Astrobiology and SETI

SETI: Knowing Where to Look

March 8, 2016

Running a site like Centauri Dreams means adapting and reconfiguring on a daily basis. The best laid plans and all that… When I wrote recently about the SETI efforts at KIC 8462852, my plan had been to follow up that discussion with a broader SETI issue — where is the best place in the sky […]

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False Positives in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

March 2, 2016

I’m still smarting about having to cancel my travel plans for the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, particularly since the Tau Zero Foundation was one of the sponsors of the event. But fortunately, I do have people offering to write up the workshop for Centauri Dreams, so we’ll have some coverage and photos soon. […]

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Power Beaming Parameters & SETI re KIC 8462852

February 26, 2016

When I first got interested in SETI, I naively assumed that we would get a detection fairly soon, and that we would detect not a directed beacon but simple background traffic in a remote civilization. I had no idea at the time how difficult it would be to pick up the kind of radio traffic […]

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SETI: Power Beaming in Context

February 25, 2016

Thinking that we can understand the motivations of an extraterrestrial civilization seems like a fool’s gambit, but we have to try. The reason is obvious: We have exactly one technological society to work with — we’re all we have — and if we want to look for SETI signals, we have to interpolate as best […]

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SETI: Upcoming Talk of Interest

February 22, 2016

Given the interest the unusual star KIC 8462852 has generated here and elsewhere, I want to be sure those of you in California are aware of an upcoming talk that touches on the matter, as well as broader SETI issues. Titled “The Breakthrough Initiative – Listen and Megastructures at KIC 8463,” the talk will be […]

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Bradley Schaefer: A Response to Michael Hippke

January 28, 2016

The question of a gradual dimming of KIC 8462852 continues to make waves, the most recent response being Michael Hippke’s preprint on the arXiv site, discussed in the post immediately below. Bradley Schaefer (Lousiana State University), who published his work on the dimming he found in now digitized photographs in the archives of Harvard College […]

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KIC 8462852: No Dimming After All?

January 27, 2016

As if the Kepler star KIC 8462852 weren’t interesting enough, Bradley Schaefer (Louisiana State) added to the controversy when he discovered what appeared to be a steady dimming of the star over the past century. Schaefer called the result “completely unprecedented for any F-type main sequence star,” and given the discussion about KIC 8462852 as […]

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A New Filter for Life’s Survival

January 22, 2016

How do we make out the odds on our survival as a species? Philosopher Nick Bostrom (University of Oxford) ponders questions of human extinction in terms of a so-called Great Filter. It’s one that gives us a certain insight into the workings of the universe, in Bostrom’s view, because it seems to keep the galaxy […]

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KIC 8462852: A Century Long Fade?

January 14, 2016

I hadn’t expected a new paper on KIC 8462852 quite this fast, but hard on the heels of yesterday’s article on the star comes “KIC 8462852 Faded at an Average Rate of 0.165±0.013 Magnitudes Per Century From 1890 To 1989,” from Bradley Schaefer (Louisiana State University). Schaefer takes a hard look at this F3 main […]

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Following Up KIC 8462852

January 13, 2016

As I sat down to write yesterday morning, I realized there was a natural segue between the 1977 ‘Wow!’ signal, and the idea that it had been caused by two comets, and KIC 8462852, the enigmatic star that has produced such an interesting series of light curves. What I had planned to start with today […]

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