Monthly Archives: August 2011

  • What is Astrobiology? (continued)

    Riffing off of Shawn’s post (and resurfacing after a busy summer): Many people think that astrobiology will be a failure if we don’t find life out there. Not so!

    Astrobiology is not a quest for a “holy grail”. The way I view it, astrobiology is a scientific attempt to test the hypothesis that we are alone, and to understand the underlying reasons for whatever it is that we find. Whatever the answer – whether we are alone or part of a Universe teeming with life – it will shape our perspective on how humanity fits into the Universe.

    How so? Consider

  • What is Astrobiology?

    Given our recent (and completely unanticipated) bump in traffic, I think now would be as good a time to introduce people to astrobiology, the field to which I have devoted my professional life, and the subject of many of the discussions here at Let’s start by answering a question that has caused some confusion as of late:

    What is Astrobiology?

    The closest thing I’ve seen to a universally-accepted definition of astrobiology is the one also found on Wikipedia:

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.


  • The Countdown is on hold…

    We’re going to be making some changes to PaleBlue.Blog in the near future. The first of these is we’re ditching the Countdown posts. They were a fun gimmick, but they both sucked up time I’d rather devote to more thoughtful posts, and prevented the community from putting up blog posts about news items as they break. So stay tuned for more frequent posting on science news as it comes out, and more essays in the evenings/weekends from yours truly.

  • Contacting Seth Baum

    For those that want to know more about the paper that has caused so much controversy over the last two days, please contact Seth Baum. You can find his contact information and more about his research at his website: Seth is the first and corresponding author on the paper, and it’s frankly unfair to him for me to be getting so much attention for this, especially when the attention is coming my way because of the lack of clarity in my listed affiliation.

  • Some important points of clarification

    So here’s the thing. This isn’t a “NASA report.” It’s not work funded by NASA, nor is it work supported by NASA in other ways. It was just a fun paper written by a few friends, one of whom happens to have a NASA affiliation.

    A while ago, a couple good friends of mine (Seth Baum and Jacob Haqq-Misra) approached me about a paper they were writing, and asked if I wanted to join them on it. The paper was a review of all the different proposed situations for contact with an alien civilization. I didn’t think this was particularly important.

  • Symphony of Science

    Another slow news day during which I was completely overworked… so you all are treated to another songification of our mutual idols.