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Time Out

Dave Brubeck’s Time Out album was the first jazz LP I ever bought, just after it came out in 1959, the same year that Miles Davis released Kind of Blue. Watershed moments both. Paul Desmond once said of his alto sax work that he was trying to create the sound of a dry martini, a description I certainly can’t top.

Last night, while listening to Desmond and Brubeck, I realized that the Time Out album would be emblematic for today’s post. For it’s that time of year, and I am indeed taking time out for a much needed break. Centauri Dreams will be back in the first week of August, but until then, my break will include a good bit of jazz, much catch-up reading, a lot of long walks and, perhaps, a few of those martinis Desmond talks about. I’ll keep an eye on the site to handle comment moderation as well. Meanwhile, I hope all of you are having a splendid summer.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • andy July 18, 2018, 14:31

    Always good to have a break to relax and refresh the soul. Enjoy!

  • Mike July 18, 2018, 14:34

    Enjoy your holiday Paul. Recharge them ole batteries.

  • John walker July 18, 2018, 15:08

    Have a blast Daddy-O!!! ^_^

  • Thomas R Mazanec July 18, 2018, 15:49

    Update your Now Reading item on the right hand side of the screen while you read your books.

  • Paul Gilster July 18, 2018, 16:21

    Thanks to all for the good wishes! And Thomas, yes, good idea about the ‘Now Reading’ item. But one note on this:

    I usually keep multiple books going at once (four or five), and go back and forth between them. At any given time, usually only one of these is on topic for Centauri Dreams, which is why the items can rotate fairly slowly on the site. I don’t want to post items of no interest to the readers. So depending on what comes up next on my to-read stack, the titles may still not rotate all that fast on the site. But I’ll certainly post whatever I read on deep space matters in the ‘Now Reading’ slot.

  • Gregor July 18, 2018, 17:04

    Could it be a coincidence that you’re taking your “vacation” when Mars is closest to Earth?

    When you lie down on the transport slab, be careful not to mispronounce “Ak Ohum Oktay Weez Barsoom.”

    • Paul Gilster July 18, 2018, 22:18

      I hadn’t realized my plans were so transparent! But yes, pronunciation is important, and I’ll watch my step…

  • Gary Wilson July 18, 2018, 17:51

    Have a great break Paul.

  • James Stilwell July 18, 2018, 20:41

    The key man must have time out or he will burn out…
    I’ll be here in August…

  • Frank Smith July 19, 2018, 7:29

    What is this “break” of which you speak?

    We did not authorize any break.

    • Paul Gilster July 19, 2018, 9:51

      Good point! I will be more careful next time.

  • Michael July 19, 2018, 8:28

    Enjoy your well earned break Paul, I will raise a Martini in toast.

    • Paul Gilster July 19, 2018, 9:51

      Thank you, Michael. And have one for me.

  • ljk July 19, 2018, 9:10

    Paul, how could you mention those jazz albums and not post a link to them!

    Miles Davis, Kind of Blue:


    Dave Brubeck. Time Out:


    • Paul Gilster July 19, 2018, 9:50

      Well done, Larry.

  • Thomas Hair July 19, 2018, 9:45

    “…he was trying to create the sound of a dry martini,” thanks Paul. That’s one cool quote!

    • Paul Gilster July 19, 2018, 9:49

      Yes, and I think he got the sound just about right!

  • Stave July 20, 2018, 12:13

    And coffee. Mustn’t forget the coffee. Happy Summer, Paul; a lot of us will be able to get our own work done over the next couple of weeks now that our daily fix has been withdrawn.

    • Paul Gilster July 20, 2018, 13:43

      Steve, count on me: One thing I will never do is neglect the coffee!

  • xcalibur July 20, 2018, 17:56

    Have a good break. In any field, exertion must be balanced by rest and recovery, and you’ve earned it.

    • Paul Gilster July 20, 2018, 20:16

      Thank you, xcalibur. Much appreciated!

  • Antonio July 21, 2018, 12:54

    I’m hoping you are enjoying your holidays and have clear nights to see the stars…


    • Paul Gilster July 21, 2018, 14:13

      Thank you, Antonio. There are some lovely visuals in that video!

  • Randall Lee Schoreck July 21, 2018, 14:48

    Thank you for this outstanding Blog. I still haven’t found anyone doing a better Job and it fits to the great things surrounding Tau Zero. Thanks and enjoy your off Time.

    • Paul Gilster July 21, 2018, 15:30

      Why thank you, Randall. Very kind.

  • ljk July 23, 2018, 7:19

    Some news on the next installment of the new Cosmos series, which premiers next March on Fox:


  • John Walker July 23, 2018, 11:02

    Summer Break Studies.

    Thought I’d post a link to an on topic article for those interested.

    Habitable Moon. Luna?

    An interesting if perhaps not entirely convincing case for Lunar habitability 3.5 billion years ago.

  • John Walker July 24, 2018, 11:18

    Summer Break Studies

    Here a link to an article that some of you might like.

    Europa Subsurface Radiation Modelling
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-018-0499-8 (at least on Android full text only w/Chrome)

    A paper on the outlook for intact bio markers near the surface of Europa. Slightly more comprehensive than some older articles on the topic. Although the effects of meteoritic impact gardening are poorly addressed. Also differing mechanisms* by which such organics might reach the surface will strongly affect their cumulative radiation exposure. The paper also does not give this aspect the attention it needs imo.

    *upwelling of warm fissure ice, large scale near surface or surface melts from subsurface liquid water pockets or plume generated deposition.

  • ljk July 24, 2018, 12:19

    If there is actual life on Mars that is not in a fossilized state, it is likely surviving deep underground.


    In lieu of having to dig deep to find the Martians, we may get “lucky” if they come to the surface via those liquid water gushes announced in 2000.

    We also need to target the source of those methane emissions.

    • ljk July 27, 2018, 14:53

      And the very next day after the posting of this article about Mars being too dry for life, they announce a potential whole lake of briny water under the planet’s southern polar cap! See my link below in this thread.

  • ljk July 24, 2018, 12:55

    Evidence of land-based microbial life found in 3.2B-year-old rocks

    Land-based life existed on Earth about 3.2 billion years ago, about 500 million years earlier than previously thought, according to findings published in Nature Geosciences. Researchers found the evidence of microbial life in rocks in South Africa.


  • ljk July 25, 2018, 12:35

    Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water

    A lake beneath the Red Planet’s southern ice sheets may be the best place to find life.

    By Lisa Grossman

    10:00am, July 25, 2018


    To quote:

    The lake is about 20 kilometers across, planetary scientist Roberto Orosei of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna, Italy and his colleagues report online July 25 in Science — but the water is buried beneath 1.5 kilometers of solid ice.

    Orosei and colleagues spotted the lake by combining more than three years of observations from the European Space Agency’s orbiting Mars Express spacecraft. The craft’s MARSIS instrument, which stands for Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, aimed radar waves at the planet to probe beneath its surface.

  • ljk July 25, 2018, 12:40


    Relative Likelihood of Success in the Searches for Primitive versus Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life

    Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb

    (Submitted on 24 Jul 2018)

    We estimate the relative likelihood of success in the searches for primitive versus intelligent life on other planets. Taking into account the larger search volume for detectable artificial electromagnetic signals, we conclude that both searches should be performed concurrently, albeit with significantly more funding dedicated to primitive life.

    Our analysis suggests that the search for technosignatures may potentially merit a minimum funding level of $1 million per year.

    Comments: 19 pages; 0 figures

    Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

    Cite as: arXiv:1807.08879 [physics.pop-ph]
    (or arXiv:1807.08879v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)

    Submission history

    From: Manasvi Lingam [view email]

    [v1] Tue, 24 Jul 2018 01:57:12 GMT (27kb)


  • ljk July 25, 2018, 13:00

    Scientists revise the Rio Scale for reported alien encounters

    July 24, 2018

    by Christine Tudhope, University of St Andrews


    To quote:

    “The whole world knows about the Richter Scale for quantifying the severity of an earthquake; that number is reported immediately following a quake and subsequently refined as more data are consolidated,” said Jill Tarter, co-founder of the SETI Institute. “The SETI community is attempting to create a scale that can accompany reports of any claims of the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence and be refined over time as more data become available. This scale should convey both the significance and credibility of the claimed detection. Rio 2.0 is an attempt to update the scale to make it more useful and compatible with current modes of information dissemination, as well as providing means for the public to become familiar with the scale.”

    There have been many dubious signals reported as ‘aliens’ in recent years, and learning the truth about these stories is increasingly difficult. As such, an updated Rio Scale is required.

    The paper online here:


  • ljk July 25, 2018, 13:05

    Is Triton an ocean world?

    Scientists are reevaluating what we know about Neptune’s moon Triton, and sketching plans for a future visit. Richard A. Lovett reports.

    News Space 25 July 2018


    To quote:

    The evidence for an ocean on Triton, she says, begins with a 2007 study that used crater counts to estimate the age of Triton’s surface and came up with a number of less than 10 million years. Not only is that “really young, geologically speaking,” Hansen says, “[but] that means there’s some process that’s been erasing craters.” And the most likely such process is the upwelling of liquids from below — something that can only occur if there are underlying liquids to upwell.

    Another study, in 2015, found that tidal heating from Neptune could be strong enough to maintain a subsurface “liquid layer” — i.e., an ocean — that could produce not only the recent resurfacing seen by the 2007 paper, but also the plumes seen by Voyager.

    Does that prove that Triton has a subsurface ocean? Of course not, Hansen says. “It’s more the idea that, given what we know now [about other moons], we should go back and reexamine what we thought we knew in the 1990s. And I was around then and wrote one of the papers that said, ‘Yeah, it’s solar driven.’”

    • ljk July 25, 2018, 13:08

      Another important quote from the article:

      Proving that Triton is an ocean world would almost certainly require a return to Neptune, which, like its sister planet Uranus, has not been visited since its the long-ago Voyager flybys.

      That makes these two worlds, collectively known as ice giants, prime targets for future space missions, Mark Hofstadter, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at the COSPAR meeting.

      These planets are interesting not just because their high water content (as much as 65 percent by weight) challenges our understanding of how planets form, but because similar planets are proving to be surprisingly common around other stars.

      But in a list of a dozen priorities for an ice giants mission, elaborated by NASA and the European Space Agency in a 2017 collaborative study, fully half of the objectives including studying these planets’ moons.

      Nor would this simply be another Voyager-style flyby. “The study investigated many mission architectures and finds that achieving these objectives would require a well-instrumented orbiter making multiple flybys of each major satellite,” Hofstadter says.

      And, he adds, “Uranus and Neptune are equally compelling science targets. Each planet has things to teach us which that the other cannot, so ultimately both systems must be explored.”

      But it won’t occur soon. The optimum launch window for a Uranus mission, using a Jupiter gravity assist, is 2030 to 2034, the NASA/ESA report says. For Neptune, it’s 2029-2030. Transit time would be 11 to 13 years. If so, no future mission will get there until more than 50 years after Voyager gave us our last – and to date only – close-ups.

      Will this happen in our lifetimes? “I hope so!” Hansen says.

  • ljk July 25, 2018, 13:23


    On the possibility of the Dyson spheres observable beyond the infrared spectrum

    Z. Osmanov, V. I. Berezhiani

    (Submitted on 11 Apr 2018)

    In this paper we revisit the Dysonian approach and assume that a superadvanced civilisation is capable of building a cosmic megastructure located closer than the habitable zone (HZ). Then such a Dyson Sphere (DS) might be visible in the optical spectrum. We have shown that for typical high melting point meta material – Graphene, the radius of the DS should be of the order of 10 11 cm, or even less. It has been estimated that energy required to maintain the cooling system inside the DS is much less than the luminosity of a star. By considering the stability problem, we have found that the radiation pressure might stabilise dynamics of the megastructure and as a result it will oscillate, leading to interesting observational features – anomalous variability. The similar variability will occur by means of the transverse waves propagating along the surface of the cosmic megastructure. In the summary we also discuss the possible generalisation of definition of HZs that might lead to very interesting observational features.

    Comments: 7 pages, 2 figures

    Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph)

    Cite as: arXiv:1804.04157 [physics.pop-ph]
    (or arXiv:1804.04157v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)

    Submission history

    From: Zaza Osmanov [view email]

    [v1] Wed, 11 Apr 2018 18:23:12 GMT (226kb)


    • Michael Fidler July 27, 2018, 3:11

      Sweet Super-Puffs: These 2 Exoplanets Have the Density of Cotton Candy.

      After reading this article, it seemed to me that these could be Dyson Puff Balls, might be an easy way to keep it cool!

      Could some of the variable stars be Dyson spheres?

      • ljk July 27, 2018, 14:55

        Hopefully the various SETI efforts will aim their instruments at them to find out. I am not saying they will have success, but if we don’t look we won’t find anything.

    • ljk July 27, 2018, 15:00

      SETI should also be looking at spiral galaxy NGC 5907, which astronomers say has way too many red dwarf suns for its galactic type and age.

      At least that is how they are interpreting all those low luminosity, high infrared signatures.


      • Michael Fidler July 28, 2018, 2:53

        I was just thinking about that, if you want to hide, what’s the best place – in a crowd, so what is the most common stars, M Dwarfs, their faint and make up over 75 percent of the stars. So why not take G2 stars like our sun and make it look like a Red Dwarf with the Dyson Sphere filtering the light and spectrum. Stealth is not only trying to disappear but also to look like something else that is more common and less obvious. That is where all that dark matter and dark energy is hiding! Makes a lot more sense. 😄

  • Harry R Ray July 26, 2018, 9:56

    Paul: One week to go. Enjoy what’s left of your vacation. The one “breaking news” comment NOT mentioned above is the SHOCKING possibility that life that formed on Earth and was transported to the moon during the Late Period Bombardment MAY have been able to survive on the SURFACE of the Moon for a hundred million years or so! I am VERY SKEPTICAL of this one but it is VERY TESTABLE. The VERY FIRST “Martian meteorite” contained tiny bubbles containing the EXACT SAME CONCENTRATION OF GASES as was detected in the Martian atmosphere by the Viking probes! We should look for such bubbles in Moon meteorites to see whether the Moon WAS capable of supporting liquid water! If we get REAL LUCKY we could find some micro-organism remains, too. Of the many posts you are contemlpating upon your return, I hope this is one of them.

  • John Walker July 26, 2018, 15:31

    Thanks for the links! ^_^

  • ljk July 27, 2018, 12:11

    Traces of Exomoons in Computed Flux and Polarization Phase curves of Starlight Reflected by Exoplanets

    Press Release – Source: astro-ph.EP

    Posted July 26, 2018 9:17 PM



  • I love Dave Brubeck. His 1958 album, Jazz Impressions of Eurasia, is a classic.

    • Paul Gilster July 29, 2018, 13:50

      I also loved Jazz Impressions of Japan. But really, all his work in that era was so splendid.

  • Wojciech J July 29, 2018, 5:53

    Huge implications if this is true. Scientists claim to have revived frozen worms that were in ice for 30 and 40 thousands years.


    I am a bit sceptical if this is indeed true, but if confirmed it would have interesting implications of cryogenics and possibility of us engaging in engineered panspermia. Of course the ability to transfer these traits to human cryo is limited-perhaps our first interstellar voyagers will be completely new human species, engineered with traits allowing for such cryo sleep.

    However 40,000 years is also well within our ability to launch probes to other stars and seed local neighborhood with life, if it turns out Earth life is exceptional.

  • John walker July 29, 2018, 11:56

    Summer Break Studies

    A series of simulations were run by JPL’s Howell and Pappalardo attempt to reproduce the fissure or band structures that are so prominent on Europa and Ganymede.

    Video of their simulations here:

  • ljk July 30, 2018, 11:07

    ESO: Stellar Corpse Reveals Origin of Radioactive Molecules


  • Harry R Ray July 31, 2018, 9:19

    All good things must come to an end. BE WARNED! The natives are restless. The barbarians are at the gates. REALLY looking forward to your first post(whatever it is)tomorrow or whenever!

    • Paul Gilster July 31, 2018, 9:44

      Expect the next post on Friday, and I think you’re going to like it.

  • ljk July 31, 2018, 9:43

    Field Museum: Meteorites Show Our Sun Went Through “Terrible Twos”

    Our Sun’s beginnings are a mystery. It burst into being 4.6 billion years ago, about 50 million years before the Earth formed. Since the Sun is older than the Earth, it’s hard to find physical objects that were around in the Sun’s earliest days — materials that bear chemical records of the early Sun. But in a new study in Nature Astronomy, ancient blue crystals trapped in meteorites reveal what the early Sun was like. And apparently, it had a pretty rowdy start.

    “The Sun was very active in its early life — it had more eruptions and gave off a more intense stream of charged particles. I think of my son, he’s three, he’s very active too,” says Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum, professor at the University of Chicago, and author of the study. “Almost nothing in the solar system is old enough to really confirm the early Sun’s activity, but these minerals from meteorites in the Field Museum’s collections are old enough. They’re probably the first minerals that formed in the solar system.”

    Full article here:


  • ljk July 31, 2018, 9:46

    Plate tectonics not needed to sustain life

    Liam Jackson

    July 30, 2018

    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — There may be more habitable planets in the universe than we previously thought, according to Penn State geoscientists, who suggest that plate tectonics — long assumed to be a requirement for suitable conditions for life — are in fact not necessary.

    When searching for habitable planets or life on other planets, scientists look for biosignatures of atmospheric carbon dioxide. On Earth, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases surface heat through the greenhouse effect. Carbon also cycles to the subsurface and back to the atmosphere through natural processes.

    “Volcanism releases gases into the atmosphere, and then through weathering, carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere and sequestered into surface rocks and sediment,” said Bradford Foley, assistant professor of geosciences. “Balancing those two processes keeps carbon dioxide at a certain level in the atmosphere, which is really important for whether the climate stays temperate and suitable for life.”

    Full article here:


  • ljk July 31, 2018, 9:49

    Well we can’t do most plausible concepts of interstellar travel at present, either, but that does not mean they won’t be resolved one day – so long as we keep our civilization intact and improve our educational system:


  • andy August 2, 2018, 14:29

    A study of planetary habitability in the core of Omega Centauri. Unsurprisingly, the dynamical environment is extremely hostile, with encounters between stars at distances of 0.5 AU expected to occur every million years or so.

    Kane & Deveny (arXiv:1808.00053 [astro-ph.EP]) “Habitability in the Omega Centauri Cluster

    • ljk August 5, 2018, 13:34

      This does not mean OC could not be inhabited by advanced visitors from elsewhere who are there for the resources, etc. The latest Robert Bradbury pointed out the advantages for an advanced ETI to colonize globular star clusters, not the least of which was the very thing that the paper raised alarms about, namely the proximity of the star systems to each other.

  • ljk August 5, 2018, 13:35
  • ljk August 5, 2018, 13:37

    Understanding Venus: New facility to simulate conditions on Earth’s twin planet

    by Tomasz Nowakowski

    August 3, 2018


  • ljk August 9, 2018, 16:53

    Parker Solar Probe preview: 10 hot facts about NASA’s cool mission to the Sun

    Jason Davis • August 09, 2018

    This weekend, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft leaves Earth on a mission to touch the Sun.


    One very interesting fact: When the Parker solar probe is closest to Sol, our star will appear 625 times brighter than what we experience on Earth.

    Extra dark sunglasses and SPF 2 million suntan lotion time.

  • ljk August 9, 2018, 16:54

    The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Dust Storm Wanes, Opportunity Sleeps, Team Prepares Recovery Strategy

    A.J.S. Rayl • August 01, 2018

    As Opportunity slept in Perseverance Valley under the thick cloud of dust that has blanketed the Red Planet for the last six weeks, scientists who are studying the monster storm that forced the robot field geologist into its hibernation mode are now reporting the tempest has peaked.