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Kepler-186f: Close to Earth Size, in the HZ

April 17, 2014

We have another ‘habitable zone’ planet to talk about today, one not much bigger than the Earth, but it’s probably also time to renew the caveat that using the word ‘habitable’ carries with it no guarantees. The working definition of habitable zone right now is that orbital distance within which liquid water might exist on […]

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Interstellar Probe: The 1 KG Mission

March 31, 2014

Reading Charles Adler’s Wizards, Aliens and Starships over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about starflight and cost. Subtitled ‘Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction,’ Adler’s book uses the genres as a way into sound science, and his chapters contain numerous references to writers like Poul Anderson, Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein. On the […]

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A Dwarf Planet Beyond Sedna (and Its Implications)

March 26, 2014

Most Centauri Dreams readers are hardly going to be surprised by the idea that a large number of objects exist well outside the orbit of Pluto and, indeed, outside the Kuiper Belt itself. The search for unknown planets or even a brown dwarf that might perturb cometary orbits in the Oort Cloud has occupied us […]

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An Interstellar Mission Statement

March 4, 2014

Yesterday I wrote about what Michael Michaud calls ‘the new cosmic humanism,’ looking back at an essay the writer and diplomat wrote for Interdisciplinary Science Reviews in 1979. Intelligence, Michaud believes, creates the opportunity to reverse entropy at least on the local scale, and to impose choice on a universe whose purpose we do not […]

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Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies

February 7, 2014

An assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, Jason Wright is well known to the Centauri Dreams community because of his continuing work on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence through detection of its waste heat rather than directed communication. The discipline widely known as Dysonian SETI is receiving more and more attention, and […]

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A Gaseous, Earth-Mass Transiting Planet

January 6, 2014

Search for one thing and you may run into something just as interesting in another direction. That has been true in the study of exoplanets for some time now, where surprises are the order of the day. Today David Kipping (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) addressed the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington […]

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Living at a Time of Post Natural Ecologies

January 3, 2014

When technologies converge from rapidly fermenting disciplines like biology, information science and nanotech, the results become hard to predict. Singularities can emerge that create outcomes we cannot always anticipate. Rachel Armstrong explores this phenomenon in today’s essay, a look at emerging meta-technologies that are themselves life-like in their workings. The prospects for new forms of […]

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Alien Civilisations: Two Competing Models

September 18, 2013

by Stephen Ashworth Being a jazz buff (the 1950s and early 1960s are my era of choice) I naturally note that frequent Centauri Dreams commenter and contributor Stephen Ashworth is a tenor sax man who regularly plays in venues near and around Oxford in the UK. Stephen is also, of course, an insightful writer on […]

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Earthbound Tests for Titan Lake Lander

August 13, 2013

As we saw last week, touching down on Europa is going to be a tricky maneuver, at least based on the surface mapping we have so far, where boulders show up all the way down to the limits of resolution. That’s why we need better imagery from the moon, a major motivation for the proposed […]

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Civilizations Beyond Earth: A Different Angle

June 3, 2013

What kind of assumptions do we bring to SETI, and how are those assumptions changing? Tau Zero’s Larry Klaes has some thoughts on that, along with suggestions about what a new book on the subject may want to include in its second edition. By Larry Klaes SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has traditionally operated […]

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