March 2016

SETI Looks at Red Dwarfs

March 31, 2016

When it comes to astrobiology, what we don’t know dwarfs what we do. After all, despite all conjecture, we have yet to find proof that life exists anywhere else in the universe. SETI offers its own imponderables, adding on to the question of life’s emergence. How often does intelligence arise, and if it does, how […]

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TVIW 2016: Worldship Track

March 30, 2016

Our second report from the recent Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop is the work of Cassidy Cobbs and Michel Lamontagne, with an emphasis on the worldship track. Cassidy has an MS from Vanderbilt, where she studied ecology and evolution. She currently works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, doing traditional and next-generation gene and genome sequencing. […]

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Of a Mountain on Titan

March 29, 2016

If Saturn’s inner moons are, as we discussed yesterday, as ‘young’ as the Cretaceous, then we have much to think about in terms of possible astrobiology there. But Titan is unaffected by the model put forward by Drs. Ćuk, Dones and Nesvorný, being beyond the range of these complex interactions. Huge, possessed of fascinating weather […]

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Saturn’s Moons: A Question of Age

March 28, 2016

Some years back at a Princeton conference I had the pleasure of hearing Richard Gott discussing the age of Saturn’s rings. Gott is the author of, in addition to much else, Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). I admit the question of Saturn’s rings had never occurred to me, my assumption being that […]

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Thirteen to Centaurus

March 25, 2016

J. G. Ballard (1930-2009) emerged as one of the leading figures in 20th Century science fiction. His fascination with inner as opposed to ‘outer’ space infused his characters and landscapes with a touch of the surreal, taking the fiction of the space age into deeply psychological realms. Christopher Phoenix here looks at the question of […]

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Planets in the Process of Formation

March 24, 2016

Back in 2014, astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to produce high-resolution images of the planet-forming disk around the Sun-like star HL Tau, about 450 light years away in the constellation Taurus. The images were striking, showing bright and dark rings with gaps, suggesting a protoplanetary disk. Scientists believed the gaps in the […]

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Gravity, Impartiality & the Media

March 23, 2016

Marc Millis is once again in the media, this time interviewed by a BBC crew in a show about controlling gravity. The impetus is an undertaking I described in the first chapter of Frontiers of Propulsion Science, Project Greenglow. The former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project and founding architect of the Tau Zero […]

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TVIW 2016: Homo Stellaris Working Track

March 22, 2016

Herewith the first of several reports on the recent Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop; more next week. It comes from Doug Loss, who was a participant in the Homo Stellaris working track I had hoped to attend before illness changed my plans. An experienced network and IT security administrator, Doug attended and eventually organized The Asimov […]

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Making Centauri Dreams Reality, Virtually

March 18, 2016

I often think about virtual reality and the prospect of immersive experience of distant worlds using data returned by our probes. But what of the state of virtual reality today, a technology that is suddenly the talk of the computer world with the imminent release of the Oculus Rift device? Frank Taylor is just the […]

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Protecting Life on the Early Earth

March 17, 2016

Kappa Ceti is a young star — 400 to 600 million years old — in the constellation Cetus (the Whale). It’s a tremendously active place, its surface disfigured by starspots much larger and more numerous than we find on our more mature Sun. In fact, Kappa Ceti hurls enormous flares into nearby space, ‘superflares’ releasing […]

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