This week, scientists from around the globe converge on Cambridge University in England to discuss mankind's relationship with intelligent life from beyond the stars. So far, the news is not promising.
So far, the search for extraterrestrial life beyond our solar system has focused on finding Earth-like planets. And sure, planets are great, since we know at least one of them harbors life. But David Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics thinks that search might be a tad too narrow. In a new paper, Kipping described how current technology can be re-tasked to search for another life-bearing body: moons.
After years of lagging behind in the acceptance of scientific fact, the Vatican has not only caught up, but, with a conference this week, moved far past the boundaries of modern science. Yes, 376 years after they condemned Galileo for discussing a heliocentric solar system, and a mere 16 years after pardoning him for it, the Vatican will host a conference on astrobiology and the existence of extraterrestrial life.
After almost 50 years of waiting for aliens to contact us, Australia's Cosmos Magazine has decided to be a bit more proactive. In honor of Australia's national science week, the magazine is giving you a chance to have a message of your choice beamed to the nearest Earth-like planet.
If (or, as some would say, when) humans make contact with alien intelligence, the scientists who devote their careers to the search will be our first point of contact. Here, we look at the history of one of humankind's most persistent fascinations
By Matt Ransford
Posted 06.17.2008 at 2:48 pm 24 Comments
For as long as humans have looked to the night sky to divine meaning and a place in the universe, we have let our minds wander to thoughts of distant worlds populated by beings unlike ourselves. The ancient Greeks were the first Western thinkers to consider formally the possibility of an infinite universe housing an infinite number of civilizations.
A new theory assigns values to our scant chance of existing. So what does this mean in the search for alien life?
By Matt Ransford
Posted 04.18.2008 at 12:06 am 13 Comments
We've talked in this space in the past few months about detecting the existence of Earth-like planets in other solar systems, and on the educated guesswork which goes into putting a number on the probability of intelligent life existing out there as well. You may remember that the discovery of terrestrial planets is well on its way as technology improves; and that the Drake equation—with all its assumptions—has proved to be remarkably accurate.
A Belgrade man says his house gets bombarded by meteorites; wonders who is to blame
By Gregory Mone
Posted 04.11.2008 at 12:28 pm 9 Comments
Radivoje Lajic thinks aliens don't like him. The Bosnian man says his home has been hit by meteorites no less than five times. He took the rocks to experts at Belgrade University, who confirmed that they are the real thing. But they haven't been able to verify that Lajic did anything to anger the extraterrestrials, or that he's the target of some extra-planetary prank. Still, Lajic seems sure this isn't just a coincidence.
It's not impossible, say astronomers, but it wouldn't last long
By James Norton
Posted 04.01.2008 at 4:26 pm 1 Comment
Astronomers can say with near certainty that there are no moons with moons in our solar system. But that doesnt mean its physically impossible. After all, NASA has successfully put spacecraft into orbit around our moon.
We might not have yet found evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, but SETI has more than proven its worth with its success in distributed computing
By Matt Ransford
Posted 03.03.2008 at 2:39 pm 0 Comments
SETI@home—part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—is one of the earliest successful distributed computing projects. Its intent is to discover the presence of extraterrestrial life by analyzing radio signals from deep space. I remember the excitement of joining in late 1999, watching the candy-colored bars make their way across the client screen as my computer worked to detect meaningful variations in the cloud of noise. SETI has not yet been successful—that would be pretty big news—but the distributed computing model that has come out of it has.
It may not look like much, but this humble 'bot may be our best shot at proving we're not alone in the universe. First, though, the scientists testing it in Chile's Atacama Desert have to figure out how to control the thing
By Joseph Hooper
Posted 01.29.2006 at 3:00 am 1 Comment
When we catch up with the robot, it is poking along in a herky-jerky and rather flummoxed fashion through the Atacama Desert, which covers much of far northern Chile. The Atacama is reputedly the driest place on Earth, with rainfall measured in millimeters per decade. It is a rough place for man or robot, a tawny maze of high plateaus and shaley foothills under constant sun and an enormous cobalt-blue sky.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.