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Summer Break

And boy do I need it! See you in two weeks.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Infinite123Lifer July 29, 2019, 8:48

    And boy do you earn it. See you in two weeks sir.

    • Paul Gilster July 29, 2019, 12:46

      A kind comment indeed! Many thanks, and just the right note to start a vacation on. I’ll add what I forgot in today’s small post: I’ll keep comment moderation going once or twice a day, so those of you who want to comment on earlier posts can keep doing so.

  • Gary Wilson July 29, 2019, 12:32

    Enjoy Paul.

    • John walker July 29, 2019, 14:09


  • Adam Byrne July 29, 2019, 13:53

    Have a very relaxing break Paul.

  • Robin Datta July 29, 2019, 13:57
  • Michael July 29, 2019, 14:19

    Have a great holiday Paul, recharge those ample mental batteries of yours.

  • Harry R Ray July 29, 2019, 14:42

    Things to do for Centauri Dreams readers while Paul takes his well-deserved vacation. ONE: Check out the TESS conference going on right now at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts(JUST ANNOUNCED TODAY: A virtual carbon copy of the three Gliese 581 inner planets at TOI 270, located 73 light-years away whigh just also happens to be a virtual carbon copy of Gliese 581 itself. TWO: Don’t Give up on Boyajian’s Star JUST QUITE YET!!!!! It appears to be sending a “message” using the prime numbers 5, 7, 11, and 13! PROBABLY NOT, but John Astro2’s comment on the “New Paper: Non-Gray, month long Brightening of KIC8462852 in the Immediate Aftermath of a Deep Dip.” posting on https://www.reddit.com/r/KIC8462852 is a MUST READ! We NEED more powerful instruments to look at Boyajian’s Star to REALLY TIGHTEN UP those error bars!!!!! Thankfully, TESS is doing that RIGHT NOW!

    • ljk July 30, 2019, 9:23

      Here is a link to the complete paper titled “Non-gray, Month-long Brightening of KIC 8462852 in the Immediate Aftermath of a Deep Dip”:


      Is someone at Tabby’s Star signaling the galaxy that they exist (and want to communicate)? I don’t know. I do know I do not know quite how advanced ETI with incredible knowledge, technology, and the resources of a galaxy might act, but I do know the limitations of the imagination and experiences of the species living on the third planet from Sol.

      There are many factors hampering us from truly finding out if we are alone or not in the galaxy. While it is nice to see that we are finally starting to get a bit more serious, let no one kid you that we have a long way to go and that humanity is still incredibly provincial.

      • Robin Datta July 30, 2019, 23:06

        The (postulated) “folks” in the vicinity of Tabby’s star would be separated from “us” not just in space, but also by the corresponding (through lightspeed) time, such that the level of their technology that we surmise as “now”, existed well in excess of a millennium ago: by now they would’ve “done themselves in”, or perhaps advanced to a level that makes them imperceptible, (or if perceptible, then unrecognizable) to us.

        • ljk July 31, 2019, 9:22

          I am not suggesting at all that such a message would be meant for us, or even any particular beings, other than the kind that can detect and correctly interpret such a transmission.

          Unlike most science fiction and society in general, I am of the opinion that humanity and Earth are not the focus of either the galaxy or the Universe.

          • Gary Wilson August 9, 2019, 14:48

            Submicron sized dust particles seem like an odd signalling system. This phenomenon will have some sort of natural cause in all likelihood. there is a continuing supply of these submicron sized particles that has lasted at least 100 years. Possibly the star is blowing these particles out of the atmosphere of some sort of very dusty planet or other body that circles the star? It may not be detectable by our current technology. And yes, this all happened long ago (more than 1400 years) so doesn’t reflect the current state of things there at all.

            • Harry R Ray August 9, 2019, 17:24

              You’re probably right, but what if they just happen to be nanobots.

              • Gary Wilson August 11, 2019, 17:12

                Haha. Yes, a good point Harry! I never thought about that possibility.

  • Amir July 29, 2019, 15:04

    Enjoy your holidays!

  • Enzo July 29, 2019, 16:59

    Have a good deserved break Paul : I don’t know how you find the energy and dedication to run this site so consistently. My most sincere admiration.

  • Laintal July 29, 2019, 19:38

    Have a good Break I’m just reading the paper on the 3 Tess Planets


  • Paul Gilster July 29, 2019, 20:30

    Thanks to all of you for those kind thoughts. You’re a wonderfully supportive group of readers, and one from whom I’ve learned a great deal!

  • Gregor July 29, 2019, 23:47

    Last year you slipped away to Barsoom.
    Where to this time?

    • Paul Gilster July 30, 2019, 7:12

      Yes, a few summers back I talked about using these breaks to take “long green walks through the imagination,” a very restoring process! I’m finding myself at the moment revisiting Clarke’s Diaspar and the green and fecund Lys nearby, from The City and the Stars. Ah, the pleasures of re-reading old favorites!

  • ljk July 30, 2019, 9:12

    Have a great time, Paul. And forgive me for saying something you probably already know, but be sure to really relax on your vacation. Most people seem to think vacations are meant to get even more exhausted and plate-filling.

    • Paul Gilster July 30, 2019, 10:08

      Points well taken!

  • Harry R Ray July 30, 2019, 9:23

    Paul, if you are in the process of choosing a mode of transportation to a faraway location, please do NOT choose the Halo Drive! It’s kinda in its experimental phase, you know.

  • Brad in Dallas July 31, 2019, 17:24

    Anybody stoked about GJ 357d a mere 31 ly away?

    • Robin Datta July 31, 2019, 21:24

      Will be, just about as soon as we have unambiguous identification of a megastructure or an unambiguous “Howdy, folks!”.

    • ljk August 1, 2019, 9:10

      Here is the paper on that world. It includes a nice chart that shows the exoplanet almost smack in the middle of the presumed habitable zone:


    • Harry R Ray August 1, 2019, 9:21

      I REALLY would be if it ALSO transited, but it apparently does not. My take is that it is PROBABLY a LHS 1140b clone, but without a radius measurement we may never be able to determine whether or not it is a virtual carbon copy.

  • Robin Datta July 31, 2019, 21:15
    • Mike Serfas August 1, 2019, 10:47

      Fascinating essay… but he has picked an odd time to be right. Stock elements of “Monofuture” have materialized recently: discovery of abundant exoplanets, prospecting missions to Moon and asteroids, a hoverboard flying over the English channel. Even nuclear fusion seems to be reaching “near term commercial application” of some sort: https://www.neimagazine.com/news/newsrussia-develops-a-fission-fusion-hybrid-reactor-6168535

      The catch is that all this is on a planet where nearly half the plankton is dead, the insects are dying, most animal biomass is livestock, and the oceans are becoming too acidic. The Greenhouse Effect seems about as likely to become self-sustaining as nuclear fusion. Equality, democracy, and human rights might outlive the vaquita, but are certainly on the endangered list. The project the author casually dismissed (though Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a decent novel recently) — an Antarctic colony — may well be a test of everything from space colonization technologies to a fresh attempt to build civilized human society, or the final refuge at the end of Man.

  • Gary Wilson August 3, 2019, 13:31

    There is a heat dome over Greenland now with a huge increase in melting. Europe has experienced record setting temperatures recently. There are claims coming from India that large parts of the country may become unlivable for humans in the next few decades. We just experienced the hottest June on record globally and July is probably the same. Anyone refusing to believe in climate change is in denial. All of the world’s major fishing zones are in decline and the oceans are acidifying. More than 1 million species are headed for a man made extinction event. We need a new way of living without hyper-consumption and greed. The US, China and India must lead the way.

    • Robin Datta August 4, 2019, 16:29

      Are we past all the significant filters of Fermi’s Paradox, or are we (unwittingly?) approaching a big one? If the latter be the case, the imperative would be to devote 100% of our efforts and resources to contending with it, but so strenuous an application would demand recognition of the direness of a situation.

      • ljk August 5, 2019, 9:09

        During the Cold War the big filter passage was whether humanity would nuke itself back into the Stone Age or outright extinction.

        Now in addition to that, since our leaders have just decided to remove any nuclear arms controls, we need to wonder if we will remain civilized at all without being nuked – assuming we were truly civilized to begin with. Recent events show that we do not need weapons of mass destruction to not only disrupt our society but also expose just how far we have not come from the trees and caves.

  • ljk August 3, 2019, 14:55

    Sad to report that Nikolai Kardashev has passed away:


  • Harry R Ray August 5, 2019, 13:47

    NEAR Alpha Centauri results(or lack thereof)to be published in October.

    • ljk August 6, 2019, 12:15

      The Hunt Is On for Alpha Centauri’s Planets

      Astronomers could soon learn whether or not the nearest neighboring star system harbors habitable worlds

      By Corey S. Powell on August 5, 2019


      “There’s a risk, because we don’t know if we will see anything. In my view, the risk is balanced by the reward of getting an image of Earth 2.0,” Belikov says.

  • Gary Wilson August 5, 2019, 17:46

    It looks to me as if we are just approaching major Fermi filters Robin. We have some technological capability now but we act in ways very similar to our ancestors in Africa. We still divide up into tribes (nations), we frequently solve our problems with violence, we have no long term viable environmental plan, and many people have given up on rational thinking and behavior. That sounds like a recipe for disaster and a definite Fermi filter.

  • ljk August 6, 2019, 9:27
  • ljk August 6, 2019, 12:10
    • Harry R Ray August 6, 2019, 14:50

      The REAL question is: Will they have successfully completed their OWN moonbase by the time we start construction on ours?

      • ljk August 7, 2019, 9:31

        Remember that China has some plants on the lunar farside, but they probably won’t be doing much of anything – with all due respect to their sacrifice to science and space colonization, please note…


        • Robert August 7, 2019, 14:44

          If they had used a small radioactive heater they could have had heat and giant space mutant plants too!

          • ljk August 8, 2019, 9:22

            I have already seen people posting on Facebook and elsewhere as to how terrible and irresponsible this is, dropping Earth life on the Moon.

            Well, two things:

            1. The tardigrades, as tough and hardy as they can be, are not indestructible. In fact, unless they have prepared themselves for harsh conditions, they can die rather easily. Read the article above about this in detail.

            2. The future of space is going to be commercial. We are going to make a mess when we get out there in serious numbers. We cannot have it both ways. Yes, we need to be very careful with places of exobiological interest, but the fact is that when humanity really starts colonizing and working in our Sol system, there will be messes.

            Keep in mind, though, that the worlds similar to the Moon, and there are a lot of them, have neither intelligent natives nor even simple life forms that are in danger from “invading” colonizers from Earth.

            The jury is still out with places like Europa, Enceladus, and Titan, but I would presume they will be handled with care at least until it can be determined if they have life or not.

            Small scientific expeditions are nice if you can afford it, but as we have seen the ones with the purse strings tend not to pay for them very often.

  • Sharkman August 7, 2019, 1:22

    On your break, log on to:


    Click the Start button, and prepare to have your mind blown.

  • ljk August 7, 2019, 9:41

    Many of us have been saying this for a very long time…


  • Harry R Ray August 7, 2019, 10:11

    Giant exomoons ARE real after all!!!!! Extreme Solar Systems IV: August 19-23, 2019. Schedule: Monday 10:30 AM. TOPIC: Direct Imaging. PRESENTER: Cecilia Lassoni(INAF-Padova). “Two Giant Exomoons around two low mass Brown Dwarf companions Detected with SPHERE.” AND: If that isn’t enough to blow your mind, J Schneider(of Exoplanet Encyclopedia fame) now claims to have discovered a 1,5 Earth radius exomoon around a very hot jupiter orbiting HD 139139 every two days!

    • Harry R Ray August 7, 2019, 15:19

      Keep in mind that I said “detected”, and NOT “discovered”! This one is going to take a whole lot of peer review for me to accept it as FACT! The good news is that, even if the exomoon does not pan out, those pesky “Alien Megastructures” may be the only OTHER viable alternative! For details, google HD 139139 or The Random Transiter.

      • Harry R Ray August 12, 2019, 9:54

        Speaking of moons. Comet 67P has a 4 meter sized moon orbiting it in an eccentric orbit ranging from 2.4 to 3.9 Kilometers. TWO RECORDS HERE! ONE(the OBVIOUS): First moon orbiting a COMET! TWO: Smallest moon ever discovered. We should try landing on IT on a FUTURE mission, or even try bringing it back to Earth INTACT in the distant future.

    • ljk August 7, 2019, 16:37

      If these exomoons are confirmed then that is indeed wonderful news!

      Here is the Web site for the conference:


      The link to the scientific program:


      • Harry R Ray August 8, 2019, 9:26

        BEWARE THE IAU! Even if confirmed, they may simply wind up being CLASSIFIED by the International Astronomical Union as hierarchical triple star systems containing >13 mj brown dwarfs, <13 mj brown dwarf companions and <13 mj sattilites of <13 mj brown dwarf companions, ESPECIALLY if it takes DECADES for the "exomoon to complete one orbit of the "planet"!

  • Wojciech J August 7, 2019, 18:59

    Enjoy your summer break! Hopefully somewhere under starry skies!

  • ljk August 8, 2019, 9:38

    Some answers to those who think money could be better spent elsewhere than on science:


    Americans spend almost as much each year buying chewing gum as it would have cost to make another Curiousity rover to explore Mars. Just one factoid off the top of my head that I did verify in the past.

    • Mike Serfas August 10, 2019, 12:52

      Don’t alarm the taxpayers unnecessarily. According to https://www.cspdailynews.com/snacks-candy/chewing-gum-sales-surpass-4-billion-2018 Americans spend $4.1 billion on chewing gum yearly, while NASA ( https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/MSLLanding.pdf ) accounts the cost of the entire Curiosity mission, research and operations included, at $2.5 billion. NASA can take my chewing gum when they scrape it from my cold dead sticky saliva-covered fingers. :)

      • ljk August 12, 2019, 9:24

        Thank you for updating my numbers, which only prove my point even more strongly.

        And if we must take your chewing gum in the conquest of space, then it is a sacrifice I am willing to make. :^)

  • ljk August 8, 2019, 9:41
  • Gary Wilson August 8, 2019, 16:22

    Some really interesting posts on here, even with Paul away. Very nice to see.

    • ljk August 9, 2019, 8:54

      That is the whole idea, keeping readers in the loop even though Paul is on his well-deserved break.

    • Robin Datta August 9, 2019, 12:06

      Birds of a feather flock together. Of course thanks to Paul for creating the roost. They say that surgical training programs should be so constituted that if during any surgical procedure, if the lead surgeon “drops down dead”, the rest of the team would complete the procedure. By that criterion Paul has marshaled quite a readership and commentariat.

      • Paul Gilster August 9, 2019, 16:58

        It’s no exaggeration, Robin, to say that I’ve learned from readers as much as I’ve ever taught through my posts. It’s certainly a bi-directional effort.

  • Harry R Ray August 9, 2019, 15:14

    Centauri Dreams readers: Has Paul just sent us some kind of cryptic message during his two week cruise through the galaxy? https://www.newscientist.com/article/2213058-milky-ways-black-hole-has-got-75-times-brighter

    • Paul Gilster August 9, 2019, 16:57

      Harry, your challenge now is to work out the message I have sent in all its detail!

  • sglover August 9, 2019, 16:40

    I hope you’re enjoying your well-earned vacation!

    Centauri Dreams has long been providing consistently informative and interesting science writing. But for me at least, over the last few years (since about the end of 2016, if you get my drift) it’s also been a kind of spiritual oasis. Reading the news nowadays is like wading into a bath of dread and loathing. But Centauri Dreams always reminds me that while there’s no shortage of ignorant psychopaths, humanity’s still got a helluva lot of talent and integrity to draw on. We’ll need it!

    • Paul Gilster August 9, 2019, 16:56

      Glad to have you on the site, and thanks for the kind words. I’m always glad to have such a good audience, one that keeps my inherent optimism alive despite so many maddening and sometimes fearful trends.

  • Robin Datta August 9, 2019, 22:02
  • Sean Robert Meaney August 10, 2019, 3:06
    • Robin Datta August 10, 2019, 23:56

      Seems that Jupiter has been “sucking up” (hoovering up?) such stuff on an ongoing basis. A vacuum (or rather gravitational) cleaner for the planetary system…