Space

Category archives for Space

´┐╝In 1977, NASA sent a pair of unmanned probes named Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 into space. Among the infrared spectrometers and radio receivers included on each probe were identical copies of the same non-scientific object: the Voyager Golden Record. Sheathed in a protective aluminum jacket, the Record is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing…

Universe Q&A: Frank White

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece here on Universe exploring the ideas of the futurist Gerard K. O’Neill, who designed far-out but ultimately quite pragmatic environments for human habitation in space in the mid-1970s. In that article, I touched briefly on the notion of the “Overview Effect,” a phrase coined by the…

The Book of Exogenesis

The Book of Exogenesis: In the beginning was the word, and the word was a meteorite… Earlier this month, a report, based on NASA studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggested that some building blocks of DNA may have been formed in space. As it turns out, DNA components have been found on meteorites before,…

We’re OK TO GO!

As you have undoubtedly heard from sources more overtly journalistic than this one, SETI is back online! After federal and state financial cutbacks forced the institute’s shiny new Allen Telescope Array (ATA) into indefinite hibernation earlier this year, cosmically-minded geeks all over the globe donated money in droves, bringing the search for extraterrestrial life back…

In the mid-1970s, the U.S. State Department prohibited the internal use of the term “space colony,” due to the global bad reputation of colonialism. Instead, the government opted for “space settlement.” Of course, as Stewart Brand pointed out at the time, the last thing you do in space is settle. Quite the opposite! Making the…

On Seeing Further

“All things move and nothing remains still” — Heraclitus The history of astronomy can be read as a story of better and better vision. Over the centuries, we have supplemented our vision with technology that allows us to see further and more clearly; while Ancient astronomers, who relied only on their naked eyes to perceive…

The moon is a rock. But it’s also Selene, Artemis, Diana, Isis, the lunar deities; an eldritch clock by which we measure our growth and fertility; home of an old man in the West and a rabbit in the East; the site of countless imaginary voyages; a long-believed trigger of lunacy (luna…see?). It’s another world,…

SETI, Really?

As you may have heard, SETI is in trouble. Funding cutbacks on a state and federal level have forced the Allen Telescope Array — SETI’s new homebase, actually just a part of the U.C. Berkeley’s Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) — into indefinite hibernation. With U.C. Berkeley losing ninety percent of its NSF University Radio…

This is the first in a series of posts about art, the moon, and art on the moon. You would think this would be a fairly limited subject, but… Art on the moon has been happening for a long time. In 1969, a coterie of American contemporary artists devised a plan to put an art…

Book Review: Packing for Mars

We live in an age where truth is, if not stranger than fiction, then at least equally strange. Sometimes pop-science books illustrate this point with particular well-researched glee and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void is such a book. Where do I begin? It’s a true nerd’s smorgasbord. It answers…