Astrobiology and SETI

SETI: The Black Hole Alternative

May 8, 2015

Our speculations about advanced civilizations invariably invoke Nikolai Kardashev’s scale, on which a Type III civilization is the most advanced, using the energy output of its entire galaxy. Given the age of our universe, a Type III has seemingly had time to emerge somewhere, yet a recent extensive survey shows no signs of them. All […]

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Transient Listening: A Caution

April 20, 2015

by James Benford Searching for the faintest of signals in hopes of detecting an extraterrestrial civilization demands that we understand the local environment and potential sources of spurious signals. But we’ve also got to consider how signals might be transmitted, the burden falling on SETI researchers to make sense out of the physics (and economics) […]

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G-HAT: Searching For Kardashev Type III

April 16, 2015

A new paper out of the Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies search (G-HAT) at Penn State is packed with fascinating reading, and I’m delighted to send you in its direction (citation below) for a further dose of the energizing concepts of ‘Dysonian SETI.’ Supported by a New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology grant funded by […]

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New Horizons Message Update

April 14, 2015

If you want to send a message to the stars, Jon Lomberg is the man to consult. A gifted artist and creator of the gorgeous Galaxy Garden in Kona, Hawaii, Lomberg may be most famous for his frequent work with Carl Sagan, including the celebrated Cosmos series. But it’s his involvement with the Voyager Interstellar […]

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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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