By Lewis Darnell
As an astrobiologist I spend a lot of my time working in the lab with samples from some of the most extreme places on Earth, investigating how life might survive on other worlds in our solar system and what signs of their existence we could detect. If there is biology beyond the Earth, the vast majority of life in the Galaxy will be microbial—hardy single-celled life forms that tolerate a much greater range of conditions than more complex organisms can. To be honest, my own point of view is pretty pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong—if the Earth received an alien tweet tomorrow, or some other text message beamed at us by radio or laser pulse, then I’d be absolutely thrilled. So far, though, we’ve seen no convincing evidence of other civilizations among the stars in our skies.
Read the full article at Literary Hub.
Read more "Why Would Aliens Even Bother with Earth?"
Let’s imagine a thought experiment.
An aggressive viral plague has struck humanity. Spreading astonishingly quickly through our modern world of dense cities and international airliners, we’d already lost the fight in a matter of weeks. Civilisation has collapsed and the vast majority of humanity has died. But you’ve survived. You fell deliriously ill, but through some innate immunity you lived through the raging fever, and have woken up in your cold house, with no electricity, no water in the taps or gas feeding the boiler or stove. The streets are eerily quiet, and no airplane contrails criss-cross the sky. You’re a survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
These are all tropes we’re familiar with from books like Canticle for Leibowitz or The Road, recent computer games like The Last of Us, and films like I Am Legend or Mad Max. On the whole, these narratives feature protagonists wearing a little too much tight leather, and a lone hero striving through the wilderness. But how realistic are these scenarios?
Read the full article at BBC.com.
Read more "How to Cope with the End of the World"
Here are the top 17 candidates for the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut training program! Men and women from all over the country; doctors, soldiers, pilots, scientists. Here’s one job with no glass ceiling. 😉
Also, I really loved this graphic and had to use it in a blog post (courtesy Canadian Space Agency).
Astronauts are modern-day explorers. They courageously travel beyond the Earth to help acquire new scientific knowledge. Their courage and determination are an inspiration to many.
Despite their unique journeys, astronauts have a few things in common: an academic background in science or technology, excellent health, and outstanding qualities and skills.
The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process also share these attributes. You can read their remarkable profiles here. Visit this page regularly to see how the selection process is going!
Read the full article at the Canadian Space Agency (Government of Canada Website).
Read more "Canadian Astronauts"
Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future, says Rachel Nuwer.
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.
Read the full article at BBC.
Read more "How Western Civilization Could Collapse"
Preliminary results from NASA’s study of Scott and Mark Kelly appear to show fascinating physiological and genetic changes but more analysis is needed before any conclusions can be made.
Read full article at Seeker.com.
Read more "Space Changes Your DNA"
Now this was a resource I just had to share! I may, in the future, repost particular articles that are relevant to something I’m immediately writing, but there’s just too much stuff to post the whole series at once!
Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy is a blog series for authors and fans of speculative fiction. Just as science fiction often has roots in hard sciences — physics, astronomy, genetic engineering, microbiology — fantasy world-building relies on everything from economics to military strategy to animal husbandry.
Each week, we discuss elements of sci-fi or fantasy with an expert in a relevant topic area. We debunk the myths, correct the misconceptions, and offer advice on getting the details right.
Read full article at Dan Koboldt.
Read more "Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy"
I am so excited about this! It’s a free online course in some basic astrophysics! It’s being put on by Australian National University. I can’t wait to get started! And I thought I would share in case some of my nerdy readers were interested too!
Read more "Free Astrophysics Course!"