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Alien Life Series: Titan, and a Crash Course in Biochemistry

So far, this alien life series has explored Europa and Mars–both planets we find appealing for their potential to host Earth-style life. But what about life “not as we know it?”

Saturn’s moon Titan is perhaps the most intriguing world in the solar system. Until recently, its surface has been hidden from us altogether by its thick atmosphere. Only with the recent flyby by the Cassini-Huygens probe did we get a glimpse of what Titan’s surface really looks like. And the findings are astonishing.

 

Kepler-22b: New Earth, or Super Venus?

Recently, the web has been abuzz in a small way with news of the discovery of a “possible super-Earth.” This assessment is accurate: in the planet Kepler 22-b, we have confirmation of the second planet known to man to be near Earth’s size and in a similar orbit around a similar parent star.

Theoretically, Kepler 22-b is in exactly the right place to have water, sunlight, and mild temperatures. It’s the perfect recipe for life, including those precious organisms that created Earth’s oxygen atmosphere. Kepler 22-b is more likely than any world we’ve  discovered to be habitable to human colonists; it’s possible that settlers on Kepler-22b could touch down on this larger-than-Earth planet and take a stroll through balmy, breathable air under an orange-tinted sun. Kepler 22-b could look like home.

 

The Surprises of Victorian Spirituality

The Victorian era lives in our imaginations as a time of repression. But it was also a time of surprising developments, many of which were vital to shaping thought on religion and spirituality in. our own time

Although Victorian England was ruled by strict and all-encompassing social-moral codes, it was also an incubator for very familiar conflicts. Questions of following authority versus following your own heart, of tradition versus rationality, of age-old versus modern ideas of virtue can all be found in the struggles of the Victorian era.

 

Alien Life Series: Life Around Red Dwarfs

We’ve dealt with the three most hospitable alien worlds in our own solar system. Being in our own solar system, they all have some things in common; the same Sun, for example. Now it’s time for something Really Different.

Our sun outshines about 90% of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Main sequence G-type stars like our own make up about 7 billion of these 100 billion stars. 3 billion are hotter and brighter than our Sun; the other 90 billion are cooler and dimmer. So in the search for life outside our solar system, determining the habitability of these cooler, dimmer stars seems a good place to start.

 

Election Politics: Statistics on the Abortion Issue

It may be beneficial to post on what is possibly the most controversial issue of our time: the legality of abortion. With our next presidential election approaching, this issue is a major deciding factor in who Americans will vote for. For some voters, it overrides all others in its importance.

Passions run so high on the subject of abortion rights that the truth is literally difficult to find. Conflicting claims abound about everything, from medical and legal facts to public opinion on the subject.

 

Precognition: More Scientific Than You’d Think

The word precognition comes from the Latin “pre-” meaning “before” and “cognition,” meaning perception. The idea of that humans can see the future before it happens is everywhere–ancient myths, modern TV dramas, numerous careers, and…government-funded scientific research?

I was surprised to hear that our government is still funding empirical study of “psychic” abilities. And not just in a “Men Who Stare at Goats” way–there are now scientists who use sophisticated computer software and rigorous methodology to test whether or not humans are able to predict the future with a higher-than-random rate of success.

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