REALSPACE: My Little Planets

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Because The Hub has subscribed to the "Keep 'em Guessing" strategy of viewer retention that plagues American television networks, there is no new Friendship is Magic episode this week. In its place, I offer you a lecture on finding exoplanets.

It makes sense, I Pinkie Pie swear.


Dr. Stephen Granade gave this talk at the Geek Media Expo in Nashville. It's an hour long pop-science tour of the history of and techniques used in finding planets, particularly extra-solar ones.

Like any good science popularizer, Stephen ties his material in to a variety of popular media, from Star Trek to My Little Pony. Ponies are used to highlight each major point of his presentation, so a list of their appearances is a decent outline of the whole.

  • (11:45) Derpy represents scientists who got planet-hunting wrong. (At least she has a good excuse.)
  • (12:05) Pinkie represents Pulsar Timing, which detects the influence of planets on pulsars.
  • (29:43) Rainbow Dash represents Doppler spectroscopy, a similar method that looks at the Doppler changes in a star.
  • (33:00) Fluttershy represents the transit of a planet's effect on a star's light.
  • (39:10) Rarity represents the use of gravity lensing between two passing stars.
  • (42:41) Twilight represents direct observation of planets.
  • (46:41) Is a roundup of the above, followed by some recent developments in the exoplanet hunt.

Poor Applejack is ignored once again. Poor Stephen found his audience for this talk was quite devoid of bronies. Regardless, it's a good presentation, aside from occasional audio problems, and worth an hour of your time.

You can find a PDF of the notes he used, as well as the PowerPoint slides, on Stephen's blog.


Church normally reviews fan films and My Little Pony. You can reach him at