Astrobiology and SETI

Puzzling Out the Perytons

April 6, 2015

Recently we looked at Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and the ongoing effort to identify their source (see Fast Radio Bursts: SETI Implications?) Publication of that piece brought a call from my friend James Benford, a plasma physicist who is CEO of Microwave Sciences. Jim noticed that the article also talked about a different kind of […]

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Fast Radio Bursts: SETI Implications?

April 1, 2015

With SETI on my mind after last week’s series on Dysonian methods, it seems a good time to discuss Fast Radio Bursts, which have become prominent this week following the appearance of a new paper. A New Scientist piece titled Is this ET? Mystery of strange radio bursts from space is also circulating, pointing out […]

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SETI Explores the Near-Infrared

March 27, 2015

This has been a week devoted to extraterrestrial technologies and the hope that, if they exist, we can find them. Large constructions like Dyson spheres, and associated activities like asteroid mining on the scale an advanced civilization might use to make them, all factor into the mix, and as we’ve seen, so do starships imagined […]

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White Dwarfs and Dyson Spheres

March 23, 2015

There is a wonderful moment in Larry Niven’s 1970 novel Ringworld when protagonist Louis Wu is first shown an image of an artificial ring completely encircling a star. These days the concept of a Dyson sphere is well established as a way for a civilization to capture as much energy as possible from the host […]

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The Fermi Question: No Paradox At All

March 10, 2015

We’ve talked often enough about the so-called ‘Fermi paradox’ in these pages, but Gregory Benford recently passed along a new paper from Robert H. Gray making the case that there is in fact no paradox, and that Fermi’s intentions have been misunderstood. It’s an interesting point, because as it turns out, Fermi himself never published […]

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Astrobiology: A Cautionary Tale

February 27, 2015

We’re discovering planets around other stars at such a clip that moving to the next step — studying their atmospheres for markers of life — has become a priority. But what techniques will we use and, more to the point, how certain can we be of their results? Centauri Dreams columnist Andrew LePage has been […]

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Atmospheric Turmoil on the Early Earth

December 4, 2014

Yesterday’s post about planets in red dwarf systems examined the idea that the slow formation rate of these small stars would have a huge impact on planets that are today in their habitable zone. We can come up with mechanisms that might keep a tidally locked planet habitable, but what do we do about the […]

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Astrobiology and Sustainability

November 26, 2014

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches here in the US, I’m looking at a new paper in the journal Anthropocene that calls the attention of those studying sustainability to the discipline of astrobiology. At work here is a long-term perspective on planetary life that takes into account what a robust technological society can do to affect […]

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A Test Case for Astroengineering

October 30, 2014

Last year the New Frontiers in Astronomy & Cosmology program, set up by the John Templeton Foundation as a grant-awarding organization, dispensed three grants with a bearing on what Clément Vidal calls ‘Zen SETI.’ The idea of looking into our astronomical data and making new observations to track possible signs of an extraterrestrial civilization at […]

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Examining SETI Assumptions

October 28, 2014

If we’re trying to extend the boundaries of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, how do we proceed? A speculative mind is essential, and one of the delights of science fiction is the ability to move through an unrestricted imaginative space, working out the ramifications of various scenarios. But we have to prioritize what we’re doing, […]

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