Posts Tagged ‘SETI’

Today I bring you a great article in National Geographic, The Hunt for Life Beyond Earth. Written by Michael D. Lemonick with gorgeous photography by Mark Thiessen, the piece asks that age-old question: Are we alone?

We may find the answer to that question sooner than we think.
/insert dramatic music here!

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In today’s installment of awesome, NASA has released a book on how to communicate with extraterrestrials. Unlike the Pentagon’s zombie apocalypse scenarioArchaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication is not meant as an implausible training exercise. With chapters by more than a dozen scholars, this book uses analogues (or at least clues) from archaeology and anthropology in an effort to think about how to communicate with radically different life forms.

As editor Douglas A. Vakoch explains,

The evolutionary path followed by extraterrestrial intelligence will no doubt diverge in significant ways from the one traveled by humans over the course of our history… Like archaeologists who reconstruct temporally distant civilizations from fragmentary evidence, SETI researchers will be expected to reconstruct distant civilizations separated from us by vast expanses of space as well as time. And like anthropologists, who attempt to understand other cultures despite differences in language and social customs, as we attempt to decode and interpret extraterrestrial messages, we will be required to comprehend the mindset of a species that is radically Other.

Also, and let me just put this out there, science fiction might be helpful in this regard as well:)

P.S. The NASA in Your Life site is a fun read as well. NASA’s research and technology spinoffs have played influential roles in moving innovation from Rockets to Racecars and more…

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This article by scientist Pascal Lee has a great point: reading helps kids turn dreams into reality. I just have one tiny bone to pick, and that has to do with the non/fiction divide:

“Let’s get ready for Mission: Mars and take our kids with us. Let’s start them on this journey with a non-fiction STEM book.”

I absolutely agree that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning and advancement requires books of the non-fiction variety. That’s right, actual facts are actually important. No question. I would add, though, that not only is it not bad if Generation Mars includes fiction on its reading list, doing so will help them with that first bit: having dreams. It’s also important to remember that much of the best science fiction is based on extrapolated science fact.*

“The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
— Peter Diamandis

As Lee points out, Scholastic’s “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life” motto is right on target, but why limit that reading? Non-fiction shows you how to build the path, fiction helps you decide where you want to go and imagine what it will be like when you get there.

I can’t wait to see where Generation Mars takes us.

* While “top X” lists are always arguable, they can be a great place to start. Check out this list of The Best Hard Science Fiction Books of all Time: Ten titles that inspired Technology Review to publish TRSF, its own collection of sci-fi stories.

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