Category: Blog

Exoplanets classroom worksheet

This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.

This week saw the announcement of the discovery of Proxima b, an Earth-sized planet orbiting in the habitable zone of the closest star to the solar system. This is a really exciting discovery, and I thought it as good a reason as any to republish this school classroom worksheet I created on how we hunt for exoplanets.

This worksheet is suitable for A-level students (12th Grade in North America) or a good GCSE class (10th Grade in North America), and gets the students thinking about the methods used to indirectly detect exoplanets, and what information can be gleaned about the world from the telescope data.

These worksheets are intended to be used in conjunction with a teacher-lead discussion on the topics — a Problem-Based Learning exercise. Teachers Notes are also provided below.

Detecting and Characterising Exoplanets – Worksheet

Detecting and Characterising Exoplanets – Teachers’ Notes

Astrobiology Q&A

Here are just a few of the questions I’ve received from people interested in astrobiology and the search for life beyond the Earth. If you would like to know how to get involved in this sort of science, see How to become an astrobiologist.

[For my popular science book on astrobiology, Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide click here.]
[For The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch click here]

 

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How to become an astrobiologist

 

The Knowledge[For my popular science book on astrobiology, Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide click here.]
[For The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch click here]

 

[Watch my TED talk here]

 

*** *** *** Apply for a PhD position with me (Deadline 24-Feb) *** *** ***

I often get emailed by people wanting to know how they can get involved in astrobiology – what A-levels or university degree they should pick to become an astrobiologist, or just how they can find out more about what’s happening right now in the field. So I thought it would be useful to compile my various responses into a single post here.

The encouraging reality is that you can get into astrobiology from pretty much any scientific background you like. I did a first degree in biology, but I have astrobiology friends who have come from physics, astronomy, chemistry, or geology. Astrobiology is a very ‘interdisciplinary’ field and sits as the Venn diagram overlap in the middle of many different kinds of science, and this breadth and diversity is exactly what makes astrobiology so exciting.

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The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch

The_Knowledge_bookMaybe an asteroid hit Earth. Perhaps a nuclear war reduced our cities to radioactive rubble. Or avian flu killed most of the population. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it has ended and now the survivors must start again. But how do we set about rebuilding our world from scratch?

Once you’ve salvaged what you can from the debris, how do you grow food and make clothes? How do you generate energy and develop medicines? And once you’ve mastered the essentials, how do you smelt metals, make gunpowder, or build a primitive radio set?

The Knowledge is a guidebook for survivors. We have become disconnected not only from the beautiful fundamentals of science and technology but even from the basic skills and knowledge on which our lives and our world depend.

The Knowledge is a journey of discovery, a book which explains everything you need to know about everything. Here is the blueprint for rebooting civilisation.

It will transform your understanding of the world – and help you prepare for when it’s no longer here.

The Knowledge is a New York Times and Sunday Times best-seller, and the Sunday Times ‘New Thinking’ Book of the Year.

Out now in paperback at all good book stores and online.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes&Noble

The Knowledge is also available in  Translations in a number of in different languages. Listen to a three minute audio description of the book here

Main book website

My Tourist Guide to the Solar System

UK_MY_TOURISTSPACE_small_frontThis title contains everything you need to know for an out-of-this-world travel experience. “My Tourist Guide to the Solar System” brings you amazing digital artwork with fun facts to present space as you’ve never seen it before. Take a day trip to the planets and hike along the Mariner Valley on Mars and grab yourself a souvenir icy pebble from a flight through Saturn’s rings. Amazing illustrations and digital artworks will take you on a spellbinding tour of the planets, moons, and asteroids. This goes beyond the realm of regular space books – it’s out of this world.

[Get this on Amazon]

Microbes to Mars

Microbes_to_MarsRussian space scientists are currently locked in a race against time. The Fobos-Grunt space probe was launched successfully on Tuesday, but then failed to fire its own rocket engine to leave Earth orbit. The unmanned spacecraft is currently stranded just above our heads, and the rocket scientists have only a fortnight to successfully contact the stricken probe and fire its propulsion system before the batteries fail and it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere as an expensive shooting star.

Read full story on The Huffington Post website