Monday, October 10, 2011

New Focus for Handsome Science

Dear Reader,

The picture here of a damselfly eating another little bug is just something nice to look at while I talk about a new focus I want to give Handsome Science.  I feel like I've been neglecting two of my main purposes here:  helping people understand the significance of science in the news, and explaining exactly how scientists come to their understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

With that in mind, I'd like to begin updating here at least once a week with one story with each purpose in mind.  To cover the news stories, I'm thinking of the column title "Why It's Cool" (although I'm sure there will be bad news from time to time, so it may occasionally be "Why It's Not Cool").  For explaining broad, general concepts, "How We Know."

For example, one headline last week was "Venus surprises with ozone layer."  With "Why It's Cool," I'd go into the backstory a bit, describing Earth's and Mars' ozone layers, where they come from, and what they do, talk about why we didn't see Venus' until this week, explain what it means for now, and speculate on what it means for the future.  (Hint:  ozone is made from oxygen, and oxygen is often pumped out by living things, like on Earth, but can be found inorganically as well, like on Venus and probably Mars.  But if we can detect oxygen on distant planets...)

"How We Know" would cover broad concepts like what goes on under the Earth's crust, what stars like our sun are made of and how they work, photosynthesis, the Big Bang, evolution, tectonic plates and continental drift, and nuclear energy.  These are the concepts that you learn about in high school science classes, but rarely, if ever, are given the backstory of how these things were discovered.  How do we know what happens inside the Earth or Sun if nobody's ever been there?  That's the kind of question I'll be trying to answer.

I'm hoping to do one "Why It's Cool" and one "How We Know" every week, with pictures, videos, and ramblings filled in between as usual.  I'm also tempted to post more eclectic things on the weekends, but this blog is still in "open beta," so let's do one thing at a time.

All the best,

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