Big Ears

A folk story from India tells about six blind men who encountered an elephant for the first time. Each touched a different part of the gigantic animal and assumed that the whole creature was just like the part he felt. They therefore came to completely different conclusions about what an elephant was. One man stroked the elephant's trunk, for instance, and decided that an elephant was like a snake. Another bumped into the elephant's side and said the beast resembled a wall. The man who touched...

Chronology

1928 Vera Cooper born in Philadelphia on July 23 1928 Vera Cooper born in Philadelphia on July 23 Fritz Zwicky and Sinclair Smith predict existence of dark matter Cooper family moves to Washington, D.C., and Vera Cooper begins watching the stars through her bedroom window Cooper graduates from Vassar with bachelor's degree in astronomy and marries Robert (Bob) Rubin Vera Rubin obtains master's degree from Cornell University in November she gives talk to American Astronomical Society meeting in...

Looking for a New Home

Wherever planet hunting leads, Geoff Marcy and Paul Butler plan to go. The two scientists still work together, even though their home bases are now across the country from each other. After holding the position of Distinguished University Professor at San Francisco State between 1997 and 1999, Marcy moved to the University of California, Berkeley, becoming a professor of astronomy there. He also became the director of the university's new Center for Integrative Planetary Science, a group of...

Invisible Light

Scientists had known since the 19 th century that forms of radiation invisible to the human eye existed. In the 1860s and 1870s, British mathematician and physicist James Clerk Maxwell predicted that light would prove to be just one form of what came to be called electromagnetic radiation. Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist, proved in 1888 that Maxwell's electromagnetic waves were real. In that same year, Hertz produced radio waves in his laboratory for the first time. Radiation can be pictured...

Testable Prediction

Many astronomers felt that the big bang and steady-state theories were about as hard to test as the religious creation myths that some skeptics said the theories resembled. In a short paper published in Nature in 1949, however, Ralph Asher Alpher and Robert Herman, George Gamow and Fred Hoyle had opposing theories about the universe, but the two men were personally similar in many ways. Both were known for their lively sense of humor and fearless adoption of controversial ideas, for instance....