Filed under: Astronomy, Fermi's Paradox, General Musings, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, Survival | Tags: astronomy, blogging, Drake Equation, exoplanets, Fermi's Paradox, gamma ray bursts, Harvard, Hebrew University, jim downey, life, physics, Raul Jimenez, science, Science Fiction, SETI, space, survival, Tsvi Piran
It really does seem to be a pretty universal law:
As a copious source of gamma-rays, a nearby Galactic Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) can be a threat to life. Using recent determinations of the rate of GRBs, their luminosity function and properties of their host galaxies, we estimate the probability that a life-threatening (lethal) GRB would take place. Amongst the different kinds of GRBs, long ones are most dangerous. There is a very good chance (but no certainty) that at least one lethal GRB took place during the past 5 Gyr close enough to Earth as to significantly damage life. There is a 50% chance that such a lethal GRB took place during the last 500 Myr causing one of the major mass extinction events. Assuming that a similar level of radiation would be lethal to life on other exoplanets hosting life, we explore the potential effects of GRBs to life elsewhere in the Galaxy and the Universe.
What that means is summed up in this article. Here’s the conclusion:
Astronomers have long known that the Earth occupies a unique position in the solar system that allows life to flourish. This idea of a habitable zone now allows them to focus search for exoplanets that might also have conditions that are right for life. Now they can take this further by excluding inhospitable regions of the galaxy, and searching only those stars and galaxies that exist in the universe’s habitable zones.
Of course, that’s just for life as we know it …
Filed under: Argentina, Augmented Reality, Connections, Discover, General Musings, Humor, movies, Science, Science Fiction, Space | Tags: Argentina, augmented reality, blogging, dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus schrani, humor, jim downey, paleontology, Patagonia, Predator, science, Science Fiction, space
No doubt by now you’ve heard of the discovery of Dreadnoughtus schrani, the massive dinosaur found in the Patagonia region of Argentina (been there!), which in addition to being notable for its size is also notable for how much of it was found:
Lacovara says those other estimates are based on a mere smattering of bones, or on analyses that haven’t yet been subjected to peer review. In contrast, the estimate of Dreadnoughtus’ size and weight was based on measurements of more than 100 separate elements, including most of the tail vertebrae, a yard-long (meter-long) neck vertebra, numerous ribs and nearly all the bones from the forelimbs and hindlimbs.
Researchers unearthed about 45 percent of the skeleton’s full complement of bones, representing 70 percent of the bone types found below the skull (for example, a left rib without the mirror-image right rib).
Very impressive to find so much of it. Too bad they didn’t find the skull, as well.
Wait, no skull?
Yeah, I’m sure that it’s just a coincidence …
Filed under: Art, Connections, Failure, Feedback, NASA, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, Writing stuff | Tags: art, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, jim downey, NASA, promotion, rejection, science, Science Fiction, space, St. Cybi's Well, technology, writing
Good news! This morning the bidding opened on the auction I mentioned the other day, and I understand that there’s already something of a bidding war on some of the “become immortal” options I offered:
Be Famous! Have your name (or the name of a loved one, pet, etc) included in my next novel! Can be a character, a named place (manor/restaurant/pub), a book title/author, et cetera. Any sort of name you wish.
You have three choices:
Passing mention. Five available.
Name and some description. Three available.
Tertiary character, who will have some dialog & interaction with other characters. One available.
Yay! Thanks for the vote of confidence, and for helping out my friend!
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I’ve seen several preliminary news items on this, and it’s … intriguing.
Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that “impossible” microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion.
Very intriguing. Basically, this is the third test conducted on a theoretical reactionless drive, with NASA (British publications consider it stylistically appropriate to just capitalize the first letter) doing the independent testing of previous claims. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this.
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From three months back:
…but the other is far enough along that I’ll share: there’s a literary agent who is potentially interested in representing me, something which I have been thinking about for a while.
I’ll keep you posted as to any concrete developments.
Well, I just got a very nice note back from said agent, who complimented me in several ways but said that he wasn’t going to represent me after all.
Rejection is part of the game, and any writer or artist has to come to terms with that, or you might as well just give up. As I told a friend earlier:
He’s gotta do what he thinks makes business sense – when I ran the gallery, I had to turn down hundreds of artists who wanted us to represent them. And as I told them, just because I wasn’t going to rep them didn’t in any way mean that their work wasn’t quality. So I understand the equation from both sides of the = sign …
Still … I think I might take the rest of the afternoon off.
Do something nice for my friend. Go place a bid on something which interests you.
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Connections, General Musings, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, tech, Titan | Tags: Arecibo, astronomy, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Duncan Lorimer, jim downey, Joe Palca, NPR, Parkes Observatory, predictions, radio astronomy, Robert Gish, Science Fiction, SETI, space, Titan
Interesting news item on NPR this morning:
Astronomers have a mystery on their hands. Two large radio telescopes, on opposite sides of the planet, have detected very brief, very powerful bursts of radio waves.
Right now, astronomers have no idea what’s causing these bursts or where they’re coming from. And nothing has been ruled out at the moment — not even the kind of outrageous claims you’d expect to see in tabloid headlines.
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As you would imagine, there’s been lots of speculation about what’s behind these mysterious bursts. Some astronomers think they’re caused by blitzars, pulses of energy from a supermassive star collapsing into a black hole. Others think they may be caused by power solar flares coming from stars nearer by.
And Lorimer says he has to mention it: “There’s even been discussions in the literature about signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.”
From Chapter 1 of Communion of Dreams when news of the discovery of an evidently alien artifact on Titan is being discussed:
The man sitting next to him got up, stepped up to the holo of the artifact still rotating there in the center. Robert Gish was a little unkempt, his beard untrimmed, his dark hair matted. He was out of shape, almost flabby in appearance. His scientific reputation was as unconventional as his looks. More so. He had been responsible for the radical change in long-range sensing which led to the development of the Advanced Survey Array. Nobel Prize stuff. A true genius, not just brilliant but able and willing to make leaps that took others years to understand. Which was why Bradsen had him here: Gish had been saying for decades that there was other intelligent life among the stars. Saying it so loud and so often that he was considered a crank, since he had no proof and couldn’t even really explain why he believed it to be so, at least in a way that others could accept.
Reaching out as though he was going to touch the object, he said quietly “We know what it is. It is a crack in our shell.”
Interesting news, indeed.
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Emergency, Fireworks, General Musings, Humor, NASA, Predictions, Preparedness, SCA, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Space, Steampunk, Survival, tech | Tags: blogging, Daniel Baker, humor, jim downey, NASA, predictions, preppers, SCA, science, Science Fiction, solar storm, space, Steampunk, Sun, survival, technology
Just think — all the folks who are prepping to deal with some global emergency almost got a chance to see how well their theories work in practice. My friends who are into Steampunk and the SCA would have reigned supreme!
Back in 2012, the Sun erupted with a powerful solar storm that just missed the Earth but was big enough to “knock modern civilization back to the 18th century,” NASA said.
The extreme space weather that tore through Earth’s orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday.
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“If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire,” said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado.
Ah well. Better luck next time!
Filed under: Amazon, Apollo program, Buzz Aldrin, Connections, Feedback, Health, Humor, ISS, Kindle, Man Conquers Space, Marketing, NASA, Neil Armstrong, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Writing stuff | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Apollo, Apollo 11, blogging, Buzz Aldrin, Buzzfeed, care-giving, Chris Hadfield, direct publishing, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, humor, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, Michael Collins, Moon, NASA, Neil Armstrong, promotion, science, Science Fiction, space, St. Cybi's Well, writing
And you can pee upside down, which I did, just for fun. Wouldn’t you?
Great little list about the reality of spaceflight at this point in time. Perfect perspective for this weekend, since he manages to capture and convey the wonder and excitement so many of us felt from the Apollo era. It’s so easy to lose your vision, your enthusiasm, in the grim plodding of day-to-day life.
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Thanks to all who helped make the recent anniversary promotion of Her Final Year a success! Worldwide there were about 150 downloads – not a huge number, but it is progress. I hope the book can help those who downloaded it.
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Progress continues on St Cybi’s Well. Hope to wrap up Chapter 9 in the next couple of days.