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China Celebrates Non-Discovery of Dark Matter

A huge dark matter detector in China celebrated the publication of its first results: nothing.

Of Stars and Significance

The farther out we look, the more questions we have. But does secular astronomy ask the right questions?

Cosmology Goes Off the Reservation

If science were ever restricted to observation, experimental demonstration, and evidence, some cosmologists left that reservation far behind long ago. Being smart does not preclude going nutty.

Cosmologists Were Wrong About Galaxy Evolution

Fifteen years ago, no cosmologist would have predicted mature galaxies early on, but they keep getting found – earlier and earlier.

If the Big Bang Is the Answer, Why Are There So Many Questions?

Any scientific explanation that leads to more questions than answers should be considered suspect.

Dark Matter Search Tinkers with Mythology

They can't find it, but it must be there. How long can that approach be sustained?

No Dark Matter Down Here

A mile deep in the earth, the most sensitive search to date for dark matter has turned up nothing.

Major Cosmic Questions Remain Unanswered

Some basic ideas about physics and astronomy remain so mysterious, and their explanations so flexible, they may lead some to question whether they should be called "hard sciences."

Astronomy Grab Bag

For year's end, here's a clean-out of astronomy articles—from planetary science to cosmology—to motivate further inquiry.

Shining Light on Dark Energy

Fifteen years after cosmologists proposed the existence of dark energy, they have learned nothing about it. In “Cosmology: Out of the Darkness,” Matthew Chalmers discussed the current thinking of Brian Schmidt, who shared the Nobel prize in 2011 for discovering cosmic acceleration (actually, an inference based on light from supernovae; see 9/30/2012).  “Fifteen years after […]

Astronomers Wrestle with "Endless Mysteries"

Some of the biggest questions in the universe remain completely baffling to astronomers, a leading journal admitted.

Dark Matter as an Escape

Employing exotic unobservable entities such as dark matter may be an escape from scientific rigor in more ways than one.

Trouble in Cosmologyland

Underneath the veneer of certainty portrayed by TV documentaries about the universe are deep questions and controversies. Some of these briefly appear on publicly-available news stories, only to be covered by new coats of certainty. Are the new veneers fixing the problems or, instead, whitewashing serious weaknesses in current cosmological understanding? Here are some quick looks under the veneer.

Water, Water Everywhere in Space

The largest mass of water has been found surrounding a black hole in a quasar 12 billion light-years away. Space.com says the cloud harbors “140 trillion times more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.” The discovery not only that “water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence,” but that it “was present only some 1.6 billion years after the beginning of the universe.” Alberto Bolatto, of the University of Maryland, said, "This discovery pushes the detection of water one billion years closer to the Big Bang than any previous find.” In other cosmology news:

Is Star Formation Understood?

Astronomers often speak with apparent confidence about regions of active star formation in nebulae or galaxies. A look at the fine print, however, shows plenty of wiggle room when observations don’t quite match theory.
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