Communion Of Dreams


Seven blips of light.
October 18, 2010, 10:22 am
Filed under: Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, NASA, Phil Plait, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech

One of the main technological features of the setting of Communion of Dreams is the Advanced Survey Array – an artificial satellite in orbit around Titan, which is searching for likely planets to colonize in nearby star systems – planets which would be able to sustain Terran life. When I started writing CoD, finding such planets was still very much beyond our current tech – exoplanets of any sort were still just being inferred from other data.

But we’ve come a long way in the last decade. From Phil Plait’s latest blog post on Exoplanets:

Direct imaging of exoplanets is perhaps the newest field in all of astronomy. Ten years ago it didn’t exist, and was something of a dream. Now we have images of seven tiny dots, seven blips of light indicating the presence of mighty planets.

And with the advent of spectroscopy, we’ll learn even more: how hot they are, and what they have in their atmospheres. Eventually, with new technology, new telescopes on space, we’ll be able to split their light ever finer, and who knows? Maybe, one day not too long from now, we’ll see the tell-tale sign of molecular oxygen… the only way we know of to have molecular oxygen in an atmosphere over long periods of time is through biological activity. If we ever see it… that, my friends, will be quite a day indeed.

As I have noted previously, this is one of the dangers in writing near-term SF: that actual technological developments can outstrip what the writer envisions all too easily. We’re still not to the tech of my novel, but we’re further along than I would have guessed. Good thing that the book will soon be in print . . .

Jim Downey

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