Milky Way

“Big Bertha” to “Big Horta” … You Know the Drill

“Big Bertha” to “Big Horta” … You Know the Drill

Astronomy, Creation, curiosity, extraterrestrial intelligences, Imagination, Milky Way, Mystery, physics, Science, SETI, Uncategorized, Universe
No doubt you have read or heard in recent weeks about a strange, anomalous star, KIC8462852, initially discovered by the Kepler survey telescope, that has incited intense speculation among astronomers – even including some daring, but tentative and quite responsible, speculation from professionals about the bare, minimal, vanishingly unlikely but non-zero possibility that the observations just might … maybe … perhaps … probably not, but … result from intelligently created artifacts, like the components of a Dyson sphere, orbiting the star. The popular media have also gotten into the act, as witness here, here, and here. Ever conservative, astronomers have attempted to damp down speculation from the lay public about what the latter consider as the possibility of the first-ever discovery
Becoming Earthlings

Becoming Earthlings

Article Review, Astronomy, community, curiosity, extraterrestrial intelligences, heart, Milky Way, Rationality, Science, SETI, Spirituality, Universe, wonder, world
It might be a good idea to save this “Skeptics Collection” column, print it off, and put it in a safe-deposit box or a time capsule. You see, this post is going to be in the nature of a movie review. Sorta. Kinda. I normally do not do movie reviews, and consider movie reviews about as relevant to me, personally, as a bicycle is to a fish. Or a condom to a Republican. (Sorry … couldn’t resist!) But I am going to make an exception in the case of the recent and justly renowned Matt Damon science-fiction movie The Martian. Virtually all the reviews I have read concentrate on the movie as a paean to international cooperation, the STEM disciplines, and an essential optimism about the ability of the human species to triumph over catastrophe. All that is true. The Martian is all those things. But
Night Thoughts on Dumbing Down and Shutting Up

Night Thoughts on Dumbing Down and Shutting Up

critical judgment, doubt, Ethics, extraterrestrial intelligences, Milky Way, Mystery, Mythology, Religion, Science, SETI, Skeptic, Spirituality
I am subject to occasional periods of insomnia, when I wake up at around 2 a.m., bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and cannot get back to sleep no matter how much I toss and turn. I can be subject to strange, brooding thoughts during such staring-at-the-ceiling marathons. About a week-plus ago as this is written (1 May), I went through a few days of such insomnia. (One too many Starbucks "flat whites," I think.) My nocturnal ruminations turned to the subject of Fermi’s Paradox. I have written of Fermi’s Paradox elsewhere, and still find it both intriguing and perplexing. The great pioneer of nuclear physics and energy, Enrico Fermi, once asked the following question: if there are, as is often argued, perhaps 100 billion stars in our Galaxy, and if even a small fraction of those stars support i