ripped up terrain on the opposite side
(Scientific American,
June 2020 issue)
free for a limited time

Sky Guide 2020
free downloadable  month-by-month guide to mostly the planets


One step closer to mining the Moon?
(Popular Mechanics)
sadly, one more crack in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty
a long read

and how to do it
(MIT Tech Review)
but it's a long road ahead

New carbon data at odds with impact origin of the Moon

(Science Advances)
maybe the Moon isn't volatile-depleted after all?
free for a limited time



Touching Ryugu
(The Conversation)
what Hyabusa-2 has learned

How long ago did the Sun redden Ryugu?
(Sky & Telescope)
with implications for Ryugu's age
a definitive age will be pinned down when Hyabusa returns to Earth with samples in December

published article


Will Comet SWAN make up for Comet Atlas?
(Sky & Telescope)
with a white-on-blue finder chart ...
white-on-black finder chart here

Venus and Earth got their water during their main accretion?

(Nature Astronomy)
and not delivered later b/c atmospheric escape can remove only a limited amount of water
free to read but not save

Giant underwater volcano rewrites seafloor formation
(Scientific American)
Tamu massif, 50x larger than Hawaii


Martian magnetic field dynamo present earlier -- and later -- than thought
(Planetary Science Institute)

Mars needs money
(Scientific American)
current White House budget implies retreat from Mars

goodbye Mars Odyssey, Curiosity, ...?

4-Gyr organic molecules found in Martian meteorite

Earth & Sky
has better graphics

climate crisis 🔥

how we know the planet is warming
the big picture 

The foods to avoid if you care about climate change
beef tops the list... by a lot... then lamb & dairy, chocolate & coffee

April 2020: warmest April on record
(Washington Post)
Europe & Asia have warmest first quarter ever
2020 on track to surpass 2016 as world's  warmest year on record... and there isn't an El Ni

Global warming to push billions outside of humans' 6000-yr comfort range
(Washington Post)
within 50 yrs -- and change human geography

2 billion+ SE- Asians will soon live in regions hotter than 84
(The Guardian)

based on
published article:
Future of the Human Climate Niche

Extreme humidity & temperature events now 2x as common as 40 years ago
(Scientific American)

published article:
The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance
(Science Advances)
free for a limited time

Celestial mechanics and Earth's ice ages
(Physics Today,
May 2020 issue)
have they affected human evolution?

Visualizing Antarctica's ice melt as never before
(NY Times)

and the published article:
Atmosphere vs. ocean: and the pervasive ice loss that is a result
(Science Advances)
free for a short time

Washington Post
wins Pulitzer Prize for  '2
°C: Beyond the Limit'
climate reporting

Sea-level rise exponentially increases coastal flood frequency
(Nature Scientific Reports)
repeat, 'exponentially'

Signs of the coming climate-caused drought in the Missouri basin
(Washington Post)

'good news'

(Carbon Brief)

Europe CO2 emission drops by  ~40%

China's CO2 down by ~25%

Coronavirus impact on CO2 6x larger than during 2008 financial crisis

No mask?  You probably don't worry about climate change either
making a masquerade of science


A medieval dark lunar eclipse helps date ice cores
(Sky & Telescope)
and volcanic eruptions

How global warming and wildlife habitat destruction contribute to skyrocketing infectious disease
(Pro Publica)
bats, rats, and other rodents thrive in degraded environments

Study links coronavirus death rate to air pollution
(Washington Post)
although not yet peer-reviewed, DC takes sides
of course

The sustained undermining of science by EPA leaders is a travesty

Trump undermines environmental protections under the guise of coronavirus
5 examples
: emissions rollbacks, inaction on particulates, & more

δ Scuti stars
shows regular high-frequency pulsation modes

and commentary from one of the co-discoverers
(U Central Lancashire)

and NASA Goddard
has nice graphics

Signs of neutron-star collisions to come?
(AAS Nova)
radio and/or γ-rays?

The Sun is less active that similar stars
(Max Planck Inst.)

The future of the

is its magnetic activity headed up or down?
with implications for Earth's habitability

Spins point to how black-hole binaries formed
(AAS Nova)
formed separately and met up later in life, or together from the beginning?
spoiler alert: slightly more of the former

a slightly older article seems to say the opposite

ET life

Mars' climate model suggests Earth life could not presently survive in Martian salt water
ok, but so what?

Living the hy(drogen) life?
(Sky & Telescope)
on the viability of living in H2-rich exoplanet atmospheres

new commentary
on last month's claim of a discrepancy in the universe's mass clumping density
(Scientific American)
& a new tension:
hints of new physics?

Is the Big Bang in crisis?
May 2020 issue)

nagging questions about dark matter, dark energy, & H0

Classification of galaxy morphology solved?
(UC-Santa Cruz)
with a new AI tool

First Milky Way
FRB is a known magnetar

(Sky & Telescope)
but it doesn't mean all are

Quark theory still disagrees with experiment
not exactly explanatory

Lost chapters
(Science 2.0)
chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
of Anomaly!
reviewed by
Not Even Wrong
for particle-physics insiders

Is dark matter hiding in existing data?
looking in the MeV range instead of the keV

read with caution

searching for non-existent black holes?

Naked singularities

(Scientific American)
and how to search for them


one in the outer solar system?
instead of Planet 9

read with caution
and treat with irrelevance?

Anti-deSitter space (AdS) shown to be unstable
good thing we don't live in AdS

Durham/Raleigh restaurants doing takeout
(Raleigh N&O)
please don't waste money on deliver apps

An indictment of the CDC and how it was marginalized
(The Lancet)
a medical journal's rare op-ed

Which 'American way of life' will win out?
(NY Times)
the one for or against workers?

The conspiracy mongers are winning
(The Atlantic)

Is a President above the law?
(NY Times)
and a pre-hearing listener's guide
(Washington Post)
to the battle before the Supreme Court

An annotated commentary  to the live Court hearings
(NY Times)

Secrets, surveillance,and Snowden
(Washington Post)
the inside story of the exposure of NASA's massive spying program
a very long read

What paid for America's  land-grant universities?
(NY Times)
in many cases, wealth stolen from indigenous peoples

Quarantine reveals we don't need more sports in our lives

(Washington Post)
we need less

Whose freedom counts?
what the anti-lockdown protesters
forget about 'freedom' and 'liberty'

Admitted liar Michael Flynn given get-out-of-jail-free card
(NY Times)

Trump suppresses new CDC guidelines

8 miles can decide whether you live to 90 ... or 60
(NY Times)
the politics of poverty

9 other disasters we're unprepared for
from the experts who knew a pandemic was coming

the death of cities?

Forever changing the world's cities?
(Washington Post)

The spaces that make cities fairer and more resilient
(NY Times)

Time to embrace density?
(NY Times)

America's cities could house everyone (including the homeless)
(NY Times)
if they chose to

The cities we need
(NY Times)
a long read

Open the streets!
(The Atlantic)
ban cars now... and keep parks open!

Restaurants remain shuttered
(NY Times)
the economic lifeblood disappears

How will the pandemic shape urban life?
(Thinking City)

City life after the pandemic
(Foreign Policy)

15 thoughts


Guns & protests don't mix
(Washington Post)
and are likely illegal

A nail in the coffin of American exceptionalism
a polarized nation is not a nation...
and  the rest of the world pities us

The problem with Biden's defense
(New York)
by his own standards, he's guilty

Congress needs to be way way bigger
(The Atlantic)
so that they're not responsible for 740,000 people
the first congressmen were responsible for 60,000

Pence staff threatens reporter who broke story of VP's mask-less visit to clinic
(Washington Post)
will his shameful behavior never end?

coronavirus fallout


Some states are taking the 'public' out of public education
(NY Times)

source of the story's data
(State Higher Education Assoc.)
student share of education costs has risen from 20% - 47% since 1980

Colleges aren't giving refunds.
Why not?

(NY Times)
some answers

Colleges' Hobson choice: opening with risk or face financial ruin
with different outcomes for rich and poor ones

Will coronavirus alter the college experience?
(NY Times)

2020 poll of civic
(American Bar Association)
showing mostly that 20-40% of Americans know nothing quite little about their government


Best practices for registering and voting in the era of Covid-19
(Fair Elections Center)

8 falsehoods about voting & fraud
(Brennan Center for Justice)
that could undermine the 2020 election

The fraud of 'voter fraud' claims
(The Hill)
and fraud is higher in states requiring an excuse to vote absentee than those that don't

What it could cost NC to run a primarily mail-in-ballot election
(Raleigh N&O)
and NC isn't getting ready

Voter groups sue for easier mail-in ballots
(Raleigh N&O)

What NC can learn from WIsconsin voting chaos
(NC Policy Watch)

Why we need postal democracy
(NY Books)
voting in a pandemic
free for a limited time

Will NC House Speaker Moore follow through on his threat to stop widespread mail voting in November?
(Raleigh N&O)
preventing fraud, or just preventing votes?

Supreme Court unintentionally liberalized ballot counting in its Wisconsin decision?
(Washington Post)
by requiring ballots to be postmarked by Election Day
rather than received


U.S. airlines:
they took public money -- and now are reducing jobs & worker hours

(American Prospect)

There is no plan
(Washington Post)
the fantasy of life returning to normal

Demographics of economic pain
(Washington Post)
worse for the less educated, people of color
, teenagers,
and women

The absurdity of blanket corporate immunity
(American Prospect)
McConnell surrenders to the rich and powerful again

Workers are first casualties again
(Washington Post)
they lose their jobs while their employers funnel money to shareholders

34 days of pandemic: the inside story of Trump's desperate attempts to re-open America
(Washington Post)
the deceit, the dysfunction, & the lying laid bare
a long read

Moral hazard:
who is deserving of bailout money?

(NY Times)
no one (libertarians);
not states & cities (conservatives);
not banks & airlines (liberals)

Economic relief for fossil fuels, but not for solar/wind
(Washington Post)
you can guess why

Billions of clean energy loans are going unused
(NY Times)


6 new books explore climate change and solutions
(Science News)

Indecent Assembly
Gene Nichol documents NC's lurch toward right-wing extremism
or at least its legislature's

Republicans despised Gene Nichol for his columns... Wait 'til they read his book

Politics among Nations
(NY Times)
the influential 1948 book still has more to say

a review of
The Dream Universe


How Fundamental Physics Lost its Way


Manet: Portraying Life

(Royal Academy,
1.5-hr documentary)

released in theaters at time of 2013 exhibition

It's Alive
(Columbia Museum of Art)
classic horror and sci-fi art
closes 5/17/2020
with 10 1-min tours
with Metallica's
Kirk Hammett

Brooklyn Bridge: a tour
(NY Times)
star of NYC

(NY Times)
cornucopia of beauty

(NY Times)
Adm. Byrd and self-isolation at the end of the world

Boston's Apollo:
Thomas McKeller & John Singer Sargent

(Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum)

a review
(NY Times)

Boston's Apollo
(The Guardian)
another review

Picasso and Paper
(Royal Academy of Arts)
with a 40-min virtual walk through

Inside 2 Hockney blockbusters
(Royal Academy of Arts)
with an 80-min movie

Found: Africa's greatest collection of footprints
(Science News)

Christina Koch interview
(WBUR OnPoint
50-min podcast)
from space quarantine to home quarantine

How covid-19 will stop new math?
these people need to get a life

NC gets an F in social distancing
(Raleigh N&O)
one of 9 'F' states
and the counties that are the worst

On the Pentagon's UFO videos
(Katie Mack, NCSU,
via Scientific American)

Stephen Wolfram claims a theory of everything  (again)
(Stephen Wolfram)
Few are buying it
(Scientific American)


Sensible ways to re-open a country vs.
America's way


7 ideas on how to beat Covid-19 and save the economy
starting with 'wear masks

Yes, there was a pandemic playbook
the Trump team just didn't follow it

McConnell gets 3 Pinocchios
update:  oops, McConnell corrects himself

the embarrassing truth, as of 5/12: from
World in Data

U.S.: 9th highest death rate per capita

U.S.: 21st highest
testing rate per capita

U.S.: 4th highest total covid cases per capita

U.S.: 4th highest daily Covid cases
per capita

rolling 3-day average

Where coronavirus is increasing most rapidly
mostly Africa & Asia


20% employment means that 35 million people lose health insurance
(The Guardian)
who's planning for that?

A guide to staying safe as states re-open
(The Atlantic)
dos and don'ts

Guidelines for re-opening?
What guidelines?

(NY Times)
with numerical data on each state
NC's data trends are mixed

Travel from NYC
seeded outbreak across the country

(NY Times)

Has a strain of coronavirus mutated into something more contagious?
(Washington Post)
but many are skeptical

Where Americans are staying home
(Washington Post)
county by county

CDC on the decline:
are we finally noticing?


Save us from Jared the incompetent
(Washington Post)
better yet, trade him to Shark Tank
the boy wonder idiot fails at yet another thing

'Hey, it's only killing the old and sick...
so what?'

(Indy Week)
Dan Forest, idiot

2020 GOP governor candidate

bad tech

How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic
(The Intercept)

Fbook's huge truth problem can't be fixed by an oversight board
(Washington Post)

Will Fbook & Google finally be forced to pay for using news from local outlets?
(NY Times)
Australia and France may lead the way

bad media

Stop over-covering the puny anti-lockdown protests
the 'pro' ones have been a lot larger

limited time?  read the most interesting & important stories from  late  April 2020:

1) coronavirus still reigns

the future



2)  CP lepton asymmetry  at long last?

can it explain why the universe is made of matter and not anti-matter?

3)  first
detection of a merger of unequal-mass black holes

4) our interstellar visitors:

Oumuamua & Borisov, and
those who stuck around: the Centaur asteroids

5)  climate news

temperature records: past & future

Greenland ice sheet loss underestimated?

climate/cv economics

will the climate lobby ever get their message straight?
is it about changing personal behavior or that of governments & corporations?

6) looking for ET

7) a new cosmological tension: the universe's density

learn more about

climate change


exoplanet biosignatures (1) and exoplanet biosignatures (2)

dark energy

Hubble tension

the multiverse

previous astro/culture updates

from 2020:

january-february 2020          march-april 2020

from 2019:

november-december 2019           september-october 2019            july-august 2019
may-june 2019      march-april 2019          january-february 2019

from 2018:

november-december 2018          september-october 2018           july-august 2018  
may-june-2018           january-february 2018          march-april 2018            

from 2017:

july-august 2017          september-october 2017          november-december 2017

january-february 2017         march-april 2017         
may-june 2017           

 from 2016:

july-august 2016          september-october 2016             november-december 2016

                  may-june 2016         
march-april 2016          january-february 2016  

 from 2015:

november-december 2015          september-october 2015          july-august 2015

may-june 2015          march-april 2015         
january-february 2015

 from 2014:

november-december 2014          september_october 2014          july-august 2014

may-june 2014          march-april 2014          january-february 2014

from 2013:

november-december 2013         
september-october 2013         july-august 2013