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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #2: Possible `Comet Of The Century' Starts Warming Up

Enhanced Hubble Telescope image of ISON from April 2013, showing a dusty tail and some evidence of volatile sublimation around the nucleus (NASA, ESA) Back in February these pages discussed a newly discovered long-period comet, ISON (otherwise known as C/2012 s1), that is falling sunwards for what is probably its first passage through the inner solar system later this year - on a beautiful near parabolic orbit.

July 25, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

In Defense Of Metaphors In Science Writing

(James Gillray) "Science is all metaphor" Timothy Leary We live in an elegant universe.The cosmos is like a string symphony.Genes are selfish.There is an endless battle between thermodynamics and gravity.Do you love these statements, or hate them?

July 9, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

A Galactic Flyby Can Be Deadly, But Beautiful

326 million light years away a cosmic encounter destroys a galaxy but creates something lovely (NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage team, STScI/AURA, Wide Field Camera 3, visible light + near infrared image).

June 20, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Return To The Pale Blue Dot

The original pale blue dot - Earth from 3.7 billion miles away (NASA/JPL/Voyager) One of the most enduring and captivating images from our exploration of space in the late 20th century was Voyager 1's mosaic of our own solar system - a family portrait from 3.7 billion miles away.

June 19, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Cosmic Cartography: Here Is Your (Local) Universe

Our local cosmic terrain (Credit: Helene Courtois) A new video tours the nearby universe and makes it charmingly familiar. When I was a graduate student I spent a lot of time studying maps of our universe.

June 17, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Diary Of An Exhausted Scientist

I swore I'd never do this, indeed, I'm on record in these very pages as having disparaged the kind of thing I'm about to do.Oh well. All I can say is that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

June 10, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

A Pink Stellar Nursery and a Telescopic Birthday

Glowing hydrogen and a stellar birthplace 6,500 light years away (ESO/VLT) Fifteen years ago the European Southern Observatory, a consortium of 15 member states, started scientific operations with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal in the Chilean Atacama desert.

May 29, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

Humans Bring On Many Changes, Most Are Far From Painless

From atmospheric changes, to timelapse imagery from Google Earth...our planetary presence is hard to miss. This past week has seen the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere reach a level of 400 parts-per-million, a value the planet hasn't seen since several million years ago.

May 13, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

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