Wondrous Worlds of the Imagination

In this last week, we have been shown Pluto’s heart, and have been offered a tantalising hint of a possible ‘sister Earth’ 1400 or so light years distant. The recent announcement of Breakthrough Listen, a massive search initiative from Russian tycoon, Yuri Milner, to detect radio signals from extra-terrestrial intelligence, seems synchronous. Astronomers have now discovered almost […]

A Step Too Bold?

Is there life on Mars? Or Rosetta, Europa, or even Pluto?  A dilettante hand-waving exercise follows. Once upon a time, most of the material that made all of our solar system was gathered from a cloud of gas and dust by gravitational effects, to form our sun and its extensive system of planets, asteroids, comets, fragments […]

Light Becomes Solid

At the moment of writing, the NASA New Horizons probe is approaching Pluto for its flyby and data gathering mission. It is an extraordinary feat of engineering to navigate a small craft – about the size of a baby grand piano –  3 billion miles across the solar system to within 8 thousand miles of Pluto’s surface. […]

What is Out There and the Cosmic Teapot

I haven’t quite  given up on my childhood dream of meeting an alien. The nice sort, a Vulcan like Mr Spock, from Star Trek  – not the nasty kind that Scully and Mulder always encountered in the X-Files, or those featured in lurid accounts of UFO abduction stories that I read as a wide-eyed adolescent. I […]

By the Skin of an Apple

Recently,  I read that even thinking about science can make us more ‘moral’, by regulating our thinking to more rational modes.   To define  ‘moral’ and ‘rational’ needs context, but that can be as slippery as any  self-referencing, self-righteous argument we hear from ‘authorities’ on these subjects. In studying science, one gains a sense of scale of our place in […]

Barking Up the Tree of Life

Humans have long sought elevation from their earthly state, either spiritually via religion, or culturally by social elevation. Others seek superiority by the acquisition of powerful weapons, and more recently, and imaginatively, by developing super powers or becoming cybermen. Over the last half-century, the  word ‘transhumanism’ has found its way into the vocabulary. Loosely this is the technological, […]

Curiosity and Oxygen Pills, Microbes and Men

Since I was a little girl I have been interested in space travel. I loved Fireball XL5, but struggled to understand how the cast (giving televisual ‘life’ to puppets) could breathe in space without spacesuits. I now understand that they took ‘oxygen pills’. (Decompression and radiation aside, even for puppets.) I have been reading the NASA posts about […]