Category Archives: Science

‘Oumuamua back in the news: do aliens approach? And what will NASA be announcing today?

Astronomers identified Oumuamua, the cigar-shaped extrasolar object passing through our solar system, back in October. More recently, it has made the news because its unusual qualities make for cool sensationalist headlines. Stephen Hawking, et al have not actually said the thing is an alien craft, and probably aren’t betting it is, but its unusual shape and nature mean that scientists have to check all possibilities.

It’s more likely just an unusually-shaped asteroid from another system.

Or a space whale. It could totally be a space whale, right?

In an unrelated development, NASA will make an announcement later today regarding the Kepler Space Telescope and its ongoing scanning of the galaxy for signs of inhabited planets.

UPDATE: With Google-based “machine intelligence” helping to analyse the Kepler data, NASA confirms an eighth planet in the Kepler-90 system, making it the first to tie our system in the number of known planets.
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Will Elon Musk make it to Mars?

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to establish a colony on Mars. Eric Mack of Cnet argues that the plan is insane but not impossible, while TheVerge’s Elizabeth Lopatto finds Musk’s plans implausible, but notes that they may lead to other important discoveries.

Assuming the first flights ever get off the ground, they’ll be dangerous one-way trips.

Who wants to sign up?

Or ask additional questions?

Can Stephen Hawking and some famous investors get us to the Centauri system?

Although Hawking has expressed concern about the consequences of alien contact, he nevertheless has thrown his support behind Starshot. The near-future project wouldn’t take us to Alpha Centauri, but would use laser tech and light-sails to send iPhone-sized ships to our stellar neighbor.

With investments from Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, among others, we just might send the ships and receive the results within our lifetime.

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