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Aliens and Space

The best place to look for aliens is in a galaxy far, far away.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has traditionally used radio telescopes to search nearby stars. Excellent. But I really loved a new study published last week by Griffeth, et. al, which differs from traditional radio searches in two ways. First, Griffeth and team did not look for direct signals sent by extraterrestrial intelligences (ETs). Instead they looked for excess […]

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Aliens and Space

Avoiding “Sagan Syndrome.” Why Astronomers and Journalists should pay heed to Biologists about ET.

A new paper using data from NASA’s Kepler telescope came out recently, estimating that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-sized planets. This is a big increase over previous estimates. It’s very cool work. Love it. But the news spin was predictable:

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Aliens and Space

Intelligent life is just getting started

Update: also see my follow-on post about Sagan Syndrome I wrote an earlier post supporting the view that Earth is a unique planet. It’s likely the only planet in our galaxy supporting complex life. I wanted to do an update after coming across an excellent post by Stephen Ashworth, who categorizes views on alien life into either […]

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Aliens and Space

Snail mail to the stars

“The Post Office Is Dying Because We Don’t Need It Anymore” says a recent headline. And yes, mail volume decreased 22% in the past five years. Yet mail is still being used for that most modern of tasks, moving extremely large computer files. In computer jargon, moving data by carrying a computer hard drive around […]

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Aliens and Space

So where are all the aliens?

So where are all the aliens? Possible answers: a) there are no aliens, b) alien civilizations self destruct, c) aliens are hiding, d) aliens are all microbes so they can’t leave home. In last week’s post on the early solar system I spent a paragraph arguing for option d, microbes.  So this week I wanted […]

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Aliens and Space

Life on Wet Planets

About 4 billion years ago, Venus (far left), Earth (middle), and Mars (far right), all had water. The relative planet sizes above are roughly to scale, though how they looked that long ago is speculation. But just knowing a time existed when we had three planets in our own solar system with liquid water is […]

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Aliens and Space

Closing the astronaut window. Robots onward.

The recent release of the wonderful mars rover pancam shot above shows how real space exploration is being done. I used to enjoy science fiction books and movies about astronauts doing space exploration, but the tropes involved just don’t ring true anymore. Those tropes were formed around the time of the Apollo program and haven’t […]