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Preparing the World for Aliens

Some people are so convinced there are alien intelligences in the universe, we should be getting ready to meet them.     The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, reported that NASA has partly financed a creative writing class on “interstellar message composition” at the University of Wyoming.  Professor Jeffrey Lockwood wants to help the 11 students […]

Astrobiologists Pool Their Ignorance at AbSciCon

A big conference on Astrobiology was held in Santa Clara, California last month.  It was the fifth AbSciCon (Astrobiology Science Conference), a bi-annual cross-disciplinary event.  This one pulled together 675 researchers from 28 countries across a variety of disciplines, all interested in life in space.  Naturally, evolution was an overarching theme.  From Edna DeVore’s account […]

Imagination as Science

Can a science exist without evidence?  Astrobiology, and its subcategory “the search for extraterrestrial intelligence,” involve a great deal of scientific equipment, trained researchers, and funding, but still have no observational evidence to support their reason for being: extraterrestrial life.  Where is the line between imagination and reality in these fields?     Some insight […]

Fooling Oneself About Aliens

Would you give a Bible to a Neanderthal, or invite a porpoise to your church?  Who would ask such questions?  Seth Shostak would – director of the SETI Institute.  On Space.com, he speculated about “alien sociology.”     Shostak wrote the weekly SETI column for Space.com to answer critics who think that broadcasting our presence […]

How to Address an Alien

How would you like this job: your assignment is to be the speechwriter for planet earth.  You are to figure out what our first message is to the aliens – to give them a good first impression as we introduce the human species to the galactic community.  “No kidding? What does it pay?”     […]

Astrobiology Justifying Itself

Is astrobiology a legitimate science?  Seth Shostak, director of the SETI Institute, tried to answer that question in the weekly SETI Thursday column on Space.com.  He estimates there are “approximately a thousand scientists who would be proud to print ‘astrobiologist’ on their business cards.”  Astrobiology still gets a cool reception in some quarters.  Shostak likened […]

SETI Signals Could Be Loaded with Information

Unusual properties of electromagnetic waves allow for a higher carrying capacity of information than thought.  SETI researcher Seth Shostak reported on Space.com that Swedish researchers have found a possible “subspace channel” in the orbital angular momentum of narrowband radio waves that might allow the encoding of information.  This information would be impervious to the jumbling […]

A Tale of Two Cosmic Cities

Two organizations have prepared curricula presenting grand panoramas of cosmic history.  Each is divided into seven modules – but that is where any similarity ends.  One is a completely materialistic and evolutionary view composed by scientists and educators from NASA and the federal government and major academic institutions and corporations.  The other is a completely […]

SETI: Physics Conspires to Keep the Aliens Isolated

Where are the aliens?  They’re too far away to get to know.  Don’t look for galactic federations to join any time soon, said SETI Institute Director Seth Shostak at Space.com.  The harsh realities of the speed of light make fellowship, both in person and via radio signals, too remote to be feasible.     Shostak […]

SETI Researcher Writes Children’s Poem

For a feature called “SETI Thursday” at Space.com, Dr. Laurence Doyle has written a childish poem about how life brought itself up from nothing to galactic explorers.  It begins, “When the Earth was young, and the Moon nearby, in a cometary sea, prokaryotic thoughts arose, what fun it is to be!”  The idea of evolving […]

Microsoft Billionaire Puts His Money Where His Darwinism Is

Paul Allen is spending millions on humanitarian causes: not the cure of disease or the end of poverty, but on helping humans recognize that they evolved from space dust (see next entry).  This, presumably, brings enlightenment.     Shortly after 9/11, the PBS series Evolution made its debut, thanks to a large endowment from Allen, […]

Astronomy Columnist Tackles Naturalism vs. Intelligence

Bob Berman is an unusual columnist for a science magazine.  He’s independent-thinking, unafraid to tackle big questions and criticize powerful institutions, but all the while able to keep a sense of humor.  In his monthly column “Bob Berman’s Strange Universe” in the November issue of Astronomy (p. 10), he took a moment from munching on […]

SETI Camp Promotes Make Believe

“Every kid loves to play make believe,” wrote Lisa Grossman for Space.com’s “SETI Thursday” feature.  How did Lisa spend her summer?  Playing make believe with 16 undergraduates at a NSF- and NASA-funded SETI camp.  “For many of us, the experience was nothing short of fantasy fulfillment,” she cheerfully said in her report entitled, “How I […]

Are the Red Dwarfs Ready for SETI?

There are oodles of M-type red dwarf stars.  Before now, most SETI researchers didn’t pay them much attention, because their habitable zones are narrow.  Also, because the habitable zones are closer in, any planets in the lucky radius would most likely be tidally locked to the star, leaving one hemisphere in darkness and the other […]

Is Hardy Life Evidence of an Evolutionary Origin?

Salt-tolerate species of unicellular organisms are found in all three kingdoms of life, says an article on Space.com.  “Astrobiologists, those cross disciplinary scientists dedicated to investigating the broad question of life in the universe,” writes Lisa Chu-Theilbar of the SETI Institute, “often study extremophiles, organisms that live at the edges of what life is known […]
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