You are browsing the archive for Astrobiology.

12 January 2010

How to cure the Avatar Blues

I was innocently browsing through my twitter list yesterday when I came across this article on CNN. The gist of it is that many people are experiencing depression after watching Avatar because the fictional world depicted is so beautiful and amazing that life back here on earth seems drab and boring. Many people have responded to this story with shock and derision, and this definitely hints at some pre-existing issues …


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21 December 2009

Avatar Review

Avatar was spectacular. I always worry when a movie gets as much hype as Avatar did that in the end it will not live up to expectations, but Avatar delivers. It is probably the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen and one of the best sci-fi movies in recent memory. And even better, it is not a sequel or a remake or based on a comic book or novel. It …


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20 December 2009

AGU 2009: Day 3 – Astrobiology and Society

Wednesday was full of particularly interesting stuff: in between the Venus and moon talks there was also the Sagan lecture and an afternoon session about astrobiology and its implications in society. The Sagan lecture was given by Tori Hoehler, a scientist at NASA Ames. He discussed the fundamental thermodynamics behind life, and showed that even if alien life relies on completely different molecules, there are basic requirements, such as the …


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1 December 2009

Life on Mars?!

On August 6, 1996 NASA announced that scientists at the Johnson Space Center had found evidence for life on Mars, and everybody went crazy. Yesterday, NASA announced two new papers by the same scientists at the Johnson Space Center claiming that they have found strong evidence of life on Mars. For the most part, there hasn’t been much of a reaction. No presidential press conferences, and only a few headlines. …


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4 November 2009

How Habitable is the Earth?

Charlie Stross has an interesting post on his blog that asks the question “How habitable is the Earth?” He goes on to conclude, through a great discussion of the evolution of our planet, that the fraction of time that the earth has been habitable to humans is a tiny sliver of the time the Earth has been around, and that furthermore, much of the earth is not habitable for humans …


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12 September 2009

Disney's "Mars and Beyond"

I just stumbled across this awesome Disney cartoon from 1957 over at the blog. It’s worth watching just for the various bizarre aliens, but is also surprisingly informative about the history of astronomy, the origin of earth and life, and our fascination with life on Mars. Also note how they call galaxies “island universes”.


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10 July 2009

Solar System Creator

As I mentioned last month, on top of research and grad school duties, I’m in the process of planning out a sci-fi novel. It began with the month-long outlining challenge “Midsommer Madness” over at the Liberty Hall writing site, and I am continuing with it in my spare time. I am trying to make my novel grounded in reality whenever possible. It is set in a known star system, 55 …


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6 May 2009

"Alien Skull" on Mars

Are you kidding?! Guys. That’s a rock. A chunk of vesicular basalt to be specific. As far as pareidolia goes, it’s not even very good! I had to stare for a while before I saw a face. The human brain loves to see familiar shapes in everything, so it’s pretty easy to find examples of rocks on Mars that look like anything you want. Here, take a look at this …


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10 April 2009

The Thermodynamics of Life

Markus Hammonds over at Supernova Condensate has a really interesting post about a recent paper showing that 10 of the 20 amino acids used by life are thermodynamically favored to form in all sorts of environments. That means that it’s very likely that life elsewhere in the universe would have the same most fundamental building blocks! Here’s a quote from the paper: Our results also indicate that a certain degree …


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26 January 2009

SETI and Spore

I recently started getting Seed magazine, and am consistently impressed with how good it is. My favorite part is the “Seed salon” where they take two really smart people from fields that might not typically interact, put them in a room together and get them talking. I just discovered that they post videos of the Seed Salon online! Take a look at this one, where Jill Tarter, a pioneer in …


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