I’d personally like to (insert dispatch method here) the journalists who first began spreading the “carbon nanotube space elevator” story.
Oh yeah, and “the miraculous powers of graphene.” Oh, and “Vanta black, the black hole of colours.”
Life on other worlds? Get in line!
I really miss the emails from Charles Knight, the human aggregator. 1. Here are the stories. 2. Here is how they were covered. 3. This is who got it right.
American mass media is full of really awful science journalism, often it is contorted into marketing. Most editors have no science background at all, they are marketers first and foremost.
I think people know the score with artists impressions. I think its those of science journalists that we are discussing. What do you think? Please join in the conversation.
I’m not so sure that people do know the score with ‘graphic artists’, and that’s because the graphic images often come directly from the science groups or agencies themselves. Take the recent story: “Supernova Explosion Captured In Video Form For The First Time.” The most impressive part was the short NASA video of the blast wave – in colour – surging away from the core. This turned out (but was not widely reported) to have been reconstructed from single-frame B&W images captured by the Kepler telescope. Which it turns out takes frames at thirty-minute intervals. According to the lead researcher, “the shock breakout itself lasts only about 20 minutes”. Yet these data allowed NASA to produce a high-definition colour video of “the initial moments of a supernova.”
Mr Leifert in not correct when he says “we have not yet seen a single exoplanet”. Direct imaging is an extremly difficult method of observing exoplanets but it is doable and NASA now has 47 planets listed in its archive as being discovered by direct imaging. The list can be viewed at this URL by putting Ïmaging” in the filter for Discovery Method
To see a typical image Leifert should Google HR 8799e.
I don’t begrudge graphic artists their fun in imagining what planet is like.
My gripe is with the illustrations that often accompany reports of newly discovered exoplanets. I am sure that typical average readers think of them as photographs (not having digested the caption or credit line) and do not know that we have not yet seen a single exoplanet, much less know what kind of topography and atmosphere it may have. I don’t know why such “artist’s impressions” are commissioned.
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