SETI Will Turn 50 in 2010
December 31, 2009
There hasn’t been much news about SETI lately, but expect more in the coming year. In April 1960, 50 years ago, Frank Drake began the first SETI search with radio telescopes called Project Ozma (see SETI Institute description). No undeniable signal of intelligent origin was found that year or in the 50 years since, despite […]
Iapetus Mystery Moon Solved
December 14, 2009
Iapetus, that black-and-white moon orbiting Saturn that has mystified astronomers for 338 years, may finally be understood. The dark material did come from outside – not inside. The exogenic theory has won. It’s been coated with dust from outer moons, but that’s not all: uneven heating has moved the ice around on the surface, accentuating […]
Comparative Legacies of Two Rocket Pioneers
December 10, 2009
Wernher von Braun developed rockets in Germany that were used by the Nazis, then came to America, became an American citizen, and pioneered the American space program, including landing man on the moon. Qian Xuesen developed rockets in America then moved to China, where he joined the Communist Party and pioneered the Chinese space program […]
Galaxy-Spangled Banner Unfurled
December 8, 2009
The Hubble team has unveiled a new deep field image of distant galaxies, the “Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared WFC3/IR.” The image, available at the HubbleSite, was taken with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) installed during the latest servicing mission. It’s been 5 years since the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (03/09/2004; […]
Is SETI Morphing Its Mission?
November 29, 2009
Look at the mission statement at the website of the SETI Institute: “The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature, and prevalence of life in the universe.” What happened to the aliens? The word “intelligence” is not found in their mission statement. It sounds indistinguishable from the mission […]
Is the Universe Evolving Upward?
November 13, 2009
It’s intuitively obvious that to get from a big bang to intelligent astronomers looking for evidence of the bang through telescopes, the amount of organization in the universe must increase over time dramatically. Lately, astronomy has uncovered much more dynamism in space than previously recognized – but much of it seems destructive, not creative. Orion […]
Comets Didnt Bring Earths Oceans
November 3, 2009
So much for the “water balloon” theory of how Earth got its oceans. A new study by Belgian planetary scientists pretty much rules out comets as the source of our planet’s abundant water. Their results are published in this month’s Icarus.1 “The origin of water on Earth is still puzzling,” they began. Our […]
Can SETI Be Quantified?
October 31, 2009
What is the probability of finding intelligent life on other planets? In 1960, Frank Drake attempted to quantify that question with his famous Drake Equation (see MSNBC and NOVA, which allows you to estimate the probability with an interactive meter). Trouble is, Stanley Miller and Leslie Orgel of primordial soup fame thought it was meaningless. […]
Materialists: What Do You Know?
October 28, 2009
For people who brag about their work, scientists are an odd lot. At one moment they are touting science as the surest path to knowledge and understanding. The next moment it seems like they are at square one. This is particularly true of materialist cosmologies and Darwinian theories for the origin and development of life. […]
Science News or Tabloid Journalism?
October 19, 2009
Science news outlets have put out some bizarre headlines recently. Readers can judge whether they should be blessed with the label “science” or belong instead at supermarket checkouts. Women are evolving fatter: New Scientist and PhysOrg said that natural selection is making women shorter, plumper and more fertile. “The take-home message is that humans are […]
How to Name a Protoplanet
October 12, 2009
Pallas has long been classified as an asteroid, but all of a sudden in the news media, everyone is calling it a protoplanet. How did it get promoted? The picture being painted of asteroid 2 Pallas is that of a planetary building block that failed in its attempt to grow into another real […]
Cosmology: Truth or Style?
October 8, 2009
If you follow cosmology, you’re familiar with WMAP, Type-1a supernovae, gravitational lensing, inflation and a host of technical terms. They seem authoritative because they rely on respectable laws like gravity and general relativity. In an article in Nature today, however, Richard Massey pictured the whole enterprise as a matter of fashion, not fact. […]
Giant Backward Ring Found Around Saturn
October 7, 2009
Saturn has a newly-discovered ring to add to its decor – the largest of all. It’s so big, it makes Saturn look like a speck in the middle of it. The ring, located at the orbit of the small outer moon Phoebe, is inclined 27 degrees and revolves backwards around Saturn. This was announced today […]
Outer Limits Not Lively
September 29, 2009
One of the “cosmic coincidences” cited in the intelligent-design treatise The Privileged Planet1 is the “galactic habitable zone” – a fairly narrow region of the galaxy where planets can form and exist safely. The outer regions of the galaxy were described as lacking the heavy elements necessary for planet formation. Score one for […]
Cosmology: Crossroads or Crosswinds?
September 28, 2009
Earlier this month in Science, Charles L. Bennett (Johns Hopkins) wrote a status report called “Cosmology at a Crossroads.”1 It included a brief survey of how cosmology got to its current paradigm and how future instruments should narrow down the unknowns. The “standard model” as it has become known hangs together if one allows for […]