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Michelle Collins
I'm a Hubble Fellow in the Yale University Astronomy department. I study nearby galaxies to learn about their evolution, and the properties of dark matter. I'm also on twitter: @michelle_lmc

Colbert might wanna apologise to Andromeda...

Michelle CollinsAug 01, 2014Comments
A few years back, after a paper was released claiming the Milky Way was more massive than its neighbour, Andromeda, Stephen Colbert directed some smack talk towards the nearby spiral, which you can watch here (if you live in the US). Insults to our neighbour included: "You're so tiny, I've seen nebulas (sic) with bigger HII regions!" "We got a black hole at the centre of our galaxy, but ~  read more

Sexually experimental Geckos adrift in space

Michelle CollinsJul 25, 2014Comments
Yes, you read that correctly. This week, the Russian Federal Space agency lost contact with a Progress satellite that is carrying a group of 5 Geckos. They had been sent into space to study what the effects of weightlessness would be on their sex lives. Also onboard are Drosophilae flies, microbes, plant seeds, and other scientific experiments, inlcuding one to grow crystals for use in ~  read more

No, girls are NOT biologically programmed to dislike science

Michelle CollinsJul 24, 2014Comments
About a week ago, a number of news outlets (including the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the HuffPo ) decided to run stories claiming that we girls just aren't biologically suited to sciences. These highly inflammatory articles were based on the work of Dr. Gijsbert Stoet, who claims (and I'll directly quote him here, as he has sinced distanced himself from the ~  read more

Naming exoplanets - You Decide!

Michelle CollinsJul 15, 2014Comments
This week, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) have set out their plans for a crowd sourcing competition to name 20-30 extrasolar planets.  Up until now, all exoplanet detections have been given clunky numerical names, like  HD 102365 b or Kepler 23-b. Not quite as inspiring as those we give to the planets in our own system (although with almost 2000 candidate ~  read more

A coding bug that affects systems from Earth to Mars

Michelle CollinsJul 08, 2014Comments
Anyone who has ever written computer code at any level knows that bugs happen. I myself have written plenty of buggy code in my time. This week, news has broken of a bug in the 20 year old Lempel-Ziv-Oberhumer compression algorithm, a piece of software that is widely used, both on this planet (for example, in Android devices and OpenVPN) and on our Martian neighbour, where it has been implemented ~  read more

Astronomy, beautiful Astronomy!

Michelle CollinsJul 02, 2014Comments
The Astronomy photographer of the year shortlist has been revealed! And the entrants are stunning. Pictures include the aurora, a partial solar eclipse with Old Faithful, planets, nebulae, and more!  The competition is run by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, and is now in its sixth year. This years winner will be announced on September 18th. For now, just enjoy the spectacular ~  read more

Ever wonder what scientists do all day?

Michelle CollinsJun 21, 2014Comments
Here at The Spectroscope, we aim to provide you with the latest, exciting developments in scientific research, debate and policy. But what about the less exciting, everyday routines of scientists? What exactly do they spend their days doing? How does research get done? If you find yourself wondering this, or wanting to learn more about the people behind the scientific research you read about ~  read more

Making mistakes in the age of social media

Michelle CollinsJun 04, 2014Comments
A couple of recent events in the astronomical world have started a discussion about how results (and mistakes) are communicated in the media (both social and regular). First, back in March, researchers at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics made a monumental announcement. The BICEP2 collaboration had detected the first observational confirmation of cosmic inflation, which was the period of the ~  read more

A monster week for extrasolar planets

Michelle CollinsJun 04, 2014Comments
It’s been a busy week for extrasolar planets. At the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Harvard astronomers have been wowing the attendees with a host of exciting new results. The first is the so-called ‘Godzilla’ planet (or Mega-Earth), Kepler-10c which was first discovered back in 2011. An analysis of its composition by Xavier Dumusque and ~  read more