Astrophysics – Classic Article by Hans Bethe and Gerald Brown – “How A Supernova Explodes”

How A Supernova Explodes

This is one of our all-time favorite scientific articles, from Scientific American (back when it was still a science magazine and hadn’t been turned into a sciency version of “People”): it’s by the late Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Hans Bethe and theoretical physicist Gordon Brown, and it explains, in layman’s terms, what happens at the end of a star’s life that causes it (if it is large enough) to “go supernova”.

The understanding of stellar evolution is one of the great achievements of modern physics and is so far removed from the ancient concept of worshipping of the Sun as a living god that it is amazing.  Religious critics of science sometimes claim that science takes the glory out of what they call “God’s creation”; this article is a classic refutation of that premise, as it provides a breathtaking account of the amazing natural processes that occur in larger stars as they approach the end of their lifecycle.  Far from “taking the mystery out of life” this type of scientific explanation of natural processes shows the amazing beauty and intricacy of the natural world.  It is truly awe-inspiring.  We present it as part of our effort to support, in every way we can, the widest possible dissemination of scientific knowledge among the working class.  Enjoy.

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