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ISSN 1993-8616

  2009 - number 7

Enigmas of the universe


From closed world to infinite universe

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A small sphere at the centre of a much larger sphere: this is how the earth and the universe were imagined in Greek antiquity. This image of a closed world was shattered by a gadget sold in shops. 400 years ago, Galileo observed the sky with a telescope he made himself. The world would never be the same. More

Over the Moon

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The Apollo 11 Mission and Galileo’s observations, whose respective 40th and 400th anniversaries we are celebrating this year, confirmed discoveries with the naked eye almost a millennium ago by the Arab polymath Alhazen - a man ahead of his time who determined the future of astronomy. More

A story as old as the world

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The movements of the Sun and the phases of the Moon have synchronized human activities, particularly rituals and agriculture, for thousands of years. At its inception, astronomy was primarily used to measure time. Calendars have played an essential role in people’s lives. We revisit the astronomy of ancient China, the Mayans and the medieval Islamic world with the astronomers Zhao Gang, Julieta Fierro and George Saliba. More

Towards a map of the universe

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On May 14, 2009 the Planck satellite was launched into space aboard the Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou aeronautical base in French Guyana. This European Space Agency (ESA) mission will help us to improve our understanding of the universe. A 2006 Nobel Laureate in physics, Professor George Fitzgerald Smoot, explains more. More

Extraterrestrial life: surprises in store?

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Does the discovery of extrasolar planets mean the discovery of extraterrestrial life? During a UNESCO conference marking the International Year of Astronomy, three world renowned scientists, Lord Martin John Rees (United Kingdom), Jonathan P. Gardner (United States) and Françoise Combes (France), tackled the question from different perspectives. More

Astronomy : the three tiers of research

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We have no reason to think that the planets in our solar system represent every type of planet in existence, according to the Swiss astrophysicist Michel Mayor, who discovered the first extrasolar planet with Didier Queloz in 1995. Last April, his team at the Geneva Observatory discovered the smallest exoplanet known today. More

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