A Star Cluster in Another Galaxy


The clump of stars in the center of the picture is the globular cluster NGC 1898. It’s not in our galaxy. It’s near the middle of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of The Milky Way which contains a rich population of star clusters, making it an ideal laboratory for investigating star formation.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

More TERF Wars Stuff


Over at The Atlantic, there’s a piece pooh-poohing the Trump Administration’s consideration of a rule that would require government agencies to consider an individual’s “gender” to be determined by the genitalia the person had at birth—with an allowance for the use of genetic evidence to deal with persons who might be anomalous (such as being XXY).

The agency proposes to define gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Which would indeed be ideal at a bureaucratic level.

<sarc>However, such a use of science is clearly impermissible when it gets in the way of the goals of the Party of Science.</sarc> Indeed, certain scientific research relating to persons’ wishes to self-identify with imaginary genders not congruent with their sex is now under political attack, as Julian Vigo notes in a post over at Quillette. The culture-war skirmish over transgenderism is usually handled as a debate about culture or sociology, but really a debate about the primacy of the scientific method—since many of the trans activists’ shibboleths are either scientifically dubious or obviously wrong. Failure to fall in line and be politically correct will get one labeled as a TERF, a trans exclusive radical feminist.

One of the dark ironies informing the trans extremists’ case against their opponents is the insistence that people like me—women—must call themselves cis women. For all their fixation on self-identification and self-selected pronouns, these same activists demand the right to apply made-up terms to others. And if you reject those terms? Well, that’s just taken as more proof that you’re a “TERF.”

Science deals with the Universe as it is, not as we wish it were.

UPDATE—Welcome, Instapundit readers! Thanks for the link, Prof. Reynolds.

The Constellation Godzilla


Godzilla isn’t one of the official 88 constellations. It’s a new, unofficial x-ray constellation. The NASA team responsible for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has devised a set of constellations constructed from sources in the gamma-ray sky. The new constellations include a few characters from modern myths. Among them are the Little Prince; the TARDIS from “Doctor Who;” Godzilla and his heat ray; the antimatter-powered U.S.S. Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Original Series;” and the Hulk, the product of a gamma-ray experiment gone awry.

To explore Fermi’s Gamma-ray Constellations, visit the interactive x-ray sky chart at https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/constellations/.

Image Credit: NASA