The Science of Sustainability

Ben Burress

Ben Burress

Benjamin Burress has been a staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center since July 1999. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in physics (and minor in astronomy), after which he signed on for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, where he taught physics and mathematics in the African nation of Cameroon. From 1989-96 he served on the crew of NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. From 1996-99, he was Head Observer at the Naval Prototype Optical Interferometer program at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

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Ben Burress's Latest Posts

The State of the Universe: Matter and Age Up, Dark Energy Down

The State of the Universe: Matter and Age Up, Dark Energy Down

The European Space Agency's Planck mission has generated a map of the infant universe that refines our understanding of what it's all made of and has upped its age by 100 million years.

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Antiques Roadshow of the Solar System

Antiques Roadshow of the Solar System

As a space-faring culture, we have now left our marks across the solar system, on planets, moons, asteroids, and in the empty space between them. Some of these “marks” are yet-functioning robotic spacecraft. Some are litter, scattered about the place like so many discarded soda cans, plastic grocery bags, depleted batteries, and defunct electronic devices. Are we trashing our solar system?

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Solar Maximum: Fizzle, or Finale Yet to Come?

Solar Maximum: Fizzle, or Finale Yet to Come?

Has the sun's predicted Solar Maximum in magnetic activity ended early and after a disappointing performance–or is it getting ready to delivery a spectacular finale and a double-peak Solarmax?

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Gliese 667 Cc: Musing the Possibilities of Another Earth

Gliese 667 Cc: Musing the Possibilities of Another Earth

Since the first extra-solar planet was found in 1992, we've made some decent progress in exploring other worlds out there, and may even be zeroing in on that "other Earth."

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How Big is Your World?

How Big is Your World?

Is the universe really so big, or are we just very, very small?

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The Mars Rover Curiosity Digs a Little Deeper

The Mars Rover Curiosity Digs a Little Deeper

On February 8th, the rover Curiosity used its drill to bore a hole into a slab of flat bedrock, marking the first time we have probed deeply into the interior of a Martian rock in search of the secrets of Mars' past it may hold.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14: In Line For a Rim Shot

Asteroid 2012 DA14: In Line For a Rim Shot

Duck! Here comes asteroid 2012 DA14, grazing close to where you live on February 15th!

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Mars Mountain Climbing Mashup!

Mars Mountain Climbing Mashup!

The comparison between Earth-side mountain exploration and the planned expedition by the Mars rover Curiosity came to my mind as I read a book my family got me over the holidays: Last Climb, the story of the legendary Mount Everest expeditions of George Leigh Mallory.

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The Stars Go For the Gold

The Stars Go For the Gold

The middle-aged adage that we are made from stardust, made popular by Carl Sagan back in the 1970s, pops up in my thoughts now and then. Not just pretty words; it's the literal truth!

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Weighing in With Gravity

Weighing in With Gravity

Feel like you've gained a couple of pounds over the holidays? Try the geo-gravitation weight loss field trip plan!

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Touch the Sun at Chabot Space & Science Center

Touch the Sun at Chabot Space & Science Center

Just in time for the imminent event of Solar Maximum, Chabot Space & Science Center is opening a new solar exhibition that features the latest in stunning ultraviolet satellite imagery from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory!

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Still Curious About Mars in 2012

Still Curious About Mars in 2012

NASA is preparing to make a big announcement concerning Mars and a recent discovery by the SAM instrument on board the rover Curiosity, though has qualified the nature of the announcement to scientifically interesting, and not "earth-shaking" as the blogosphere has hyped it in speculation.

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The Leonids Are Back!

The Leonids Are Back!

The Leonids are back: the annual meteor shower of November that offers us the chance to see a bit of very ancient history disintegrate in a fiery second.

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Ten Random Astro-Facts to Entertain and Boggle

Ten Random Astro-Facts to Entertain and Boggle

I decided that instead of blogging on just one topic in astronomy, I'd blog about ten of them!

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Found In Space: Exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb

Found In Space: Exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb

If you've been keeping up on the now very frequent reports of new extrasolar planet discoveries, here's a news flash: an Earth-sized exoplanet has been found orbiting the nearest star!ei

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News From Mars: A River Ran Through It

News From Mars: A River Ran Through It

NASA's Curiosity rover, now exploring the alluvium at the base of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater for over two months, has struck pay dirt: the gravel and river stone conglomerate laid down by an ancient Martian stream!

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Black Holes: Ultimate Trash Compactors of the Universe

Black Holes: Ultimate Trash Compactors of the Universe

As bizarre as black holes have been depicted in science fiction, the reality of black holes as described by science is far stranger.

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Will the Asteroid Apophis Rock Our World?

Will the Asteroid Apophis Rock Our World?

With all of the giant rocks flying around in space that can cross Earth's orbit and therefore be a impact threat, what are the odds of one hitting us?

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NASA's New Mars Rover: Armed and Curious

NASA's New Mars Rover: Armed and Curious

Space exploration has caught up with science fiction (again): we have deployed laser-armed nuclear-powered robot on Mars, and nearly two weeks after landing, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, the rover Curiosity, has fired that weapon on a Martian rock.

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Mars Science Laboratory's Touchdown on The Red Planet

Mars Science Laboratory's Touchdown on The Red Planet

Last Sunday, NASA scored a long-distance touchdown…on Mars! The Mars Science Laboratory, nicknamed "Curiosity" is the largest, most complex spacecraft ever to have set down on the Red Planet.

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