Why our imagination for alien life is so impoverished

It astonishes me how much we seem to know about aliens. They build technology-driven civilisations and pilot spaceships across the galaxy. They create energy-harvesting structures around their stars. They beam interstellar greetings to us. We cannot be sure that, when our own broadcasts reach them in some future era, they will breathlessly await the arrival […]

NASA’s TESS Space Telescope discovers its first Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone

Exciting news! NASA’s planet-hunter TESS Space Telescope (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet in its star’s habitable zone. The discovery was announced by NASA on January 7, 2020. The planet is named “TOI 700 d”. Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers confirmed the discovery and have modeled the planet’s potential environments […]

Earth’s atmosphere is leaking and NASA is sending rockets to understand how

Earth’s atmosphere is leaking: around 90 tonnes of material escapes and streams out into space from our planet’s upper atmosphere every single day. To understand this escape, NASA launches rockets into space. The space agency also sends scientists to a tiny Arctic town named Ny-Ålesund (English: New Alesund) on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, […]

Evolution tells us we might be the only intelligent life in the universe

Nick Longrich, University of Bath Are we alone in the universe? It comes down to whether intelligence is a probable outcome of natural selection or an improbable fluke. By definition, probable events occur frequently, improbable events occur rarely – or once. Our evolutionary history shows that many key adaptations – not just intelligence, but complex […]

Habitable Zone explained by astrophysicist

Elizabeth Tasker (@girlandkat on Twitter), the UK astrophysicist working at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the author of the popular science book “The Planet Factory” Notes 1 says “the habitable zone is the worst name ever in the history of naming anything” in her perfect doodly she published on Twitter.

Are we alone in the Universe? Probably. Like the others.

The American cartoonist Matthew Inman published a brilliant comic titled “The Oracle” on his website “The Oatmeal”. Inman’s comic gives the most probable answer (IMHO) to Fermi Paradox, which can be summarized in these three words – “Where is everybody”.

How we detected water on a potentially habitable exoplanet for the first time

Angelos Tsiaras, UCL With more than 4,000 exoplanets – planets orbiting stars other than our sun – discovered so far, it may seem like we are on the cusp of finding out whether we are alone in the universe. Sadly though, we don’t know much about these planets – in most cases just their mass […]

The end of the world: a history of how a silent cosmos led humans to fear the worst

Thomas Moynihan, University of Oxford It is 1950 and a group of scientists are walking to lunch against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. They are about to have a conversation that will become a scientific legend. The scientists are at the Los Alamos Ranch School, the site for the Manhattan Project, where each […]