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Scientists, MPs, and NASA directors flock to Parliament to discuss planetary science’s impact on society

news editor12 September 2013

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

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Written by Katrine Iversen, a current student at UCL and a European Planetary Science Congress science communication intern.

It’s packed in Parliamentary Committee Room 11 as the first Policy Meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) is due to begin in Parliament.

As a part of the EPSC, currently being held at UCL, people flocking to the meeting include MPs, NASA directors and scientists from all over the world, looking to discuss the importance of planetary science to society and how to ensure further growth and development within the field.

The meeting, which took place on Monday 9 September, was a huge success. Two members of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, Andrew Miller (MP for Ellesmere Port and Leston) and Dr Phillip Lee (MP for Bracknell), chaired the meeting while other MPs sent researchers to report back.

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Exoplanets, alien atmospheres and life, Jim…but not as we know it!

news editor12 June 2013

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Exoplanet by NASAblueshift on Flickr

Artist’s impression of the exoplanet Tau Boötis b from
NASAblueshift on Flickr.

Written by David Robertson, who attended a lecture by Dr Giovanni Tinetti (UCL Physics & Astronomy) at the Cheltenham Science Festival, entitled ‘Exoplanet explorers’.

1992, was the year it hit me! As I entered the brave new world of primary education, I remember being startled with the knowledge that we lived on a ball of rock, travelling some 67,000 miles per hour around a massive burning ball of fire. Naturally, this was a pretty terrifying turn of events!

As the shock subsided, and my terror turned to awe, I was told that the Earth was one of a small group of planets orbiting our local star.

There was more.

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Apocalypse in 2012? History, myth and science.

Katherine Aitchison21 December 2012

As you are no doubt aware, the world is scheduled to end today (21st December 2012). At least according to a lot of interpretations of Mayan calendars.

But how likely is this impending doom? And is that really what the Mayans were prophesising? These are the questions that were answered by Prof Elizabeth Graham of the UCL Institute of Archaeology and Dr Francisco Diego Quintana, UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy at a Lunch Hour Lecture on the 6th December.

Prof Graham is a Mayan archaeologist who talked about the accuracy of the ‘prophecy’ and the facts behind it. She began with a warning: some interpretations claim the end of the world will actually happen on the 23rd December so don’t get too excited when you wake up tomorrow – there’s still time for an apocalypse.

After attempting to explain the intricacies of the somewhat complicated Mayan calendar we got down to the business of the actual prophecy.

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