Hot air balloons in the sky

Why is the sky blue and not purple?

It’s a common question from children: “Why is the sky blue?” And why is the sky sometimes a striking red, or even pale yellow? The fact that a gigantic swath of near-nothingness can change color so dramatically has given rise to countless mythologies over the centuries. And now that we have science to tell us […]

Physics for Animators space exposure

Animating death in outer space: What really happens?

After vicious hand-to-hand combat in the airlock, the hero shoves the villain out into the cold vacuum of space, where cosmic radiation immediately burns him to a crisp. Hurrah! Justice! While this makes for good cinema, it’s not entirely accurate. So what really happens if you’re ejected into outer space without a helmet or spacesuit? Knowing the […]

The colors of space

The Hubble Telescope has given us some beautiful images from deep space. A familiar example is the Pillars of Creation formation in the Eagle Nebula, a breathtaking formation of gas clouds in our own galaxy. Much of the light it emits is in the red part of the spectrum, when considered strictly in terms of light wavelength. […]

Real-Life Rocket

The 1995 film Apollo 13 is a historically-accurate recounting of the problems encountered by astronauts and engineers during the 1970 USA space mission of the same name. Although I didn’t see the launch of the Apollo 13 on TV, I did watch NASA’s live broadcast of the 1969 launch of the Apollo 11 (along with millions of other Americans […]