The universe is a bit disappointing, Tom Cruise could be filming in space, Hawking’s equations appear on Manx stamp – Physics World


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As an antidote to those glossy, big-budget TV programmes about the wonders of the universe, the cosmologist Peter Coles of Ireland’s Maynooth University is putting out a series of videos that point out that the universe is actually a bit disappointing. In his first video, shown above, he explains why stars really aren’t that impressive after all.

Things are a bit different on the other side of the Atlantic, where glitz is good and Tom Cruise and NASA have apparently teamed up to begin discussions about shooting a movie on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine took to Twitter to announce the “exciting” news. “We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineer and scientists to make NASA’s ambitious plans a reality,” he wrote.

NASA didn’t give any more details, but apparently the film will be an action-adventure and not part of the Mission Impossible series that Cruise has starred in since 1996. Yet there is a serious side to this with NASA eager to open up the ISS for commercial use, which includes space tourism, and now perhaps, Hollywood studios. Hopefully by the time the film is released we will all be allowed back into cinemas.

The Isle of Man Post Office has released a set of eight stamps to honour the contribution of key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The eight stamps feature words including care, compassion and community, along with the strapline “will carry us through”.

One of the stamps includes “science” and as well as the strapline also features two of Stephen Hawking’s famous equations about Hawking radiation and black-hole entropy. The Stephen Hawking Foundation said that a copy of the stamp had been sent to every household on the Isle of Man as well as “leaders all around the world”. “Science leads in everything we do in relation to Covid-19,” the Foundation noted. “It informs our decisions, our actions and our politics, it saves lives, it prevents harm and it will be the only way to return to anything resembling a normal life.”

This week music lovers are mourning Florian Schneider, co-founder of Kraftwerk, who has died age 73. Although Schneider has no background in physics, many of Kraftwerk’s songs touch on science and technology. These include “Radioactivity“, “Geiger counter” and “Ohm sweet ohm“.

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