The Ornery, Freethinking Astrophysicist Who Helped Start the Space Race

Swiss Émigré Fritz Zwicky Was Pioneer of American Science—Until His Star Fell

When the young physicist Fritz Zwicky arrived in America in 1925, the universe was a tidy place. Some educated people still believed the Sun was at the center of everything and that our little neighborhood in space was everything there was.

In just a few years’ time, Zwicky, a combustible émigré from Switzerland whose feuds were as legendary as his insights, helped upend it all, by founding the field of supernova research and predicting the existence of neutron stars and dark matter. When he was finished, the once-staid field of …

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’

Through Photography, Science Has Given Humanity a Sense of Itself

When the Voyager 1 space probe was launched in 1977, it was equipped with a camera to chronicle its travels through the cosmos. One of the images that astronomer Carl …

Distrust of Science Is as American as Apple Pie | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Distrust of Science Is as American as Apple Pie

Our Belief in Equality and Passion for Politics Increase Our Suspicion of Expertise

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module and became the first humans to walk on the moon.

It was this …

TK | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Rising Sea Levels Will Leave California With Fewer Beaches—and More Hard Decisions

In the Decades to Come, Some Coastal Homes, Highways, and Ecosystems Will Be Saved, While Others Will Surrender to the Ocean

The Pacific Coast Highway, an iconic symbol of California and vital transportation route, runs along the state’s coastline from Dana Point in Orange County to Leggett in Mendocino County. But …

Even Nobel Prize-Winning Physicists Need a Little Luck

Accidental Experiments and Chance Encounters Helped Enrico Fermi Develop the First Nuclear Reactor

The general public may view the scientific enterprise as rational and methodical, moving forward in an orderly, cohesive way. But science moves in fits and starts, sometimes forward and sometimes …