Science of Emotions: Excitement

I love a good roller coaster, and I rode a great one this weekend! So, it’s fresh in my mind as to why we often use roller coasters as one of the best examples to define excitement in everyday life. I could feel my palms getting sweaty in anticipation of the unknown. My heartbeat started to race as I got nervous going up the first steep climb. And then there was the exhilaration of feeling like flying as we plunged and soared along the track.


Summer’s Best Meteors – The Perseids, 2022!

The summer’s premiere astronomical event, the Perseid meteor shower, runs from late July through late August, peaking around mid-August. Meteors are sand-grained-sized particles of space rock typically “melted” out of the icy nucleus of a comet. The melting occurs when the comet passes near the sun during its orbit around the solar system. The meteors are usually distributed along the orbital path of the comet and fall into the Earth’s atmosphere when we pass through the comet’s path. The comet associated with the Perseids is Comet Swift-Tuttle, first identified in 1862.


Who Created Time Zones?

Throughout history, inventors have sought ways to solve problems and make people’s lives better. In the video series Ingenious, hosts Trace Dominguez and Susannah Carroll discuss how innovations build on previous inventions to create things that we all live with and use every day. Often, these innovations improve upon what came before. Other times, they remedy issues that new inventions create. One such invention was time zones. 


How to Measure a Supermoon

If you’re looking to up your dose of lunar light, tonight’s the night to get a full charge. This month’s full moon occurs July 13 at 2:38p ET. More importantly, it occurs on the day of this year’s ultimate Supermoon.  Of all the monthly lunar perigees this year, the July 13 perigee is the closest of the whole year. I guess we can call it a super Supermoon!


How to Read the First James Webb Space Telescope Image

Image source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

This first image from James Webb Space Telescope was released July 11. The Webb science and engineering team was recognized for extraordinary work but not much was said about the image itself, except that it shows some of the oldest light ever seen by humans. Let’s go further toward understanding what the image actually shows. Here’s how to interpret this first JWST ultra-deep field image:

What we see at first glance are bright stars, some small spiral galaxies, and lots of smaller blobs ranging in color from tan to red.


The Science of Stress

Imagine something that’s scary. Exhausting. Maybe overwhelming. Or even incredibly exciting. Any of those might immediately spark a feeling for you about what it means to be “stressed out.” From a scientific perspective, however, stress is a complicated thing. In general, scientists think of stress as your body’s response to being pushed out of balance. But what causes stress, how your body responds to stress, and the long-term impacts of stress all involve many factors: physiological, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive. 


Ready? Set? Go for the Gold!

As we marvel at the incredible athletes at the Winter Olympics, it’s always fascinating to look at the science and technology behind their performances. For me, my interest in the techniques of winter sports ironically started with a computer game—the Winter Games sports simulation that I played as a kid (back in the 1980s on my family’s Apple IIe computer!).


Happy Winter Solstice!

For this second week of December, the northern half of the planet experiences its earliest sunsets for the year. We’re used to the Winter Solstice - December 21 - being thought of as the “shortest day of the year” but it’s just one of a trio of days that work together to set the astronomical framework for the winter season.  


Learning About the Omicron Variant

The World Health Organization declared the omicron variant of the coronavirus to be a “variant of concern” last week. Since then, it seems like the only thing we know is that there’s a lot we don’t know! So let’s talk about all the science that’s going on right now that will help answer some of these questions.

Discovering variants