biology

Category archives for biology

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” –Robert Brault Earlier today, NASA announced the “most Earth-like exoplanet yet,” a planet just 60% larger in radius than our own, orbiting a star of the same spectral class as our Sun and with an almost identical orbital period: 385…

Dark Matter: Giver of Life (Synopsis)

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” –Joseph Campbell When you think about dark matter, you probably think of a few things: how mass and gravity don’t appear to line up, how there isn’t enough normal matter to account for the motions we see on scales of galaxies and up, and how…

“A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.” –Tennessee Williams The depiction of dying in space — by exposure to its terrifying vacuum — is incredibly varied, from freezing to swelling and bulging to simply exploding. For this week’s Ask Ethan, we take on…

Death is not the end (Synopsis)

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” –J.R.R. Tolkien No matter how well we care for our bodies, they eventually wear down, give out, and…

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” –Winston Churchill There was a piece that ran over this weekend in the Wall Street Journal, claiming that the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life is actually evidence pointing towards the existence of God.…

Fixing Occam’s Razor (Synopsis)

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” –Amelia Barr All things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the best. At least, that’s how Occam’s razor is most commonly phrased these days. Yet, when it comes to the headlines — whether it’s a “discovery” of dark matter or “evidence” for life on Mars…

Preparing for Alien Life (Synopsis)

“Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” –Paul Tillich One of the biggest questions in all of science is that of just how ubiquitous — or rare — life in the Universe is. With the sole exception…

“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.” –Stephen Hawking The story of where everything came from in the Universe — of how we came from empty, expanding space to…

“The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.” –Richard Feynman It took 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, billions of years of biological evolution and astronomical numbers of events unfolding exactly as they have…

“Since stars appear to be suns, and suns, according to the common opinion, are bodies that serve to enlighten, warm, and sustain a system of planets, we may have an idea of the numberless globes that serve for the habitation of living creatures.” –William Herschel When you look up at the stars in the night…