Mike Albrow

A rough estimate of the number of grains of sand on this stretch of beach will lead you to an astronomical number, one that also gives you a sense of how many stars are in, say, 10 galaxies. Photo: Suneel Raghavendra

What’s the difference between a million and a billion? If you answer, “Just one letter,” you are literally correct, and for most of us they are just very big numbers that we cannot grasp.

A timeline of the universe.

Did you count down the seconds to midnight on New Year’s Eve? Take stock of the events of the past year? Wonder what will happen in the next?

This image of the Crab Nebula was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

For more than a thousand years, alchemists tried to make gold from other metals. Interestingly, science has just explained how gold was made. The explanation is more amazing than anything the alchemists dreamed.

Watch a figure skater doing a pirouette, bringing her outstretched arms to her side and whirling faster, then stretching out her arms and slowing down.

sunset over Fermilab, sky, sunset, cloud, sun

Driving home after the Wilson Colloquium last night, hundreds of flying geese flew out of my field of view, but the sky was amazing without them — in both directions!

After World War II, physicists developed proton accelerators to understand matter and forces on a subnuclear scale. Rival proposals to build a giant machine on the east or west coasts lost out to a proposal by Bob Wilson for a cheaper design at a new laboratory in the Midwest.

Imagine: You are outside on a sunny day, and it starts to get really dark, not just heavily overcast, but night-dark, perhaps dark enough to see stars.