Astrobiology and SETI

Fast Radio Bursts: Signature of Distant Technology?

March 13, 2017

We have a lot to learn about Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), a reminder that the first of these, the so-called Lorimer Burst (FRB 010724) was detected only a decade ago. Since then we’ve found 16 others, all thought to be at cosmological distances. The 2015 detection of FRB 150418, at first thought to have left […]

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Agricultural Resources Beyond the Earth

February 3, 2017

Gaining a human foothold on another world — Mars is the obvious first case, but we can assume there will be others — will require a search for resources to support the young colony. In today’s essay, Ioannis Kokkinidis looks at our needs in terms of agriculture, whether on a planetary surface or a space-borne […]

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Virtual Von Neumann Probes using Self Amplification and Replication of Electromagnetic Signals through Natural Stellar Processes

January 30, 2017

Is it possible to use natural phenomena to boost signals to the stars? In the essay below, Bill St. Arnaud takes a look at the possibilities, noting that civilizations that chose to broadcast information might select a method that mimics by electromagnetic means what the classic von Neumann probe would achieve with physical probes. St. […]

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A New Context for Complex Life

January 18, 2017

We normally think of the appearance of oxygen on Earth in terms of a ‘great oxygenation event,’ sometimes referred to as the ‘oxygen catastrophe’ or ‘great oxidation.’ Here oxygen begins to emerge in the atmosphere about 2.3 billion years ago as oceanic cyanobacteria produce oxygen by photosynthesis. The actual oxygenation event would be the point […]

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Inconstant Moons: A New Lunar Origin Scenario

January 13, 2017

A recent snowfall followed by warming temperatures produced a foggy night recently, one in which I was out for my usual walk and noticed a beautiful Moon trying to break through the fog layers. The scene was silvery, almost surreal, the kind of thing my wife would write a poem about. For my part, I […]

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Citizen SETI

December 21, 2016

I love watching people who have a passion for science constructing projects in ways that benefit the community. I once dabbled in radio astronomy through the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers, and I could also point to the SETI League, with 1500 members on all seven continents engaged in one way or another with local […]

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Freelancing an Interstellar Message

November 28, 2016

The problem in sending intentional signals to the stars isn’t technology. It’s our lack of consensus. Having widespread buy-in on whether, why and how to add an ‘active’ component to SETI is deeply polarizing, at least on the surface. But dig deeper: While there are those who think we should send signals about ourselves to […]

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Looking for ‘Technosignatures’

November 22, 2016

We speculated yesterday that categorizing civilizations on the basis of their power use may not be a given, though it is the basis of the familiar Kardashev types. It seems natural to a rapidly changing technological society like ours that the trend is always upward, a clear path toward harnessing the energies of the home […]

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SETI in the Anthropocene

November 21, 2016

Have we, as some have argued, entered a new ‘age of humanity,’ the so-called Anthropocene? The notion is controversial in many quarters, but it addresses the growing concern about our human influence on the Earth and the nature of planetary change. David Grinspoon’s new book Earth in Human Hands (Grand Central Publishing, 2016) has much […]

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Proxima Centauri Observations Launch Parkes Effort

November 9, 2016

In the last two days we’ve looked at a discussion of a possible SETI observable, a ‘shielding swarm’ that an advanced civilization might deploy in the event of a nearby supernova. As with Richard Carrigan’s pioneering searches for Dyson swarms in the infrared, this kind of SETI makes fundamentally different assumptions than the SETI we’ve […]

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